Brian Simon, Chairman of Walleyes For Tomorrow Interview
E-NATION was able to interview Brian H. Simon, Chairman for the Walworth Walleyes For Tomorrow Chapter.He talks about the impact the organization has had on walleye populations and how the success of walleye regeneration is influencing new generations of fishermen to volunteer. After reading his insightful responses, make sure to check out the Walworth County Chapter’s Walleyes For Tomorrow event on August 3rd, 2013: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Walleyes-For-Tomorrow-Walworth-County-Chapter/107070139422020County
Here is the full interview with Brian Simon:
E-NATION: What do you think makes Walleyes For Tomorrow such a success in the regeneration of walleye and sauger populations?
Brian: The fact that we closely evaluate the lake we consider doing work on and its current walleye or sauger population to determine, as well as possible, if we can help the resident population. We consider what will work best; habitat improvement or rehabilitation, hatchery operation, or water quality improvements. In the case of Geneva Lake, where we are currently working, the resident population of walleyes does spawn, but the survival of the fertilized egg or hatched fry is very low due to shoreline conditions, algae, or predation by fish. The success in these situations stems from the protection the fertilized eggs and hatched fry receive in our hatchery before being released into the lake. Also the fact that we use the resident male and female walleye for the egg and milt collection, which are conditioned to the water chemistry of the lake, helps the resulting fry, in that when the eggs are being incubated in our hatchery we are using the same lake water they will be released into.
E-NATION: What do you think makes volunteers and WFT members so passionate about being involved in this push for larger walleye numbers?
Brian: I believe more and more people realize the difficulty the walleye and sauger populations have in reproducing themselves in sufficient numbers to become common place to catch in the waters, in which they once may have been. We realize the changes in climate, water conditions, and habitat as well as the pursuit of these species by anglers with tackle, techniques and information not known to fishermen 20 years ago, has limited the population in many lakes. We feel we enjoy giving back to the resource or helping the walleye population as much as we like to catch them. Once a person witnesses or takes part in the egg collection and hatchery process, they begin to have a very different view of our fisheries and how precious the lakes and rivers are that have a naturally reproducing and self-sustaining walleye populations. We admire the walleye and sauger and we want to see them exist prosperously in the waters they once did. Being a part of this process and carrying out the mission of Walleyes for tomorrow is a real “feel good” project.
E-NATION: How has this organization impacted Wisconsin and Michigan’s walleye population specifically?
Brian: The Walworth County Chapter has been operating a walleye hatchery for 2 years and has released just fewer than 6 million fry in that time. We are in the early stage of our project but some 6-8 inch walleye have been caught that we suspect came from our 2012 hatch. Assessment of the effectiveness of our project will be ongoing for the next 5 years. The Fox and Wolf rivers have had extensive work done on the habitat as has Lake Winnebago by the chapters in those areas. Fry stocking is taking place annually on 7-8 lakes from our hatcheries. Besides hatchery operation and habitat improvement, WFT funds boats and equipment for lake and walleye studies, scholarships for UW Stevens Point fisheries students, and kids fishing days. The collective résumé of the 15 WFT Chapters is very extensive and impressive. It can be seen at our National Organizations website www.walleyesfortomorrow.com The efforts of many members over the last 21 years has had a positive effect on the walleye and sauger populations in Wisconsin and Michigan.
E-NATION: Do you think that WFT will have to maintain an ongoing role in the re-population and habitat protection of walleyes in the Midwest?
Brian: I believe Walleyes For Tomorrow will need to continue to educate the public in the fact that the walleye and sauger population needs help beyond the scale of what has been done in the past, and that the public can and does make a positive difference by getting involved. The thought that a person can simply purchase a fishing license, expect the walleye populations to become abundant by a miraculous reversal of degradation to habitats and water conditions, or believe State Fishery Departments are able to handle such a great workload by themselves is wishful thinking at best. There is simply too much work to be done on too many waters in our state for this situation to be rectified without more public involvement. Walleyes For Tomorrow, which is made up of everyday men and women who feel the need to help local lakes that have struggling walleye populations, will need to maintain what they are doing now, increase efforts, and take initiative where there is a need for such regeneration. This support that Walleyes For Tomorrow provides will help wherever the population is struggling and where the desire for people to get together to do something about it exists.
E-NATION: How do you envision the role WFT will have for future generations of fishermen?
Brian: For younger generations, if we take time to tell them what we once had as a viable walleye fishery, how walleye and sauger populations started dwindling, and how we now realize what needs to be done (more education, habitat preservation and rehabilitation, and hatchery operation) to change the situation, they will have a stable platform to continue doing good for the fisheries and ecology. The younger generation is pretty sharp. By showing them our concerns and relaying our mission, they will play an important and influential role in the future quality of our resources. This also goes for the future generations of leadership in companies throughout the fishing industry. We mustn’t forget what came first or the reason the industry exists in the first place. Evinrude has seen the value in investing in Walleyes For Tomorrow by becoming a sponsor. In return for their investment they receive the benefit of a well organized, passionate and hardworking volunteer workforce that is equipped with proper education and infrastructure to actively and effectively take on the task of improving walleye populations. As I see it, we all know what has to be done. We have the knowledge and means to do it. We need to pay attention and not ignore the situation or nothing will change…..at least not for the better. Get involved, join or start a local chapter, and make a difference.
If you have any questions or comments about walleye fishing, or would like to talk to Brian Simon, please join the conversation on E-NATION: http://community.evinrude.com/t5/Evinrude-News/What-is-your-experience-with-Walleye-fishing/m-p/12088#M112
Also read yesterday’s article about the Walleyes For Tomorrow organization here at http://www.evinrudenation.com/freshwater/walleyesfortomorrow/