Wisconsin is stocking up on walleye.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources has launched the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, a two-year, $12 million drive to fill the state’s lakes with delicious fishes.
State government, private industry and local tribes will team up to stock 750,000 to 800,000 fingerling walleyes over the next two years, in 275 lakes.
In 2013, the first year of the program, the state stocked 450,000 large fingerlings and officials are predicting that Wisconsin walleye are heading for a population boom. In the past, the state had stocked about 35 lakes each year with larger walleye.
“Giving a much-needed boost to our walleye population is great news for our fishing community and it’s also great for our tourism industry and state economy,” Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement. “The success of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is thanks to a great cooperative effort by private, public and tribal entities.”
But Minnesota isn’t sweating the competition.
“They’ve got a ways to catch up,” said Neil Vanderbosch, fisheries program consultant for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
One of his predecessors joked that “we spill more fry in our hatcheries than most states stock.”
Walleye is the official state fish in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Last year, Minnesota stocked 300 million fry — tiny hatchlings — and 3.5 million fingerlings — larger juveniles between 4 and 8 inches long. Those young walleye go into more than 1,000 lakes to supplement the natural populations, Vanderbosch said.
Wisconsin does stock a lot more of its official state fish — the muskie — than Minnesota does, Vanderbosch said. But Minnesota’s are bigger.