The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Plan addresses low numbers of Lac Vieux Desert walleyes


May 1, 2018

Submitted photo

THE MAP shows depths of Lac Vieux Desert, which lies in both Michigan and Wisconsin.

WATERSMEET - On the Michigan-Wisconsin border in Gogebic and Vilas counties, Lac Vieux Desert is a 4,000-acre lake where walleye numbers have been falling.

Fisheries managers have observed all-time lows of walleyes, stemming from declines in natural reproduction.

While the decline is not completely understood, a cooperative interagency walleye rehabilitation plan in response was recently drafted by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan DNR, Lac Vieux Desert Band and Sokaogon (Mole Lake) Chippewa.

The goal of the plan is to restore natural reproduction and increase the density of adult walleyes to at least 2 to 2.5 fish per acre.

The plan includes stocking, coordinated population assessments, harvest management, public education and enforcement efforts.

The Lac Vieux Desert Band and Sokaogon Chippewa have agreed to refrain from spearing or netting walleyes on Lac Vieux Desert from 2018 through 2022. 

The lake lies within the 1842 Treaty-ceded territory.

When the ice retreats on Lac Vieux Desert in the next two to three weeks, a survey team of state and tribal fisheries professionals will hit the water to deploy trap nets that will help determine walleye abundance.

It accomplished by marking as many adult walleyes as possible with fin clips. After the marked fish have some time to mix within the lake, crews then use electrofishing boats to sample along the shorelines to determine the proportion of the population that was marked. 

Next, the Wisconsin DNR will follow up with another netting survey targeting muskellunge, which are most effectively sampled a little later in the year.

Finally, crews will return to Lac Vieux Desert in the fall to determine if there was any natural reproduction by walleyes in 2018. If natural reproduction is low or non-existent, Lac Vieux Desert will receive 64,500 extended-growth fingerlings (6 to 8 inches) in October or November, courtesy of the WDNR, as part of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.

The LVD Lake Association also plans to again operate a portable walleye hatchery on the lake for fry production.

The MDNR will conduct angler surveys throughout the year in to estimate angler effort, catch and harvest. A Michigan DNR creel clerk will interview anglers from a boat and at access sites.

Angler compliance with the clerk is encouraged as it is essential to obtain the best possible information for fisheries management.

Anglers should be aware the recreational fishing regulations for walleyes on Lac Vieux Desert (in Michigan and Wisconsin waters) are new for this year and include an 18-inch minimum size limit and daily bag limit of three fish.


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