Commercial production of walleyes (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) from western Lake Erie declined from 5.9 million pounds in 1956 to 140,000 pounds by 1969. Since 1956, marked irregularity in year-class success has developed. Only four year-classes were considered good during 1959-70. The rate and regularity of water warming during the spring spawning and incubation periods in 1960-70 had a positive effect on the density of egg deposits and the resulting year-class strength. Rates of warming were not themselves detrimental, but rather the extended length of the incubation period in cool springs increased the exposure of eggs to such negative influences as dislodgement from the spawning reefs by strong current action generated by spring storms, or siltation and low oxygen tensions. The annual brood stock size had much less influence on year-class strength than did water temperature. Reproductive success was unrelated to fluctuations in size of suitable reef spawning area caused by changes in water level. Apparently the usable spawning area at any water level is more than adequate to serve the limited walleye brood stocks.
Additional publication details
Environmental factors affecting the strength of walleye (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) year-classes in western Lake Erie, 1960-70