From late September through early October, anglers across the state are urged to be on the lookout for Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel conducting walleye recruitment surveys – a tool that helps fisheries managers determine how many walleye were naturally produced or survived stocking in 2022. (commonly referred to as a given year’s “young fish of the year”).
Using electrofishing boats, teams will survey shallow areas near the shore of the lakes at night in an effort to catch young-of-the-year walleye. On large lakes, two or more electrofishing teams using separate boats may operate at the same time to cover a larger area.
Crews will work both on lakes that have been stocked with walleye and on lakes that have not.
“Completing surveys of stocked and unstocked lakes can influence decisions about future walleye research and stocking efforts and provide valuable insight into the status of young walleye in the system,” said said Emily Martin, MNR Fisheries Division Biologist.
Biologists will also collect and retain a sample of young-of-the-year walleye from stocked lakes to determine if the main source of reproduction is natural or stocked. Many stocked walleye are tagged with oxytetracycline, a chemical marker that can be observed in captured fish using a microscope with an ultraviolet light source in the laboratory.
Some surveys will be conducted in conjunction with tribal agencies, and tribal natural resource departments will also conduct surveys independent of the DNR.
Everyone is urged to exercise caution when fishing near electrofishing boats, and those wading will be asked to get out of the water when approaching a boat and during electrofishing work. Crews will use bright lights to illuminate the water around the boats and run an onboard generator, which can make it difficult to hear and speak with anyone ashore.
Learn more about how the DNR manages Michigan’s fisheries at Michigan.gov/Fishing.