Friday, April 1, 2011

DNR to Place Sonic Tags in Winnebago Walleyes

This spring Oshkosh DNR fisheries staff will be surgically implanting 100 walleye of various sizes on the Winnebago system with sonic tags. We’re asking anglers fishing the system to be on the lookout for these fish and to release them unharmed if they should catch one. The sonic tagged fish are recognizable as they have two or three blue monofilament sutures on their belly. We will also be putting a second tag on the fish in addition to the numbered Floy tag we commonly use. This second tag is a 3-inch long piece of yellow nylon located several inches behind the Floy tag (see photos).

This $32,000 project was entirely funded by 17 local sporting clubs and organizations around the Winnebagoland area with sportsmen’s dollars! The tags have a battery life of approximately 900 days. This should allow us to track the implanted walleye’s movement on their downstream migration this year and for 2 more years of both up and downstream spring runs, IF that fish doesn’t die or get harvested. That’s where your cooperation is vital to keep as many of these implanted fish swimming as long as possible. We believe that Winnebago system anglers will cooperate and release these fish, not only because they will find the information from this study very interesting, but also out of respect for the club’s donations of hard earned money toward this project.

The purpose of implanting the walleye with these tags is to better understand the timing and movement patterns of walleye in the Winnebago system. For many years, anglers have asked us questions about when the walleye leave the lake, how long does it take for them to get to the spawning marshes, how long do they stay up in the rivers, how fast they come back to the lake, etc. These sonic tags will give us some great information to better answer those questions.

Walleye will be tagged on the Fox River at Eureka and in the New London, Shiocton and Cty Rd CCC areas on the Wolf River to characterize movement of walleyes collected from various locations. In addition, spawning fish captured in Lake Winnebago will be implanted to see if they stay in the lake or eventually migrate upstream. The implanted walleye will range in size from 16 – 26 inches this spring. The tags are similar to those used on sturgeon and catfish in the system and the existing network of 27 sonic receivers will be used to track the movement of these walleye. Data are downloaded from the receivers in June and September.
If you do end up harvesting one of the sonic tagged fish we’d really like to get the transmitter back. At $320 each they’re too expensive to waste!! We can implant it in another walleye and maximize the info we get from each tag. So please call me at 920-424-7880 and we can make arrangements to return the tag. If I don’t answer (and it’s highly likely that I’ll be out on the water tagging walleye and sturgeon for most of April!) just leave a message on the voicemail with your name and number where I can reach you and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

The clubs/organizations that have contributed to this project are Battle on ‘Bago, Otter St. Fishing Club, Lake Poygan Sportsman’s Club, Walleyes for Tomorrow, East Shore Conservation Alliance, Fisherman’s Rd Fishing Club, Sheboygan Walleye Club, Lower Cliff Fishing Club, West Shore Fishing Club, Payne’s Point Hook and Spear, Quinney Fishing Club, Berlin Conservation Club, Outdoor Conservation Club, Brothertown Fishing Club, Butte des Morts Conservation Club, Twin City Rod and Gun Club and Oakfield Conservation Club. On behalf of the Department and the contributing clubs, I look forward to your cooperation in this great project and sharing the information from it a few years from now. As always, and be safe and courteous on the water, and good luck fishing!

Kendall K. Kamke Senior Fisheries Biologist – Oshkosh

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