LAKE MINDEMOYA—The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is getting set to carry out its fall walleye index netting survey next week.
Wayne Selinger, area biologist with the MNR office in Espanola, told the Recorder on Tuesday, “tentatively we will be starting October 15 and possibly extending this into the week of the 21, depending on the weather and how things are going.”
“The survey fall walleye index netting survey, using gillnets, is a standard method used in and beyond Ontario to assess walleye,” said Mr. Selinger. “We can’t start to take fish until the water temperatures are below 15 degrees. Right now, Lake Mindemoya is coming up at about 16-17 degrees.”
The nets used in the monitoring survey are about 200 feet in length, with eight different mesh sizes to catch small and large fish, said Mr. Selinger. He cautioned, “the method is designed to target walleye, but it does take other species as well.”
“Mindemoya is a big lake and we will be setting between 12-20 nets. We run stats as we go, and we want to see a minimum of 100 fish taken, but would stop at 200 regardless,” said Mr. Selinger. He explained that the last MNR survey taken on Lake Mindemoya saw an average of 10 fish taken in each net per day the survey was conducted.
“The nets are set overnight and we hope people will not tamper with them. If we have dead fish, we have no data. We just hope and expect people will respect the nets, which will be marked with the MNR on them,” said Mr. Selinger.
One of the main reasons the MNR is conducting this walleye fish survey is to gauge the walleye population in Lake Mindemoya. Once the survey has been completed, “we will take all the fish in and biologically sample their length and weight, open the fish up to determine their sex and maturity (age). We also take a small bone out of the head of each fish so we can get an accurate age of the fish. With their age and all the sampling we will know how fast they are growing. The survey we are carrying out is an intensive sampling that will provide more information on the status of the walleye fishery in the lake.”
Mr. Selinger said, “we have carried out this survey four times in the past, since 1997, and this will be the fifth survey we have conducted. The last survey was carried out in 2009.”
“There have been concerns raised with the health of the lake in terms of their population,” continued Mr. Selinger. “There have been invasive species introduced that affect walleye, such as smelt and zebra mussels, that could have implications on walleye. And there is no doubt in our last survey that the numbers were down. There was still a healthy result, but the survey did show a slow decline in the population. The survey will show whether this decline is continuing or things have improved.”
“We are just collecting fish at this time to provide the information needed to base management decisions on later,” said Mr. Selinger. He said the results of the survey could take as long as six months to a year to be finalized.
While the MNR is looking at starting the survey next week, this all depends on several factors, weather conditions and the temperature of water in the lake being two of them. “If the weather gets crazy and we are too late in getting in being about to get out and get fish we might have to defer the survey until next year. We’ve had bizarre weather this fall—the weather has been warm,” added Mr. Selinger.