Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Minnesota


Walleye are making a successful comeback in Upper and Lower Red lakes. Spring surveys confirmed that young walleye stocked last year survived the winter in good numbers. Increased numbers of adult spawning walleye were found in the Tamarac River, a major tributary to Red Lake. Fisheries workers poured about 41 million mosquito-sized fry into the water last May. The restocking comes after years of overfishing, which included commercial netting by members of the band which has had a self-imposed moratorium on walleye harvesting for the past two years. Federal, state and tribal officials placed a moratorium on walleye fishing to allow the walleye population to recover. The band owns and controls 241,000 acres of the 289,000-acre lakes, which are joined. The state owns 48,000 acres. The Tamarac historically was known for huge runs of spawning walleye, but the population collapsed from overfishing. In 1997, a spawning run assessment collected only four fish. Similar sampling this spring turned up about 300 walleye. "This ... does indicate that the walleye population is increasing," said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. It takes five to six years for females to mature. Officials estimate it will be eight to 10 years before walleye harvest could be allowed, under strict quotas.