Ourdoors in Whitehall with Gene Terry: Hope for Walleye

In the past, residents of Whitehall and surrounding communities couldn’t wait for first ice on South Bay to go ice fishing for Saugers and walleyes. It was in everyone’s blood as it was for past generations. You couldn’t wait for the ice to form. Heck, back before TV and all those other electrical gadgets they got now, ice fishing was all you had in the winter.

The walleyes are another fish story. They have gone from the thousands that used to arrive in South Bay and the Poultney River in the spring of the year to almost non-existent today.

The Lake Champlain Walleye Association Southern Tier, led by John Rozell and Leonard Field, made a portable hatchery to try to reproduce walleyes in the lake and has had limited success. It all depends on whether the ice is out in the spring of the year if there are going to be successful or not.

We all agreed there is nothing like a natural spring spawning to produce walleye fry into the lake. Enter a meeting with the Department of Environmental Conservation held last week at Pike Brook in South Bay.

Everyone knows that the mouth of Pike Brook has been one of the principal brooks in South Bay for the walleyes to spawn. During the spring in the past you could go down there at night with a flashlight and see thousands of walleyes laying their eggs in the gravel soil. No more or not much more.

Over the years the mouth of Pike Brook has filled in from silt from spring thaws that come off the mountain. Why, after all these years? We don’t know. But we do know that we feel this is one of the reasons (the primary reason) that the walleyes are not going up the brook anymore.

On July 17, DEC’s aquatic biologist, James Pinheiro met there with Rick Vladyka, president of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, Bill Pike, vice chair of the state Fish and Wildlife Management Board, John Rozell, member of the board of directors of the Lake Champlain Walleye Association, Ray Wheeler, Tony Moore and myself to try to evaluate the situation of somehow opening up the mouth of Pike Brook for more of a spawning run in the spring.

Ideas came from all directions on what to do. On the west side of South Bay we’re dealing with the APA (Adirondack Park Agency) so that would be more of blockage on anything we would want to than the walleyes have getting up the brook.

I have to say, for once DEC sent down someone who we think knows what he is talking about. We left it in his hands as it has to go through the proper channels before anything can be done there anyways. But it’s worth a try.

I’ll keep you posted on this and if it helps the walleyes during the spring spawning run. I’m all for it.



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