Walleye Daily Creel Limit Reduced in Alabama Waters Effective October 1, 2006
Habitat degradation in many creeks and rivers in Alabama has reduced the population size of walleye in several areas. A recent effort to collect walleye in the Coosa River by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources suggests that walleye abundance has decreased over the last several years. The decrease is also apparent by the lack of fishing success by local anglers in specific areas where walleye have historically been harvested. As a result, the daily creel limit on walleye in the State of Alabama will be reduced to two per person per day effective October 1, 2006.
The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is also addressing the low level of walleye abundance through public water stockings. Stan Cook, Chief of Fisheries, said, “Walleye recovery efforts in Alabama began in April 2006 when 6,500 fingerling walleye were stocked into Lake Mitchell. It is hoped that the combination of clean watershed initiatives, supplemental stockings and a reduction in the daily creel limit will result in an abundance of walleye in future years.”
Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum), a lesser known game fish species in Alabama, can be found in several drainages throughout the state. This species is primarily sought for its aggressive nature and tasty flesh. Two separate sub-species of walleye exist in Alabama; however, visual discernment of the two is impossible. The northern walleye is located in the Tennessee River drainage and is occasionally caught while angling for sauger (Stizostedion canadense), more commonly called “jack.” The southern walleye exists in isolated areas of the Mobile Basin in such drainages as the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Cahaba and Tombigbee.
Walleye are similar in appearance to the sauger; however, they obtain larger sizes and have different coloration patterns. The state angling record for walleye is 10 pounds, 14 ounces and was caught from Weiss Reservoir on the Coosa River in 1980. The state record for sauger is only 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Walleye, unlike the sauger, lack the black mottled pigmentation on the spiny dorsal fin and also display a white tip on the lower lobe of its tail fin. Another difference between these two species is that sauger are only found in the Tennessee River Region, while walleye can potentially be caught statewide with the exception of the extreme southeastern portion of the state.
State fisheries biologists are interested in information about walleye from anglers. If you have any information regarding walleye caught in Alabama outside the Tennessee River Region, please contact the District IV Fisheries Office at 334-358-0035.