Muskegon River walleye egg collection scheduled for spring

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Department of Natural Resources today reminded Muskegon River anglers that Fisheries Division personnel will be taking walleye eggs below Croton Dam starting the third week of March.

The DNR plans to collect approximately 45 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River in 2013 that will result in 7 million fry for transfer to rearing ponds throughout the Lower Peninsula. These walleye will be raised to fingerling size and stocked this spring in lakes and rivers throughout the state.

Lake Michigan walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula are dependent on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs, as well as many inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula. The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is presently about 40,000 to 50,000 each year. DNR crews will strip milt and eggs from approximately 250 adult fish, which will be returned to the river – except for 60 which will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing.

“This adult population consists of mostly stocked fish,” said Rich O’Neal, fisheries biologist for the Central Lake Michigan Management Unit. “The Muskegon River has the largest run of walleye in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay.”

The DNR plans to collect walleye with an electro-fishing boat beginning as early as the week of March 18 and concluding by April 12. Seven days of fish collections are planned during this period. The actual date when collections will begin depends on water temperatures and the presence of ripe fish. This schedule can change on a daily basis for many reasons, but it is anticipated most work will be completed during the last week of March and the first week of April.

Sampling usually begins each day at Croton Dam at about 8:30 a.m. and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street access site.

Egg collection and fertilizing is conducted at the Pine Street access site, about 2 miles downstream of Croton Dam. This process generally begins between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to observe how the eggs are removed from the fish and fertilized before they are packed and shipped to the hatchery.

Anglers who wish to avoid the walleye collection activities should fish downstream of the areas of the river previously noted. The DNR asks anglers to exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boats. Wading anglers are asked to exit the water when the boat approaches. The DNR appreciates angler cooperation during this critical egg take operation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *