The most up-to-date figures from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show that tribal spearers harvested 33,507 walleyes from 138 lakes within the ceded territory as of Friday, April 23.

The number of fish declared to be harvested by the six Wisconsin bands of Lake Superior Chippewas for the 2021 spring season was 58,316, resulting in 57% of their allotted quota for the year.

Historically, the number this year is down slightly from 2019, when 35,549 walleye were harvested by tribes. In 2018, a late spring hampered efforts and it ended in a lower total of 28,857 walleyes speared. Last year, spearers harvested 64% of their quota, or 35,258 walleyes.

A five-year average going back to 2017 shows 34,440 walleyes harvested per year (172,201 total since 2017).

Although tribal spearing efforts for walleyes and other fish can take place at anytime throughout the year, most spearing activity other than muskie, has likely ceased, according to officials, because walleyes have completed their annual spawning runs into shallow water.

A formal breakdown by bands shows the Lac du Flambeau band (LdF) once again spear the majority of the six-band quota this season as they harvested 18,457 walleyes to go along with 54 muskies. The Mole Lake band was next with 5,492 walleyes and 10 muskies. Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) was next with 4,764 plus 21 muskies. Bad River speared 2.175 walleyes and nine muskies. St. Croix added 1,829 and 11 to those totals while Red Cliff harvested 1,050 walleyes and one muskie.

DNR officials noted that three lakes in Vilas County were over-harvested by the Lac du Flambeau band spearers and one by Mole Lake.

Big Arbor Vitae Lake and Big Lake on the Cisco Chain on the Wisconsin and Michigan border were over-harvested by one fish. LdF spearers also over-harvested Snipe Lake west of Eagle River by 40 walleyes.

The Mole Lake band were 60 over their quota from Kentuck Lake east of Eagle River.

The last record of an over-harvest by spearers was in 2018 when members of the Mole Lake band harvested eight more fish than their alloted quota on Anvil Lake in eastern Vilas County.

Because of a lower population estimate in that lake and pressure from the lake association, it led DNR officials to place a zero-walleye bag limit for a period of one year on Anvil Lake.

According to Sarah Hoye, communications director with the DNR, department staff are assessing the harvest and fisheries data related to the Ojibwe spring harvest declarations. As of Friday there still was no determination of action.

 “(They) will be making a determination on any appropriate courses of action,” she said. “So far there are no updates to share regarding any lakes where declarations have been exceeded.”

Some of the walleye taken on lakes in the eastern part of the ceded territory include 498 walleye from Lake Metonga in Crandon, 179 from Butternut Lake and 104 from Lily Lake, all in Forest County.

In Oneida County, Lac du Flambeau combined with members of the Mole Lake band for a quota of 10,528 walleyes, spearing a total of 6,291. It means 19% of the of fish speared in 2021 in the ceded territory came from 24 Oneida County lakes that were targeted.

Leading the way was 1,814 fish speared by the Lac du Flambeau band in the Willow Flowage. Mole Lake took 1,279 walleyes from Pelican Lake, while Lac du Flambeau also speared 771 walleyes from Squirrel Lake just west of Minocqua.

On the Three Lakes Chain, Dam Lake on th Sugar Camp Chain had 240 fish harvested

Along with the Mole Lake and Lac du Flambeau bands, the Bad River band also speared lakes in?Vilas County where the tribe had a total of 14,270 walleye as part of their quota.

There were 969 fish taken from the North and South Trout lakes, along with 743 from the Twin Lakes Chain in Phelps.

Other lakes in Vilas include Plum Lake (453), Big St. Germain (439), Catfish Lake (397), Cranberry Lake (421), Escanaba Lake (350), Island Lake (397), Presque Isle Chain (466) and Squaw Lake (296).

In Lincoln County, Lac du Flambeau spearers harvested 1,172 walleyes from the Rice River Flowage.

Lakes in Sawyer County saw significantly more spearing action this season, with all but four lakes with declarations getting speared.

Leading the way in terms of harvest was the Chippewa Flowage with the Lac Courte Orielles (LCO) band taking 1,914 walleyes. They also harvested Lac Courte Orielles Lake (596), Sand Lake (416), Lake Chetac (359), Grindstone Lake (324), Spider Lake (240) and Round Lake (285).

In Barron County, 341 walleyes were speared from Red Cedar Lake. In Bayfield County, there were 1,183 walleyes speared. In Polk County Wapogasset Lake had 540 walleyes speared. 

Price County had harvests from Butternut Lake (437), Pike Lake (163) and Round Lake (118).

Muskie numbers

Tribal spearers harvested a total of 102 muskie thus far across the ceded territory of which 41 came from Vilas County lakes.

Only one lake in the ceded territory saw a double-digit harvest for muskie and that was Big Arbor Vitae Lake between Minocqua and St. Germain.

Spearers took seven muskies from Cedar Lake in St. Croix County, the only other lake above five.

There were reports of a high volume of muskie speared during the 2021 ice season, however, according to the DNR those numbers are not required to be reported and do not count against the annual spearing quota.