Viking Sportsmen fish stocking program nets resultsThe local Viking Sportsmen’s group is starting to see the fruits of its labor in a fish stocking effort that is about to enter the final year of a five-year plan with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The local Viking Sportsmen’s group is starting to see the fruits of its labor in a fish stocking effort that is about to enter the final year of a five-year plan with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The walleye-stocking initiative focused just on the Alexandria chain of lakes in the first year. Since then, donations from other parties have allowed the organization to expand its plan to include about 20 lakes over the last three years. That means a lot more fish for anglers coming to the area in search of Minnesota’s most popular game fish.
The committee has stocked 23,034 pounds in four years. At an average of 20 fish per pound, almost 460,680 walleye fingerlings have been released into these local lakes. That is on top of the additional stocking that the DNR has done during that time.
“It’s been fabulous,” said Gene Sullivan, head of the fish-stocking committee. “We’ve just been overwhelmed with the number of people who have gotten behind the project and helped.”
The group got a big boost from the Alexandria Hotels and Hospitality Association with a $30,000 donation in 2008. That allowed them to match up to $2,000 they received from local lake associations. This past year, they have matched 70 percent of those funds. Their ability to match has been a huge help in the effort to raise money for the project.
“Probably one of the best testimonials of how badly people want this is Lake Latoka,” committee member Chuck Bokinskie said. “There are 240 members out there. With one letter they raised $2,000 – one letter to all the members.”
Sullivan and Bokinskie said the community has also played a big role in raising those funds. The group has had individual donations as high as $1,000. The Viking Sportsmen also sell shirts, hats and put on multiple fish fries every year, with 100 percent of those proceeds going to the stocking effort.
In all, the committee has raised in excess of $220,000 over the last four years. Now anglers are starting to see the payback on that investment.
“We are definitely catching stocked fish because you are catching the small ones after we put them in,” Sullivan said. “We’re hoping to see the fish that we put in four years ago; now they should be in that 15-plus inch range.”
Turning the Alexandria lakes area into one of the premier walleye destinations in the state is the focus behind this project. That would be welcome news, not just for anglers, but for the community as a whole.
“This whole effort is to put more butts in beds in this town,” Bokinskie said. “To get more fishermen coming in here and spending money. That’s the whole thrust of this. Improve the fishing, get it back to what it was in the 70s.”
Individuals who want to help the stocking effort can send donations to Viking Sportsmen at PO Box 301 in Alexandria. Checks should be earmarked for fish stocking. The group will also be holding its fish fry at Pete’s County Market on June 16-17. All of those proceeds go toward the purchase of fingerlings.
Anyone interested in joining the local sportsmen’s club is encouraged to do so. The group meets every third Thursday of the month in the Bemo Building on the Alexandria fair grounds at 6:30 p.m.