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Anglers excited about walleye initiative

By Mary Jo Ola,
Published On: May 28 2013 07:07:59 AM CDT
Updated On: May 28 2013 07:08:22 AM CDT

Anglers are thrilled about a multimillion-dollar initiative to enhance the number of walleye in Wisconsin lakes.

It is called the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, an effort by the state, Department of Natural Resources and other groups that is expected to drive both the population and tourism.

Walleye is one of the state's most popular game fish. Lake Wisconsin is known to be a hot spot for them.

"They get pretty big in here sometimes. Some people pull out some pretty dandy ones, 9 to 10 pounds. (They’re) not real frequent but they're in here," said Rick Hochleutner, a frequent fisherman at the lake.

But hot weather and growing demand for walleye have taken a toll on the population.

"The governor and the legislature have gotten together and said, look, what can you do to really move the needle to increase the walleye populations out there for everybody? So we've come up with some funding for an enhanced stocking program," said Mike Staggs, director for Bureau of Fisheries Management of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.

The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative puts millions of dollars to enhance stock state hatchery systems and tribal and private aquacultures.

"Under this initiative we would go from 60,000 to 120,000 to probably over 500,000 in the state system alone," said Staggs.

He said the groups behind the effort believe the jump in walleyes will draw in more tourists and tournaments.

DNR said it will take 3 to 5 years for the walleye they stock to grow up and be ready to fish.

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