05/01/12 By Mark Spencley Cheboygan Daily News
INDIAN RIVER – The Inland Waterway, a famed walleye fishing destination, will enter the second year of a three-year study looking into all of the factors that affect the fishery’s walleye population.
To track the movement of walleye within the waterway, DNR, Tribal and Michigan State University biologists netted and tagged 7,323 walleye in the spring of 2011. In order for biologist to follow the movement patterns of these tagged fish, biologists are reliant on anglers.
A large part of this study focuses on the diet of walleyes within the waterway. In order to record the stomach contents of caught fish, DNR biologists need some help for anglers.
“Tag and stomach returns are so critical to the success of this study,” said Patrick Hanchin, DNR fisheries biologist. “We appreciate any angler participation we can get because it provides us with a better understanding of this particular species.”
When fishermen land one of these tagged fish they are asked to fill out a form detailing the fish and where it was caught. This will provide vital information on walleye migration patterns.
“We need anglers to cooperate with to get the most out of this study,” explained Tim Cwalinski, DNR Fisheries biologist. “We need them to fill out the form when they catch a tagged fish.”
The tag return forms are available at http://www.michigan.gov/taggedfish or at fishing access sites within the Inland Waterway.
There is a new element to the inland waterway walleye survey this year – an acoustic telemetry study on the species in the lower Black and Cheboygan rivers. Ten males and 10 females have been implanted with acoustic transmitters to allow their movements to be tracked with passive receivers stationed throughout the river system, as well as through active tracking from a boat.
This portion of the study helps to determine the extent of walleye movement between the Black and Cheboygan rivers and Mullett Lake, as well as possibly Lake Huron.
Many area anglers will pay particular attention to the portion of this study that highlights walleye movement within Mullett Lake. An population survey a few years ago revealed an alarmingly low number of walleye’s inhabit Mullett Lake.
There are reasons for Mullett Lake’s low walleye population.
According to Cwalinski, the water temperature and depth of Mullett Lake works against it becoming a hot walleye fishery.
“People need to understand, it’s not the size of the lake, it’s the quality of conditions for a specific species of fish, in this case walleyes,” explained Cwalinski. “Mullett Lake is a big lake, yes, but it’s cold, at its depths it is 45 degrees. There’s just not that much usable real estate for walleyes.”
Many anglers claim the walleye fishing in Mullett Lake used to be much better. Fish populations ebb and flow, meaning there is likely better walleye fishing in Mullett Lake’s future as well. What this study will reveal is the reason for the low points and high points, giving anglers and biologists a better understanding of the fishery.