Do northerns eat a lot walleye and if so, would it be a good idea to remove larger northern pike (over 30") from certain lakes to improve walleye populations?
Do northerns eat a lot of walleye?
JC Wisconsin, I used to catch a lot of small perch for bait on the lake I live near, but they are gone. Not just fewer of them, the flat I used to fish for bait is almost completely void of perch.
It probably has something to do with the zebra mussels filtering out the perch fry's food, it may have something to do with increased populations of pike, both northern and walleye. But, I would think the perch and walleye fry both eat the same zooplankton so I really don't know.
There is a ton of information out there, but you have to find it. Of course killing all the bass on lakes with little to no natural walleye reproduction is not going to result in more walleye. Without the right habitat, it is going to be a bass/panfish lake unless stocking is occurring regularly. Killing all the bass also isn't going to necessarily result in you catching more walleye even if the population rebounds. Forage fish (perch, lake shiners, etc.) will likely recover, resulting in a better prey/forage ratio which means it may be tougher to catch walleye and would result in less bass to catch. Over time however, lakes should rebound. I catch WAY less total fish in the lakes I fish, and not necessarily that many more walleyes. But I have seen the fish survey reports that show walleye populations have increased...so I don't care that I am catching less total fish right now. Going out in an afternoon fishing walleye, and catching 20 largemouth bass on accident had verified something was off.
Lakes getting older - I don't see this as a valid argument either, at least for inland lakes. To have a lake turn from oligotrophic to mesotrophic, or from mesotrophic to eutrophic takes a long time....much longer than our lifetimes. If anything, lakes have become less fertile in most areas with the removal of lakeshore septic systems dumping raw sewage directly into our lakes. Flowages however are a different breed due to all of the ag runoff that occurs every year.
How many lakes have crappie stocked into them? I know of no lakes with active crappie stocking programs beyond kid pond fisheries.
Global warming - I consider that hogwash why our lakes have become LM bass dominant over a span of only 20-30 years. Recent years we have had the latest ice outs that I can ever remember, and northwood lakes warming very slowly through May. For some reason age 0 fish are not making it to 6" long in a lot of lakes.
I think it is simple - overexploit one fish and protect another over a couple of decades can cause massive changes to a lake. I do also wonder how genetics plays into it. Stocking Mississippi River fry/fingerlings over decades has to have some impact on local ecosystems
Who cares about the walleyes they are over rated. Walleyes need to be stocked to be present. Look at how the DNR dicks everything up now they stock crappies everywhere so people can catch something, believe it or not people are proud of their crappie catches. Yes any fish with teeth eat that’s the way it is. Nothing hard about catching any of these aggressive eaters. One minute it’s to much sport fishing pressure, the next minute it’s spearing, or winter kill. All contributed in the prized fishes decline that is the way it is. Let’s just keep running to Vilas from all over the state because Gillespie says this is where to go for walleye. Drive buy better chances at fishing the fish. Bottom line this is Wisconsin.
Pike are a predator that instinctively practices Risk Assessments. They will eat anything with a low Risk of injury to themselves. Walleye have teeth so smaller walleye have a lower risk of injury. Hunger changes amount of Risk a Pike will take. But yes, they will eat a walleye. Muskie and Pike are the Apex predator on most Wisconsin lakes.
Several people have suggested that maybe a warming environment is causing a walleye decline up north. I question that because 3 of the best 4 walleye fisheries in the state are warm water; Mississippi, Wisconsin and Winnebago. The other one of the 4 is Green bay.
Well I'm sure Max knows what he is talking about. Secondly you can't paint every lake with a broad brush. Just because you have less of one fish and more of another doesn't necessarily mean that one is eating the other. I have a lake cabin in NW WI that used to have a top walleye fishery. However, as the lake has aged and the stumps deteriorated so did the walleye and their ability to spawn successfully. That's nature. The bass fishing was awesome and I caught huge fish over the past 15 years. But the barstool biologist decided to have Kill and Grill parties to knock the bass population down because that must be the case! My average bass size has decreased alot! Rarely any fish over 17 inches. So now what we have is lousy walleye fishing and bass fishing that is heading the same way. Over the years, I would occasionally keep a few bass to grill for dinner for my wife and I and never once have found young walleye inside a bass. We don't know the exact reason why walleyes are down and bass are up. But to over kill bass because we THINK they are the villain without evidence is crazy. Many northern lakes were always bass/northern lakes that walleye were stocked in so maybe there is a reason they don't do well in those lakes. Also, a warming environment is going to change things and you can't expect things to always remain the way "they always were"
"JC That is BS. I've talked to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolters and he confirmed that is false. "
After removing the size limit on bass in several trial NW WI lakes, walleye populations seem to be rebounding. Also of importance, once stunted and extremely slow growing LM bass are showing better growth rates in many of these lakes.
There is no "confirmation" that it is false, and still is very much a possibility. When the LM bass size limit of 14" went into effect, and CPR for bass took off, people were no longer keeping bass. The bass were so numerous and stunted in the lakes I fish, I would catch 15-20 bass in a couple of hours fishing for walleye. And guess what, maybe 1 bass would be 14". Walleyes continued to be kept at increasing rates due to better equipment, and spearing started throughout these years. Protecting bass and continuing to harvest walleye indicates overpopulated and stunted LM in many northern lakes. The bass size limit was removed in 2006 in the lakes I regularly fish. Guess what, I am catching significantly less LM bass when walleye fishing, and am catching bass to 19". The largest LM bass I ever caught from 1995-2010 was 15 inches. Now, warming lakes "may" be playing a part in this, but little data is available.
Only bass guys call it false. Some of the wise bass guys realize that if they want bigger bass, overpopulation negatively affects growth rates...and they realize there is a problem.
Here are some links:
"A bioenergetics analysis of one lake that was stocked with 39,300 juvenile walleyes, but also has some natural reproduction of walleyes, suggested that the largemouth bass population could consume up to 82,500 juvenile walleyes per year. Our findings suggest that largemouth bass interact strongly with walleyes through predation, that they can limit the survival of stocked walleyes, and that walleye stocking can result in increased largemouth bass populations. "
Any fisheries guy calling this disproved is STRONGLY overreaching. There are studies looking into this right now, and I look forward to what they learn from them.
That being said, SM bass should be managed separate from LM bass.