Walleye (Sander vitreus) in Lake Erie is a valuable and migratory species that spawns in tributaries. We used hydroacoustic sampling, gill net sampling, and Bayesian state-space modeling to estimate the spawning stock abundance, characterize size and sex structure, and explore environmental factors cuing migration of walleye in the Maumee River for 2011 and 2012. We estimated the spawning stock abundance to be between 431,000 and 1,446,000 individuals in 2011 and between 386,400 and 857,200 individuals in 2012 (95% Bayesian credible intervals). A back-calculation from a concurrent larval fish study produced an estimate of 78,000 to 237,000 spawners for 2011. The sex ratio was skewed towards males early in the spawning season but approached 1:1 later, and larger individuals entered the river earlier in the season than smaller individuals. Walleye migration was greater during low river discharge and intermediate temperatures. Our approach to estimating absolute abundance and uncertainty as well as characterization of the spawning stock could improve assessment and management of this species, and our methodology is applicable to other diadromous populations.
Additional Publication Details
Including independent estimates and uncertainty to quantify total abundance of fish migrating in a large river system: walleye (Sander vitreus) in the Maumee River, Ohio
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences