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What started with a small group of Pewaukee Volunteers wanting to help the declining and almost disappearing walleye population in Pewaukee Lake has turned into a huge success story.
The group was deemed the fastest growing non-profit organization in Wisconsin in 2014 and 2015 by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. In less than 3 years the group has been responsible for building a walleye wagon and stocking 3 million+ walleye fry in the lake in 2014 and 5 Million+ in 2015. The group has worked closely with Ben Huessner, the local fish biologist of the WDNR and due to the groups “vocal positions” has influenced the WDNR into stocking fall fingerling walleye and northern pike. Both the northern pike and walleyes are native to Pewaukee lake and the fertility of the lake is very good for sustaining those species. However those fish are heavily sought after by fisherman who like fresh cooked fish fry’s.
Overfishing and consumption of these fish can damage the population to a point of no return. With predator fish being reduced the pan fish population goes crazy and they become overpopulated and stunted. With the walleye and pike population being reduced by fisherman and natural causes, then add in the lack of natural reproduction due to their spawning habitat being developed, you are relying almost solely on WDNR stocking. With WDNR budget cuts and staff reductions the stocking efforts appeared to becoming non-existent over the past 7 years or so.
The recent stocking efforts by the Walleyes for Tomorrow group and the support of the Lake Pewaukee Sanitary District has been paying off. Emails with “Thank you’s” and text messages with pictures of little walleyes are hitting the phones and facebook pages.
The group also installed the first “Fish Sticks” project in southeastern Wisconsin. Fish Sticks are a nick name for woody structure that is placed in the water. These are simply trees that lay in the lake that have been cut down and used for habitat and a food source. Macroinvertebrate live on the submerged branches and insects gather on the branches out of the water. This in turn is like a smorgusborg of food for birds, frogs, turtles, and little fish which in turn feed bigger fish. It’s a whole ecosystem in itself. To see more about Pewaukee’s Fish Sticks project go to: Pewaukee Fish Sticks Project link
The groups efforts on stocking have been through the construction and operation of a portable fish hatchery called “The Walleye Wagon”. This involves netting the female and male Walleye’s, milking out the eggs, putting them into jars and pumping lake water through the jars gently rolling the eggs until they are ready to hatch. Once hatched they are siphoned into the lake in the deeper section of the big lake where the Zooplankton are gathered, therefore providing food for the little walleye fry. This walleye wagon operation is a huge undertaking and takes hundreds of volunteer hours. But it is working and the proof is in the photos and on the end of our fishing lines. For more information on the “Walleye Wagon” go to: The Walleye Wagon link
All this volunteer work takes time and money, therefore the Chapter is always looking for more members and especially Sponsors. To become a member you can go right to this link: Membership link
The list of sponsors has been growing and the support is incredible. The new walleye “Catch and Release” program offers any Walleye’s for Tomorrow – Pewaukee chapter member a free fish fry upon the catch and release of a legal walleye in Pewaukee lake. It also puts you in a drawing for a larger prize such as a shotgun, beaver dam tip-ups and rod and reel combo’s. The Sponsors have donated free fish fry’s to the club in support of this effort. The program inception was due to the fact that we were losing the larger walleyes for supporting the walleye wagon with fertilized eggs. If the population is so low we can’t catch fish, the walleye wagon efforts will be futile. However with the popularity of this catch and release program and the notoriety of the chapters work to date, things are looking really, really good. To see who these wonderful Sponsors are go to the Sponsor page: Pewaukee Chapter Sponsors