Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2070 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
This is a brief description of the walleye fingerling production efforts of Georgia WRD's hatchery staffs at the Summerville, Burton, and Walton hatcheries. This is a fledgling program, created in an effort to manage blueback herring in many of our mountain lakes while adding to their sport fisheries. Hatchery pond space and staff time available for this coolwater species is limited, but some ponds and even some tanks are used to raise one to two-inch fingerlings for stocking. Culturists have tried tank culture, pond culture, and fry from PA and TN in their efforts to improve program success. They deal with the north Georgia spring's wide weather shifts and the effects on pond plankton (walleye food). No food = cannibalism = only a few big, fat siblings for stocking! Fish farming, like any farming, is a challenging business.
In four short years of trying to raise walleye, the hatchery folks have made great strides. Here is their record, with stocking numbers rounded off:
2002 - 132 fish, stocked into one reservoir
2003- 21,000 total, into 2 lakes
2004 - 100,000 into 6 lakes
2005- 330,000 into 9 lakes (Yonah, Tugalo, Rabun, Seed, Tallulah Falls, Carters, Burton, Hartwell, Lanier).
2007 information update - Due to efforts by WRD walleye producers and stockers at Summerville, Walton, and Burton hatcheries and elsewhere across the northern half of Georgia, 362,319 fish hit the water in mid-May 2007. Walleyes went to lakes Lanier, Carters, Rabun, Tugalo, Yonah, Seed, and even Burton this year. As the early stockings mature, some walleye fishing predictions are now making it into our reservoir fishing prospects.
It is still too early to tell if most of these stockings will mean better fishing for anglers, as it will take about 3 years after each stocking to see if enough of these fish survive tough competition and predation, and grow big enough to catch and eat. Lakes Hartwell and Lanier are too large to have an effective lakewide stocking rate, but we hope that some stocking, when we have a bumper crop like this May's, will help to strengthen the spring river runs out of those lakes, and please the anglers who follow them in the cold days of early March.
Georgia WRD's annual reservoir sampling (gill nets, electrofishing) has shown that some of the earlier stockings are indeed starting to produce eating-size walleye in a few lakes. Lake Blue Ridge has always had a good population of naturally reproducing walleye, too. To catch them in spring, you'll have to fish deep in the cold water. But be ready when the shallow water cools in October and the fish come up at night.
Biologists will keep their eyes open for more walleye in their future nets. Keep your fingers crossed!
For more information on fledgling walleye fishing opportunities in Georgia, contact Senior Fisheries Biologist Anthony Rabern at Burton Hatchery (706-947-3112).
"Walleye Fishing In Georgia" Informational Guide  in PDF (846 kb) - this 12-page guide offers an overview of walleye production in Georgia and details angling tips for use throughout the year.