A new home: Local groups plant 5,000 fish in bays

ESCANABA – Walleye restoration efforts in the Bays de Noc are continuing today and there has been population growth for the fourth year in row, officials said.

The increase in population is the result of local groups working together to supplement the current natural walleye population in the Bays. Through their efforts, 5,000 6 to 9-inch walleye will have a new home in Little Bay de Noc. These large fish should be mature for spawning in about three years, much faster than the smaller fingerlings.

Local residents and businesses, in conjunction with Walleye Restoration Project, Hannahville Indian Community, the Bay de Noc Great Lakes Sports Fishermen, Inc., Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau, Delta County Chamber of Commerce and the Delta County Economic Development Alliance will introduce the walleye into Little Bay de Noc today from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Kipling boat launch. This marks the fourth year the groups have collaborated in walleye restoration efforts.

The organizations are committed to making this a long-term project for the health and the economic importance the fishery provides to Delta County, organizers said. While the fish planted this year will be mature in about three years, the fish planted in 2011 are near maturity and will make a positive impact on the Bays.

“The Bays continue to be a great place for local anglers, anglers from out of town, and tournament fishermen. During The Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit World Walleye Championship, co-hosted by our organizations’ last week on the Bays, professional anglers praised the fishery and the local hospitality,” said Steve Masters, director of the Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Our area continues to be one of the best places in the country for all types of anglers and all types of fishing.

Our organizations want to make sure we maintain our elite fishery status for everyone and people will continue to get hooked on fishing the Bays for years to come,”said Vickie Micheau, director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce.

The Walleye Restoration group was spearheaded by the Delta County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee and the Hannahville Indian Community. Walleye Restoration aims to put a positive face on the area fishery, which showed a decline from 2004 through 2010. This effort involves creating a coalition to raise money to restore, conserve and manage the fishery. The work includes educating the public to reduce illegal poaching, stream and river runoff, and sedimentation that negatively affect the walleye. The group is hoping to keep anecdotal records of the walleye fishery as one way of informally evaluating the efforts.