Walleye Fishing in the Hoosier State
A product of fish
management and angler support
5570 North Fish
Although walleye are thought to be native to Indiana,
distribution was limited. One of the earliest recorded stockings was made
in 1891, and during the 1930's, 15 to 20 million fry were stocked
annually. Modern day management began with the resumption of walleye
stocking in 1970. Today, Indiana’s fisheries section annually stocks 12
impoundments, six natural lakes and two rivers with walleye or hybrid
(Table 1). Total acres stocked with walleye or hybrid
walleye is 34,171.
Natural reproduction is very limited and contributes
little to walleye fishing in the state. Fisheries biologists have focused
on providing fishing opportunities for this popular fish throughout the
state, increasing sizes and numbers of walleye caught and improving angler
satisfaction with walleye fishing.
Brookville provides some of Indiana’s best walleye
fishing. Walleye harvest, documented through creel surveys conducted
before the 14 inch minimum length limit was put in place, ranged from
4,500 per year to 15,100 and averaged nearly 8,100 per year. Most
harvested walleye were 14-15 inches long but some 24-29 inch walleye were
In 2000, fewer walleye were caught but they were a little
larger, averaging 16.2 inches. The number of walleye harvested was 2,509
and 1,848 were caught and released. The 14 inch size limit and weak year
classes since 1996 are reasons for smaller catches in 2000.
Annual fry stockings have exceeded 10 million for 15
consecutive years. Brookville is a 5,260-acre flood control reservoir
located in Franklin and Union counties on Highway 101 approximately 30
miles south of Richmond and 50 miles northwest of Cincinnati. A fee is
charged to launch boats but there are no restrictions on outboard motor
Monroe has developed into one of the best walleye
fisheries in the state. In 1994, 3,816 walleye were harvested and 6,400
more were caught and released. Average length was 16.6 inches while the
largest walleye harvested Indiana’s
walleye record (14 lbs 4 oz) was set in the 70s and it is shared by two
anglers. One of the record-setters came from the Kankakee River; the other
from the Tippecanoe River. measured
28˝ inches long. Over 7,000 pounds of walleye were harvested. As
expected, catch and harvest numbers were lower in 2000 with the 14 inch
size limit in place. Fishing was still good as 2,203 walleye were
harvested and 5,198 were caught and released. Average length of harvested
walleye was 16.8 inches. The largest walleye measured by the creel clerk
was 26 inches. About 6% of the anglers fishing Monroe fish for walleye.
The reservoir has been stocked with 1˝ inch long fingerlings the past 13
years at a density averaging 36 per acre.
Monroe, the state’s largest reservoir at 10,750 acres,
is accessible from State Roads 37, 46 and 50. It is located in Brown and
Monroe counties about 50 miles south of Indianapolis and 10 miles
southeast of Bloomington. There is a fee to launch boats but there is no
limit on outboard motor size.
Cagle’s Mill Reservoir
This 1,400-acre flood control reservoir, located in Putnam
and Owen counties off I-70 about halfway between Indianapolis and Terre
Haute, has been stocked with 1.3- 4.3 million fry 11 consecutive years
(1992-2002) to utilize the large gizzard shad population. In 2000, both
fry and fingerlings were stocked in Cagle’s Mill. Stocking density in
‘01 and ‘02 averaged 2.8 million fry.
In 1996, 1,742 walleye weighing 2,106 pounds were
harvested at Cagle’s Mill. These fish ranged from 8- 21˝ inches long
and averaged 15.2 inches. An additional 2,563 walleye were caught and
released. Ten percent of the anglers interviewed during the 1996 creel
survey indicated they fished for walleye or walleye in combination with
another species. Anglers harvested 558 walleye weighing 952 pounds from
Cagle’s Mill in 2001. These fish ranged from 11 to 26˝ inches long and
averaged 16 inches. An additional 4,656 walleye were caught and released.
Best fishing was in May and July. In 2001, 14% of the fishermen
interviewed stated they were fishing for walleye or walleye and another
species. A daily or annual fee is charged to launch boats and outboard
motors are permitted.
This 484-acre impoundment is located three miles east of
Kokomo in Howard County. Boat launching is free and outboard motors are
From 1989 through 1997, the reservoir was stocked with
saugeye, a walleye x sauger cross. Concerns for the genetic integrity of
native sauger downstream of Kokomo Reservoir prompted fisheries biologists
to change the stocking strategy from hybrid walleye to walleye. Starting
in 1998, Kokomo has been stocked each year with walleye fingerlings at 50
The most recent measure of fish harvest was in 1996 when a
seven month long creel survey was conducted. An estimated 821 hybrid
walleye were harvested and 790 were caught and released. Average length
was 15.3 inches and highest harvest occurred in May (63%) followed by June
(17%). An updated measure of fish harvest, fishing pressure and angler
interest in walleye fishing at Kokomo is planned for 2003.
