NASHVILLE, Feb. 9 (UPI) — A Tennessee fisherman says he was stunned when a blue walleye, declared extinct in the Great Lakes where it once thrived, was caught in a local lake.
Overfishing through the 1950s wiped out the blue walleye species in its Great Lakes habitat and the last blue walleye caught in Lake Erie by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources was in 1965.
That’s why fishing guide David Clark, who offers tours on Tennessee’s Dale Hollow Lake, was surprised to see a blue walleye hauled into his boat on a recent fishing expedition.
A lot of olive and gold colored walleye are caught in the lake, he said, but against all odds a customer hooked a 5½-pound blue walleye on a cold day in January.
“It’s the only one I’ve ever seen in Dale Hollow, and nobody’s heard of them much down here,” Clark told The (Nashville) Tennessean. “But that doesn’t mean that they can’t come up in the gene pool.”
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency periodically stocks the lake with gold walleye from Lake Erie, but a blue variety is a surprise, he said.
“It’s almost like a redhead baby coming from two brunette parents,” Clark said. “It’s not as much of a pigment thing as a recessive gene.”
The blue was the third of five walleye caught by the group and was hooked in the same spot as the first two, he said.