Special Bulletin – Golden Lake Walleye Plan
Hope you are all enjoying the winter and the sunny days that continue to get longer with the transition to spring and summer. Below is a backgrounder on the new Fish Committee plans that will begin this year. We have a 5-year plan to bring our lake back where it used to be with respect to the walleye fishery. Please review and if you have comments or suggestions, we would love to have your input by Monday Feb 20. Once we have looked at your comments, we will be posting our plan to our web site and then to our Facebook page so people can be kept informed of what is happening and our progress. It will take all of us to bring things back to close to the way we used to have it so we appreciate your support and help.
Don and Peter
GLPOA Fish Committee Rehabilitation Plan
In the 1960s and 1970s, Walleye were common in Golden Lake. There have been debates about whether they are actually native to the area but suffice it to say that they have been present in the lake since 1922. In the early 1980s, stocks of this popular fish started declining for reasons that remain unclear, and now there are hardly any being caught in the lake on a regular basis. The Ministry of Natural Resources studied the situation and tried a number of different methods to solve the problem. These included stocking the lake with Walleye fry and summer fingerlings, but none of these approaches provided a long-term solution and the Walleye population has continued to decline.
As co-chairs of the GLPOA fish committee, Dr. Peter Heinermann and Don Bishop have come up with a proposal to restore the Walleye population through selective reintroduction. Historical data shows that with Walleye stocked as eggs, fry or summer fingerlings, the success rate is not optimal. However, the same data show that if the smaller fish are kept in a nursery until they become late fall or following spring (yearlings) size, the survival rate goes up significantly. Don and Peter have come up with a conceptual plan to create a nursery application using either small floating cages, a floating raceway system or a separate remote nursery pond. These approaches all depend on the application and resources available to suit the specific requirements and/or strategic locations throughout Golden Lake or other lakes. Walleye in the wild have a very low survival rate — less than 5 percent at the fry level, depending on the body of water in which they are introduced. Once they get to the late fall fingerling stage (~15.2 cm), however, they are large enough so that they are no longer a prey item for Rainbow Smelt, and their survival rate increases significantly.
We have learned that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has done this in Lake Ontario with a different fish species (Chinook salmon) and has had tremendous success in reintroducing or expanding these fish. In addition, the states of Iowa, Vermont and Wisconsin are leaders in the practice of Walleye intensive culture, and we have already received resources, contacts, and guidance from them so we can learn from their experience. Cage culture of Walleye has been successfully demonstrated in Ontario, Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky with survival rates up to 86% over 80 days.
We have also made contact with the head of research for Lake Ontario at the Ministry, the hatchery manager of the White Lake fish culture station, and the community hatchery program coordinator for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. We have explained our goals, and they are enthusiastic to work with us to create a proof-of-concept solution for Golden Lake that can be used in other lakes and with other species.
Contact has also been made through John Yakabuski to the chief of staff for MNRF and both are supportive of our initiative. In addition to these contacts, we will be working with the manager of natural resources for the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation.
As we move forward and solidify our plans, we will need specific leaders to champion the following: marketing/communications (information releases, etc.), fundraising, site technical management , biology, record management, smelt fry, etc. Presently, beside Peter and myself as co-chairs, we have Mathew Ingram as our communications person, Jay Foran, who is responsible for site technical management and James Kushny as our AOP representative.
We will need additional volunteers to assist the GLPOA Fish Committee on this exciting endeavour. If interested, please let us know at email@example.com. It will be fun, exciting, you will learn lots and get to be part of a team that will make positive change, so please consider working with us.
Thanks to the board of GLPOA and to the members for their support.
Dr. Peter Heinermann
Peter’s ties to Golden Lake go back 32 years, when he first started attending Red Pine Camp, a tradition that continues to this day. He has also organized and run a catch-and-release children’s fishing derby at Red Pine for over three decades. He retired in September of 2019, after a 28-year career as the Undergraduate Laboratory Coordinator in the Department of Biology at the University of Ottawa.
Peter has also worked as a research assistant at the University of Waterloo and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, studying Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout; a project biologist for Bio-Environmental Services Ltd; as a secondary school teacher, a Cegep instructor, and a lecturer at the University of Montreal.
Peter holds a Bachelor of Science in Honours Fisheries from the University of Guelph, an Aquatic Biology Technologist Diploma from Sheridan College, a Bachelor of Education at Western University, followed by a Master of Science and a PhD from the University of Montreal. He is also the author of more than twenty scientific publications and reports.
Don moved to Eganville with his family in the late 60’s, he has lived on Golden Lake since 1986. He started his first business at the age of 20, when he ran Bishops’ Sports in Eganville with his brother. After that closed in 1993, Don got involved in the aquaculture industry, first through a partnership with a Japanese company that developed solutions for mollusk farming, and then through a partnership with an American manufacturer, where he helped design containment and waste management technologies. He then went on to start two companies with partners, one refurbishing and rebuilding wastewater treatment plants and technologies for nutrient recovery, as well as an environmental clean-up company. The latter two he sold to his business partners in 2018.
He travelled the world for 25 years creating solutions and building his companies, which has given him experience on many levels.
Don is still involved with both of the aquaculture ventures on a part-time advisory basis. He has also been involved in research and development of wastewater and nutrient recovery technologies, as well as shoreline erosion-prevention methods and contaminated soil remediation. Now semi-retired, he has volunteered with the Eganville and Area Community Development Group, coaching and mentoring individuals and companies in a variety of ways.“