by Mike Gray, CLA President
At the Spring meeting of Center Lakes Association, Leslie George of Minnesota DNR talked about their fish stocking of walleye in North and South Center Lakes. I was surprised to hear that walleye don’t naturally reproduce in our lakes and the DNR stocking program is how the lake is repopulated.
A friend mentioned that their lake association pays to stock their lake. So, I reached out to Leslie for information, as this was quite interesting! She said, “It is not uncommon for lake associations to stock their lakes.”
The DNR stocks our lakes in even numbered years. North Center gets 608,000 walleye fry in the Spring and South Center gets 729 pounds (about 14,000 fingerlings, 4+”) in the fall. North Center is shallower and warmer. That is why they do the fry instead of fingerlings, but we could do fingerlings if we wanted. If we wanted to supplement the DNR stocking, it would make sense to do it in the odd numbered years.
We would need to fill out a permit for transporting the live fish and the DNR would use that information when doing fish counts in the Spring to see if there is a noticeable effect in the counts. The permit is free and is used only for tracking purposes.
I contacted 10,000 Lakes Aquaculture, Inc. in Osakis, MN. They are one of the fisheries we could purchase from. Leslie said the majority of fish purchased are walleye. I only investigated walleye, based on her recommendation. I know our lakes are also known for large mouth bass-they run $2/fish. To purchase walleye fingerlings 4-6” long, the cost is $1.60/fish. If we were going to augment the DNR stocking by putting 25% of what they stock in even years we would be putting 3,500 fingerlings in each lake, or 7,000 total at a cost of $11,200. If we were to cut it back to 10% of what the DNR stocks, we would be at 2,800 total at a cost of $4,480.
These are some large numbers and I bring them up because the recent years of higher water kept our invasive weeds at bay, so our weed treatments haven’t been permitted by the DNR. Now with the lower water levels and the increase in Curley Leaf Pondweed and Eurasian Water Milfoil, we may see the weed treatments and related costs go up. But with help from the Lake Improvement District, those costs should be mitigated. We currently have about $30,000 of funds to work with.
My question is “Is there enough interest among lake association members to pay to augment the DNR stocking of walleye on North and South Center?”. I have only caught two walleyes in the 11 years I have lived on South Center, so it doesn’t matter to me. I am just looking for ways Center Lakes Association can bring benefit to its members and lakeshore owners. And if you say stocking walleye in our lakes is important, we can pursue it.
Thanks for your input!