Anglers can support walleye stocking by purchasing $5 walleye stamps that help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provide more places to fish for walleye.
“You can buy a walleye stamp any time of the year, even if you already have a fishing license,” said Neil Vanderbosch, DNR fisheries program consultant. “All the funds from walleye stamps go toward the cost of purchasing walleye from private fish farms for stocking into lakes.”
The overall walleye stocking effort ramps up each year in April when fisheries staff collect walleye eggs, fertilize them and transport the eggs to fish hatcheries around Minnesota. The eggs spend two to three weeks incubating before hatching into fry that are soon released – two thirds into lakes and one third into rearing ponds. The fish in rearing ponds grow into 4- to 6-inch fingerlings that are stocked into lakes in the fall.
In addition to raising and stocking walleye, the DNR also buys walleye fingerlings from private producers to be stocked into lakes, and walleye stamp sales help pay for these fish. Since 2009, funds from the walleye stamp have purchased over 40,000 pounds of walleye fingerlings that have been stocked in the fall, all over the state. Walleye are stocked in lakes that don’t have naturally reproducing walleye populations.
“Just about anywhere you go in Minnesota, there’s a lake fairly close by where you can fish for walleye,” Vanderbosch said. “To decide what lakes and how many fish to stock, we look at available habitat, prey and past stocking success, and make individual lake management plans that guide stocking decisions.”
Anglers catch the lion’s share of walleye from waters where the fish reproduce naturally – about 260 larger walleye lakes and in large rivers. Because of stocking, walleye can be found in an additional 1,300 Minnesota lakes spread throughout the state.
More information about habitat stamps can be found on the stamp program page.