Manitoba Fisheries partners with different community groups in the facilitating of rearing ponds for newly hatched walleye fry to raise them in a predator-free environment.  The results are amazing when these miniscule creatures are allowed to eat till their hearts content without having to look over their shoulder at what's coming up from behind with big teeth!

Westman's Regional Biologist with MB Fisheries, Brody Kitch, says one of these partnerships is in the Duck Mountains, with the Swan Valley Sport Fishing Enhancement Group.

"It's Beautiful Lake, a stock trout waterbody which grows very, very big rainbow trout and brown trout as well. It's a productive lake; it has a lot of scuds, a lot of forage for these fish to grow very quickly," explains Kitch. "So, every second Fall [season] there is a Beautiful Lake walleye transfer where we go with trap nets and the electric fishing boat, and we collect fingerlings and move them all across the Duck Mountains Provincial Park.

The electric fishing boat sends an electrical charge into the water just enough to briefly stun the fish. Then they're netted and put directly into buckets of water ready for transport.  This is the safest way to catch the fingerlings as there's no fighting with the fish, nor do they get trapped and tangled in the net where they could otherwise damage their fins or skin.

Last Fall, Manitoba Fisheries and the Swan Valley volunteers moved just under 6,000 walleye fingerlings to various lakes around the Duck Mountain Park.  Fingerlings are about 5-month-old walleye fish and can range in size from 5 to 9 inches. 

"So, this again is a very, very successful fishery," Kitch says. "Even after the transfers there's still a lot of walleye left to be caught by anglers." 

Now in this month of May when Manitoba Fisheries stocks lakes across the province, they delivered 300,000 walleye fry just a few days old into Beautiful Lake.  This was the off-year so next year another 600,000 will be added to that location.

"So, it does get stocked quite heavily and we do see a great return on that investment," adds Kitch, "and also the angling community can continue to fish that one and do very well throughout the year."

Kitch says Beautiful Lake is an amazing fishery and right across the road is Laurie Lake. He shared that about 2 weeks ago, on May 10th, Manitoba's provincial record brown trout was caught in Laurie Lake at 85 cm / 33.46 inches!

"So, it is quite the productive area for fish, that's for sure!" he adds.

Brody Kitch says his job takes him all over the province, and when he's not stocking fish or testing and collecting data, he's fishing and has come to know some pretty sweet spots to throw in a fishing line!

"I'm more than happy to share that information with people," he says with a laugh, "that's the whole point of it is to get people out fishing and enjoying our great outdoors!"