⁠Preserving the recreational fishing experience

Credentials: UW-Madison Center for Limnology helps adapt inland fisheries to preserve walleye populations

School or College
College of Letters and Science
Funding agency
National Science Foundation
More information
"Scientists angle for more attention to fishing for fun," April 17, 2019

While healthy management systems prevent overexploitation in commercial fisheries, recreational fishery management can often lag behind, especially when responding to variables like warming lakes, changing water levels, and other outside impacts on rivers, lakes and coastlines.

Inland recreational fisheries for walleye, one of Wisconsin’s most socially and economically important sportfish, have been impacted by changing environmental variables. Walleye do best in cool water environments, but lakes in northern Wisconsin are warming, leading to stressed, less healthy fish. Warming also favors species like bass and sunfish, but these fish add to the stress on walleye, compete with them for food, and feed on walleye young.

UW-Madison scientists are studying multiple factors in Wisconsin’s northern lakes, including changes in thermal structure, loss of habitat and water clarity, to better understand the walleye’s Safe Operating Space (SOS), which is the range of biophysical and social conditions that allow for a self-sustaining fish population. Their findings could inform a new vision for fisheries management and ensure the survival of a key fish species.