Here’s a note from Muskegon River Fisheries Biologist Rich O’Neal regarding the walleye egg take on the Muskegon River:
The annual walleye egg collections by the DNR Fisheries Division will begin the last week of March this year. Our Lake Michigan walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula are dependant on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs, as well as many of our inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula. The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is presently about 40,000 to 50,000 each year and this adult population also consists of predominantly stocked fish. The Muskegon River has the largest population of walleye in Lake Michigan south of Green Bay. Muskegon River fish roam freely along the entire Lower Peninsula Lake Michigan coast and tributaries during most of the year. Muskegon River fish are used to stock this area of the state to maintain the integrity of this important natural genetic strain. Various studies are underway or proposed to help determine the reason for low natural recruitment of walleye in the Muskegon River system. This population was self sustaining prior to 1960.
Approximately 32,000,000 eggs will be collected for the stocking program in 2011. These eggs will produce about 8 million fry that will be transferred to rearing ponds in the Lower Peninsula, raised to fingerling size, and stocked into lakes and rivers. Generally, about 300 adult male and female walleye are used each year to provide the needed eggs for the stocking program. Under normal conditions, these fish are returned to the river after they have been used in the spawning process.
The tentative schedule this year is to make collections of walleye in the river with the electro-fishing boat on March 29, April 1, and April 4-6. This schedule can change on a daily basis for many reasons, but we anticipate most of the work will be completed during the last week of March and first week of April.
Sampling usually begins each day at Croton Dam about 8:30 am and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street Access. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street Access.
The egg stripping operation is conducted at the Pine Street Access located about two miles downstream of Croton Dam. This process generally begins from about 10:30 to 11:30 am. People are welcome to come and observe how the eggs are removed from the fish before they are packed and shipped to the hatchery.
Anglers should fish downstream areas of the river if they want to avoid the walleye collection operation. Anglers should exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boat as it is difficult to safely maneuver the boat in the swift currents and there is an electric current produced near the boat. Wading anglers should leave the water when the boat moves past them. These considerations will help the safety and efficiency of the egg collections operation and will be greatly appreciated. There is excellent fishing for trout and steelhead in the Muskegon River in the downstream areas from the Thornapple Street Access to the Felch Street Access located downstream of Newaygo.