“Our primary objective is to determine mortality patterns for walleye in Glen Elder,” fisheries biologist Scott Waters told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “We want to determine what percent of the population dies from angling mortality, natural mortality or are lost to emigration. How high is the mortality and when it is occurring throughout the year.
“The results of this three-year study could help to determine more appropriate management regulations with a good estimate of mortality.”
The data collected through this study should prove vital to wildlife agencies throughout the Midwest as they devise strategies for managing the popular sportfish.
“Through this study, I will also be able to determine seasonal walleye movement patterns and home range sizes, habitat selection and daily movement patterns,” Waters said. “This is research that has not been studied often in the Midwest.”
The fish that have been implanted with transmitters also will have a 3-inch, pink Floy tag attached to their dorsal fin carrying the fish’s identification number, the KDWPT contact number and a message about a $100 reward given for the return of the transmitter from any keeper-sized fish, according to the KDWPT.
Fish that are under the legal size limit should be returned to the water with the tag intact, though anglers are encouraged to carefully measure the fish and report the length and location of the catch to the park office.
Anglers who harvest legal fish are encouraged to call or stop by the office to return the internal transmitter for the $100 reward, and the angler may keep the fish and Floy tag.
Manual tracking will be conducted at least two times each month, the agency said, with more frequent tracking conducted during certain periods of the year. Once a fish is located, water depth and temperature, GPS location and the identification number will be recorded.
Glen Elder, also known as Waconda Lake, is located on the border of Mitchell and Osborne counties in north-central Kansas. It makes for a prime location for the study, as it has a strong population of keeper-sized walleyes, as well as white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and channel catfish.
“Glen Elder currently ranks third in the state’s fishing forecast for density of walleye over 15 inches long,” Waters said.
The KDWPT said that updates will be provided throughout the study to help anglers learn more about daily and seasonal walleye movement patterns and habitat preferences.
The process of implanting the transmitters is a relatively safe and sterile procedure for the fish.
The fish are collected using trap nets and gill nets and brought to shore, the KDWPT said in a news release. Each fish is placed in an anesthetic bath for several minutes before surgery. A 1.5-inch incision is made in the abdominal wall, and after the sex is determined, a 22-gram ultrasonic transmitter is placed in the abdominal cavity. Three sutures and glue are used to close the incision and an antibiotic is given to prevent infection. Once the fish regains equilibrium and resumes normal behavior, it is released.
More about walleye
Walleye are a species of freshwater perch and are closely related to both the European zander and the sauger, which interbreed with walleye to create a hybrid species called saugeye. It is a favorite among freshwater anglers because of its delicious, finely textured meat.
The National Wildlife Federation said walleyes typically reach between 2.5 and 3 feet in length and weigh up to 10 or even 20 pounds.
The world-record walleye, which weighed 25 pounds and measured 41 inches long, was caught in 1960 by Mabry Harper out of Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee. The record stood for 36 years but was overturned because of a perceived lack of evidence that the fish weighed as much as was reported. However, newly submitted documents led the international Game Fish Association to reinstate the fish as the world walleye record. The state walleye record in Kansas was a 29-inch, 13.16-pounder caught in April 1996 on Wilson Reservoir by Dustin Ritter, of Hoisington.
During the day, walleye are commonly thought to mostly be found in deeper, cooler waters, though some can be found in shallow weedbeds. At night, they move into shallower waters to feed.