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WV Wildlife: Native Walleye Spawning

West Virginia DNR Director, Stephen McDaniel, joined fisheries biologist, Aaron Yeager and technician, Jeremy Quick, on Summersville Lake to see their work firsthand. (WCHS/WVAH)

Summersville Lake is known for its boating and recreation.

But it has a lot of potential as a great fishery, too.

Thanks to the Gauley River that runs through it, a wide range of fish species call this area home.

This includes our native Walleye, which have been here for millions of years!

The Director of our West Virginia DNR, Stephen McDaniel, understands the importance of protecting our native fish.

That's why he ventured out with WVDNR Fisheries Biologist, Aaron Yeager, DNR technician, Jeremy Quick, and us to see these fish up close recently.

There are two strains of Walleye in this lake--our native strain, and a Great Lakes one that was stocked in there many years ago.

Yeager and Quick have been working hard at Summersville Lake over the past few years trying to tilt the numbers more in favor of the native strain.

The best way to do this? Spawn the eggs on site and keep them out of harm's way early in their life. Once they’re older, they stand a better chance of not getting preyed on by some of the bigger fish.

McDaniel helped the biologists with the spawning process, where eggs from a female fish are mixed with milt from a male fish. After this, they are gradually stirred with water being added. The success rate, as you would expect, is much higher in this controlled environment compared to nature.

Before we packed up for the night, we went further up the Gauley to catch a few more for future spawning. An electrofishing boat and large nets did the trick.

The hope is to keep this process going, spawning them on site and raising them until they grow large enough to thrive where they should be--right here, in our West Virginia waters.

McDaniel was proud to release a large female walleye back into Summersville.

"She's done her job, and now it's time to let her go home”, said McDaniel.

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