The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is changing the protected walleye slot limit to 17 to 22 inches at Clear Lake starting Jan. 1. Daily bag limits will remain the same (three walleyes) and one walleye over the slot limit can be harvested each day.
Currently, there is a minimum length limit and all walleyes below 14 inches must be immediately released at Clear Lake. Anglers can keep three walleyes per day, and only one of those fish can be over 22 inches.
When you catch a walleye in Iowa, there’s a good chance that fish got its start in one of the state’s walleye hatcheries. Since walleye often don’t reproduce naturally in Iowa’s inland rivers and lakes, their populations must be maintained through the DNR’s stocking program. The hundreds of millions of eggs needed each year to keep populations healthy are predominately collected from wild broodstock populations in Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji, Clear Lake and Storm Lake.
“Walleye populations in these broodstock lakes are some of the most studied in the region,” said Mike Hawkins, fisheries biologist for the DNR. Biologists monitor these lakes to evaluate the effectiveness of different regulations and predict changes to the population to improve the angler experience and ensure that Iowa has a strong broodstock population.
“Male walleyes grow slower and don’t get as large as females,” explains Hawkins. “Changes to walleye length limits will allow more harvest of male walleye, while still protecting the adult female population.”