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chasineyes

Stocking Lakes/Slots

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Here is a thought or question...We stock lakes because some lakes can't naturally reproduce right? If that is the case then why release 20-28" walleyes? If these fish can't reproduce what is the benefit of having them in the lake. Do we use them for eggs to stock other lakes then? Just curious..

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I don't think its that some lakes absolutely cannot reproduce but I think some lakes just don't reproduce as well as other. So for this reason it is best to put the largest spawning fish back as not to put additional strain on a lakes walleye population.

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I'm pretty sure there are a few lakes that just can't reproduce, and which get some fairly heavy stocking.

Assuming the fish can't reproduce, the benefit from letting any fish go is so someone else (or yourself if you're lucky) can catch it at a later point in time. I realize that for a lot of walleye fishing, the goal is a dinner at the end of the day, and not just some pictures and memories of a great day on the water, but practicing CPR at any level helps reduce the stress put on a fish population.

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It's a pretty old argument and I'll put my take in. When I fish, generally any eye over 20" goes back in. If it's a slow day and I get on 21" I may or may not take it. Now, if it's withing the legal limit to keep and you want to keep a fish, then keep it. What I set as a standard for myself doesn't mean you have to. Keep what you want as long as it's legal. If it's a smaller lake though and you keep everything, don't expect it to keep producing in a couple of years to come.

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its thier to help maintan good fishing in most lakes. not to increase population. the live ratio on fry is very good so when you see 30,000 fry dumped in that number is almost extint if you watch that year class grow to eaters.

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Here is a thought or question...We stock lakes because some lakes can't naturally reproduce right? If that is the case then why release 20-28" walleyes? If these fish can't reproduce what is the benefit of having them in the lake. Do we use them for eggs to stock other lakes then? Just curious..

The lakes that are stocked that don't have any natural reproduction don't have those slots. Minnesota's main walleye lakes have a 17-28" protected slot to protect spawners. Females generally reach sexual maturity around 17 inches and their performance tops out around 28" (there are exceptions to this rule). I think you're talking about two different lakes. The eggs taken on Cutfoot Sioux/Winnibigoshish for example, might go to Lake X/Southern MN lake, where there is no slot. Meanwhile the Cutfoot/Winni slot is in place to always have a nice stock of spawners.

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Very well said dachise! As he said, the lakes that have the slots usually do have a decent spawn.. Lakes that dont, usually dont have slots. Lakes that have Northern Slots often have those to protect them to keep the smaller fish in check.

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Sandman,

It is that attitude that is making me favor putting a slot on Cass Lake. Since there is no limit on size you are getting tons of people who are keeping both immature small walleye (12-13") as well as the big girls (20+). This makes for some up and down years and I have talked to quite a few people who fish lakes with slots and they say the fishing is just outstanding. I would not mind only taking home 3 or 4 fish a day if I was catching 100 or more fish. The problem comes when you fish all day with very few bites and you have people start panicing and keep the dinks. I guess the only way to somewhat prevent that is to legally force them to do so. If they choose to keep the dinks, they may run into a DNR boat with a pad full of tickets to issue!

Just my .02

Windy

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The overall goal is to try and keep the population in relative balance. A population that has alot of large individuals but a relatively small number of young fish (recruits) is just as problematic for a fish manager as a population that has lots of small fish and very few large fish. Whether its the lack of natural spawning or extremely heavy fishing pressure, stocking and slots are tools that are used to try and keep things in balance. The problem is its a pretty subjective science and when you throw in the other variables such as forage availability, varying spawning conditions from year to year due to weather, and changes in water quality, the goal is definitely a moving target......

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I agree with you windy. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing a slot of 15 to 20" across the board with one over 26". I think that makes a pretty good slot. At least that is what I practice out side of keeping one over 26.

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Sounds like a plan, Sand. Now if only we could get the DNR to take a look at Cass. I know quite a few locals and guides who favor that. We may need to start a petition or something. I caught a 23 inch deep golden beauty this year, got my quick photos and let her go to make more babies! I think the slot might have to be bumped up just a bit, I think the optimal one would be anything under 14 goes back in, no questions asked, you keep the 14 to 19 inch fish and everything but one wall hanger goes back 20 inches or more. Sounds like we are both on the same page!

Windy

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This is a discussion that we have several times a year. An across the board slot would be a disaster as different lakes have different needs to keep a "balance." There are some lakes that the best way way to improve the overall walleye population is to keep the small ones and let the 17 inch and over ones go. Lakes that have a problem with stunted eyes such as Island and Crocodile in the Arrowhead come to mind.

Slots work very well where they are needed but they are not needed everywhere. The DNR does a fine job in my opinion. Where we start running into problems is when the politicians start messing with the science.

As far as keeping small walleyes or large ones for that matter "panicking" has nothing to do with it. I would be willing to bet that I release more walleyes than most people catch over the season. That's not bragging it's just the way it is. However, if I determine that a walleye is not going to survive after it's released I generally keep it regardless of size. I've never seen it but I've heard that there are a lot of "floaters" on lakes that have a strict slot and a lot of pressure.

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Gun,

I'm with you on that, I would keep a fish that I think is not going to make it, why be wasteful, but if it is small enough then it would be a free lunch for an eagle or other feathered friend and that is cool on the eco cycle in my book as well. I know that my grand daughters (who are 7 and 8) feel bad when they guy hook a 5 inch perch and it does not swim away when we toss it back but I show them the gulls or eagles and they watch it swoop down for a snack and they seem to feel better knowing that the bird had lunch that day, LOL !

Windy

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The benifit of releasing big fish is more than just spawning.

Release big fish to catch big fish.

Most anglers care about size, and to have a good population of big fish(any species) on a pressured lake(almost all metro) practicing catch and release or selective harvest will makes a huge difference.

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