STORM LAKE - Nets have been set, adult brood fish captured, millions of eggs collected. For DNR fisheries workers, the spring walleye run has concluded.
By now, all of those impressive adult brood fish have been safely returned to their home waters in places like Storm Lake. All of those precious walleye eggs, however, have stayed behind and are now under the watchful eye of DNR biologists located at the Rathbun and Spirit Lake State Fish Hatcheries.
"It's really been an excellent year for spring walleye netting," said DNR Fish Culture Supervisor, Mike Mason. "The timing was right when we started and water temperatures were conducive to good catches. Our hatcheries were able to fill quickly which is good news for Iowa anglers. This year, we have a statewide stocking request for 110 million [walleye] fry and fingerlings. With the hatcheries full, we should easily be able to meet those requests."
Walleye eggs are expected to begin hatching at the Rathbun Hatchery as early as next Monday, says Mason. Rathbun was the first hatchery to "go on line" this spring. Rathbun fisheries personnel collected 580 quarts of eggs in twelve days of netting. Net crews at Storm Lake, Spirit Lake and Clear Lake also enjoyed above average success during this year's walleye campaign.
"Spirit Lake was easily our most improved walleye [brood] fishery," says North Iowa DNR Fisheries Supervisor, Jim Wahl. "They have a new and very abundant  year class of brood fish that are just coming on line. Those fish are in the twenty-inch range and will contribute to our hatchery program for years to come."
"At Clear Lake, our walleye brood stock is as healthy as we've seen in several years," added Wahl. "Fish averaged 22-inches, and we're collecting eggs from at least four separate year classes. The yield from those fish was extraordinary. We stripped 350 walleyes and collected 300 quarts or 40, 500,000 eggs."
Net crews at Storm Lake collected an additional 170 quarts of eggs.
"The satellite egg collection stations located at Clear Lake and Storm Lake are providing benefits to anglers across the entire state," said Mason. "The eggs collected at those stations allow us to fill our state hatcheries quickly. The additional data we collect allows biologists to make better decisions regarding long term walleye management."
As this spring's walleye hatch continues, the majority of those baby fish will be immediately distributed to public waters across the state. A smaller number of those fry will stay behind to inhabit the protected environment of DNR nursery lakes until late June when they will be stocked as fingerlings.
Storm Lake is scheduled to receive special stockings of larger fish as well in 2008 - 9,000 channel cat fish, 17,000 eight inch waleye from Rathbun Hatchery, and 15,000 six inch walleye from Spirit Lake hatchery.