A few weeks ago, I (Patrick) was on a field trip with the high school science class to see the Walleye stripping station on Woman Lake. There are a handful of them throughout the state and if you haven’t been to one, it’s worth checking it out- it’s pretty cool to see all the big females before they spawn. The morning we were there, there were about 400 fish in the trap nets! The students got a hands-on experience stripping, measuring, and stirring eggs/sperm.
Excuse me while I geek out for a minute….Did you know there are roughly 10 egg take operations around the state of Minnesota? The MN DNR operates the biggest walleye hatchery system in the United States and stocks about 1050 lakes on a rotating basis, Man Lake being one of them. The goal for taking eggs in Minnesota is about 4100 quarts of eggs. Each quart holds about 130,000 eggs, which equals approximately 492 million walleye eggs!
After harvesting the eggs, they are taken to a hatchery where they take about three weeks to hatch. Roughly 66% of the eggs hatch and become fry. (The natural reproduction rate in the wild is probably closer to 1%. If each spawning walleye can replace itself than they are doing good.) About 2/3 of the fry are stocked to lakes within a few days of hatching and the remaining 1/3 are stocked in rearing ponds to grow to fingerlings that are stocked in the fall. It takes about 3 to 4 years for walleye to get to keeper size (14” to 15”).
The walleyes are triggered to spawn by the length of the day and water temperature. Late ice out and steady rising temperatures like we had this spring can result in a strong year class for naturally reproducing walleyes.
A little over a week ago marked the beginning of the walleye season in MN. It was a beautiful weekend and there were a handful of walleye caught by guests at the resort, with a few bass and northern mixed in. Most of the Walleyes were over 24 inches. I personally caught my biggest Walleye of a lifetime- a 30 ½ incher. With the nice weather and rising temperatures, I believe fishing is only going to get better! Check our Facebook, Instagram and website for photos!