DNR to use electrofishing boats to monitor natural, stocked walleye populations across Michigan

Crews use bright lights to illuminate water around boats

As DNR walleye surveys get underway later this fall, everyone is asked to use caution when fishing near the electrofishing boats; those wading will be asked to exit the water when a boat approaches and during electrofishing work. (Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel will be conducting walleye recruitment surveys through early October.

The surveys help fisheries managers determine how many walleye were produced naturally or survived stocking in 2022. They will be using electrofishing boats to survey the shallow areas near the shoreline of lakes at night with the goal of capturing the walleye.

Read: Catch a tagged walleye? Here’s how to report it to the Michigan DNR

On larger lakes, two or more electrofishing crews will use separate boats and might be operating at the same time to cover more area. The crews will work both on lakes that have been stocked with walleye and lakes that have not.

“Conducting surveys on both stocked and unstocked lakes can affect decisions about future walleye research and stocking efforts and give valuable insight into the status of the younger walleye in the system,” said Emily Martin, DNR Fisheries Division biologist.

Biologists will be collecting and keeping a sample of young-of-year walley from stocked lakes to decide if the primary source of reproduction is natural or stocked. Many walleye that are stocked are marked with oxytetracycline, a chemical marker that can be observed within captured fish by using a microscope with an ultraviolet light source in a laboratory setting.

Some surveys will be conducted collaboratively with tribal agencies, and tribal natural resources departments also will be conducting surveys independently of the DNR.

Anglers are urged to use caution when fishing near the electrofishing boats, and those wading will be asked to exit the water when a boat approaches. Crews will be using bright lights to illuminate the water around the boats and running a generator on board.

The noise from the generator might make it difficult for anyone to hear or talk with someone on shore.


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Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.