I attended the open forum in WaKeeney on July 27 to listen to the proposed change in the length limit of walleye at Cedar Bluff reservoir to 21 inches.
After listening to the local biologist, Dave Spallsbury, it is obvious he is basing his theory off of data that is either dated or compared to other lakes in the state that are much larger or have a sustainable water level that is consistent, year after year. I appreciate all of the data Dave gathered to represent his theory; however, based off of the many comments that were made during meeting and the data he used to try to support his theory, he is not addressing the true problem that is causing the concerns, which is the over-population of predator fish at Cedar Bluff.
Walleye is one of the most desired fish in fresh water all across the U.S. by anglers young and old. In most cases, catching any walleye, no matter what the size, is a trophy to most; however, at Cedar Bluff, catching 50 walleyes in an evening is not uncommon. The problem is that out of 50 that you catch, you may not have a keeper (18 inches). It has been like this for 10-plus years. No doubt, this is more fun than one can imagine, but this tells me the walleye in this lake are not growing at a normal rate due to lack of larger bait fish and the overpopulation of sub-legal walleye when you continually catch the same size fish, year after year.
Based off information that was provided by Spallsbury, he stated the male walleye reaches a maturity at 2 to 2.5 years of age or 15 to 17 inches in length, and the females reach maturity at 3 to 3.5 years, which is 18 to 21 inches in length. He also stated the average male walleye, in most cases, will not grow much more after they mature and that most male walleye have an average life span of 5 to 7 years of age, which means most males will die of old age if the proposed 21-inch length limit is imposed.
Many that attended this meeting (40-plus anglers) expressed the same concerns, stating Dave is not drilling down to uncover the true problem that exists. The root cause is the overpopulation of predator fish, which are all competing for the same food source, hence, causing a shortage of a viable food source for all predator’s to thrive and grow. In looking at the three main predator fish in Cedar Bluff, walleye, white bass and wipers, all three species do not look healthy when compared to the same species at other lakes in the state of Kansas.
Several alternative proposals were presented by the public, based off of the root cause problem, which is a shortage of bait fish to satisfy the demand for sustained growth of all species of fish in this body of water.
Many suggestions were made during this meeting, and one of the best suggestions that was brought up to address the root cause is listed below to address the overpopulation of predators and the limited amount of bait fish to sustain a healthy fishery:
• Reduce the daily bag limit from five to three, allowing the angler to harvest two fish from 15 inches up to 18 inches and one fish over 21 inches (slot limit).
By implementing this proposed slot limit method to Cedar Bluff, it will allow all females that reach 18 inches in length to be protected from harvest until they reach 21 inches in length. This will also allow anglers the chance to take home an excellent meal and also protect the 18-inch females during a very important time of the reproductive cycle that takes place.
Many times, data gathered by Spallsbury can lead to paralysis by analysis. Hopefully, common sense will lead you to the best decision.