SCUGOG: Amid reports of declining population, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has approved a regulation to close the walleye fishing season on Lake Scugog as of Friday, Jan. 1.
Closure of the season is set to be year round until further notice. “In order to increase chances of a recovery, protect the remaining population and provide an opportunity for natural reproduction, a full closure was needed,” said ministry management biologist Lisa Solomon.
The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) has noted that angling is not the only issue impacting the decline in the walleye population.
“There are a lot of unknowns and some existing issues that are well known regarding the walleye population on Lake Scugog,” Tom Brooke, a fisheries biologist with the OFAH told The Standard.
“Changes to the lake, such as water clarity and the plant community, as well as predators and changes to the spawning habitat have all had an impact.
“Another big issue is recruitment failure, where a lack of young fish survive to adulthood. This can’t be addressed through closure. We should be getting down to the cause of that recruitment failure, which still exists.”
In late April, the ministry held a public meeting in Port Perry to gather input on two possible strategies to combat the loss of the local walleye population. The strategies discussed were to close the winter season for walleye fishing, or to implement a year round closure of the season.
Members of the ministry also previously presented their findings to council on April 27. At that time, councillors were told that out of the six lakes monitored by the Kawartha Lakes fisheries assessment unit, none had seen a decline like Lake Scugog.
Mayor Tom Rowett told The Standard that the announcement didn’t come as much of a surprise to him.
“I attended the public meeting on this and that was one of the options that was made aware to us,” he said. “With the closure being to restock the walleye, I think this change is accepted.”
He added that he doesn’t think that this change will create a significant drop off in local fishing-related tourism.
“I think it will affect it to a small degree, but there are other fish still available,” added Mayor Rowett.
With files from Darryl Knight