MNRF closing Lake Scugog walleye fishery

by Bill Hodgins | November 27, 2015

walleye fishery - Lake Scugog mapThe Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests has confirmed it will be closing the walleye fishery for Lake Scugog until further notice.

In announcing the change on the its Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) website, the ministry stated that its decision took into account advice from the Fisheries Management Zone 17 council, input from the public and stakeholders, and the best science available. The closure goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Back in 2009, the ministry developed a Fisheries Management Plan that identified challenges associated with the recreational fishery in the FMZ. “The observed declines in walleye abundance, and associated shifts in the structure of the fish community, have been identified as the highest priority fisheries management challenge in FMZ 17,” the ministry states.

According to the ministry, the walleye fishery in Lake Scugog, “was excellent in the 1970s and 1980s.” However, the population started to decline in the 1990s and continues to decline today.

“Since the 1990s, walleye abundance has continued to decline due to continued high fishing pressure and the additional factor of low annual recruitment (the number of small/young fish being added to the population each year due to natural reproduction).”

Fish community structure changes may also be impacting walleye abundance in Lake Scugog. According to the ministry, the fish community in Lake Scugog is now dominated by bluegill and black crappie. These fish species compete directly with young walleye for food and habitat.

Black crappie may also prey on young walleye. These factors, among others, may lead to a reduction in the number of walleye that survive to adulthood. “If the walleye fishery is to recover, harvest levels of the past can no longer be sustained.”

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) responded to the MNRF announcement this morning by stating it does not support the year-round closure of the walleye fishery in Lake Scugog based on the information that was used to make the decision.

“We did not feel that all potential management options were adequately assessed,” the OFAH stated. “Anglers are being singled out as the only cause for the decline in Walleye on Lake Scugog. It can’t be shown that angler harvest of Walleye is solely responsible for the declining populations in Lake Scugog. We do know that there are a series of issues still happening that will impact Walleye populations and without addressing these issues, there may be no recovery of the Walleye population even after the closure.”

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  1. tommy wrote: I know tons of ppl that live on the lake and I hv fished the lake for almost 20 yrs, and slot or closed season, ppl will still catch walleye and run them in their houses to eat!!!! the crappie and muskey are to blame just as much as the ppl and the zebra muscle too for making the lake so clear!!!!
    • Muskyguy50 wrote: The muskies are to blame? Good thing that fishery isn't in your hands! Some common sense would tell you that muskies may be the least of worries in a declining walleye population.
  2. IceCold Camembert wrote: I fully support the closure of walleye fishing on Scugog until the species can recover. Anglers should take the lead in protecting fisheries. I wonder if restricting hook and bait size would cut down the crappie and bluegill populations without affecting walleyes?
  3. tommy wrote: I think its an lost cause now, I hv seen and hv fished lakes that use to b walleye lakes in Ontario and blk crappie r in their now, and we r catching crappie over 16" long, and I hv caught 1 at 18.1" long and 8.9" wide and 4.5" thick, and hv pics to prove it!!! and the walleye r less and less, to where I don't fish for walleye anymore cause in 10yrs the walleye r all but gone, but u do get the OOD big walleye, but we keep them ,cause the young walleye wont survive, cause the crappie eat them all, cause we c the baby walleye all in the bellies of the crappie, the the round goby r next to destroy everything!!!
  4. tommy wrote: I fished many tributairies in Ontario and now r full of gobbie no more trout to b caught, I must hv killed over 50 gobbie ina few hrs fishing this spring for trout, very sad, our kids wont get to fish the fish we use fish growing up!!!!!