Walleye Anglers on Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case Will Need Patience

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PIERRE, S.D.—By the very nature of their sport, anglers are patient. That characteristic will serve them well in 2008 on Lakes Sharpe and Francis Case where walleye populations are plentiful but many of the fish have yet to reach a harvestable size.

The S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department’s Missouri River fisheries staff says walleye populations in Lake Francis Case and Lake Sharpe generally share similar characteristics with that trend continuing throughout the upcoming year. Large year classes of walleye were produced in 2005 and 2006 in both lakes. The 2005 year class should begin to enter the sport fish harvest in 2008. 

Creel survey data from Lake Francis Case indicates that catch rates were up in 2006 and 2007, while the harvest rate declined over the same period. Anglers were catching the 2005 and 2006 year classes, but were unable to harvest those fish due to their small size.

Anglers will again see substantial numbers of walleye just under the 15-inch minimum during 2008. With the variable nature of walleye reproduction and recruitment—the

number of fish added to the population each year–in Missouri River reservoirs, these large year classes will provide a major contribution to angler catch over the next few years.

“Anglers should expect to sort through sub-legal walleye on Lake Francis Case and Lake Sharpe again during 2008.” said GFP Senior Fisheries Biologist Geno Adams. “Patience will be needed to find walleye of legal length to harvest in some instances, however, anglers should note that these year classes will provide much of the angling opportunity in upcoming years.”

Also, biologists suggest keeping white bass, channel catfish or other species instead of walleye to help spread harvest out during periods of lower reproduction.