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Indiana walleye fishing

When fast action and excellent taste matter, it’s hard to find a better fish than the walleye. Although Indiana isn’t widely known for an abundance of walleye waters, the Hoosier state does offer some fabulous walleye fishing in a number of natural lakes, reservoirs and rivers.

Anglers pursue walleye more than any other DNR-stocked fish. Surveys indicate that of the nine fish species stocked by the DNR, walleye is No. 1.

While the walleye is native to Indiana, its natural distribution has been limited. As a result, the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife stocks some lakes and rivers to provide walleye action for anglers.

One of the earliest recorded walleye stockings dates back to 1891. During the ‘30s, fishing enthusiasts annually placed 15-20 million fry (recently hatched walleye) in Indiana waters. The DNR began stocking walleye in 1970.

Since natural walleye reproduction is very limited and contributes little to fishing, biologists use both walleye fry and fingerlings to stock several lakes and rivers with walleye and hybrid walleye (a cross between a female walleye and a male sauger, commonly called a saugeye).

Each April, biologists collect walleye eggs from mature fish at Brookville Lake. This egg collection supplies Indiana’s entire walleye program. Biologists seek some 30 to 35 million eggs. After DNR fish hatcheries work their science, these eggs result in about 17 million walleye fry, one million 1-2 inch fingerlings and 60,000 hybrid walleye fingerlings for stocking.

The DNR currently stocks fifteen impoundments, six natural lakes and one river with walleye or hybrid walleye. Fisheries technicians conduct creel surveys by interviewing anglers. The surveys have documented good walleye fishing at:

  • Brookville Lake, Franklin and Union counties
  • Monroe Lake, Brown and Monroe counties
  • Cagle’s Mill Lake, Putnam and Owen counties
  • Kokomo Lake, Howard County
  • Clear Lake, Steuben County
  • Bass Lake, Starke County
  • Lake Maxinkuckee, Marshall County
  • Lake Sullivan, Sullivan County
  • Pike Lake, Kosciusko County
  • Pretty Lake, Noble County
  • Huntingburg Lake, Dubois County
  • Lake-of-the-Woods, Marshall County
  • Eagle Creek Reservoir, Marion County
  • Prairie Creek Reservoir, Delaware County
  • Summit Lake, Henry County

Fisheries biologists have also developed quality walleye fishing in the tailwaters below dams at Monroe, Salamonie, Mississinewa, Cagle’s Mill, and Freeman lakes. The St. Joseph River in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties is stocked in Indiana with Michigan-raised walleyes. Recent concerns about fish genetics in St. Joseph River motivated the cooperative walleye stocking with Michigan. Walleye Rules Anglers have a 14-inch minimum size limit on walleyes. The 14–inch minimum went into effect in 1996 because previous regulations allowed anglers to harvest stocked walleye before they could reach their growth potential. Fishermen were harvesting many 1– and 2–year-old walleyes that were only 8 to 12 inches long. To provide an opportunity for the fish to grow larger, fisheries officials created the 14–inch minimum size. Sport fishermen led the call for the size limit. Almost half of the anglers questioned in a 1994 statewide angler survey supported or strongly supported a minimum length limit for walleye. The 14–inch minimum length limit applies to all waters except the St. Joseph River in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties, the Ohio River and Sullivan Lake. The St. Joe has a 15-inch minimum size limit to duplicate Michigan’s walleye regulations on the river. Since the St. Joseph River originates in Michigan on its path to Lake Michigan, flows through parts of Indiana then returns to Michigan, one size limit throughout the river provides uniformity in fishing rules and is easier for anglers to follow. Anglers in all Indiana waters may keep up to six walleye singly or in combination with sauger or saugeye.

Walleye Fishing Techniques
Whether you are a boat or shore angler, you can catch walleye successfully.

Lake or Reservoir Fishing
Fisheries biologist Steve Andrews recommends very simple, common fishing techniques for anglers who are just starting to pursue walleye. Dedicated walleye anglers use a variety of tackle, but Andrews says that these specialized rigs are not necessary when you’re just starting out.

Fishing shad imitation or chartreuse colored crank baits along shore lines and points during low-light and dark hours, similar to bass fishing, can produce excellent walleye action. Get your lure down close to the bottom. Use six to eight pound test line.

You can also use crank baits to troll. Trolling is one of the best ways to cover large areas of water in search of walleye. Since walleye school together, you can generally catch several fish in the same area once you locate a group. Use lead head jigs, fished with or without bait, to work potential areas thoroughly.

The large opaque eyes of a walleye are very efficient at gathering light. They tend to retreat to deep, dark water during the day and move into shallower areas (5-10 ft.) to feed at night. Walleye tend to prefer rock or gravel bottoms, drop off areas and points. Standing timber areas in reservoirs can be a good place to fish for walleye in mid summer.

River and Tailwater Fishing
Similar to lake walleye fishing, crank baits and jigs with twister tails can be successful walleye lures in rivers. Biologist Gary Hudson also recommends using a spinner bait, or simply a hook with a nightcrawler or minnow suspended below a float and drifted in the current.Concentrate your efforts in slack water areas.Walleye will often feed right on the edge between slow water and swift current.

Walleye fishing in tailwaters depends greatly on the discharge from dams, but fishing can be excellent from March through May. When flows from the reservoirs are high, fish migrate upstream toward the dam. Some walleye are also flushed from the reservoir and hang below the dam. Reservoir tailwaters provide ample shore fishing areas.

Angler Rules
Anglers have a 14-inch minimum size limit on walleyes. The 14-inch minimum went into effect in 1996 because previous regulations allowed anglers to harvest stocked walleye before they could reach their growth potential.

Fishermen were harvesting many 1- and 2-year-old walleyes that were only 8 to 12 inches long.

To provide an opportunity for the fish to grow larger, fisheries officials created the 14-inch minimum size. Sport fishermen led the call for the size limit. Almost half of the anglers questioned in a 1994 statewide angler survey supported or strongly supported a minimum length limit for walleye.

The 14-inch minimum length limit applies to all waters except the St. Joseph River in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties and the Ohio River.

The St. Joe has a 15-inch minimum size limit to duplicate Michigan’s walleye regulations on the river. Since the St. Joseph River originates in Michigan on its path to Lake Michigan, flows through parts of Indiana then returns to Michigan, one size limit throughout the river provides uniformity in fishing rules and is easier for anglers to follow.

Anglers in all Indiana waters may keep up to six walleye singly or in combination with sauger or saugeye.

Provided by Indiana DNR

 

 

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