RAPID RIVER - More than 6,800 walleye fingerlings found a new home in Little Bay de Noc today and Monday, courtesy of fish plantings funded by the Hannahville Indian Community and the Walleye Restoration group.
Area representatives from local fishing groups and county and state offices were on hand to transplant fingerlings at the Rapid River boat launch Monday. Another planting was scheduled to take place at the access site today.
The Hannahville Indian Community donated $10,000 of the nearly $13,000 needed to purchase the 6,850 fingerlings. Walleye Restoration raised the balance of the project funds. Walleye Restoration is a group of concerned citizens, fishery experts, anglers, community and state officials, and tribal representatives. The group formed this past spring to improve the quality of the fishery in the Bays de Noc.
Area officials plant walleye fingerlings in Little Bay de Noc at the Rapid River launch site Monday. The project was funded through the Hannahville Indian Community and the Walleye Restoration group. From left are Dave Anthony representing Hannahville, State Representatives Judy Nerat and Mike Lahti, County Chairman Tom Elegeert, Kelly King representing Great Lakes Sports Fishermen Association, and Anne Jousma-Miller, representing the governor’s office. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)
A walleye fingerling is shown up close. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)
"This is the first step in a five-year plan to rebuild depleted walleye stock on Little Bay de Noc," explained Jerry Peterson, local fish biologist and consultant for Walleye Restoration.
Peterson said there are several reasons why walleye numbers have gone down in the bays: inconsistent natural reproduction; inconsistent hatchery plantings in recent years; less strict sports fishing regulations; illegal commercial fishing for walleye; and the gradually-expanding Native American subsistence fishing for walleye.
The Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen organization, which helped with this week's planting, transplanted around 66,000 walleye fingerlings in the bay earlier this year. The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians also donated around 44,000 walleye fingerlings this past spring.
The fingerlings planted this week are 6-8 inches long, larger than the two previous plantings. These fish are expected to spawn within three years, improving natural reproduction, said Peterson.
The fish were purchased from Walleye World, based in Marquette.
The required planting permit was issued by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.