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Test shows strong walleye population in Leech Lake

The walleye population remains strong in Leech Lake so anglers should enjoy more quality fishing in the coming years, according to results of fall test netting conducted on the lake by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The lake's walleye population is above the long-term average and similar to the 2009 and 2010 averages.

"September gill nets showed an abundance of walleye from 14 to 26 inches," said Doug Schultz, large lake specialist in Walker. "There is a nice distribution of walleye within and outside of the protected slot limit of 18 and 26 inches."

The number of young-of-the-year walleye (those hatched in the current year) that were sampled by electrofishing was well above average since sampling with electrofishing began in 2005. The good growth exhibited by these fish usually results in higher winter survival. As a result, this could turn out to be a year class of moderate abundance. Netting results for yellow perch and northern pike showed a modest drop in yellow perch abundance and a slight increase in northern pike abundance.

Lake-wide walleye counts in DNR test nets averaged 8.08 walleye per net lift, which was similar to 2009 and 2010 results and above the long-term average of 7.5 walleye per net lift.

The numbers indicate that actions implemented under the current management plan are succeeding, noted Schultz. Key elements of the plan include special fishing regulations, walleye fry stocking, cormorant control and an increased emphasis on aquatic habitat protection.

"Still unclear," Schultz added, "is which management actions are having the strongest influence on maintaining a stable walleye population. This is a question we will continue to address in the coming years."