Clear Lake is an 800-acre natural lake located five miles
east of Fremont off State Road 120 in Steuben County. There is a public
access site on the east side of the lake and outboard motors are
permitted. The lake has been stocked 19 consecutive years (1984 through
2002) with 1˝ long fingerlings. Stocking density since 1988 has averaged
108 fingerlings/acre. A creel survey was conducted April-October, 2001 to
measure walleye harvest five years after implementing the 14 inch minimum
length limit. Walleye harvest totaled 613 with an additional 781 caught
and released. These fish ranged in length from12 to 21 inches and averaged
16.1 inches. Twelve species were observed in the catches and walleye
ranked number one by weight. Over half of the walleye harvested were 16
inches or longer. Walleye harvest was highest at Clear Lake in July
followed by August.
Maxinkuckee, the state’s second largest natural lake at
1,854 acres, is located at the town of Culver near State Roads 10 and 17
in Marshall County. Public access is free but parking spaces are limited.
Outboard motors are permitted. Maxinkuckee has been stocked with 1˝ inch
fingerlings (100/acre) the last 12 years (1991 through 2002).
Fewer walleyes were harvested in 1999 (1,352) compared to
1996 (3,198) but that was expected as small fish were protected by the 14
inch minimum length limit. However, average size of harvested walleye
(17.2 inches) was the largest documented in six years of measuring angler
catches. In addition to the number of walleye harvested, 1,646 were caught
and released. Walleye were targeted by 35% of the anglers interviewed.
This popular species comprised 27% of the harvest by number and ranked
second to bluegill. 93% of the anglers interviewed supported the 14 inch
Bill LaVigne, well
known natural lake angler,
with a 10 lb 4 oz
A 6˝ month long creel survey was conducted from mid-April
through October, 1996. Anglers harvested 1,163 walleye and caught and
released 431. Walleye made up 14% of the harvest by number and 21% by
weight. July was the best month for catching walleye at Bass Lake. Most of
the walleyes harvested were small, averaging 14 inches. 13% of Bass Lake’s
anglers targeted walleye. The lake has been stocked with fry 14 of the
past 15 years. No walleye were stocked in 2001 in an effort to reduce food
competition and improve growth rates. Stocking density has also been
reduced from 3,000 fry per acre to 1,500.
This shallow 1,345-acre natural lake is located about six
miles south of Knox off U.S. 35 and State Road 10 in Starke County. There
is a public access site on the lake and outboard motors are permitted.
The lake was originally stocked with hybrid walleye at
about 50 per acre and good fishing developed. Starting in 1996, 1˝ inch
long walleye fingerlings were stocked instead of hybrids to see if they
would provide the same level of fishing as the hybrids.
The 2000 creel survey was conducted April-September. Eight
species were harvested and walleye ranked second (273). An additional
1,314 walleye were caught and released and highest catches occurred in
April and May. Average size of harvested walleye was 15 inches. Thirty-one
percent of the anglers interviewed fished for walleye and 99 % of them
supported the size limit.
T his 22 8- acre natural lake is located within the city
limits of Warsaw in Kosciusko County. The lake is open to public fishing
and outboard motors are permitted.
Andrew Snow, biologist
with a large walleye
netted at Sylvan Lake
This 461-acre impoundment is located in Sullivan County
east of Sullivan, Indiana. There is a small fee charged for access and
outboard motors are permitted. A relatively large population of hybrid
walleye developed at Sullivan following 12 consecutive years of stocking
fingerlings. A 1988 creel survey documented the harvest of 1,562 hybrid
walleye at Sullivan Lake (3.3 per acre) that averaged 15˝ inches in
length. Starting in 1995, Sullivan Lake was stocked with walleye instead
of hybrids to see if walleye could provide the same high quality fishing
that the hybrids provided. After fours years of stocking walleye
fingerlings, a creel survey was conducted to evaluate the fishery. Only
257 walleye were harvested in 1998 compared to 1,562 hybrid walleye in
1988. Not only were fewer fish harvested, they averaged two inches smaller
than the hybrids did in 1988. In an effort to turn the fishery around,
biologists went back to stocking hybrid walleye starting in 1999. About
39,000 fingerlings have been stocked each of the last four years
(1999-2002). In 2002, the 14 inch minimum size limit was put in place to
protect small hybrids from harvest. A creel survey is planned for 2003 to
evaluate the Sullivan Lake hybrid walleye fishery.
