Walleyes Sander vitreus are stocked into Owasco Lake, New York, to provide a sport fishery, but the population must be sustained by annual hatchery supplementation despite the presence of appropriate habitat. Therefore, we evaluated walleye spawning success in Dutch Hollow Brook, a tributary of Owasco Lake, to determine whether early survival limited recruitment. Spawning success during spring 2006 and 2007 was evaluated by estimating egg densities from samples collected in the lower 725 m of the stream. Environmental variables were also recorded to characterize the selected spawning habitat. Drift nets were set downstream of the spawning section to assess egg survival and larval drift. We estimated that 162,596 larvae hatched in 2006. For 2007, we estimated that 360,026 eggs were deposited, with a hatch of 127,500 larvae and hatching success of 35.4%. Egg density was significantly correlated to percent cover, substrate type, and depth : velocity ratio. Two sections had significantly higher egg deposition than other areas. Adult spawning walleyes selected shallow, slow habitats with some cover and gravel substrate in the accessible reaches of Dutch Hollow Brook. Our results show that walleyes found suitable spawning habitat in Dutch Hollow Brook and that egg and larval development does not appear to limit natural reproduction.
Additional publication details
Habitat selection and spawning success of walleye in a tributary to Owasco Lake, New York