This month Haliburton Highlands Outdoor Association (HHOA) volunteers are counting spawning walleye on the Drag River below the Emmerson Dam and by the Highway 118 bridge in Haliburton.
The count is being held to coincide with the walleye spawning run, which normally happens around the first week in April. Last year, the run started April 2 and lasted until April 20, 2021. The total walleye count was 1,334 for all nights combined.
HHOA reinstated the Walleye Watch Program, in April of 2021. The effort is being directed by retired Fleming College fisheries and limnology professor Denis McGee.
“The goal of the walleye count, and the fall spawning bed cleaning, is to help improve the walleye fishery throughout the Kashagawigamog chain of five lakes,” McGee said.
The original “Walleye Watch Program” was started by retired MNRF biologist David Flowers in the early 2000s and ran for 15 years. The Drag River location is considered one of the most important walleye spawning sites in the region.
“Last summer, the HHOA conducted an angling survey of the Kashagawigamog chain of lakes. Of those responding, 82 per cent cited a significant decline in walleye fishing on the chain. Discontinuation of stocking and degradation of spawning grounds were cited as the main reasons for the decline,” Dan Smith, HHOA President said. “Our volunteers will be out there every night from the start of the run to the end doing what we can to help improve the fishery.”
Walleye were first introduced into the Kashagawigamog chain in the 1950s. More recently, walleye were stocked in the Drag River from 2010 to 2015. Walleye stocking was stopped after 2015.
The HHOA helps maintain and enhance local fisheries. Its mission is to help residents and visitors to the Haliburton Highlands enjoy angling opportunities while practising good conservation. Since 1998, the HHOA has raised and stocked more than 700,000 fish in local lakes. For more information on the HHOA and the Walleye Watch Program visit www.hhoa.on.ca/news.
-Submitted by HHOA