COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fishermen should be happy to know that the Ohio Division of Wildlife has completed stocking 10.8 million saugeyes and walleyes into Ohio^s inland lakes.
The fish won^t be ready to catch and eat for several years as they only measure 1 1/2" inches long.
Approximately 6.7 million saugeye fingerlings were released during late May and early June into 46 inland lakes to help replenish existing fish stocks. The saugeye is a hybrid fish produced from the cross-breeding of a female walleye with a male sauger. These hybrids are not able to reproduce on their own and must be stocked annually to provide fishing opportunities.
Saugeyes are present in more than 50 inland lakes and often caught during winter by anglers fishing in the tailwaters below a lake dam. However, they may be caught anytime of the year and provide good lake fishing during spring and early summer. Alum Creek Reservoir in Delaware County received the largest stocking with 800,000 saugeyes released in June. Hoover Reservoir in suburban Columbus received a stocking of 770,000 saugeyes, followed by Deer Creek Lake in Fayette County with 640,000 and Indian Lake in Logan County with 580,000 fish.
Saugeyes are reared in ponds at the Hebron, Senecaville and St. Marys state fish hatcheries from early April through June when they are stocked. By October, these fish will grow to a length of 6 to 10 inches and by the end of next year will measure 12 to 16 inches.
The wildlife agency also stocked 3.1 million walleyes into 16 inland lakes, eight of which are upground reservoirs located throughout northwest Ohio. Lakes selected for these releases are those where walleyes historically have good survival rates. While these walleyes are stocked to provide improved fishing opportunities, they also help maintain existing brood stocks.
"Our brood stock, or breeder walleyes, mainly come from Salt Fork, Mosquito Creek, Berlin, and CJ Brown lakes. Eggs are collected from female walleyes taken in these lakes and used to create our inland saugeye and walleye stocks. We^ve also increased our walleye stocking rates in recent years to help improve recreational sportfishing in some of our other inland lakes," said Ray Petering, assistant fish management administrator for the Division of Wildlife.
Seneca and Salt Fork lakes received three times the number of walleyes compared to the other 14 lakes where they were released as an experiment to determine if increased stocking rates would improve walleye fishing. It may take several years to determine if walleye fishing success improves at both lakes as a result of the increased stocking.
"Our normal rate of stocking is 100 walleyes per acre, but Seneca and Salt Fork lakes this year received 300 walleyes per acre. These are walleye fingerlings measuring 1_ inches and it will take about two years before they reach a catchable size," said Petering.
Seneca Lake in Noble County is Ohio^s sixth largest lake at 3,550 acres, while Salt Fork Lake in Guernsey County is the tenth largest lake at 2,952 acres. Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County is Ohio^s largest inland lake at 13,500 acres and received an initial stocking of 17 million walleye fry this spring.
The Division of Wildlife also raises and releases muskies, channel catfish, largemouth bass, bluegills, hybrid striped bass, steelhead trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, and yellow perch to enhance fishing opportunities throughout Ohio^s inland lakes, streams, and rivers. Approximately 1.3 million people go fishing in Ohio each year. Recreational sportfishing also contributes and estimated $1 billion yearly to the Ohio^s economy.