Wisconsin DNR continues efforts to improve declining walleye population

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Walleye are a popular target for many local anglers but as research shows a decline in Wisconsin waters, officials are sharing what they’re doing to help.

"Walleye are the most commonly sought game fish in the state of Wisconsin. so anglers prefer to catch walleye, that's what they want to target and seek," says Heath Benike, Fisheries Supervisor for the Eau Claire Area DNR.

Many large bodies of water in the Eau Claire Area river system such as Lake Wissota, Lake Eau Claire, and Lake Altoona have a strong natural production of walleye and don't need to be stocked.

Despite its popularity, the species isn't easily found in other areas. "Some of our inland lakes, especially in the northern central north western side of the state have seen a decline in walleye starting sometime back in the late 80s, early 90s, we've been monitoring that population decline," said Benike.

State officials say they've been well aware of the declining walleye population for some time and have been focused on crafting solutions, one of which is the Walleye Initiative.

"We changed our stocking practices about seven years ago, i think it was now, we used to stock about two inch sized walleyes in our lakes, we found those weren’t surviving in some of our lakes very well some lakes they did but we a lot of lakes they weren’t so we went to a larger sized fish hopefully to avoid whatever bottleneck was out in the lakes," said Benike.

The walleye initiative was developed by the DNR as a partnership with the Governor's office and officials say they plan to continue it through the coming year as it has produced positive results. "It’s a good management tool for those lakes that need stocking," said Benike.