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Tanderson15

Walleye thought

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It seems to me that walleye NEVER get released. I have caught hell over releasing legal 'eyes this year and I wonder how many shorts end up in a grease bath.

Lots of shorts get kept in the spring river run because most don't seem to know about the size limits. Plus--I am shocked by the inability of some to identify fish species. Some can't tell a walleye from a white bass.

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Jeb, your right I do keep and eat a lot, but the 350 was the number of keepers we caught that year not all placed in the live well( my mistake). And actually it was 348. Lenny and I caught the fish for the fish fry the same week. You only need 16 fish for that many people. Besides between me and my wife we can only have 16 fish in possession.

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I've been lucky enough to catch two this year over 6#'s. Back in the water they went. Fishing buddy thought I was nuts. Being from up north and fishing walleyes for years, we always keep "eaters" and return pretty much all of them over 24". Wisconsin, Minnesota, even Canada you'll find eaters are 18"-20" and most others go back. That said, it is mostly to keep the larger spawners alive. Maybe a slot limit on Beaver would help. Being still new here, I'm surprised/pleased how many walleyes I've caught as very little is written about Beaver Lake even having a walleye fishery. Do we think there is any natural reproduction to speak of?

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I believe they spawn all our border lakes, don't forget they were here before the dams in the white river. I think have done well in the high water years. That's one reason I really don't start a lot fishing till march, hoping the spawn is over. I would not mine if they blocked out the spawning months from walleye fishing. I think they do this in some northern states, they have seasons.

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An interesting and familiar discussion going on with this topic, one I've heard many times in the past. Fishing success (for a particular species) is much better in a previous year than currently, prompting fear that overharvest has depleted the population leading to discussions about the possibility of poaching (keeping small fish) and lack of enforcement of existing regulations contributing to the problem. It's easy to understand how anglers believe over harvest has happened when catch rates go down and it's certainly possible in some situations but I don't believe that's what is happening with the walleye in Beaver.

A lot of factors are involved here. Walleye are required to move around a lot because of their water quality requirements. Similar to the striped bass, they require cool and well oxygenated water, which gives them freedom to roam the entire lake in the fall, winter and early spring but summer water temperatures severely limit the areas that walleye can survive and thrive in. The summer stratification of the lake creates an anoxic layer of water below the thermocline in the upper areas of the lake forcing adult walleye to migrate down-lake closer to the dam where oxygen is adequate for fish survival below the thermocline (what biologist call the "thermal refuge"). Complicating things even further, the thermal refuge can change drastically in size from year to year. The refuge is much larger during low water years when compared to high water years. The large amounts of nutrients that enter the lake in high water cause greater areas of anoxic water and subsequently a smaller refuge while the limited nutrient input during low water years lessens the anoxic areas increasing the size of the refuge. Right now, rapidly changing water quality is causing a lot of movement in the adult walleye population as they begin to move down lake to find better water quality. When considering the thermal refuge factor, it's easy to see how there can be drastic changes in fish movement and angler success when comparing low to high water years.

Of course, their are other factors regarding the dynamics of the walleye population in Beaver Lake. Forage levels, survival of spawned or stocked fingerlings during their critical first year, growth rates, and of course, enforcement effectiveness, all play their part. Angler attitudes toward keeping walleye is certainly a factor, after all, they are great eating and much more likely to be kept when legal than some of the other sport fish (ex bass). The 18 inch length and 4 fish creel regulation was implemented because of the popularity of harvesting walleye for table fare and I think it's doing a good job of protecting the younger walleye while allowing harvest of legal adults.

One of the things I like about this forum is the passion and concern members have about the fish populations in Beaver Lake and it's easy to see how changing catch rates are a cause of concern for anglers, however, don't read too much into variations in fishing success between drastically different water level years, it's a trademark of Beaver Lake.

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I've been lucky enough to catch two this year over 6#'s. Back in the water they went. Fishing buddy thought I was nuts. Being from up north and fishing walleyes for years, we always keep "eaters" and return pretty much all of them over 24". Wisconsin, Minnesota, even Canada you'll find eaters are 18"-20" and most others go back. That said, it is mostly to keep the larger spawners alive. Maybe a slot limit on Beaver would help. Being still new here, I'm surprised/pleased how many walleyes I've caught as very little is written about Beaver Lake even having a walleye fishery. Do we think there is any natural reproduction to speak of?

I have been told by AFGC that very little natural reproduction occurs in any of the White River lakes. It has to do with not enough miles of flowing water. Yes they were here before the dams and called jack salmon, but after the lakes filled they were stocked with walleye strains from up North, or possibly from the Tennessee lakes. The species is considered put and take in all four of the lakes. I admire those who release fish for the pleasure of others, but fish release is not really a factor in maintaining the fishery.

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