A wide variety of fish species found recently during a survey in the western portion of Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior suggests the bay generally supports a healthy fishery, but a decline in the number of smaller walleyes indicates natural reproduction is limited. As a result of the findings, Michigan fisheries biologists plan to continue stocking walleyes in the bay.
Species found included walleyes, yellow perch, bullheads, silver redhorse, pumpkinseed sunfish, carp, rock bass, northern pike and lake sturgeon. No trout or salmon were caught because the shallow water was above their preferred temperature range. No smallmouth bass were netted, but it was likewise assumed that the water temperature might have been above their liking and that of their primary forage.
In June a trap net was set west of Excel Energy Plant in Ashland to repeat sampling that was done in 1999. The net was checked daily for a week. On each trip crews found 75-100 fish in the net. Reduced walleye catches in the trap net support the need for supplemental stocking in Chequamegon Bay. Walleye stocking started in 1979 to compensate for over-fishing and quickly created a new localized population of walleye that returns to the Ashland shoreline each spring to spawn. Walleye stocking was discontinued in the late 1990s because the population was flourishing and the DNR wanted to measure if there was natural reproduction along the Ashland shoreline.
Fisheries managers reinitiated the stocking program in 2009 by planting 200,000 walleyes in the bay and about 450,000 walleye fingerlings in June 2010.