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Walleye study underway on three Meeker County lakes

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries staff with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tagged 1,800 walleyes on Lake Washington, Lake Manuella and Stella Lake in Meeker County.

HUTCHINSON — Anglers could find an extra surprise at the end of their hooks this season at three Meeker County lakes, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Fisheries crews tagged 1,800 walleye on Lake Washington, Lake Manuella and Stella Lake as part of a walleye population estimate and creel study. The creel component, also called an angler catch survey, helps fisheries staff estimate fish caught and fish harvested.

"We hope our angling public will help us out with this important study," said Hutchinson area fisheries supervisor Scott Mackenthun in a news release. "It's a simple process to notify our office about the tagged fish; the office phone number and tag number are etched on the tags, and anglers can keep the tag."

There will be a creel clerk at Lake Manuella and Stella Lake surveying anglers this summer. The creel clerks will ask anglers questions such as the number of fish caught and harvested, as well as the amount of time it took for the catch and particular species targeted. While participation is voluntary, information taken from the study is valuable to managing the fisheries.

"The information we're able to get from these studies can help fisheries managers tailor their lake management plans," said Hutchinson fisheries area assistant supervisor Tanner Stevens in the news release. "Getting better data on fish populations will provide us with critical information to create better lake management plans, and that's why we're hopeful that our anglers will participate in the creel surveys and report the tagged fish."

Fisheries crews netted walleye on the three lakes in April. They tagged walleye 10 inches long or larger. The metal jaw tags, similar to duck bands, are very easy on the fish and do not harm the fish or impede their feeding.

This is the first year of the three-year study.

Signs will be posted at public water accesses to notify anglers about the study. Anglers who catch tagged fish are encouraged to contact the Hutchinson fisheries office by calling 320-234-2550 or by emailing hutchinson.fisheries@state.mn.us.

More information is available on the DNR fish tagging program at mndnr.gov/tagged-fish.

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