The levels of Big and Lake Mitchell didn't rise the afternoon of October 26, but there was more fish activity under the ice.
That afternoon about 300 pounds of walleye fingerlings of six to nice inches were introduced to the lakes by Phil Goeden, owner of Goeden Fisheries, hired by the Big Lake Community Lakes Association. This size of the walleye has almost a 100% survival rate! with only the very large northern pike being a predator to them in the two lakes! says association members.
"Goeden took great pride in making in making sure they were promptly released from the trucks into the lakes without any stress on the fingerlings, " says Association member Jeff Nagorski. "The water and weather conditions had to be just right for both him to even consider releasing them." "This is the first release by the association and depending on the results, may be done in future years in an attempt to build a better walleye fishing base in the two lakes." "There has been walleye in the lakes for years, but the DNR has refused to stock the lakes due to the fact there are no public access to the lakes," he says. The DNR is reported to have stocked walleye into Big Lake three times in the past 35 years. There were no follow up studies to determine the impact of those stocking efforts. The two lakes are also regarded as having little walleye habitat, the DNR reports, and that has an effect on their ability to reproduce and multiply more effectively.
Association members ask members of the fishing public , if they do catch the walleyes at 16 inches or smaller in future years, the fish be returned to the lake to grow a little. They become able to reproduce naturally at that size. "The association would like to hear feedback from those who will catch the fish in the future. Various fund raisers in the coming year will be staged to help, offset the cost of the program and possibly continue it into the future," he says.
Cost for this walleye stocking was estimated at $5,000. Signs will be posted at locations around the lakes, advocating the catch and release program with the small walleyes. More information will be provided in the future. "Please practice catch and release in our lakes - and check your boats for invasive species before putting your boat into the lakes," says Nagorski.
This article was taken from the West Sherburne Tribune, written by Gary Meyer with input from Jeff Nagorski.