Wisconsin study shows climate change will have an impact on fishing.
Anglers know that water temperature changes how fish act. How will a permanent change in water temperature impact your weekend on the water? The USGS has a new study to find out, focusing on walleye and largemouth bass populations.
Both species thrive in different types of lakes. Walleye prefer colder bodies of water compared to bass. In the past 30 years, the populations of both species have been found to be impacted dramatically by climate change. The walleye populations have been slowly declining while the bass are on the rise, a direct result of the gradual increase in average water temperature and a pattern that is likely to continue, the study says.
The suitability of the lakes was generated from a computer model that estimated daily water temperatures over the time period of 1979 to 2014. Future lake temperatures were then forecasted using climate projections. 2,100 lakes were sent through the simulation, predicting that natural reproduction of walleye drops form 10% down to 4% in Wisconsin lakes. Lakes favorable to largemouth bass jump from 60 to 89 percent.
There is a silver lining. Larger bodies of water will be more tolerant to the temperature change. The study also predicts that several lakes that are not suitable for either species will start to hold breeding populations of bass.