MNR is collecting walleye eggs on the Muskegon River this spring

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Muskegon River anglers should be on the lookout for Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel picking up walleye roe below Croton Dam this spring.

Walleye will be picked up with electrofishing boats beginning the week of March 20 and ending April 14. The start date of these collections will depend on the water temperature, the presence of mature fish and other factors. It is expected that most of the work will be completed by the last week of March to the first week of April. Five days of electric fishing are planned, including four days of catching eggs.

“This adult population consists mostly of stocked fish,” said Ed Pearce, supervisor of MNR fisheries technicians who coordinate the egg take. “The Muskegon River has the largest walleye run in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay.”

Sampling of electric fish usually begins at Croton Dam each day around 8:30 a.m. and continues downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may take place downstream of the Thornapple Street access site.

Anglers wishing to avoid walleye harvesting activities should fish downstream of the Pine Street access site. The DNR asks everyone to exercise caution when fishing near electrofishing boats, and those wading will be asked to get out of the water when approaching a boat and during electrofishing work.

MNR is also asking the public not to congregate when collecting eggs to allow MNR staff to maintain effective social distancing and collect eggs safely and efficiently. The DNR appreciates the cooperation during this critical egg harvesting operation.

MNR plans to collect approximately 24 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River this year, which will result in fingerlings (newly hatched fish) to be transferred to rearing ponds and direct fingerlings throughout the lower peninsula. Walleye fry transferred to the ponds will be raised to fingerling size (approximately 1.5 to 2.5 inches) and stocked in late spring or early summer in lakes and rivers in the lower peninsula. Lake Michigan and many populations of walleye in the interior lakes of the Lower Peninsula depend on fry produced from eggs in the Muskegon River.

The size of the walleye run in the Muskegon River is approximately 40,000 to 50,000 fish each year. MNR crews will remove milt (semen) and eggs from approximately 350 adult fish, which will be returned to the river – except for 60, which will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing.

Learn more about how the DNR manages Michigan’s fisheries at Michigan.gov/Fishing.

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