Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Lowered walleye bag limit, revamped stocking seek to restore Green Lake

By Javier Serna
Assistant Editor

 

Spicer, Minn. — Word on the street is that walleye fishing has declined on Green Lake, but the Minnesota DNR and local interests are trying to do something about it.

 

This spring, the daily bag limit on the 5,569-acre Kandiyohi County lake was reduced from the statewide limit of six walleyes to three.

 

DNR Spicer-area Fisheries Supervisor Dave Coahran said clearer water and rising temperatures have made lake habitat more friendly for panfish and bass, but an effort undertaken in cooperation with the Green Lake Property Owners Association is doing its best to maintain what’s left of a once-great walleye fishery.

 

“I could even catch walleyes out there in the 1990s,” Coahran said of what was considered one of the better periods of walleye fishing on Green.

 

But zebra mussels were detected in the lake in 2014 and became abundant by 2016.

 

“With zebes out there, I don’t see the lake cycling enough to bring walleye habitat and clarity levels back to their optimal level, even though it has decreased the last few summers,” Coahran said. “That’s why we lowered the limit. The lake association was favorable to this. (The regulation) just reflects the productivity of walleyes of today to what it was, and it is about half.”

 

Said Mike Hodapp, a board member of the lake association: “We have seen it go from gangbusters to horse (bleep). I think we are realistic.”

 

The lake association has made attempts to help the cause, Hodapp said.

 

It formed a subcommittee, called the Green Lake Fishery Project. Green Lake resident Ann Latham, who serves on the state’s citizen walleye committee, is a member of that subcommittee.

 

“We have been working to restore the walleye fishery in this lake since 2005,” said Latham, who suggested a statewide reduced walleye bag limit that was on the table this past legislative session before it was derailed by COVID-19. 

 

“We had a very aggressive (fingerling) stocking program (for Green) for 10 years,” Latham noted. But that wasn’t working, so the lake association stepped up.

 

Last year, it spent $10,000 for 300 pounds of larger walleyes – about 7 to 9 inches long, Hodapp said. It also provided funds so that a DNR-managed walleye-rearing pond could be upgraded to have an aerator to stave off winterkill and so that walleyes could be overwintered in the pond, allowing them to grow to a larger size.

 

Green Lake’s clearer water also has shifted the goals of the yellow perch population.

 

“They are maturing at a small size – 2- to 4-inchers,” Coahran said. “They have changed their life strategy to not growing and putting all of their energy into reproduction. When you have a lake with a lot of perch in the 5- to 7–inch range, stocking (walleyes) works better. We now stock fall yearlings. These fish spend two years in our walleye ponds and go in at 12 inches instead of 6 inches.”

 

The goal is 5,000 fin-clipped walleyes, perhaps every other year, Coahran said.

 

“We think we are on the right track, but this is not the kind of stocking program that is going to be beneficial to a lot of lakes. It’s difficult to produce very many walleyes of that size (to stock),” Coahran said. 

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