Walleyes abound in Sylvan and Winona lakes
According to the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), Sylvan Lake in Rome City and Winona Lake in Warsaw contain two of the highest walleye densities in the region.
During sampling last fall, DNR biologists using shocker boats captured more than 77 walleyes per hour of electrofishing at Sylvan, a 669-acre impoundment in Noble County. At Winona, a 562-acre natural lake in Kosciusko County, they captured 47 walleyes per hour.
Although biologists don’t know the actual number of walleyes in each lake, electrofishing catch rates provide a way to compare walleye abundance from lake to lake. In lakes where walleyes are abundant, walleye populations typically provide electrofishing catch rates of 20 to 30 walleyes per hour.
“We now have some of the densest walleye populations we’ve ever seen at Sylvan and Winona lakes,” said Jed Pearson, DNR biologist. “Based on our data, fishermen can expect to catch plenty of walleyes at either lake this year.”
While walleye numbers are high at both lakes, larger walleyes are present in Winona than Sylvan.
Walleyes captured during sampling last fall at Winona ranged from 8.5 to 26.5 inches long. Peaks in the size range occurred at 11.5, 15.0, and 18 inches. More than 60 percent were at or larger than the 14-inch minimum size limit required before they can be taken home by anglers.
At Sylvan, walleyes ranged in length from 10.5 to 19.5 inches. Most were 12.5 to 13.5 inches long and were too small to be kept by anglers; however, 32 percent were 14 inches or larger.
Although legal-size walleyes make up a small percentage of the overall population at Sylvan, it contains about the same number of legal-size walleyes as Winona.
“Our catch rate of 14-inch and larger walleyes last fall at Sylvan Lake was 25 per hour of sampling. At Winona Lake, our catch rate of legal-size walleyes was 28 per hour,” Pearson said.
Walleye populations in both lakes have been developed by stocking 6- to 8-inch fingerling walleyes each year since 2001. So far the DNR has released 126,000 fingerlings in Sylvan and 106,000 fingerlings in Winona.