CRANDON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is inviting citizens and stakeholders to attend an informational meeting Wednesday evening at Crandon High School to discuss fisheries survey data and the possibility of stocking musky in Lake Metonga in Forest County.
Greg Matzke, DNR fisheries biologist, will outline recent and historical data on walleye populations and seek comments on a proposal to stock musky in the 2,038 acre lake. The meeting is set for Wednesday, March 23 starting at 6 p.m. at Crandon High School, 9750 US Highway 8 West in Crandon. Before moving forward with any proposal, DNR will analyze the public comments and work with stakeholders to develop an approach for the lake that is sound from environmental, economic and social perspectives.
"We know the community feels very passionately about this lake and we want to provide a forum to begin discussions about the fishery and its future," Matzke said.
Lake Metonga currently sports an excellent walleye fishery now fueled by natural reproduction with an adult population of 4.9 fish per acre, compared with the regional average of approximately 3 fish per acre for naturally reproducing lakes. The lake also has a strong perch population.
Matzke said the boom in the walleye and perch populations can be traced to collaborative efforts in recent years by the Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Community to remove bullheads that prey on young walleye and perch. However, bullheads continue to reproduce in the lake with no natural predators to minimize a comeback.
A limited number of stocked muskies could help provide a more balanced fish community and reduce the need for ongoing harvest of the bullheads. Prior to the more aggressive bullhead removal efforts, the Lake Metonga walleye fishery averaged just 1.1 adults per acre from 2001 to 2009.
"Data from other northern lakes indicate that musky would contribute to a stronger fishery that is less susceptible to boom and bust cycles with respect to perch and walleye," Matzke said. "Data collected from 1990 to 2009 on 125 lakes indicates that lakes with musky contain a higher abundance of walleye than those without. An analysis of the stomach content of muskies also indicates that musky select fish other than walleye for the majority of their diets."
Matzke said citizen and stakeholder input will be critical in formulating future plans. In addition to accepting verbal and written comments at Wednesday's meeting, DNR is encouraging written comments, which may be sent to Greg Matzke, DNR fisheries biologist, Gregory.Matzke@wisconsin.gov, 5631 Forestry Drive, Florence, WI 54121.
Following the initial meeting, comments will be compiled, evaluated and summarized. Additional stakeholder meetings may be scheduled pending the comments and feedback. To learn more about the lake itself, visit DNR.Wi.gov and search "Lake Metonga."