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Walleye Harvest
reported by Brian Mulherin, Ludington Daily News, Wednesday, June 5, 2013
In 25 years, the Mason County Walleye Association has raised more than a ton of walleyes for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. That means more than 3.5 million walleye fry have been planted in area lakes after being housed and fed in the pond the association maintains southeast of Ludington.

Although the association doesn’t get to pick where those fish go, a sizeable chunk of them have gone to Hamlin Lake — about 1,157,000 thanks to Tuesday’s planting of 150,000 more walleyes for the county’s largest lake.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources harvested walleyes from the pond on Tuesday using Fyke nets. The total harvest was about 187,000 fish, with about 30,000 going to Rose Lake in Osceola County. Whatever is left over today will go to other lakes in the northwestern Lower Peninsula.

DNR Fisheries Technician Supervisor Scott Heintzelman said the fish looked great, if a little on the small side. He said it appeared their timing was dead-on as they found just one pair of fish that had attempted to cannibalize each other.

Heintzelman was optimistic for today’s harvest because they were still seeing fish around the ropes leading to their nets as they pulled full nets from the pond on Tuesday.

“We’ll copper a little heavier tonight, come back and see what we get,” he said.

DNR Fisheries Biologist Mark Tonello said the fish looked good.

“These guys have done a good job, as usual,” Tonello said of the MCWA. “I like to say if you walleye fish in northwestern Michigan, you owe the Mason County Walleye Association a debt of gratitude because the fish here go into a lot of different lakes. Most of our inland lakes, they don’t get enough natural reproduction or don’t get any natural reproduction, so stocking is key. In this day and age of smaller government, we’re going to have to rely more and more on groups like this.”

Among the other DNR employees at the harvest were Fisheries Assistant Mark Vaas, Fisheries Technician (and hatchery truck driver) Bob Kerry and intern Zach Kopfman. Kopfman is a West Shore Community College student who was a 2012 graduate of Manistee High School.

More manpower was provided by MCWA members, who pre-weighed buckets of water that the fish from the nets were dumped into. The buckets with water and fish were weighed and a number of fish was calculated based on the average size of the fish.

MCWA President Carter Koles said it’s always good to get enough fish to stock Hamlin Lake, which gets 150,000 fish every other year.

“I don’t know if it will be a banner year, but it will be a good year,” Koles said Tuesday, noting that it was a cold spring. “If we do as well tomorrow as we did today, it will be a banner year.”

The MCWA will hold a banquet June 22 at Ludington Boat Club to raise funds to support the rearing pond in its 25th year. The pond takes between $5,000 and $6,000 a year to operate, with the bulk of those costs being electricity for pumping water into the drainable 6-acre pond. The association is supported entirely by donations and fundraising banquets.

Tickets to this year’s banquet are $15 each and available through directors or at Ludington Truck Tops, 302 Fifth Street. Tickets include a perch dinner, access to silent auctions and an informational presentation. Call Ron Soberalski at 845-0110 or Koles at 843-2183 for tickets or more information.

Those who are unable to attend can support the association through earmarked donations to the Community Foundation for Mason County. Contact Koles at 843-2183 for details.

DNR Fisheries Technicians empty a fyke net at the walleye pond Tuesday.

The DNR harvested 187,000 walleye from the walleye pond on Tuesday.

Mason County Walleye Association President Carter Koles keeps track of the harvest as volunteers work to help the Michigan DNR weigh the walleyes coming from the six-acre pond in Pere Marquette Township. About 187,000 fish were harvested Tuesday, with about 157,000 of them going into Hamlin Lake. The other 30,000 went into Rose Lake in Osceola County. The MCWA harvest will continue today.
  “Making Mason County A Fisherman’s Paradise”