DNR teams hit walleye collection goals despite cold, late spring – KIWARadio.com

Spirit Lake, Iowa — This year’s unusually cold weather in late spring has delayed the start of walleye collection efforts.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Supervisor Jay Rudacille (DNR) Warm and Cold Water Fish Culture Section, says Mother Nature has presented many challenges this year, including cooler than normal temperatures, high winds, sleet and snow, and tornadoes. But he says that despite the less than ideal conditions, MNR still achieved its goal of collecting walleye eggs thanks to the dedication, passion and adaptability of MNR fisheries staff.

From April 5 to 14, walleye were caught in East Okoboji, Spirit, Storm, Clear and Rathbun lakes. Net crews collected enough walleye to produce 796 pints of eggs at the Spirit Lake Hatchery and 900 pints at the Rathbun Hatchery. Crews at Storm Lake sired enough females to produce 205 pints of walleye eggs while efforts at Clear Lake produced 292 pints of eggs. The Clear Lake and Storm Lake satellite hatcheries transferred their eggs to the Rathbun and Spirit Lake Fish hatcheries for incubation and hatching.

2022 was one of the best walleye collecting seasons in over a decade, with 531 female walleye from Rathbun Lake.

New egg incubators at Spirit Lake Hatchery replaced the old system that used lake water to hatch eggs.

The new recirculating incubators use dechlorinated city water to provide clean, aquatic invasive species-free water for egg hatching, according to Kim Hawkins, hatchery manager at Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery.

Iowa is one of the top producers of walleye fry in the United States, second only to Minnesota. While the majority of walleyes are stocked as fingerlings, some are farmed in Iowa. DNR hatched and stocked at different sizes. More than 1.2 million two-inch walleye are expected to be stocked in lakes, rivers and streams across the state this summer. the DNR plans to raise more than 311,000 walleyes to 6-9 inch fry that will be stocked in lakes later this fall.

With little natural reproduction in most Iowa lakes and rivers, Iowa walleye populations are highly dependent on stocking. Walleye are stocked throughout Iowa in natural lakes, inland rivers, flood control reservoirs, and some large man-made lakes.

In addition to walleye, Spirit Lake crews collected 195 northern pike which produced over 1.6 million northern pike fry and 93 muskellunge which are currently held in the hatchery awaiting spawning.

After being closed for the past two spawning seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Spirit Lake Hatchery is open and ready for visitors. Contact the hatchery for hours of operation.

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