The DNR has been busy all week sending out the stocking trucks.
They have been collecting walleyes from rearing ponds, and have also been delivering fry and fingerlings to many of the area lakes. This year was a great producer for them, and they are able to stock some additional lakes that don’t typically get stocked on the regular rotation.
The stocking numbers for those lakes that are getting stocked are also very good. Most of the stocked walleye are in the 11- to 12-inch range this year. By the next year or two the survivors will be the 14- to 16-inch quality eating size fish.
When these young walleyes hit the lakes they go on some feeding binges and are very aggressive. Please do not keep these active and aggressive biters now this fall, or when they are active this winter. Many times these young stocked fish are also very active during early ice. It has happened in the past that some anglers will keep these 12 inchers because the walleye bite is so good. Let them grow up. Have your fun catching them, but practice catch and release.
A few years ago, Lake Melissa received the benefit of private stocking. Joe Roach, the current president of Twin Cities Walleye Unlimited, had for a number of years fund-raised with other lake homeowners and privately stocked the lake (several times).
One of the years, many of the privately stocked walleyes late in the fall were 11- to 13-inch fish. They were extremely active during first ice, and it didn’t take long for the word to spread about all the walleye limits coming off Melissa in the early season. Way too many ice anglers jumped to the “hot bite,” and way too many of them were willing to keep those small fish. Anglers were keeping the 12- to 13-inchers.
The over-harvest of those fish totally defeated the intended purpose for that stocking. Let’s not repeat that. There will always be some that will keep those fish, they may not know any better, they may not care, they may be selfish, they may justify keeping them for some reason. We can’t get everyone to sensible behavior, but you are in charge of your own decisions and the influence you have with your fishing partners or kids. Make good decisions with your selective harvest this fall and winter.
The DNR crews are also busy pulling public fishing docks. Many of the lakes will not have docks in place now for the rest of the season. Make sure you plan to launch and load with the anticipation of no dock at your favorite lake.
With the recent significant rain we have had, lake levels remain pretty good for this time of year. The accesses are in better shape with water levels than they have been for the last three fall fishing seasons. Water temps remain in the mid-low 50 degree range, and the long range forecast looks good. We still have plenty of open water fall fishing yet to enjoy. I hope you get out and enjoy some more fishing, just don’t keep those aggressive little guys!