For what has become an annual fall event, the local fishing organization Perch America stocked Wolf Lake for the 15th consecutive year with a hearty bunch of some 4,500 walleye fingerlings Wednesday afternoon.
“Actually they are considered advanced growth walleye fingerlings by the DNR," said Bruce Caruso, Wolf Lake Walleye Stocking Project Manager and Treasurer for Perch America. “There were some big ones in this batch. We order five- to seven-inch fish and these were probably more like eight to nine inches with a number that were even 10, 11, and possibly 12 inches long.”
Approximately 20 people showed up to watch and take part in releasing the fish one large bucket at a time into the Hammond side of Wolf Lake. Tom Werenski of Richmond Fisheries from Richmond, Ill., is the distributor of the Minnesota raised walleye.
Perch America, which will celebrate its 20th year in 2013, raised $6,000 for this year’s fish.
“We purchased 4,300 walleye and the distributor threw in a few extra to bring the total to around 4,500,” Caruso said. “The money was raised by individual donations along with a handful of major local contributing organizations that includes Mik Lurch Bait and Tackle, BP, the Hammond Port Authority, Lake County Fish and Game, and the Calumet Harbor Fishing Club.
“For a small organization of 60 to 70 people to continue this program for this many years and to consistently raise anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 a year is a pretty big accomplishment.”
Caruso estimates the organization has stocked somewhere around 85,000 walleye in Wolf Lake since its first fish release in 1998. There is a reason Perch America keeps doing this year after year.
“If people weren’t catching fish out there and this wasn’t a productive program it wouldn’t be worth the effort, but it is,” Caruso said. “Throughout the year we get such great feedback at the outdoor shows about the walleye people are catching at Wolf Lake and they thank us and put money in the donation jar. People appreciate us enhancing the fishery out there.
“For a local body of water, what is so good about Wolf Lake is that besides the walleye there are some other quality predator fish species. It has a really good largemouth bass population and a modest musky and northern pike population too. Wolf Lake is a pretty diverse fishery.”