Okoboji, Iowa — The 143rd walleye fishing season officially opens May 4 at Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji lakes.
The annual broodstock netting is complete and the walleye spawn is coming to a close,according to fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins. He says walleyes will start the recovery process by consuming a lot of calories, which brings good fishing.
Walleye population assessments in the Iowa Great Lakes show healthy numbers of walleyes. Hawkins says they continue to see some very good numbers of broodstock sized fish (17-inches and greater) in the Iowa Great Lakes. He says this year, the netting crews collected all the broodstock fish needed for the hatchery in just a few nights. Walleye numbers in the lakes are very good, according to Hawkins.
The Iowa Great Lakes walleye fishery, like most in Iowa, is maintained through stocking. The Iowa Great Lakes are a source of broodstock for Iowa’s walleye program and are managed to maintain high numbers of large fish. Walleye stocking success is highly variable with a strong year class of fish produced only every three to five years on average.
Lake conditions, predator levels, and other environmental conditions are usually responsible for the strength of a year class of fish, according to Hawkins.
Marble Beach State Park, a popular area campground and boat ramp, is closed for an extensive improvement project. The fish cleaning station at Marble Beach is closed with the construction at the park. Campgrounds at Gull Point and Emerson Bay are open with other private facilities and hotels also available. The fish cleaning station at Emerson Bay State Park is available.
Walleye season opens the first Saturday in May and runs through February 14th each year on Spirit Lake, East Okoboji Lake and West Okoboji Lake. There is a protected slot limit on walleyes from 17- to 22-inches, with only one walleye over 22-inches allowed per day on Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji Lake, Upper and Lower Gar Lake and Minnewashta Lake. The daily limit is three walleyes with a possession limit of six.
The Iowa Great Lakes Chamber of Commerce will host the 37th annual Great Walleye Weekend Fishing Contest in conjunction with the opener. For more information on the contest, visit their website at www.okobojichamber.com.