We saw that the catch rate in our survey nets was much lower (but still good numbers over all) last fall, so I’m not surprised to hear of these lower catch rate observations. There is evidence that survival rates are lower suggesting lots of extractions and maybe emigration from the bay. The good news is that we saw a record catch of young-of-the-year walleye in 2009 (yes even much bigger than 2003). Assuming they are surviving ok, we should have another huge pulse of fish in a year or two.
We have a new study starting next year; we’ll be radio tagging a few hundred walleye in Saginaw Bay and setting up an array of hydrophone receivers on the bottom of parts of the bay and river mouths to track movement of walleye. Our main question is how many (and when) they out migrate from the bay (to the main basin and points beyond). They are doing the same thing in Lake Erie. Should be really interesting. There is also a study of commercial by-catch of walleye (& other species) in Saginaw Bay. That study is being done by MSU and should shed light on how many are by-caught in the trap nets and what their fate is (how many are released alive and how many don’t survive). We’ll be back again in September for our annual survey work.