The village of Wolverine Lake will be stocking feeder fish, including golden shiners and fatheads, rather than sport fish in the waters of its namesake this year.
The decision was based on recommendations from the village’s Water Management Board to propagate a healthy fish population that will ultimately increase the genetic diversity of northern pike and catfish, species that have the propensity to reproduce.
Members of the Water Management Board spoke with several experts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Michigan State University before coming to a consensus on what tact to take.
“Basically they each had the same answer — walleye doesn’t reproduce so we wouldn’t be getting the biggest bang for the buck (by stocking walleye),” said Cliff Yantz, chairman of the Water Management Board.
The board will reconsider stocking walleye in the lake in the future, perhaps every other year. While pike and bass, on the other hand, naturally thrive in a healthy environment, pike can be costly.
“The last time we stocked pike we put in about 70, but it’s kind of expensive because we need to stock longer ones,” Yantz said.
Experts concurred that Wolverine Lake is tagged a “stressed lake” and it would be prudent to increase the feeder fish population for a healthy ecosystem.
The Water Management Board may consider a rotation of feeder fish, northern pike, and walleye stocking to spur the small population currently in the lake interspersed with a sprinkling of catfish.
“According to the DNR fish biologist, people tend to be disinterested in catfish so he recommends next year stocking northern pike, followed by walleye the next year with no more than 300 8-inch catfish,” Yantz said. “We wouldn’t want a big population of catfish because they compete with other fish for food.”
The Water Management Board would re-evaluate fish stocking alternatives next year.
Due to budget reductions, the village budgeted $1,500 again this year for the initiative.
“We are disappointed on the budgeted amount — if we had $2,000 to work with that would be give us 30 percent more fish to stock,” Yantz said.
“We were able to make up the shortfall in 2010 when we received donations and hope that’s the case this year, too,” said Village Council President John Magee.
According to Magee, the DNR is likely to conduct a fish survey on Wolverine Lake in either 2013 or 2014.
“When the DNR surveys the fish population it is used as a guideline for making future recommendations,” Magee said.
The last time the DNR conducted a fish survey on the lake was in the late-90s as part of a study on aquatic weed treatments.
Fish stocking, normally conducted in late fall, keeps the aquatic life in the lake diverse and thriving. The village has stocked the lake with northern pike, perch, and walleye in the past.
The Village Council approved the new fish stocking approach at its Sept. 14 meeting.