During the week starting Sunday, May 6, Wisconsin DNR crews from Fisheries Management (in Hayward) and Hatcheries (in Spooner) were busy setting and running fyke nets for multiple purposes in Lost Land and Teal lakes. Fishery Management Biologist Max Wolter enjoyed inviting members of the public to tag along and learn how these operations are vital to science-based management. On Monday, May 7, QLIA Photo Editor Bryan Neuswanger of Keenai Photography was invited to join the Management crew for a morning of fyke netting and fish processing. The following sequence of photos will bring you into the boat with Bryan to observe the operation. Let’s go fyke netting!
WDNR Fishery Technician Scott Braden (foreground) and Fishery Management Biologist Max Wolter (background) load a fyke net into their boat on Monday, May 7, 2018.
Approaching a fyke net set in the shallows overnight from May 6 to May 7. Nets were tended every 24 hours. Anglers were asked to give these nets a wide berth while fishing. All were marked with buoys and DNR flags.
Scott Braden lifts a fyke net to inspect the overnight catch.
The last hoop of the net is secured with large hooks and a custom slot welded into the bow of the net boat.
Scott found the “cod end” of the net loaded with fish that swam through the funnels overnight and became entrapped.
Max Wolter inspects the catch dipnetted out of the fyke net by Scott Braden.
Survey targets included black crappies and yellow perch, which were transferred to a large holding tank until they could be measured and released.
Abundant yellow perch were in the middle of their spawning season. Adult and juvenile perch are vitally important as prey for walleye, muskellunge, largemouth bass and northern pike.
Yellow perch deposit their eggs in long strands, which often are draped over submersed structure near shore (e.g., fallen tree branches) in order to keep the eggs well oxygenated off the mucky lake bed. More fallen trees in both Lost Land and Teal would increase the probability of survival of perch eggs. More young perch would improve growth rate and survival of young walleyes.
Max Wolter lowers a large walleye into the holding tank until it can be measured and released.
Scott Braden admires the largest walleye captured in the May 7 fyke nets. Any guesses on length?
The official measurement of this large female walleye was 29.6 inches — a trophy by almost any standard!
Fyke nets also capture muskellunge. These adults await donation of their eggs and milt before being released.
Crew members relieve a large female muskellunge of her first batch of eggs. She will develop more eggs for a second bout of spawning in the lake.
A sterile, stainless steel bowl is where little muskies are created. The eggs from each female are fertilized with milt from two or three males (to simulate real-world behavior and genetic diversity).
Each muskellunge used as broodstock for the hatchery in Spooner donates a small tissue sample for genetic analysis. Each donor fish also receives a PIT tag that can be scanned to identify and exclude it from repeat use in future years. This maximizes genetic diversity among hatchery products over time. Science matters!