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North Dakota Outdoors Television - Devils Lake Walleyes


When you think of Devils Lake, you conjure up -- a spot with just a little too much water. Or wonderful water birds, like Western grebes.

But what you may not know -- is that Devils Lake is the first home for many of the state's famous sports fish -- walleyes.

Many of those "fighting walleyes" that delight sports men and women all over North Dakota originate right here in Devils Lake. But the journey is complicated.

It starts ... out on the water. Lynn Schlueter is head of the Game and Fish "walleye spawning" team. "We collect the walleye spawners with trap nets. These nets do not hurt the fish, just hold them for us.

Milt is extracted from the males, eggs are gathered from the females, and stirred witth the milt, and in a moment -- fertilization. Then the eggs are mixed with clay. Without the clay, the eggs will clump together, and those groups of eggs will often die.

The eggs are put in coolers and moved to the hatchery. They'll hatch in ten to fifteen days. Then, they are moved again. "These little fry are stocked into ponds and allowed to grow out for about 30 days. From there, they're transported to ponds around the state and stocked.

The sheer volume of life in these jars is staggering. There are 120,000 eggs here - per quart.

Their tenacity to endure is amazing. When they hatch, these walleyes will still be almost agonizingly minute ... "Walleye are small. There are about 3500 per ounce."

And yet, enough of them will make it to perpetuate their species. To live. To be.

For Lynn, his work isn't just fun -- it's a service to the people of the state.

"Two or three years down the road when somebody catches a fish .. I like the idea they're going to have a fun time and I helped."

So the next time a big lunker bites into your hook, remember, it may have begun with an egg here at Devils Lake. Tip you hat to Lynn Schlueter and crew. And to a great "mothering" lake - even if it is too full, sometimes.

This is Lex Games for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, out in the great, nurturing North Dakota Wilds.

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Last modified April 23, 1996