MISSION: To preserve, protect and enhance the water quality, fishery and recreational and aesthetic values of Lake George for the current and future generations.
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2016 Spring Spearing Results

There was a tribal declaration of 203 Walleye and 5 Musky on Lake George. The tribes are required to declare the number they intend to take from a "safe harvest" number, as calculated by the DNR

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The actual number speared was 128 Walleye and 0 Musky

Fishery Message
John Kubisiak, DNR Fish Biologist
 December 21, 2015

There are a number of reasons why fish don't bite. The two most likely causes include either a low fish population, or abundant natural forage competing with anglers' bait. For George Lake walleye, we can rule out a low population, because Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) estimated the adult walleye population this spring at 3.4 per acre. The common cause of not catching fish even though good numbers are present is that they have keyed in on abundant natural food and are choosing not to bite what anglers are offering.

George has a history of consistent strong walleye recruitment, but I'm paying close attention to recruitment after two consecutive weak walleye yearclasses. We had similar results on other Oneida County lakes: solid walleye lakes that had less than 5 young-of-year per mile in 2014 and 2015. Walleye normally experience big swings in recruitment, and we can sustain an adult population with one decent yearclass every 3 or 4 years. If a fall survey shows another weak yearclass on George in 2016, then I plan to stock fish in 2017.

You ask whether muskies might be impacting the walleye population.. Two technical papers come to mind on this topic*. A Minnesota study looked for changes to fish communities due to muskie stocking, but did not find any widespread effect. A diet study by UW Stevens Point researchers found that muskies in northern Wisconsin eat mostly yellow perch and white suckers and consume very few walleye. I don't believe muskies differentiate between perch and walleye, but the fact that perch are active and walleye inactive during daylight hours is likely important. 

I consider muskie populations above about  0.5 per acre to be moderately high density; we start to see declines in growth when we exceed 1 per acre. We did not estimate the muskie population on George during our 2010 survey, but our catch of 99 muskies is fairly high for that species.

I changed the George Lake muskie quota from our standard stocking rate of 0.5 per acre to 0.25 per acre in even-numbered years. I've been using the lower rate on a few large waters that I manage for lower muskie densities and better growth potential. The actual number of fish stocked changes from 217 to 111, not quite in half because the official lake acreage is currently 443 (we used 435 in Wisconsin Lakes).

Every second year, we were stocking about 2 per acre from mid-1960s through the 80s; 1 per acre in the 1990s; 0.5 per acre 2002 - 2014 and now 0.25 per acre. Muskie anglers were releasing most fish by early 1990s and I think our current hatchery product is really good, but it is amazing that we can keep cutting stocking in half and produce a fishery.

*Knapp et al 2012. Fish community response to the introduction of muskellunge into Minnesota lakes. http://afs.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02755947.2012.663684

Bozek et al 1997. Diets of muskellunge in northern Wisconsin lakes.
http://afs.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-
8675%281999%3CO258%3ADOMINW%3E2.0.CO%382.

​ On 09-28-16 an electro-fishing survey of the walleye population in Lake George was done by WDNR fisheries biologists under the direction of John Kubisiak. His official report won't be ready until late this year but he has given us his thoughts on what they saw during the survey. His comments below are based on the fact that 8 fish were found in the size range of 9.3 to 11.1 inches (what he refers to as age-2 meaning they were hatched in 2014) and 19 fish were found in the size range of 11.2 to 12.0 inches (what he refers to as age-3 meaning they were hatched in 2013). No fish smaller than 9.3 inches were identified in the survey leading him to believe there were "very weak walleye yearclasses in 2014, 2015, and 2016". The abundant crappie population could be eating the young walleye and/or be competing for the same food supply. More information will be posted here when we have it.

"From scale ages, the fish under about 11.2 inches are age-2 (2014) and the fish from about 11.3 to 12 are age-3 (2013). So we've had very weak walleye yearclasses in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (although we saw about 8 of the 2-year-olds from 2014 this fall). One likely cause of poor walleye survival are the abundant crappies - we saw quite a few that were around 5-7". I plan to take out a DNR stocking quota for George to get some fish in there until things hopefully turn around.

We saw decent numbers of walleye starting at about 10-11 inches. So the string of poor recruitment doesn't explain poor fishing for adult walleye right now. The 2015 population estimate was 3.4 adult walleye per acre, right where we'd expect for a 435-acre lake supported by good natural reproduction." 
From John Kubisiak, WDNR Fisheries Biologist:

We use fall electrofishing as an indicator of recruitment and stocking success. Young walleye are the primary target, especially young-of-year (yoy, born this spring, 4-8 inches in length) and age-1 (born spring of 2015, 7-11 inches in length). We also collected other gamefish species. In lakes with naturally reproducing walleye populations, we collect an average of 33 yoy walleye per mile of shoreline; catch in stocked lakes is generally lower. We’ve been using 12 yoy per mile as a benchmark of recruitment (enough walleye produced that we should see a noticeable yearclass in the future). I’m generally happy with age-1 catch around 5 per mile. Recruitment is usually quite variable year to year, and one moderate to strong yearclass every 2-3 years is enough to sustain an adult population.

On George Lake, I’m surprised that the smallest 5 to 8 fish from 9.3 to around 11 inches were not assigned age-1. Either way it looks like the last 2 years didn’t produce much walleye recruitment but there's a decent number of fish 2 years and older.

I requested a 2017 quota for stocking 35 small fingerling walleye per acre in George next spring. This works out to just under 15,500 fish. Small fingerlings averaged 2 inches this year, so they should be big enough to make it past the bluegill and crappies if that is the issue.