The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports Columns

April 24, 2013

Rick Bramwell: Can’t hurry Mother Nature

You can’t hurry Mother Nature might be the theme for this year’s morel season.

In my neck of the woods the tasty sponge arrived Monday with 19 grays. The annual mystery will unfold quickly now and surely be over about 10 days into May.

I should be hunting turkey in Owen County by the time you read this with one eye on the forest floor. Things will be perfectly aligned to bag a tom and fill a bag with morels during the same outing. Perhaps, I will visit the burn area I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The trouble is it is a mile walk just getting to the area and would take away from my turkey hunting. If I make the trek, I hope my only regret is not taking a large enough bag.

Since modern day turkey hunting, in Indiana, began in 1970, we have not experienced one fatality. However, an average of two hunters per season is shot; usually by a buddy.

We are all in cammo. If you see a hunter approaching do not wave your arms or stand up, simply whistle. Always identify your target.

Even though the DNR stocked fewer walleyes in Sylvan and Winona lakes during the past three years, studies show that’s had no effect on the number of walleyes that survived.

That means anglers will find plenty of walleyes to catch in those northeastern Indiana lakes. It also appears to mean factors other than stocking rates play more important roles in determining walleye survival.

From 2001 through 2009, DNR fisheries biologists stocked fingerling walleyes annually at the rate of 20 per acre at Sylvan in Noble County and Winona in Kosciusko County. That rate was cut to 15 per acre from 2010 through 2012. Survival rates one year later were generally greater at the lower stocking rate than at the higher one.

Biologists assess walleye survival based on catch rates of age-1 walleyes one year after stocking. Specialized boats equipped with electrical generators are used to capture the fish. The walleyes are then measured and scale samples are taken for age analysis. The unharmed walleyes are then released into the lake.

From 2002 through 2007, catch rates of age-1 walleyes at Sylvan averaged 21.8 per hour. Catch rates from 2010 through 2012 averaged 29.8 per hour.

That means the average catch rate of walleyes at Sylvan increased 37 percent when the stocking rate was reduced 25 percent. The highest catch rate came from a stocking of 15 per acre.

At Winona, walleye catch averaged 11.9 when stocked at the higher rate. At the lower stocking rate, catch rates averaged 12.5 per hour. That’s 5 percent more walleyes despite stocking 25 percent fewer.

Adult walleyes captured last fall measured up to 20 inches long at Sylvan, and up to 24 inches at Winona.

The walleyes that are no longer stocked in Sylvan and Winona are being transferred to Maxinkuckee in Marshall County and Clear in Steuben County.

To be kept by anglers, a walleye must be at least 14 inches long.

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