Fish and game officials from two states are gathering public opinion on a plan to stock the Moore Reservoir, between Waterford, Vermont and Littleton, New Hampshire, with walleye. State biologists say the popular eating fish would thrive in the reservoir, which is fed by the Connecticut River.
But the proposal to build a walleye fishery in the Moore Dam is being met with skepticism by many Upper Valley anglers. Members of the Ammonoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited worry that introducing the non-native species will harm other fish, include trout fry, salmon and smallmouth bass. Dayton Goudy is the chapter’s secretary.
“People we know have related experiences where they see young par size of the like, two and three and four-inch-long trout in a couple of the tributaries that empty directly into the tail race areas, and so we want to make sure that Fish and Game investigates that very thoroughly, because they should not be stocking a non indigenous species over a self sustaining fishery that already exists,” Goudy said.
Jud Kratzer, fishery biologist with Vermont Fish and Wildlife, says the concerns about trout could be valid—if it can be shown that the smaller wild fish do swim in the reservoir. He says more research needs to be done on that. But he does not think non-indigenous walleye will have a big impact on other fish which, Kratzer points out, were also stocked in the reservoir, which was created by the construction of the Moore dam in the 1950s.
“We have northern pike and small mouth bass in the reservoirs and they are not native to this part of Vermont either so it’s already a system that’s been heavily altered by human influence,” Kratzer said.
Kratzer believes walleye will be a great addition to the fishery, since it’s a tasty fish . He admits the state has issued some limited eating advisories about the mercury content of fish in the reservoir, but says he would feel safe eating the walleye. That’s a point Trout Unlimited disputes, noting that many trout fishermen do not eat their catch from the reservoir.
The other criticism from local anglers concerns an endangered mollusk called the dwarf wedgemussel. Dayton Goudy, of Trout Unlimited, says research suggests that the mussel’s reproductive cycle depends the tessellated darter, which walleye will eat.
“Evidently the mussel deposits into the water and then the tessellated darter pick it up some stage of their reproductive cycle on their gills and carry it for a while and nurture it, sort of a symbiotic relationship,” Goudy said.
Fishery officials from Vermont and New Hampshire say those questions, too, will need to be thoroughly researched before any plan is put into action. The stocking would not happen, they say, before 2016. Jud Kratzer says anyone with comments or concerns can contact him through the St. Johnsbury Office of Vermont Fish and Wildlife.