Biology, Management, and Culture of Walleye and Sauger

Chapter 10: Harvest and Exploitation

Patrick J. Schmalz, Andrew H. Fayram, Daniel A. Isermann, Steven P. Newman, and Clayton J. Edwards


From the time that the first peoples of North America developed the means to harvest fish, walleye and sauger have been sought after as both a source of food and for recreation. In this chapter we outline the development and current status of aboriginal, commercial, and recreational walleye and sauger fisheries in North America. In addition, we describe how exploitation is managed within each of these fisheries, and summarize current research related to walleye and sauger exploitation in North America.

It is difficult to determine when aboriginal North Americans began to use walleye and sauger for subsistence. Instead, we must rely on archeological evidence to establish time periods when fishing occurred within the geographic range of walleye and sauger and then assume that some of the fish being harvested during that period were walleye and sauger. Archaeological evidence suggests that by as early as 3000 B.C. aboriginal North Americans in the Great Lakes region had already developed several types of fishing gear for use in the upper Great Lakes, including spears, gaffs, hook and line, and weirs. In the lower Great Lakes, nets may have been used for fishing as early as 2500 B.C. but were not used until sometime between 300 and 200 B.C. in the upper lakes (Bogue 2000).