Minnesota DNR Stocked 5.5 Million Walleye Fry In A St. Louis County Lake Last Year
I was poking around on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website today looking for some information on a lake I plan on fishing soon when I noticed that you can do searches for fish stocking information. The Minnesota DNR stocks lakes each year with different fish. I wanted to know which lake had the most walleye stocked in St. Louis County.
The most recent reports available are for last year as 2022 isn't over yet. The report shows the species of fish, the amount stocked, and the total weight. They break down the size of the fish in 4 categories:
Stocking Fish Sizes Fry - Newly hatched fish that are ready to be stocked usually called "swim-ups". Walleye fry are 1/3 of an inch or around 8 mm. Fingerling - Fingerlings are one to six months old and can range from a size of one to twelve inches depending on the species. Walleye fingerlings range from three to eight inches each fall. Yearling - Yearling fish are at least one year old. A one-year-old fish can range from three to twenty inches depending on the species. Walleye yearlings average from six to twelve inches. Adult - Adult fish are fish that have reached maturity. Depending on the species, maturity can be reached at two years of age. Walleye reach maturity between the ages of four and six years.
The DNR usually stocks fry walleyes because it's more cost-effective. They are about the size of a mosquito. They are easier to transport, and a lot of the time they will stock them in the spring and return in the fall to see how many actually survived and made it to fingerling size. They then can adjust.
The DNR started stocking fish in 1977, and their management plan is working according to their information. They've seen steady increases in walleye populations since the 1980s. Not all lakes are stocked as some don't need help. Other lakes may have a different ecosystem with bass, perch, or other species.
I scrolled through the list and found that beautiful Lake Vermilion got quite the supply of walleyes last year. 5,500,000 walleye fry were stocked in 2021. Keep in mind these are all the smallest fish they use to stock, and it weighed in at 55.2 pounds. That's like 55.2 pounds of mosquitos.
Lake Vermilion is one of Minnesota's largest lakes with over 40,000 acres. It's a favorite of many for walleye fishing. Most years the DNR stocks the lake with walleyes and muskies, too. In 2019, 5,000,000 fry were stocked. If you look back at the records, in 2014 they introduced 14.1 million fry into the lake.
So how long is it going to take those fry to grow up? The DNR says somewhere around 4-5 years for them to grow up to be a pound in weight.
A lot of the lakes are stocked from the shore, but in remote areas, they now use a helicopter to stock the lakes as it's a safer option.