SPICER — Walleye fishing prospects on Green Lake are looking much better thanks to a cooperative venture involving the lake’s property association, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries office, and a local landowner and avid angler.

The popular lake has just received an infusion of 7,500 walleye raised in three different ponds for over a year. The stocked walleye range in size from nine-to-12 and 13 inches, which should give them a high survival rate, according to Dave Coahran, fisheries supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Spicer.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Mike Hodapp, a member of the Green Lake Property Owners Association. The association has been working with the local fisheries office and property owner and Green Lake walleye angler Phil Jaeger to raise the fish for stocking.

DNR aims to cut Green Lake walleye limit

The majority of the reared fish come from Down’s Pond on Jaeger’s property. With his support, the GLPO paid the costs for the Kandiyohi Power Cooperative to provide electricity at the site for an aerator to assure the survival of the walleye through the winter. Coahran said the aerator proved critical to the survival of the walleye this past winter, and thanks to it, the pond has really been kicking out the fish this year.

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The walleye had other help as well. The GLPO Association chipped in about $2,500 to pour bucket loads of flathead minnows in the pond to feed the voracious walleye and help them grow.

Ann Latham, head of the GLPO’s fish committee, helped guide the project, which was launched well over a year ago. The GLPO initially purchased about $10,000 worth of walleye fry to raise in the ponds and invested a like amount to make possible and operate the aeration system.

Hodapp said funds for the project came largely from GLPO members who donated to it on top of their annual dues. The effort to boost walleye fishing on the lake is popular with many of the association members, especially those who originally moved to the lake for its walleye fishing, he explained.

Green Lake walleyes continue decline

Walleye have been on the decline in the lake as natural reproduction has been falling off. Coahran said the fisheries staff has not been able to find any sign of natural reproduction in the lake in 2020, although they have found evidence of natural reproduction in 2019.

To appreciate how dramatic this change is, consider: Before the arrival of zebra mussels, the Spicer fisheries crew relied on Green Lake as one of the local lakes for the egg take to raise walleye fry in the New London hatchery.

The DNR has been stocking Green Lake in recent years with fry raised at the hatchery, but the fry stocking has not been as effective as hoped. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DNR fisheries staff did not do an egg take this year, and there are no fry for stocking.

All of this makes the opportunity to stock the lake with pond-reared walleye this year especially opportune, according to Hodapp and Coahran.

Early signs indicate the stocked fish are doing well. DNR staff clipped the left pelvic fins of the stocked fish so that they can monitor how they do in the years ahead. Hodapp said fisheries technician Jake Rambow identified one of the stocked fish in a net near the Joseph Brown public access near the lake’s northwest corner just two days after its release near Crescent Beach in the lake’s southeast corner, evidence of how mobile the fish are.

Anglers are no less mobile, and both Coahran and Hodapp said they are optimistic that the lake will see more anglers in pursuit of walleye as these fish mature.

Meanwhile, the rearing ponds continue to hold walleye. It’s hoped that another 2,500 to 3,000 walleye can be added to Green Lake next year.

Coahran said the success of the ponds should also make it possible to add fingerling walleye to other, local lakes where natural reproduction was down this past year.