Staff from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources collects walleye, northern pike and muskies soon after ice out to provide quality sport fishing in Iowa lakes and streams that otherwise could not support it.
“If we didn’t stock walleyes and northern pike, the only place you could catch them would be on the Mississippi River,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa DNR. “And our muskie population is totally reliant on stocking.”
The DNR’s goal is to catch enough walleyes to fill hatcheries with about 750 quarts at Rathbun and 1,000 quarts at Spirit Lake. With a good hatch, that should equate to about 200 million walleye fry.
The muskie goal is to produce 1.5 million eggs and to produce 2 million northern pike each at Guttenberg and Spirit Lake.
Northern pike collection is in full swing collecting adult fish from the shallow water sloughs at Spirit Lake and backwaters of the Mississippi River near Guttenberg. Walleye and muskie collection is expected to begin next week at the Iowa Great Lakes after the ice off the main lakes.
Hatcheries are running 24/7 during this time as fish are spawned and released. The fish are handled as little as possible and once spawned, are returned to the waters where they were caught, usually that same day. These large adult fish are highly valued because they can produce a large amount of eggs.
Walleyes, muskies and northern pike do not successfully reproduce in the wild even in the highest quality lakes.