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Monroe Lake Walleye Tracking

Fisheries biologist Debbie King holds a Monroe Lake walleye.
Fisheries biologist Debbie King holds a Monroe Lake walleye.

The Indiana DNR studied the movements of walleye at Monroe Lake using radio telemetry in 2008 and 2009 by surgically implanting a radio tag. The DNR tracked the tagged fish throughout the entire lake, which provided a better understanding of walleye movement and habitat selection throughout the lake.

In April 2008, DNR fisheries biologist Sandy Clark-Kolaks and her team implanted electronic transmitters in 33 walleye. A yellow spaghetti tag was attached to the back of each of the radio-tagged walleye to make identification easy. These spaghetti tags are serially numbered so that individual fish can be identified by sex and length. The radio transmitter antenna was approximately 14 inches long and provided a reliable mark of the tagged fish, although there is no serial number on the antennae.

Radio tag for walleye Radio tag inserted into belly of walleye.

Based on research from other states, walleye are known to frequent standing timber in coves during the spring after spawning and to be highly mobile early in the season. As midsummer approaches, walleye tend to move deeper and to settle into a reduced home range.

Every week, the walleye team boated around the entire 11,000-acre lake near Bloomington tracking the fish. The work yielded some interesting information. An example is that multiple spawning sites have been located throughout the lake, including some tributaries. Also, each series of sightings has been placed on a lake map to provide a progressive record of the walleye distribution. Walleye relocation maps are posted to this website to provide insight to anglers on walleye locations and help them have more fishing success.

Helpful Information

2009 Walleye locations

  • Walleye locations for September 14 are indicated by red dots (View image). Maximum depths of fish locations, temperature and dissolved oxygen profile. We went up to Pine Grove and found the four walleye still up there.
  • Walleye locations for August 31 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for August 21 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for August 5 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for July 31 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for July 21 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for July 16 are indicated by red dots (View image).
    Tag 724 was returned from an angler. This fish was harvested on May 2, 2009. Here is the tracking history of this fish which was tagged on April 10, 2008 (View image).
  • Walleye locations for July 6 are indicated by red dots (View image).Tag 724 was returned from an angler. I am still trying to get specifics. We did not go up to Pine Grove and are assuming they will stay up there all summer.
  • Walleye locations for June 30 are indicated by red dots (View image). We did not go up to Pine Grove and are assuming they will stay up there all summer.
  • Walleye locations for June 23 are indicated by red dots (View image). We located a couple of fish above Pine Grove from land and am guessing that 805 and 444 are up there too.
  • Walleye locations for June 15 are indicated by red dots (View image). We lost a couple fish in the Pine Grove boat ramp area. They may be still up there but it is very difficult to navigate up there and we could not get back in there very far.
  • Walleye locations for June 9 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • We are seeing some very interesting patterns from tagged walleye. Walleye seemed to be hanging in the same areas as last year and walleye seem to have site fidelity to a particular area. Fish 523 was tagged in Saddle Creek in 2008 spent the summer near Fairfax returned in the spring of 2009 to Saddle Creek and now was found this week back at Fairfax (View image). Fish 464 was tagged at the causeway in 2008 spent the summer in Saddle Creek was found up by Fairfax in spring 2009 and was found this week in Saddle Creek (View image). Fish 504 was tagged at the dam in 2008 and stayed in the Fairfax area all of 2008 and so far this year (View image). I have no idea what this all means and why some fish migrate long distances and chose the location they do. Once again research only succeeds in creating more questions than answers but this fish more much more than I would have guessed.
  • Walleye locations for June 1 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Saddle Creek spawning and site fidelity in spawning was confirmed. Walleye 523 was tagged in Saddle Creek on 4/8/09 and then moved into the other side of the lake for the rest of the year. Walleye 523 was then located in the Saddle Creek area in the spring of 2009. The fish moved up into Saddle Creek was located overnight spawning on 4/11/09. (View image) (View image-zoomed).
  • Walleye locations for April 17 are indicated by red dots (View image).Fish seem to be mostly done with spawning and are moving to flooded timber in coves.
  • Walleye locations for April 9 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for April 1 (View image). Walleye were located between 4pm and 11pm to investigate whether spawning is occurring yet.
  • Walleye locations for March 30 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for March 26 are indicated by red dots (View image).
  • Walleye locations for March 17 are indicated by red dots (View image).Walleye are moving towards the dam and causeway for spawning.
  • Walleye locations for March 9 are indicated by red dots (View image).

I have received some questions about the study from anglers and am more than happy to answer them. Feel free to email with any questions: sclark-kolaks@dnr.IN.gov.

Q. There are a number of fish that have not changed location from the first time period to the last (#343 for instance), or from the second time period to the last. Are those fish alive?

A. The fish are making small movements but with the scale of the map these may not be visible. This is more evident with the map from the 24 hour tracking.

Q. The results only show about half of the number of fish tagged - is that because of
difficulty in locating the fish or because of time restraints in searching for all of them?

A. The tags we are using are different from the tags used in the wiper tracking study. In order to get tags with a longer battery life (about 2 years) we had to use tags that are not as powerful. This could be affecting our ability to hear the fish.

Sizes of the tagged fish

Implantation DateTag Number Floy tag Length (in) Weight (lb) Reproductive Status Status
3/31/2008204554818.82.3MaleSpillway
3/31/20082255544172Male 
4/16/2008243550818.11.9Male 
4/16/20082645504171.8MaleSpillway
4/1/2008283553818.82Male 
4/16/2008302550619.62.2Male 
4/1/2008323553717.21.5MaleSpillway
10/22/2008343533720.64.5Unknown 
4/7/20083635533192.8Female 
10/22/2008384533821.83.75Unknown 
4/9/20084035528/552918.82.3Male 
3/31/2008424554318.62.3MaleSpillway
10/22/20084445339172Unknown 
4/10/2008464553025.45.7Male 
3/31/2008483554117.82.5Male 
4/16/2008504550220.83Male 
4/9/2008523553120.93Male 
3/31/2008544555022.23.7Male 
4/7/2008563553220.83.6Female 
3/31/2008583554220.33.5Male 
3/31/2008603554921.63.5Male 
4/1/2008623553523.86.7FemaleSpillway
3/31/2008643554521.93.8Male 
4/1/2008663553923.15Male 
10/22/2008684533425.46.25Unknown 
3/31/2008704554621.73.5Male 
4/10/2008724552625.86.5Male 
4/2/2008743553420.13.5Female 
4/16/2008764550120.83Male 
4/16/2008783550920.12.6Male 
4/16/2008805550525.35.4Male 
10/22/2008823533624.25.5Unknown 
3/31/2008843554822.34Male