This small natural lake (184 acres) has been stocked with
walleye fingerlings 10 consecutive years at 100/acre. One hundred fifty
walleye ranging from 10˝ - 25 inches in length were harvested during a
mid-April through September creel survey in 1996. An additional 28 walleye
were caught and released. The 14 inch size limit was only in place for
about one month of the survey. Average length of harvested walleye was
16.9 inches. Harvest was highest in June and July. Eleven percent of the
anglers were fishing specifically for walleye and another 8% fished for
walleye in combination with another species. Take State Road 3 about three
miles north of South Milford, then
go East on CR 500 S to reach Pretty Lake. The public access site is
located on the southwest side of the lake. There is no charge to launch
boats but there is a 10 mph speed limit on Pretty Lake.
Huntingburg Lake, is a188 acre impoundment located about
two miles west of the town of Huntingburg on State Road 264. The lake has
been stocked with hybrid walleye (saugeye) fingerlings 14 of the past 15
years at 50 or more per acre. During a seven month creel survey in 1997,
anglers harvested 51 saugeye that averaged 18.5 inches in length. They
caught and released 691. The largest saugeye taken from Huntingburg
weighed over 8 pounds. Five percent of the anglers interviewed during the
creel survey fished for saugeye.
Lake-of-the-Woods, located southwest of Bremen in Marshall
County, is a 416 acre natural lake. A state-owned public access site is
located on the southwest shore. There is no fee to launch boats and
outboard motors are permitted. A creel survey was conducted April through
September, 2001 to evaluate the walleye fishery. The lake had been stocked
with 1˝ inch long walleye fingerlings nine consecutive years, 1993-2001.
Walleye ranked third in the anglers’ catches behind white bass and
crappie. Walleye comprised 19% of the total fish harvest. 358
walleye were harvested and 1,703 were caught and released. Highest
harvest occurred in April but April, May and June were good months for
catch and release fishing. 35% of the anglers interviewed were fishing for
walleye and 94% supported the 14 inch size limit.
Eagle Creek Reservoir, Prairie Creek Reservoir and Summit
Walleye fisheries at these three impoundments are in the
"developing"stage. Eagle Creek has been stocked six consecutive
years, mostly with fry; Summit Lake four years mostly with 1˝ inch long
fingerlings and Prairie Creek two years with fingerlings. Based on fall
young-of-the-year, and fish community survey catches, fishable
walleye populations are developing at each of these waters. Eagle Creek is
a 1,350 acre water supply impoundment northwest of Indianapolis, Prairie
Creek is a 1,252 acre water supply for the city of Muncie and Summit Lake
is a 600 acre impoundment in Summit Lake State Park north of New Castle.
Outstanding walleye fishing has developed below the dams
at Monroe, Cagle’s Mill, Salamonie and Mississinewa Reservoirs; and
Freeman Lake. Large concentrations of walleye occur at the tailwaters from
March into May, depending on seasonal water temperatures and flows. Most
of the fish are 15-20 inches long but some up to 29 inches long have been
observed. The tailwaters provide anglers who don’t have a boat a good
opportunity to catch walleye. Some of the largest walleye caught in
Indiana each year come from tailwaters.
Mississinewa and Salamonie Tailwaters
Anglers caught 4,270 walleye at the Mississinewa tailwater
in April and May 1997. They ranged in length from 14-25 inches. Average
length was 15.2 inches. At the Salamonie tailwater, the catch consisted of
782 walleye ranging in length from 12˝-28 inches. These fish averaged
17.3 inches. 86% of the anglers interviewed supported the 14 inch size
Indiana’s fishery biologists believe there are few
potential walleye lakes remaining in the state. Most lakes thought to be
capable of providing walleye fishing have already been stocked and
evaluated. Although walleye fishing in natural lakes and impoundments may
be improved in the future through changes in fishing regulations and
stocking strategies, rivers may represent the best opportunities to
significantly increase walleye fishing in the Hoosier state. Stocking has
produced good walleye fishing in two impoundments on the St. Joseph River.
The impoundment above the Elkhart Dam has been stocked with 1˝ inch long
fingerlings eight consecutive years (1995-2002). In 1996, during the early
years of the fishery, anglers harvested 89 walleye averaging 15.7 inches
in length from the impoundment. An additional 129 walleye were caught and
released. May was the best month to catch walleye in the impoundment.
Fishing was also good in the tailwater below Elkhart Dam where 148 walleye
were harvested and 575 were caught and released. 63% of walleye harvest at
the tailwater occurred in April.
In 1999, walleye again ranked first in the anglers’
catches at the Elkhart Dam tailwater. 205 walleye weighing 280 pounds were
harvested. These fish ranged from13˝-20 inches long and averaged 16
inches. The number of walleye caught and released totaled 1,122. 57% of
the anglers interviewed were fishing for walleye. Over 80% of the anglers
supported the 15 inch minimum length limit. The Twin Branch
impoundment has been stocked five consecutive years, 1998-2002. A creel
survey to measure walleye catches and attitudes about the walleye program
has not been conducted at Twin Branch. However, large catches of
young-of-the-year walleye during fall electrofishing, and reports from
anglers, indicate the population is developing well.
