Growth Rates of Stocked Walleye in Several Georgia Reservoirs

The walleye (Sander vitreus) is a large predatory fish distributed throughout Canada and the United States, ranging from Central Canada southward to the Tennessee and Mississippi River drainages. Because of its importance as a recreational sportfish, walleye growth has been studied extensively in the northern portion of its distribution. However, little information is available regarding growth of this species in the southeast, particularly in Georgia. The objectives of this study were to quantify growth of walleye in several north Georgia reservoirs and to compare the growth rates of walleye in north Georgia to the growth rates of walleye throughout North America. Anchored gill nets and boat electrofishing were used to collect walleye on five different impoundments from April 2009 to September 2010. Age estimates for each of 115 walleyes were obtained by counting growth annuli from transverse sections of sagittal otoliths. Length-at-age data from each population were then fit to the von Bertalanffy growth model to estimate growth rates of each population. Growth rates of north Georgia populations were then compared to growth rates of populations from other parts of North America. Our results suggest that growth rates of walleye in north Georgia are among the fastest documented in North America. We suggest that further studies are needed to better understand survival and harvest rates of stocked walleye in north Georgia reservoirs.

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