Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24• LVD HATCHERY/STOCKING • To stock or not to stock walleye, that is the question Stocking has been a large part of walleye management in the Ojibwe Ceded Territory since the late 1800s. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota all have extensive walleye propagation programs that produce fry, spring fingerling, or fall extended growth fingerlings. In addition, tribal and private hatcheries have stocked significant numbers of fish in lakes throughout the Ceded Territory. Historically, most of the walleye pro- duced in hatcheries were fry or spring fingerlings. In recent years, many hatcheries have tailored their facilities to produce extended growth fingerling walleye (about 6 inches in length) with the hope that these fish will experience higher survival rates than earlier life stages. Since walleye are such a popular fish among state and tribal fishers, they have been widely stocked for a variety of reasons. Many of the early walleye stocking programs were intended to introduce walleye to waterbodies where they were not initially present (e.g., Escanaba Lake). In some lakes where natural reproduction does not occur, stocking has been used to maintain fishable walleye populations (e.g.,Tomahawk Lake). Stocking can also be a valuable tool to help walleye stocks recoverinlakeswherenaturalreproductionhasfailed(e.g.,LacVieuxDesertLake). While stocking has contributed to walleye populations in the Ceded Territory in a variety of ways over time, the most abundant walleye populations are sup- ported through natural reproduction. Although stocking has often contributed to improving walleye populations, it doespresentsomebiologicalrisksandfinancialcosts.Forexample,whenhatchery fish are stocked into lakes with natural reproduction, they may compete with natu- rally produced fish for habitat and resources, suppressing natural year-classes. In addition, if hatchery fish have different genetics than the fish in a given lake, cross breeding of natural fish and hatchery fish can reduce the fitness of the offspring, which can hinder maintenance or recovery of natural walleye stocks. Stocked fish also show poor survival when conditions in the lake are not suitable for them. From a financial perspective, the price tag of producing walleye in a hatchery can be quite high, with extended growth fingerlings costing in the range of two dollars per fish. Overall, these financial costs and biological risks need to be taken into account before moving forward with a walleye stocking program. Stocking has often been viewed by stakeholders as a ‘fix-all’tool for walleye management.Usergroupsaroundlakesoftenwanttostockwalleyetofurtherincrease healthy populations, improve fishing, restore naturally reproducing populations, or create a walleye fishery. Unfortunately, these goals are often unachievable by stocking alone. The fish present in a lake are a product of the habitat in that lake, and only a small percentage of lakes have good walleye habitat. Even in cases where hatchery fisharebeingusedtorestoreanaturallyreproducingwalleyepopulation,biologists need to work to identify and eliminate the reasons for failure of natural reproduc- tion for the project to be successful. In many instances, focusing on building ecological resilience (i.e., an eco- system that can withstand disturbance) is a more cost effective long-term solution than stocking walleye into a water body. For example, resource managers could focus efforts on constructing/restor- ing shorelines to provide a buffer between land use practices (e.g., fertilizing a lawn, agriculture) and a lake. This would reduce stressors in this ecosystem (e.g., nutrient loading) and make it more resilient to future disturbances (e.g., warmer temperatures associated with climate change). Collectively, stocking can be a useful management tool in some lakes, but building ecological resilience into lakes with naturally reproducing walleye popu- lations will do more to ensure that this resource is available for future generations to harvest and enjoy. By Mark Luehring and Aaron Shultz GLIFWC Inland Fisheries Biologists Partnerships form foundation of walleye work in Upper Michigan As walleye populations continue to struggle in some1842MichiganCededTerritorylakes,LacVieux Desert (LVD) Band fisheries managers are expanding selective stocking efforts.With an ever-growing cadre of partners, LVD supports fisheries programs from the Wisconsin border waters to Gichigami. “Our work to help recover walleye populations has really strengthened our relationships with local organizations and the DNRs in Wisconsin and Mi- chigan,” said Roger LaBine who leads tribal fisheries work with Mitchell McGeshick. DNRs, or Depart- ments of Natural Resources, represent state fisheries programs. While the tribe most often focuses walleye releases on its home water, Lac Vieux Desert Lake, fishery managers turned loose 1,050 extended growth ogaa (walleye) into Cisco Lake last September. LVD Tribal Chairman Jim Williams Jr. and Greg Wenzel from Cisco Chain Riparian Owners Association took part in the September 16 release that featured robust walleye up to 10-inches long. The extended growth fingerlingsoriginatedfromCiscobroodstockcaptured in fyke nets during the spring spawning run. The tribe’s ability to stock larger ogaa expanded just a few years ago with the construction of two fabric-lined rearing ponds near the south shore of Lac Vieux Desert Lake. Here, tribal fisheries staff work with another group, Lac Vieux Desert Lake Associa- tion, to culture and stock ogaa into the 4,017-acre lake bisected by the Michigan-Wisconsin border. From a portable hatchery dubbed “walleye wagon” local vol- unteers tend to fertilized eggs collected jointly by the lake association and LVD tribe. In 2015, they hatched and released 300,000 fry, and in this past year stocked nearly 1.8 million of the tiny walleyes. On the north shore of Lac Vieux Desert Lake, the bandcontinuedupgradingtheirlong-runninghatchery atOldVillage.Inamovetousemoregreenenergy,band contractors installed a solar array to power water and electrical systems. And through a cooperative agree- ment, the Old Village hatchery received two, 24-foot runwaytanksfromKeweenawBayIndianCommunity; in exchange LVD fisheries managers raised and fed walleye hatchery stock to fingerling size, transferring them to the Keweenaw Peninsula’s Portage Lake, an important fishery for the community. The LVD Band assigned one runway tank to lake association partners to hold fry until the hatchlings shedtheiryokesacs.Oncefreeofthesacs,cooperators marked those 1.8 million walleye with OTC, LaBine said. State biologists requested the procedure, which involves marking the fish in oxytetracycline “bath,” to helpidentifyhatcheryfishinfuture surveys. Fish absorb OTC into their bones, allowing biologists to identifyhatcheryfishwhenviewed under ultraviolet light. Fisheries assessments con- ducted over the coming years will reveal how well the cooperative stocking efforts aid in walleye re- coveryonalakecherishedbymany. By Charlie Otto Rasmussen, Editor Ogaa are an important species to state licensed anglers as well as Ojibwe tribal members. (COR photo) Above, LVD Fishery Manager Mitchell McGeshick weighs ogaa fingerlings netted from tribal rearing ponds. Right: Extended growth ogaa or walleye fingerling. (submitted photos) MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 10 WINTER 2016-17