Neil Ledet, fisheries
biologist, measures a
St. Joseph River
walleye collected during early spring sampling
Large Walleye Fingerling Research
When it comes to stocking fish, bigger is usually better.
However, production costs must be weighed against angling benefits.
In 2001, Crooked Lake (Steuben Co.), Winona Lake
(Kosciusko Co.) and Sylvan Lake (Noble Co.) were stocked with 6-8 inch
long walleye. Stocking density was 20 per acre at Sylvan and Winona lakes
and 10 per acre at Crooked. Plans are to stock these lakes three
consecutive years to see if the large fingerlings provide fishing where
small fingerlings failed. Fry are usually stocked at 2,000-3,000 per acre
and the 1˝ inch long fingerlings at 100/acre. For comparative purposes,
four fry can be produced for a penny and it cost a little over six cents
to produce one 1˝ inch fingerling. Each 6-8 inch walleye cost $1.45. The
large fingerlings required for this research have been purchased from a
private hatchery as Indiana currently does not have the rearing ponds
needed to grow walleye for the entire summer and still meet other fish
production goals. Sampling will be conducted annually to evaluate each of
the three experimental stockings.
Prior to 2001, all walleye fishing provided by the DFW has
been done with multiple-year stockings of fry or 1˝ inch long
fingerlings. There have been some waters where biologists felt that
fishable walleye populations would have developed if larger fingerlings
had been stocked. This hypothesis is what led to the "large
fingerling" walleye research.
Biologists are also working to establish self sustaining
sauger populations in the East and West Forks of the White River. Sauger
are popular members of the perch family of fishes, along with walleye,
yellow perch and many species of darters. They are native to some of
Indiana’s larger rivers. The E.F. White River was stocked with sauger
fingerlings six consecutive years, 1995- 2000. Following the devastating
fish kill on the W.F. White River in 1999, the first of three planned
sauger stockings was completed in June 2002. Some sampling has already
been done and more is scheduled to evaluate these stockings. Again, the
goal is to restore naturally reproducing sauger populations in two rivers.
Walleye Size Limit
The fisheries section proposed a 14-inch minimum length
limit for walleye at three public meetings in March 1996. Anglers had been
asking for a size limit and no one opposed the proposal. Justification for
the size limit included:
1. Walleye have greater growth potential than was being
realized at most stocked waters.
2. Walleye fishing in Indiana is hatchery Anglers
responding to a statewide survey listed walleye #1 when asked, "Which
species of fish do you want the Division of Fish and Wildlife to
stock?" dependent. It is too
costly to stock fish and have them harvested during their first and second
summer when they have the capability to live longer and grow larger.
3. Nearly 50% of the respondents to the 1994 Statewide
Angler Survey supported or strongly supported a minimum length limit for
walleye. Only 15% opposed a size limit and 17% were neutral. The proposed
14-inch minimum length limit for walleye went into effect in August 1996
and it applies to all waters except the St. Joseph River (St. Joseph &
Elkhart Counties) and Ohio River. There is a 15-inch minimum length limit
on walleye in Indiana’ s portion of the St .Joseph River to be
consistent with Michigan’s 15 inch size limit. The St. Joseph River
originates in Michigan, flows through parts of Indiana, and then returns
to Michigan. One size limit throughout the course of the river makes it
easier for anglers to understand and comply with.
The walleye size limit has now been in place for six
growing seasons and biologists are starting to compare population
structure (numbers, sizes, weights and growth rates) before and after size
limit implementation. Indiana’s daily bag limit is six for any
combination of walleye, sauger or saugeye. There is no closed season for
walleye, sauger or saugeye.
Hatchery Production and Stocking Strategies
Eggs for Indiana’s walleye program are taken from mature
fish collected each April at Brookville Reservoir. The goal is 40
million "green" eggs. These eggs will provide about 22
million walleye fry, 1.2 million 1˝ inch walleye fingerlings and 40,000
hybrid walleye fingerlings. Walleye stocking densities at
lakes are 2,000-3,000 fry/acre or 100 fingerlings/acre. Hybrid
walleye and river walleye stocking densities are 50 fingerlings
Hatchery Manager Dan
Jessup checks walleye eggs at Cikana State Fish Hatchery
Due to concerns about fish genetics, walleye for stocking
the St. Joseph River are obtained from Michigan as the St. Joseph
River originates in Michigan, then flows south into Indiana before
entering Michigan again.
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