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Walleye Initiative successful, could grow in future

MADISON, Wis. (WXPR) -- While the next several days outdoors are all about things white tail, the DNR recently said the first year of the Walleye Initiative has been a success.

After the legislature came up with more funding to improve state fish hatcheries and programs earlier this year, the DNR announced the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative...aimed at stocking larger fingerlings in state waters. DNR Fisheries Director Mike Staggs says the number of lakes for stocking has previously exhausted the limited supply of fingerling walleye. “We’ve had a large, pent-up demand for these fish over the years for these large fingerlings, because we have just not been able to produce them, so we had a number of lakes already on our stocking list.”

Steggs says the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative was a challenge for hatcheries that had not produced this many large fingerlings before, but they were successful. “To produce these large fingerlings and get, you know, over four-hundred thousand fish, we had gone into the year planning to do about a hundred thousand, and actually over the last few years we’ve traditionally done less than that, more like sixty or seventy thousand, so being able to do that on short notice is a real credit to our hatchery staff.”

In the future, Steggs believes more production of larger walleye fingerlings is likely. “Increased use of contracting and expansions at DNR facilities and potential tribal facilities to expand even beyond this, so the key for us will be to determine where we’re going to put fish in the future.”

Steggs says they are still having public meetings and taking online surveys to help determine which waterways they will stock fish in the future.

The larger fingerlings are in the 6 to 8 inch range, which biologists say gives the young walleyes a better chance to grow to maturity.