The Department of Natural Resources reminds Muskegon River anglers that Fisheries Division personnel will take walleye eggs below Croton Dam starting the third week of March.
The DNR plans to collect 54 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River in 2012, with an eye toward rearing 9 million fry for transfer to rearing ponds throughout the Lower Peninsula. These walleye will be raised to fingerling size and stocked in lakes and rivers. An additional 3.5 million fry will be directly stocked in the Grand River and in Thornapple Lake.
Walleye production has been reduced in recent years as Fisheries Division has been careful to avoid bringing viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) into the hatchery system or spreading it to other waters. New techniques for disinfecting walleye eggs make increased production of walleye possible.
Lake Michigan walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula are dependent on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs, as well as many inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula. The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is presently about 40,000 to 50,000 each year. DNR crews will strip milt and eggs from approximately 300 adult fish, which will be returned to the river – except for 60 which will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing.
“This adult population consists of mostly stocked fish,” said Rich O’Neal, Fisheries biologist for the Central Lake Michigan management unit. “The Muskegon River has the largest run of walleye in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay.”
The DNR plans to collect walleyes with an electro-fishing boat on March 20, March 26-30 and April 2-6. This schedule can change on a daily basis for many reasons, but it is anticipated most work will be completed during the last week of March and first week of April. Approximately seven days of fish collections will be made during this period.
Sampling usually begins each day at Croton Dam about 8:30 a.m. and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street access site.
The egg-stripping operation is conducted at the Pine Street access site, about two miles downstream of Croton Dam. This process generally begins between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to come and observe how the eggs are removed from the fish before they are packed and shipped to the hatchery.
Anglers who wish to avoid the walleye collection activities should fish downstream areas of the river. The DNR asks anglers to exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boats. Wading anglers are asked to exit the water when the boat approaches. The DNR appreciates anglers’ cooperation.