Green Lick Lake walleyes struggling, but help coming
This is a story that reveals perspective.
Those who are glass-half-full types will see it as evidence the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s walleye stocking program works. Those who fall on the glass-half-empty side of things will see this as a case of good intentions unfulfilled.
Maybe it’s a story of both.
As recently as 2016, Green Lick Lake in Fayette County was a bit of a walleye fishing hot spot. The 101-acre commission-owned water was home to lots of walleyes, some sizeable.
A commission survey turned up 72 walleyes — 58 per hour, in survey time — stretching between 8 and 22 inches. Mike Depew, a biologist in the commission’s area 8 office in Somerset, labeled that “fantastic.”
Crews re-surveyed the lake this year to see if it’s still doing as well.
Alas, it is not.
Biologists again collected fish between 8 and 21 inches in their nets. But the overall number seen was down significantly.
Two nights of electroshocking turned up 30 walleyes, or 12.2 per hour.
“So there’s definitely been a decline,” Depew said.
If there’s any good news, it’s that biologists believe they know what the problem is: Planned walleye stockings haven’t always come to fruition.
Historically, the commission stocked walleye fingerlings into Green Lick on an annual basis. Green Lick got walleyes each year from 2005-15.
What’s more, those stockings included more fish on a per-acre basis than the average, Depew said.
But in recent years, the commission’s warmwater hatcheries have struggled to come up with enough walleyes to meet stocking requests statewide, Depew said. Technical difficulties that took some ponds out of production are to blame, it seems.
Green Lick didn’t get any walleyes in 2016 or ’17.
It returned to the stocking list in 2018, but the days of annual stockings are probably over.
Depew said Green Lick, and most other inland lakes around Pennsylvania, are getting stocked on an alternate-year basis. The commission stocks half of the lakes supposed to get walleye fingerlings in even-numbered years and the other half in odd-numbered years.
This year, thankfully for walleye anglers, is an exception.
Depew said commission hatcheries produced more walleyes than expected. As a result, some lakes, like Green Lick, got additional fish.
That might move the needle a bit, Depew said, moving Green Lick closer to its past heyday as a walleye fishery.
“It got fish last year. So it wasn’t even supposed to get them this year,” Depew said. “But it got fish.
“Hopefully that will help out here in the future.”