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?
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.
They lived together for many, many millennia before hook and line humans began worrying about that.
JC That is BS. I've talked to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolters and he confirmed that is false.
Northerns have close to no impact on walleyes, and vice versa. They have filled certain niches. Why do Canadian lakes have unlimited walleye, northern, and smallmouth living in the same areas? If anything, walleye could potentially prey on young northern since northern spawn before walleyes do. Killing northerns will have little effect on walleye populations.
If you are interested in keeping fish on walleye lakes that may improve walleye numbers, target LM bass. There is a lot of evidence that largemouth feed on walleye finglerlings.
Pike will grab an occasional small walleye but they do not prefer walleye as their main food. Pike and walleye have lived very well together and neither species seems to have an effect on the other. Its kind of like the musky argument with bass. The bass guys think the lake wolfs are affecting the population but its just not true, Musky prefer the normal baitfish type of forage just like pike and walleye. Musky and pike will grab a blue gill, perch, or shad type fish before they grab a walleye or bass. Usually lakes with good walleye populations have good pike populations also and they both do just fine. Lakes with good pike populations usually have good populations of other species also and they tend to not have an affect on each other.