For the fourth time in seven years, the Chetek Chain of Lakes was stocked with thousands of large fingerling walleyes as part of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.
Employees from the Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery recently stocked 26,377 walleyes in the following lakes of the Chetek Chain:
• Prairie Lake: a total of 15,340—5,349 (6.0 inches) on Sept. 26 at CTH M public access; 6,000 (6.3 inches) on Sept. 27 at Veterans Memorial Park access; 3,991 (6.3 inches) on Sept. 27 at 11-1/2 Ave. access (Hoover’s Boat Landing);
• Ojaski/Mud Lake—3,319 (6.6 inches) on Oct. 1 at public access;
• Ten Mile Lake—1,210 (6.3 inches) on Sept. 27 and 1,448 (6.3 inches) on Sept. 30 both at Campground access (Barron County Park Rd.)
• Pokegama Lake—5,060 (6.3 inches) on Sept. 30 at main public access (next to Pokegama Lakeside Tavern & Grill).
As part of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, the Chetek Chain has benefited from fish stockings in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.
In 2013, 37,630 walleyes ranging from 6–8 inches were stocked, while 34,959 walleyes ranging from 7–7.5 inches were stocked in 2015. In 2017, 36,998 walleyes were stocked, however, 20,120 of the fish measured 3.3 inches, and 16,878 walleyes measured 6.5 inches. All of those were stocked in Prairie Lake.
All of the fish that were stocked in 2019 into the Chetek Chain were raised at here the Gov. Thompson Hatchery. According to hatchery foreman Phil Neublich, this year’s walleye eggs were taken out of the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County on April 28, 29 and 30.
“The eggs are then brought back to the facility and put in hatching jars where they are kept in a constant roll with fresh water flow. The fry will hatch out in about 14 days and once all of the fry has hatched, they will be transferred to the designated rearing ponds. Walleye fry will start feeding on zooplankton, tiny bug life in the ponds, for about a month and a half,” Neublich stated. “At this point, the fingerlings are about 1.5 to 2 inches, or bigger in size. From here, the fingerlings are introduced to fathead minnows (size appropriate) to feed on and fed weekly until the time of harvest in the fall. Usually at the time of harvest, the fingerlings are about 100 days old and average 6 inches or bigger in size.”
The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative was developed by the Department of Natural Resources and the governor’s office to increase the number of walleyes in state walleye waters by expanding production of large fingerling walleye at state, private and tribal fish hatcheries for stocking in waters accessible to the public. This historic investment in Wisconsin’s walleye fishery will benefit all users and Wisconsin’s angling related economy.