WALLEYE UPDATE

DNR fisheries biologist says he will recommend raising the minimum length limit for Squash Lake walleyes to 18 inches and removing the 14-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass. Those recommendations, which if approved by the DNR would take affect no earlier than 2012, were contained in the Fisheries Survey of Squash Lake report published in March and based upon fish population surveys conducted in April and September 2009. Based on the lake fish survey, which included both netting and electro shocking fish.
Senior DNR fisheries biologist John Kubisiak estimated that the lake walleye population was about 809 adult fish, or about 2 walleyes per acre. The report said that the 2 walleye per acre population was below the average of 3.5 per acre for a 396-acre lake supported by natural reproduction, but within the normal range of 1.1 to 10.7 walleyes per acre. The largest walleye captured during the survey was 25.6 inches, but 79 percent of the walleyes captured were 15 inches or larger with 3.9 percent exceeding 20 inches. The report said that based on the survey. Squash Lake shows “weak to moderate natural reproduction of walleye’ and therefore the current no minimum length limit on walleye, but only one fish over 14 inches “is inappropriate for a lake with weak recruitment (reproduction) and should be changed to an 18 inch length minimum.”

The report also noted that largemouth bass are the dominant bass species in the lake, surpassing smallmouths. Of the 155 largemouths captured during the survey, the dominant size range was 13 to 15 inches with 43 percent of the fish larger than 14 inches. The largest fish caught were two 17.4-inch largemouths. “The spring survey suggest that Squash historically had a strong smallmouth population, but largemouth bass increased in abundance and surpassed smallmouth in recent years,” the study said. The report also noted that some studies have associated high largemouth populations with decreased walleye population. “If walleye are a primary management focus, then it may help to encourage harvest on largemouth by eliminating the 14 inch minimum length limit,” the report concluded. Kubisiak said that because of the time it takes to get new length limits through the DNR approval cycle, the earliest the walleye and bass length
limit changes could be implemented would be the 2012 season. He said that Squash is not a candidate for walleye stocking because its native population and reproduction rates are sufficient to maintain adequate walleye levels in the lake. As always, for those fisherman concerned about declining walleye populations, catch and release goes a long way in maintaining current walleye levels.

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