By Aaron Von Eschen
As spring rolls around and temperatures increase male and female walleye begin spawning activities on the Mississippi River. In response Genoa National Fish Hatchery (GNFH) staff sets out 50 hoop nets each spring in an annual effort to collect walleye and sauger eggs for the upcoming production year.
Lifting walleye nets on Mississippi River
Female walleye ready to spawn. Generally the staff spawns walleye across an approximate three week period from early to mid April as female walleye begin to give up their eggs. Water levels were lower this spring which had a negative impact on the stations walleye spawning effort. Usually snow melt and spring rains raise river levels and heavy flows push the fish closer to shore where they encounter the nets, when water levels are lower fish are spread all over the channel making them difficult to capture. Walleye spawning for the station this year lasted 22 days and just over 150 females were spawned resulting in approximately 15 million eggs. Walleye eggs collected are shared with tribal, federal, and state partners in addition to some kept on station. The hatchery raises juvenile wall eye for stocking purposes and freshwater mussel (black sandshell) recovery efforts. Additionally a minimum of 10% of eggs collected are hatched and returned to the Mississippi River.
Walleye eggs and milt
Walleye eggs at the hatchery