Those anglers who have been whining about the lack of walleyes in Pymatuning Lake can tune up for some better songs. State wildlife officials including those from Ohio and Pennsylvania have jointly announced that there have now been three successful years of stocking since 2008. But the three successful stocking efforts didn’t just happen; they were well engineered with excellent results.
The population of walleyes in Pymatuning Lake, traditionally a top pick for inland walleye fishing, has been on the decline for the last ten years. The traditional method of stocking has been to release 1/4 inch fry, or baby walleyes, tine bug eyed creatures produced in a hatchery controlled environment from eggs and milt collected from captured walleyes and released in April.
Lakes age as they go through biological changes and Pymatuning’s water was no exception, becoming less favorable for fry survival as the years passed. That’s the short, unscientific version of why walleye numbers dropped noticeably in this sprawling, shallow impoundment.
So a new stocking strategy was adopted. Fish biologists began rearing the walleye to one inch, a period of growth of just several weeks, and since 2008 release the larger fingerlings in late May or early June. The result is astounding and welcome news for northeast Ohio anglers.
Fall shoreline surveys indicate that the new stocking strategy is working and working well. According to officials, the first year survival rate for walleyes stocked in 2008, 2009, and 2010 is the best observed since 2000. In particular, the 2009 stocked fingerlings look to the best of the three years ringing the numbers bell at twice that of fish released in 2008 or 2010. Fish stocked in 2008 ought to be right around the 15 inch mark this summer.
In 2012 the super class of 2009 will to hit the 15 inch mark with a percentage of this group reaching 15 inches later this summer.
Indeed the Pymatuning walleye fishery is on the rebound and in fact, with additional years of successful spring stockings, added to some natural reproduction, the big lake may hit the top ten list once again.