Key work is underway to ensure that anglers have plenty of action on Iowa lakes and streams in the months and years ahead. Department of Natural Resources Fish Culture Supervisor, Mike Mason, says they’ve been collecting the eggs of a variety of types of fish to prepare for stocking. He says they’ve been collecting eggs from walleyes, muskellunge and northern pike. The northern pike are taken at Guttenberg and Spirit Lake, and the Guttenberg fish have hatched out and stocked and the Spirit Lake fish will be stocked in another month or so.
Mason says the walleye operation produces the most future fish. He says they’ve collected from Clear Lake, Storm Lake, Rathbun Lake, and Spirit Lake, and those eggs are now in incubator jars. Mason says they expect 130-million fry to be hatched out in the next couple of weeks. Most of the walleyes will be stocked around the state, while some of the fish will be kept in hatchery ponds to grow to a larger size. Mason says it’s a very labor intensive operation to catch the fish, harvest the eggs, and then raise the fry.
Mason says the walleye operation is especially busy, with night crews at Spirit Lake, Storm Lake and Rathbun Lake setting nets to catch fish. The fish are gone through and they look for fish releasing eggs. Mason says the fish produced today will need some time to grow before they end up on the end of a line.
Mason says the fish will achieve a size of six to eight inches this year, and it will be several years before they’re caught by anglers.
Mason says there are a lot of factors that determine how many fish make it into Iowa’s rivers and lakes. He says the weather and temperature can impact the eggs when they’re growing in the hatcheries. Mason says storms this year kept them from a couple of their good netting sites.
Mason says this work in April is important in keeping the fish population thriving in Iowa. Mason says there’s some natural reproduction, with none in the muskies and limited reproduction in the walleyes. He says when the eggs and fry are out in the wild — predators are feeding on them, and the natural born fish still have to survive some of the weather and temperature concerns on the lakes. Mason says the end goal is to reduce the time between bites for Iowa anglers.