Using radio telemetry to evaluate post‐stocking survival and behavior of large fingerling Walleye in three Iowa, USA lakes

Date
2019-12-18
Authors
Weber, Michael
Weber, Robert
Ball, Emily
Meerbeek, Jonathan
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Abstract

Stocking Walleye Sander vitreus is a common management tool to augment populations where natural reproduction is limited. Some hatcheries have progressively raised larger fingerling Walleye to improve post-stocking survival; however, little is known about large fingerling Walleye poststocking survival and behavior. Our objectives were to evaluate large fingerling Walleye (>200 mm TL) post-stocking daily apparent survival, depth use, dispersal, and home range size in three Iowa, USA lakes. Walleye (209-265 mm, n=15 per lake, 45 fish total) were implanted with radio tags, stocked 26-30 October 2017, and tracked until 30 May 2018. Cormack-Jolly-Seber recapture models estimated Walleye apparent survival increased with days post-stocking and Walleye length, resulting in 76% (95% CI: 44-89%) cumulative survival by May. Walleye in Brushy Creek were located in deeper water (mean = 5.1 m, SE = 0.2) than Big Creek (mean = 3.3 m, SE = 0.2) or East Okoboji (mean = 1.7 m, SE = 0.1) but depth use did not vary with days post-stocking. Walleye dispersed an average of 1,355 m (SE = 234) within 13 d across all lakes with home range size larger in Big Creek (67.9 ha, SE = 21.7) than Brushy Creek (15.5 ha, SE = 15.7) and East Okoboji (31.0 ha, SE = 14.0). Our results indicate Walleye post-stocking survival is high overall with most mortality occurring within 20 d as Walleye are dispersing, suggesting managers should focus on improving survival during this critical period to improve stocking success.

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This is a manuscript of an article published as Weber, Michael J., Robert E. Weber, Emily E. Ball, and Jonathan R. Meerbeek. "Using radio telemetry to evaluate post‐stocking survival and behavior of large fingerling Walleye in three Iowa, USA lakes." North American Journal of Fisheries Management (2019). doi: 10.1002/nafm.10403. Posted with permission.

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