A New Threat to Northern Walleye

Originally seen in Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review

Our third story this week comes to us from south of the border, however, its potential implications in the north should have the attention of anglers throughout Ontario.

According to the Northern Climate Adaptation Science Center, the number of Wisconsin lakes that are able to support walleye is projected to fall from 10% to less than 4% by the end of the century. These numbers are based on the troubling warming trend that these northern lakes have been experiencing over the last 30 years – a trend that is not projected to slow down anytime soon.

So why should this matter to Ontarians?

For those who have never travelled through the midwestern United States, or are not fond of maps, Wisconsin lies north of much of Southern Ontario and its geography is strikingly similar to what we find in our province’s northwest. Similarly, the warming trend that the state is seeing does not halt at the border and many of Ontario’s most prized walleye waters are seeing the same concerning temperatures.

As identified in the Wisconsin report, this warming is likely to lead to a significant decrease in suitable walleye lakes throughout the province as things continue to warm and these cold-water species continue to lose habitat to those that can tolerate the warmer conditions. In fact, in the same time period that walleye habitat is supposed to fall by more than 50%, that of Largemouth Bass is projected to rise dramatically as their ability to tolerate temperatures in the high 70s and 80s is much better than their cold-water counterparts.

A largemouth
Largemouth Bass – future kings of the north?

Though there is little that anglers can do to combat this trend, governments in both Canada and the United States are surely keeping a close eye on this trend as stocking efforts and fishery management continue to adapt to our fast-changing climate.

This excerpt was taken from Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman. For more stories like this, check out the full article below and tune back in every Friday to catch up on everything you missed!