DNR Fisheries officials say late March marks annual walleye egg collection

State fishing licences expire later this month. And as people look forward to spring fishing season, DNR officials say they are helping Walleye populations one generation at a time.

Starting around March 23, plans are to go out on the Muskegon River on a so-called electro-fishing boat in Newaygo County.

They said they stun wild fish, collect eggs, and fertilize the eggs by hand.

Scott Heintzelman is is the Central Lake Michigan Unit Manager of the Fisheries Division with the DNR. He said the DNR prefers to help Walleye in this way, instead of captive breed-and-release methods.

“You may have fish that come from stray from another river system and so there’s a genetic benefit to using wild brood stock versus a captive broodstock where you’re just working with the same genetics year after year,” Heintzelman said.

He said people out on the river, near the Croton dam, often stop to watch.

“Because other activities, steelhead fishing and trout fishing and some of these things, are going on, there’ll be a lot of people around the area that are planning on fishing. And if they see that going on they typically hang around and like to see how we do that part of our job,” He said.

Heintzelman said this gives residents a better idea of part of what the DNR does.

“People that show up when the process is going on will see the boats working and they’ll see the other staff working on the shoreline taking eggs and recovering fish and letting them go and the fertilization process and all of that,” Heintzelman said.

Heintzelman said while the egg collection process draws attention it also temporarily disrupts fishing below the Croton Dam. He said the DNR uses similar methods with steelhead and muskie in other parts of the state.