This Keith Sutton write-up is from 2015, but still has some interesting info from that time:
> AR fish biologist Tom Bly: “I fully believe this lake has the potential to produce a new world record. Just a few years ago, I saw a walleye larger than the 22-11…and there could still be other giants out there, too..”
> The record-sized walleye Bly saw was released alive into Greers Ferry. …that huge fish was captured and stripped of its eggs during the Commission’s annual walleye project, a project that provides the fertilized walleye eggs needed by state fish hatcheries to raise stocking-size fingerlings.
> While he believes the lake could produce another record fish, he notes the chances are not as great now as they were in decades past.
> Tom Bly: “We saw a decline of larger walleyes (mid teens to upper teens) during the 1990s. This can be attributed to angler harvest and natural mortality of older walleyes. Walleyes, especially females, are long lived. Age and growth studies indicate it takes an average of 7 yrs for a female walleye to reach 21”. A 32″ female will average about 12 yrs old and 12 lbs in weight.
> “During the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a lot of angling pressure on the older, larger fish, due in part to walleye tournaments. There was not much of an inclination for most anglers to release these larger fish…as a result, the population was depleted.
> “The numbers of walleye have increased over the years, but the majority of these are males, and they rarely exceed 20″. In 2004, a 20-28″ slot limit was implemented to encourage harvest of the smaller walleyes, primarily males, and protect the females. A further restriction of only 1 walleye per day > 28″ still allows an angler to keep a trophy fish but prevents over-exploitation. There are still some walleyes in Greers that will top the 15-lb mark, but their numbers aren’t as high as they once were.”
> Bly and fellow biologists conduct electrofishing samples every spring when the walleyes make their annual spawning run…sampling has shown that the slot limit has had a positive impact on the population by increasing the numbers of walleyes seen in the slot limit.
Fast forward to Jan 2021 and the regs opened back up to bigger fish:
> Removing the 20-28″ protective slot limit for walleye…and implementing a 14″ minimum length [daily limit of 6]. …few anglers pursue walleyes at Greers Ferry, and enabling anglers to keep bigger walleyes will not damage the walleye population.
I’m assuming/hope that decision was also based on those increased numbers of fish in the old slot still being there, and not just because not many people target walleyes?
Couple other side notes:
They stocked 1,133,820 walleye into Arkansas’ waters in 2021.
And AR stocked millions of BAITFISH in 2020:
> AGFC hatcheries produced 17.6 mil fish. But rather than producing more hungry, grown-up fish to stock in major lakes, biologists have concluded that the lakes are well-populated with adults that need forage to grow.
About 60% of that 17.6 mil included shad, golden shiners, bluegill, redear and fathead minnows:
> “We’re really pushing habitat improvement on lakes and more forage where there is a poor forage base. At Greers Ferry Lake, we’ve been pushing forage there for a lot of years, and it’s made a big difference. Hatcheries have moved from stocking a large number of predator fish to producing the forage for those predator fish.”
So who knows if any true BIGS still live in Greers Ferry, but I hope to find out one day – either in person or by seeing some caught-and-released evidence online somewhere….