- Seasonal, cool water facility
- Species produced: Walleye
- Year Established: 1974
The Walker Lake Hatchery was established in 1974.
Why was it established? To provide walleye fry and fingerlings for lakes managed for walleye in Otter Tail County.
What is the general technology used for the hatchery? Water is pumped from the Dead River into the hatchery to incubate the eggs. Water runs through the batteries using a gravitational system. This is the most practical and efficient system in which to incubate the eggs.
Has the technology been modified since establishment? No.
In general, fish management tools fall into one of four categories:
- protecting and restoring habitats and water quality;
- regulating the harvest;
- stocking; and
- public education.
Lake surveys and research provide the information used to select appropriate management tools.
Minnesota has more walleye, walleye lakes, and walleye anglers than any other state. Each year, anglers harvest about 3.5 million walleye.
The best way to maintain walleye numbers is to protect critical habitats. Shore land zoning and related laws aid fish by controlling development and protecting spawning sites and aquatic plants that fish use for cover.
Stocking is another management tool used. Minnesota’s cool water hatcheries produce 2 - 5 million walleye fingerlings and millions of fry each year. Stocking can provide walleye fishing in lakes that lack spawning habitats but can otherwise support walleye. Stocking is also effective for lakes that have been “rehabilitated” or occasionally winterkill. Like any tool, stocking must be used appropriately. If misused, it will be ineffective or possibly harmful to existing fish populations. Stocked walleye may compete for food with other game fish, particularly largemouth or smallmouth bass.
Stocking a lot of small fish does not guarantee catching a lot of big fish. Fish managers estimate only 4 percent of the annual statewide walleye catch comes from stocked fish. The rest is the result of natural reproduction.
Loss of habitat, pollution, and increasing fishing pressure continue to be the biggest issues in walleye management. Everyone must work to improve water quality, control runoff and waterfront development, and maintain aquatic vegetation. Anglers, in addition, will need to comply with regulations and harvest only what they intend to use, for Minnesota to maintain a quality fishery.
The facility is located on the Dead River which is an inlet to Walker and Otter Tail Lakes. Walleye begin spawning in April as water temperatures approach 45 degrees. Workers collect, then combine, the eggs and milt from walleye spawning in the Dead River. Spawning usually ends in three to four weeks. In a typical season, 300-900 quarts of eggs are taken with an average of 135,000 eggs per quart.
Annually, the hatchery produces 25 to 80 million walleye fry. Walleye fry are stocked into area lakes and rearing ponds. Fry that are stocked in rearing ponds are harvested in the fall as fingerlings and stocked into area lakes.
Science Informing Management
What types of research help with management decisions for this hatchery? There isn't any type of research conducted at the Walker Lake Hatchery that influences management decisions for this area. Walleye egg take quotas are determined from stocking proposals that are outlined in our lake management plans. Stocking rates are determined by analyzing catch and age data collected from standard fish population assessments.
What other factors are involved with management decisions involving this hatchery?
What types of research or other science activities occur along with the activities in this hatchery?
How does the data collected and/or research conducted at this hatchery inform/affect fisheries managers and fisheries habitats?
TOURS & VISITS
Seasonal Tours Available, Reservations Required
We are unable to give tours to casual visitors due to staffing limitations.