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Walleye spawning, do they stop after a certain age / size or decrease the hatch rate as they get older?   

There has been quite the heated topic on keyhole about people taking bigger walleyes and not letting them go. 

If you could start a thread, or even pm me back links to wy fish and game where it says how it goes for when they get older I will post it.

This is a question I received and a question that a lot of you had on the Keyhole Slaughter. I did a search and found some good info. Keep in mind every water is different, every population is different, thus every study was different. This is just a synopsis of some of their findings.

From studies that I've reviewed: there is no significant variation in egg viability among sizes of females. Both large and small walleye females have the potential to reproduce successfully.

Egg size is strongly correlated with maternal size (female) in walleye populations in the North and South latitudes, not nearly as strongly correlated within the Mid-latitude populations. Egg size has and hasn't been correlated with suvivorship (depends on the study)

The high metabolic energy demand of older larger females may reduce the quality of the eggs

If quality can be correlated with size, it's logical to assume that mid-size females should produce the highest quality

Fecundity - the capacity to produce offspring

14 to 15 inch walleye 25,500 eggs
19 to 20 inch walleye 64,000 eggs
28 to 29 inch walleye 191,000 eggs

Because recruitment is affected by such a large suite of factors (density-dependent = spawner density, predator-prey relationships, available habitat ect... and density-independent = environmental factors, springtime water temps ect...) the important factors operating on recruitment may vary from one system to another, from year to year, for a given fish species.

Clear as Mud? It appears through my literature search and as you might guess, every walleye population is different. There is no clear-cut given rule on what size of fish is the best spawner. Some say (as mentioned above) that a mid-size fish may have the best quality of egg, but look at the egg numbers, a big fish may have double the egg capacity of a mid-size fish. Might work out to be a "wash". More eggs, more chance to survive, fewer high quality eggs perhaps a better chance to survive.

I really don't have a strong opinion either way as far as what fish to keep and what fish to let go. Natural recruitment is a limiting factor within Keyhole, that's why we stock. But with the increase in water levels the last few years, we have seen lots of natural recruitment (about 50%). Perhaps some self-regulation and by that I mean, keep a good one from time to time (for the wall ect..), keep some smaller ones for the frying pan from time to time. Got fish in the feezer already, let some go. Just my thoughts.

Hope this helps


Perhaps some self-regulation and by that I mean, keep a good one from time to time (for the wall ect..), keep some smaller ones for the frying pan from time to time. Got fish in the feezer already, let some go.

Thanks for your reply and your time. The above quote is pretty much how I do things. The question was not necessarily aimed at Keyhole,I have never fished there, just more of a general question. Just have often seen it claimed that large walleye do not have viable eggs. From your answer I see that large females have the potential to greatly impact a spawn cycle with other factors having more of a effect on the success of the spawn.

My next question: How would a limit on walleye of only one fish over 24",as part of the regular limit, effect a fishery ? Could it have a negative impact or would it just increase the trophy potential of a given body of water ? In general.

Thank you on the spawning information.

Because of the type of fishing we do in the winter, tip-up lines and live bait, fish have the opportunity to swallow baits to so deep that at times you can not even see the eye of the hook.. So how much chance do they have to survive  with the hook left in them?  I know you can not retrieve the hook with out causing some damage.

 In the summer on a Friday before the Wyoming walleye governors cup tournament I found 4 large walleyes floating on the surface dead. I am quite sure they were catch and released fish and the fisherman were trying to do the right thing, still a big shame. Some times say I let it go was the wrong thing to do.

Thanks for opening this thread to the WGFD.  I look forward to answering questions pertaining to the management of waters within the Laramie Fisheries Management Region.  I will be happy to address all issues on fish management of waters you might frequent.  When appropriate, I will provide answers based on sound science and professional judgment and look forward to the opportunity to have thoughtful discussions on fisheries issues in southeast Wyoming.  I am excited about participating in the Ice Shanty community. 


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