Daily Archives: March 21, 2014

Artificial Walleye Spawning a Labor of Love

A female walleye can release as many as 300,000 eggs, but less than 10 percent will survive in nature

In late March, a placid lake surface might lead some to believe major fish activity has yet to begin, but for walleye, waves of commotion are occurring beneath the surface as males and females begin spawning. As soon as water temperatures hit 45-50 degrees, walleye begin the annual process, as other fish species do each spring.
Most spawning activity occurs at night when female walleye search for the perfect rocky shoreline to lay their eggs, and male walleyes, which’ve been waiting on the spawning ground for days, fertilize them. With large females producing as many as 300,000 eggs, it’s hard to believe this species would need assistance with the process, but even the best laid plans are no match for Mother Nature. In Kansas lakes, less than 10 percent of naturally-spawned walleye eggs will hatch.
However, hatching success rates can be as high as 70 percent in a hatchery setting. That’s why every year about this time, you’ll see Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) fisheries biologists working tirelessly at select Kansas lakes. Biologists set nets to capture spawning walleye, then harvest the eggs of ripe females. Once collected, the eggs are then taken to a station where they are fertilized with milt, or sperm, taken from male walleyes caught from the same body of water. After fertilization, the eggs are immediately delivered to the Pratt and Milford fish hatcheries where fish culturists work around the clock to ensure high hatch and survival rates of young walleye, which are then stocked into Kansas lakes as is, or used to produce other hybrid fish species. Last year, KDWPT’s Walleye Culture Program produced 43 million walleye fry (just hatched fish) and 660,000 walleye fingerlings (2-inch fish). With that same batch of eggs, KDWPT staff were also able to produce 7.5 million saugeye fry, 400,000 saugeye fingerlings (walleye/sauger hybrids).
In addition to walleye, KDWPT hatcheries also produce bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, sauger, saugeye, smallmouth bass, striped bass, and wipers.
For more information on KDWPT hatcheries and the fish they produce, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Fishing/Hatcheries.”

Enter Wild About Kansas Youth Photo Contest Now

Your next outdoor photo could land you in Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine

Whether it’s a snapshot of a peaceful moment fishing on the lake, the fiery colors of a Kansas sunset, or the image of a white-tailed fawn at rest, Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine staff want to see Kansas outdoors through the lens of your camera. Photo submissions for the 2nd annual “Wild About Kansas” junior photo contest are being accepted now through Oct. 24, 2014. Participants can submit photos in three categories: wildlife, outdoor recreation or landscapes. There is no fee to enter, and the contest is open to both residents and nonresidents, age 18 or younger.
“Kansas is a state filled with a plethora of diverse and awe-inspiring natural resources, and this contest is just one more way we can enjoy and share those resources with others,” said Kansas Wildlife & Parksmagazine associate editor, Nadia Marji.
Budding photographers can submit up to three photos and multiple entries may be submitted in the same category. Photos must be taken within the state of Kansas and must be the entrant’s original work. Each photo will be judged on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and the overall sharpness. First, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded in each category, as well as one honorable mention per category. Winners will be featured in the Kansas Wildlife & Parks January/February 2015 photo issue.
Entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2014. An entry form must be submitted for each participant. Photo format should be JPEG and a file size should be not less than 1mb and not more than 5mb.
For more information and entry forms, visit ksoutdoors.com/services, or contact Nadia Marji [email protected]

Kansas Wetlands Education Center Offers Prairie-chicken Lek Tours

Lek tours draw people from around the world each year to the Great Plains

While most people are still snug in their beds, prairie-chickens are busy putting on a show that is critical to their survival. Each spring, just before dawn, male prairie-chickens can be seen strutting around on communal mating grounds known as “leks,” where they fight, sing, and dance to win the affections of females. Only the most extravagant displays will do, and only the best males will get to mate.
Kansas prairies are the stronghold of both species of prairie-chickens, the greater and the lesser. The greaters inhabit the tallgrass and mid-grass prairies of the Flinthills in east-central Kansas and the Smoky Hills of northcentral Kansas. Lesser prairie-chickens inhabit the shortgrass prairies of southwest and west-centralKansas.
“On a still morning on the prairie, the greater prairie-chicken’s song, called a boom, can be heard over a mile away,” said Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) manager Curtis Wolf. “It is one of the most comical and unique natural phenomenon people can watch.”
Male greater prairie-chickens boom by expelling air from sacks on their throats called timpani. When inflated, the orange timpani are all part of the elaborate display that includes rapid foot stomping, booming, clucking and posturing. The dancing is periodically stopped when the birds rush to invisible boundary lines to defend their display territory against other dancing males.
The KWEC at Cheyenne Bottoms, 10 miles northeast of Great Bend on K-156 Highway, invites you to come and witness this wonderful show during a greater prairie-chicken lek tour. Tours are available to the public, age 12 and older, by reservation, April 1-30. The cost is $25 per person and reservations must be made at least two days in advance by calling the KWEC at (877) 243-9268. Tours are not available on all days and are limited to seven people, so interested parties are encouraged to inquire about availability.
Participants will meet and leave from the KWEC between 5:30-5:45 a.m., depending on the time of sunrise. Staff will drive participants to a local greater prairie-chicken lek, where a trailer blind has been set up. From the blind, participants will be able to observe the prairie-chickens on the lek, while a guide provides information about these interesting birds and their incredible spectacle. Participants should plan on being in the blind for at least three hours with no facilities.
For more information, or to schedule a tour, call the KWEC at (877) 243-9268.
For a list of other prairie-chicken viewings offered throughout the state, visitwww.naturalkansas.org/birding.htm.