Katherine and Clear Lakes in Oneida County and Laura and Anvil Lakes in Vilas County all have the same problem.
Their once productive walleye population hasn’t been producing much these days.
John Kubisiak is a DNR Fisheries Team Supervisor. He doesn’t know what is causing the decline.
“We started seeing declines in recruitment somewhere 2008 to 2013 depending on the lake. It didn’t happen at the same time on every lake, but it’s the same kind of pattern where we saw a few years, 4 to 5 years, of recruitment of walleye, but lower than in the past and then after a few years of that it went down even lower to near zero recruitment from natural reproduction,” said Kubisiak.
One major event Kubisiak pointed to the was the extended drought that was impacting our region around the same time the DNR notice walleye weren’t reproducing as much.
“We know what was going on at the same time as this was happening. We were in the middle of a decade-long draught and water levels were at very low levels during that 2008, 2009 timeframe. We’ve since had water levels increase but the fish populations haven’t increased,” said Kubisiak.
The DNR will be working with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
Kubisiak says they’ll be tackling the issue from a couple different angles. This includes stocking and reducing harvest.
“What we’d like to happen is natural reproduction to resume on these lakes. They were good natural reproducing lakes in the past and we’d like to get back there,” said Kubisiak. “But we can’t just cause natural reproduction to happen by sheer force of will. The best we can do is create the conditions that will allow walleye to spawn and reproduce.”
People can learn more about the plan and give input at a virtual meeting on March 24th. It starts at 6:30 p.m. You can pre-register and get a link to the zoom here. You can also call 1-929-205-6099 and using meeting ID 851 3948 5837.
As part of this proposed plan, a new angling regulation for the lakes will be discussed. Anglers will have a chance to vote on the proposed regulation in the 2021 Wisconsin Conservation Congress Spring Hearing on April 12.