While it’s still a little early for Iowa gardeners to start planting their seeds, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is already “seeding” Iowa streams. April marked the start of trout-stocking operations across the state. Gary Siegwarth is the manager of the trout hatchery at Big Spring in Elkader. He says they stock “catchable-size” trout, which means they’re about one half pound and 10 to 12 inches long. The stock about 300-thousand rainbow, 20 or 30-thousand brown trout, and about 10-thousand brook trout. Siegwarth says many of the fish are caught and eaten, or caught and released. But, not all the fish you catch will be the ones that were just released. He says there is a lot of holdovers from stocked fish, natural holdovers, and fingerlings that’re stocked and grow. He says there are streams that still had very good numbers prior to stocking. While the D-N-R keeps the population up with stocking, Siegwarth says the number of naturally-reproducing trout has grown. He says 15 to 20 years ago there were only about five streams with documented natural reproduction. He says they’re are now 20 some documented with natural reproduction. Siegwarth says there are several reasons for a resurgence in the natural trout production.He says some of it is the conservation reserve program that creates better water quality in a lot of the streams. He says there’s better in-stream habitat, and the management of the population that moves naturally producing fish around has also helped. Monthly stocking schedules for the catchable trout streams are available on the D-N-R website at www.iowadnr.com or on a recorded message at 563-927-5736.
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