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chasineyes

Why do we stock lakes??

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I was wondering why the DNR stock lakes? I was reading in a weekly outdoors magazine that a lake mentioned in southern mn had excellent reproduction along with other "smaller, pothole" type lakes. It got me thinking about how much stocking has been done on leech in the last 2 years, and I have come up with a theory...MONEY! It's funny how we chastise the government but then ask them to "provide" fish for out catching. Any thoughts...

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There are many lakes throughout the state that need to be stocked or there would be no fishing for eyes at all. Not all lakes are good at nature reproduction or can reproduce enough to support the strain placed on the lake by the fisherman.

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They do it because we demanded it. We keep putting pressure on the DNR to provide us with adequate recreational fishing. One method is to use the stocking program. As already mentioned, there are a great many lakes in this state that would not support any walleye population were it not for the stocking program.

Also, some of the more famous walleye waters see more fishing pressure than natural reproduction can support and there too the stocking program helps supplement it. Osakis is a good example. Once considered the mother lake because it supplied many eggs for use in the stocking program but today it sees so much excessive fishing pressure it now must be stocked. There are efforts under way to attempt to improve spawning beds in the hopes of restoring some of the lake's former glory but time will tell.

Bob

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I do understand that certain lakes are not able to support natural reproduction of certain species, but dont really understand why. I assume it has something to do with the lakes water quality, structure, bottom content, predation, as well as sufficient prey fish. I'm sure its not this simple but why doesnt the DNR work on changing these attributes to support natural reproduction. I know fishing pressure has a lot to do with it also but is this approach too far fetched?

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I do understand that certain lakes are not able to support natural reproduction of certain species, but dont really understand why. I assume it has something to do with the lakes water quality, structure, bottom content, predation, as well as sufficient prey fish. I'm sure its not this simple but why doesnt the DNR work on changing these attributes to support natural reproduction. I know fishing pressure has a lot to do with it also but is this approach too far fetched?

Some fish species simply cannot reproduce even in a lake that has good forage. It's not that they don't try. They do but without the right conditions it doesnt work. Add in a whole lot of other variables like weather, fish kills, fishing pressure etc then you get something quite complicated to manage.

Lets take for instance the Walleye. Old Marble Eyes need water that has good current & oxygen. River mouths inlets, outlets, wind, weather all play a part. If those requirements arent met the eggs arent able to hatch. Thats why you see eyes do well in rivers and large lakes that are Spring fed.

Panfish on the other hand are notorious breeders. Like the Black Crappie which can quickly overun other species in a lake. They do well whether it shallow & muddy, or clear and sandy. They don't require much except may the right spawning temps and beds for it to all happen. In certain topographical areas like lakes or ponds down in the Southern United states its possible panfish can reproduce several times within the same year.

Without stocking some of the body of waters cannot sustain a certain fish population. Or some waters may never even have that species of fish if not through the stocking program.

Why not just make it fit for reproduction? Number one reason? Its gonna have to be the cost or funds. Trying to obtain or change attributes of a lake without proper research can highly affect that lakes ecosystem and it chances of producing gamefish. It would also be disturbing what nature has shape it to be.

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Bottom content also plays a role in spawning environment. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe walleyes require relatively clean gravel bottom. They won't be successful if a lake only has sand or muck bottom. Panfish on the other hand might do well with this type of bottom structure.

Bob

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I read about native fish populations quite awhile ago, if I remember right very few lakes in MN have "native" walleye, or smallmouth populations. Without stocking most walleye lakes would go back to being bass and pike lakes, the smallmouth would probably be okay. I think I also remember reading that tons of our lakes had trout before we started messing with them. I hope someone can confirm or deny what I remember.

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The 'what does well where and why' is much more complex than most even begin to imagine. I have read a number of the research reports on the DNR HSOforum - http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/fisheries/investigational_reports.html - and have learned that the variables are almost innumerable. I suggest that anyone interested in knowing why things might be the way they are go and read a few of these reports and you will learn a lot.

There will never be enough money to make any lake or stream 'perfect'.

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I do understand that certain lakes are not able to support natural reproduction of certain species, but dont really understand why. I assume it has something to do with the lakes water quality, structure, bottom content, predation, as well as sufficient prey fish. I'm sure its not this simple but why doesnt the DNR work on changing these attributes to support natural reproduction. I know fishing pressure has a lot to do with it also but is this approach too far fetched?

You could have perfect conditions for a particular species but without spawning habitat you've got nothing. Changing the attributes to support natural reproduction...commendable intentions with disastrous results. If you try to add new habitat and it doesn't take, you've wasted thousands of dollars. Add gravel to a mud lake for walleyes to spawn on? It'll be silted over in no time. It really depends on the species, but if you want to make changes, work to improve shallow water habitats and replant or help recover native plants. Improve water quality and help prevent runoff that may turn the lake green or silt over those preferable spawning habitats. Bass and panfish need gravelly bottoms near vegetation. Pike need wetland complexes. The less homes you see on any given lake with some combination of sandy beaches, freakishly large docks, weed rollers, and rip rapped shoreline means the more likely you are to see native plant communities, natural buffers, and functioning ecosystems that support naturally reproducing fish populations. If you help recover some of the shoreline habitat and things revert back or the land is subdivided, platted, and sold into a bunch of lake homes, then you're back to square one with lots of money wasted. It's easier said than done. The state doesn't control the land and watershed (except in rare instances where they own most of the land), so they have little control over the water since land management decisions have holistic effects on the waterbody. If people want good fishing for the future, something has to be done for our lakes and streams in the uplands and on shore first. That means landowners have to make changes and the general public has to support changes to how our lands are regulated and monitored and exactly to what level of stinginess those regulations are taken to.

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The bottom line is this.... The bottom LIne. People in MN want, for the most part, to catch walleyes, People who travel to MN want to catch walleyes. Most lakes, with a few exceptions, south of Millacs do not naturaly reproduce, that leaves half the state with no 'eyes. By stocking eye's in the lakes they make many people happy and make money in the long run.

Spend $$$ to make $$$.

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