The Department of Natural Resources fish hatcheries are recovering after being hit by flooding in June. The Big Spring hatchery near Elkader was the hardest hit, with heavy flood damage to its facilities and thousands of fish that were waiting to be stocked in Iowa streams were washed away.
Hatchery manager Gary Siegwarth says generous donations of trout fingerlings from Wisconsin, Missouri, Nebraska and North Dakota, along with a shipment of fertilized rainbow trout eggs from Montana, will help fill the void.
Siegwarth says fisheries people in different states are very good about sharing resources when there’s a need. Siegwarth says Iowa has helped out others when they’ve needed it, and it’s "really great" to see the surrounding states helping out Iowa in a time of need. The D-N-R was able to save some of the catchable trout, and the fingerlings that are being raised for stocking in 2009.
But Siegwarth says thousands of catchable trout swam away with the floodwaters, and that means you’ll likely not go empty handed fishing along the Turkey River. He says that’s were most of the trout at the hatchery ended up, "So fishing this summer is going to be tremendous on the Turkey River."
Siegwarth says the biggest problem is that fishing has been so good that some people are breaking the rules and catching beyond their limits, and he reminds anglers "it isn’t just a free-for-all, you still have got to abide by the limits." The hatchery office was covered by nine feet of floodwater, despite work several years ago to raise the levee around the building.
Siegwarth says they’re trying to fix it so that doesn’t happen again, as they’re hoping to get financial assistance to move the building out of the flood plain so they don’t have to worry about flooding again. Siegwarth says trout fishing shouldn’t be hurt much at all despite the flooding.
He says they’re getting out 85 to 90% of the trout they would normally stock. Siegwarth says they’ve actually seen a lot fewer people out this season, because of the weather and gas prices. So, he says it’s a great time to get out and go trout fishing. The D-N-R hatchery at Manchester didn’t have as much flood damage to facilities, but still lost trout when the Maquoketa River backed up.
Thousands of fingerlings were loaded into trucks in Manchester and sent to the D-N-R’s third trout station at Decorah. The D-N-R’s Fairport Hatchery escaped major damage from the flooding Mississippi River. For more information on trout stocking and the location of trout streams, visit the D-N-R’s website at IowaDNR.com and click on the fishing link.