Narrator: For cold weather anglers in Missouri,winter and early spring are opportune timesto go in search of large walleye. The rivers that hold today’s catchare walleye of a different kind than thosewho reside in the lakes of southern Missouri. It is a native walleye that call the Black, the Current,and the Eleven Point Rivers home. Paul: People are starting to hear about these 10‒12 pound fish we’re catching in the Black and Current River. A 10 pound walleye is a rare beast,but in the Black and the Current River you can actuallyhave a good chance of catching a wall-hanger sized fish. Narrator: And not so long ago,the same was true on the St. Francis River. Paul: In the 60s and the 70s we did have a walleye population in the St. Francis River,but for some unknown reason, they disappeared. Narrator: To try and remedy this situation,the Missouri Department of Conservation developed a plan. It included observing and maintaining the native walleyewhere it currently exists. Mark: This is their spawning season,late February up to about mid-March. And it’s the best time to catch walleye. We sample for two reasons:One is to monitor the fish populations,and two is to collect brood stock for the hatcheries. Paul: We’re spawning those fish in the hatchery,raising up 2-inch fingerlings,then we’re bringing them back to stock. Narrator: But hatchery fingerlingshad another destination as well. Mark: In the St. Francis River, we stocked nearly 200,000 fingerlings from 1996‒1999 to reestablish the population. They weren’t obviously coming back on their own,so we had to do something about it. Gene: You’ve got to have a lot of skill to catch these walleyes. You can’t get in too big a hurry. You can’t make them bite. You’ve got to wait ’til they are ready. And you never know when they’re going to bite,never. Man: There you go!Narrator: Because of this program to maintainand reintroduce native walleye,anglers will have more opportunitiesto hook their favorite winter fish,and that’s something to get excited about. Paul: My prediction is walleye fish is goingto continue to become more popular,and more and more people are going to fish for these walleye. Mark: I think it’s looking great. Obviously the Black River is doing as well as it ever has. And on the St. Francis the Walleye are backand they’ve been there since 1996‒99. So, they got some nice fish in there now. It’s only going to get better.