Largemouth bass anglers who are concerned that walleyes stocked into northeast Indiana lakes could be damaging bass fishing need not worry.
Data obtained by DNR biologists from bass tournaments at four lakes where walleyes are routinely stocked indicate there is little evidence to suggest bass fishing has been harmed.
At Crooked Lake and Lake George in Steuben County, two of the area’s best walleye lakes, numbers of 14-inch and larger bass caught by tournament anglers increased over the past 10 years.
Catch rates of bass anglers at Sylvan Lake in Noble County, where walleyes are abundant, have been stable since 2006.
Bass catches declined at Winona Lake in Kosciusko County after walleye stockings were increased, but catch rates remain above average compared to other area lakes.
“We occasionally get questions from bass fishermen about our walleye stocking program,” said Neil Ledet, DNR fisheries biologist in northeast Indiana. “Some fishermen think walleyes compete with bass for habitat or food and prey on small bass.”
Studies in Wisconsin and Ontario have shown the opposite. Bass are more likely to eat walleyes.
Although walleyes and bass may occupy the same areas in a lake, plenty of food is usually available for both.
“We intentionally stock walleyes in lakes that have a lot of small forage fish,” Ledet said. “We think their chances of survival are greater and their growth rate is faster there.”
Stocked walleyes feed mostly on small bluegills, yellow perch and gizzard shad where present.
“We looked at the stomach contents of 90 adult walleyes in Wall Lake in Steuben County and didn’t find a single bass,” Ledet said.
The DNR plans to conduct additional bass tournament monitoring this year at Winona and will conduct full-scale studies of the walleye stocking program at Crooked, Sylvan, and Winona in the coming years.
Logo courtesy Indiana Department of Natural Resources