Climate Connections: Wisconsin’s lakes are warming up. That may spell trouble for species below the surface

020422 Lake Climate

This story is part of our Climate Connections series, highlighting how a changing climate is affecting our state

With its big, glassy eyes and sharp teeth, the fish has wriggled its way to icon status among Wisconsin’s wildlife. Known as ogaa in the Ojibwe language, the fish has long been a cultural and dietary staple for tribes in the Great Lakes. And for the many anglers casting their lines across the state, the walleye has become a prized catch.

“Walleye is definitely a Wisconsin fish that people think of,” said Titus Seilheimer, fisheries specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. “When they go fishing up north, they’re fishing for walleye.”

But the walleyes of today face a big problem. These fish prefer to hang out in cool waters — and as climate change turns up the temperature in Wisconsin, they may lose out on some of that chilly habitat.