Movements of Walleyes in Claytor Lake and the Upper New River, Virginia, Indicate Distinct Lake and River Populations
Inference that more than one genetic stock of walleyes Sander vitreus was present in Claytor Lake, Virginia, and its main influent, the New River, raised questions concerning the spawning movements, locations of spawning grounds, and home range of resident stocks. We conducted a radiotelemetry study of 52 walleyes in Claytor Lake and the upper New River over a period of 2 years. Our findings support the hypothesis that two populations coexist within the system, exhibiting different home ranges, spawning movements, and spawning grounds, even though there is no physical barrier to movement between the spatially disjunct populations. Walleyes living within Claytor Lake mostly spawn at the first riffle area above the reservoir, whereas those living in the New River mostly spawn at two riffle areas well upstream. Coexistence of distinct populations in the system justifies different management strategies. Management of the walleye population in Claytor Lake should focus on increasing the exploitation of the nonindigenous lake stock. Management of the upper New River walleye population should focus on conservation of the unique river stock through supportive breeding, strict harvest regulations, or both.
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