Jan 10th, 2023
Hey all, hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!
I wanted to give an update on the Saugeye(SAE) production and provide some info and explanation as to some very misunderstood ideas and concerns I'm reading about.
This is something I think anyone interested in walleye (WAE) survival and growth, Panfish population structure and catchability in general, should read and think about hard.
In recent conversations with my Ks state fish management contacts, we've discussed the differences in WAE vs SAE and how they have become such an important fish for many KS waters.
Some of our conversations have entered around customers wanting WAE and declining the opportunity to try the SAE.
Part of this is because very few are familiar with this fish and it's habits-complete lack of knowledge.
In a recent meeting of hatchery techs and field biologist's, I posed the question of "If they had a choice".. what would they stock..
1. 99% agreed the SAE is a much better choice whether pond or large lake. Reason for this? SAE grow faster-considerably-are more readily caught by angler due to hybrid vigor, and because of the hybrid nature, they clean house on small panfish.
2. They survive and prosper in higher water temps with much less visibility as low clarity - read as more turbid conditions and most anglers that catch these fish don't know it isn't a WAE. As for table fare, saugeye and walleye are indistinguishable.
3. I've found many articles that suggest SAE require soft-rayed forage. Whoever wrote these articles has little if any knowledge of this fish. They actually prefer small sunfish over anything else but will consume golden shiners (GSH) if available in good numbers. Green sunfish (GSF) are also a preferred forage item and crappie-if present, have a reckoning to deal with.
4. Crappie -One large res in KS that was historically famous for abundant crappie became a test bed for SAE in 1989. This lake has had WAE present and continual stocking for 40+ years. No WAE were stocked after the initial stocking of SAE in 1989.
Prior to this, the black crappie (BCP) and white crappie(WCP) were topping out at around 8-9" and the WAE rated as was fair to good at certain times.
By 1995 as 6 years later, Crappie catches in the 12-13" range were very common, and what was reported as fantastic WAE catches (actually SAE) began to attract many anglers. In 1998 the 9+lb state record SAE was pulled from that impoundment and still stands today.
The crappie are not uncommon in the 16" range and the SAE/WAE fishing has not been rated less than good since saugeye were added.
Fish (SAE only) are stocked every other year here and about 70+ other impoundments on top of that. ALL of the top Crappie and BG producers in the state waters have 1 thing in common - good to excellent SAE fishing.
On to the bad news... I produced about 550,000 fry this year, stocked in 6 locations and have collected about 5500 fish due to massive inflows and going from 12-15' pits to 35-60' depths. They are collectable in very small numbers now and due to reasons beyond my control we probably will not be producing any next year unless I can find suitable bodies of water to use as grow outs.
I have about 800-1000 fish left and that will be it for now until I can figure something else out.
We use giant Z traps, a 30'x 600' seine, we've even set over the top of them and catch 2-3 of them at a time on slab spoon with 2 jigs above.
some pits have big numbers of 6" fish, 2 pits have fish 10-12".
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It is relatively easy to teach inquisitive people about "new" topics.
It is very difficult to teach people when they already know EVERYTHING about a topic and the conventional wisdom is WRONG!
Keep teaching people and producing your saugeye. Johnny Appleseed wasn't successful in a day!
P.S. Sorry to hear about you having too much water!
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