'Walleyes for Tomorrow' chapter helping fish bounce back on Pewaukee Lake

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by Lane Kimble

PEWAUKEE -- Pewaukee Lake means just about everything to Tom Koepp.

"Fishing is my life, Pewaukee Lake is my life," Koepp said.

Koepp grew up in Waukesha County and most of his family lives on or around the lake.

"We've taken fish out of the lake, and quite a few," Koepp said.  "It's time to give back."

Lately, the state's most popular game fish has needed Tom's help.  The DNR likes to see at least two adult walleye per acre, but Pewaukee Lake's numbers dropped to one, inspiring Koepp to form a local "Walleyes for Tomorrow" chapter last spring.

"Things just blew up from there," Koepp said.

Koepp expected ten people to join.  Instead, 175 decided to help.   The group built a walleye wagon, which spawns baby walleye, and pumped four million of them into the lake.

"As you can imagine, people can't just go out and start collecting eggs and fish from the wild," DNR Fisheries Biologist Benjamin Heussner said.

Heussner helped coordinate permits and taught Tom's group what to do.

"Really good to work with, extremely instrumental in getting the walleye fry hatchery going," Heussner said.

"If one percent of four million lived, we just put 40,000 fish in the lake."

The DNR knows it will take several years to see if their efforts worked here, but Conservation Warden Matt Groppi already sees benefits.

"We've built some great relationships here and so when people need to report things they feel comfortable calling me and talking to me about whatever it is," Groppi said.

"You gotta give back, you can't just take, take, take or you don't have any fish left," Koepp said.

You can sign up or get more info on Walleyes for Tomorrow by contacting Koepp via email at thkoepp@wi.rr.com 

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