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Whitney Point Reservoir Gillnet and Trapnet Survey (2007)

Survey Number: 707012
Survey Dates: July 10-13, 2007

Standard summer sampling was conducted in 2007 to monitor population trends of the reservoir's fish community, particularly walleye and crappie. This sampling effort, which generally consists of twelve gillnet and four trapnet sites, has been conducted regularly since the mid-1980's. This year, because walleye catch rates were so high, sampling effort was reduced to nine gillnet sites to limit further walleye mortality.

The gillnet catch rate of walleye (12.3/net) surpassed the previous record high of 11.6/net observed in July 2005. For perspective, gillnet catch rates of walleye in the 1980's averaged around 1/net, and then jumped to 3-4/net in the 1990's. Gillnet catch rates for walleye in this decade have averaged over 10.5/net during 3 of the 4 sampling years and was 5.3/net in the fourth (2003). Numerous walleye year classes were represented in the sample, with sizes ranging from 11 to nearly 26 inches. Recruitment of walleye via natural reproduction has been consistently high since the mid-1990's. The reason for the increased production is not clear, but crappie populations have generally been at lower levels during this same time period.

Age 2+ white crappie were well represented in the trapnet catches. The occurrence of these fish marks the first decent year of production in more than half of a decade. The crappie population has been depressed for a number of years with the last fairly strong year class having been produced in 2000. The catch rate of crappie in gillnets was relatively low, so it is hard to say whether the 2005 year class is large or simply moderate in size due to the conflicting information between the two sampling gears. Either way their growth appears good with the average falling somewhere between 7.1 and 7.5 inches. This represents nearly an inch of growth from the fall of 2006 when this year class averaged roughly 6.5 inches. We anticipate that this year class should support good fishing beginning in winter 2007/2008.

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