Who knew we would be hoping for colder weather here in Wisconsin this time of the year, but due to unseasonably warm temperatures and an unfavorable forecast, Genoa National Fish Hatchery is reluctantly cancelling the Kids Ice Fishing Day for 2024. Please follow our FB Page for news and information on the other great events here at the hatchery
Thank you for your support!
Environmental Education Specialist
Genoa National Fish Hatchery
S5631 State Hwy 35
Genoa WI, 54632
Due to unseasonably warm temperatures and deteriorating ice conditions on the hatchery pond, Genoa National Fish Hatchery is reluctantly postponing the Annual Kids Ice Fishing Day. This event, which was schedule for this Saturday February 3rd, will be moved to Saturday February 24th from 8:30am to 12pm. Please follow our FB Page for news and information about this great event.
Please let me know if you are available to help on Feb. 24th
Environmental Education Specialist
Genoa National Fish Hatchery
S5631 State Hwy 35
Genoa WI, 54632
Please welcome our new Project Leader, Craig Bockholt, to the Genoa National Fish Hatchery! Craig is originally from the Midwest, born and raised in Northwest Iowa. Craig started his career with the USFWS after serving 4 years with the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent the early part of his career at Gavins Point NFH in Yankton, South Dakota. Then in 2016 he accepted the Project Leader position at White Sulphur Springs NFH in West Virginia.
Now he is coming back to the Midwest as the Project Leader at the GNFH! Craig has over 20 years of experience in the National Fish Hatchery system working with freshwater mussels, warm, cool and cold fish species propagation and broodstock management. When not working Craig is an avid outdoorsman and especially enjoys pheasant hunting, archery hunting, and fishing for catfish and walleye. We are very excited to welcome Craig to the GNFH staff!
By: Erica Rasmussen
We’re excited to welcome a new mussel biologist to the hatchery. Tyler Weber joins us from USGS where he’s been raising fish and mussels for research at the Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center and is rejoining the hatchery staff after working with us during college. Tyler started at the hatchery in October, and has been working hard from day one, learning, caring for our fish, mussels and dragonflies and helping get ready for winter. He enjoys spending time outdoors, hunting and traveling. We’re looking forward to everything he will contribute to freshwater mussel and fish conservation, and how he develops in his conservation career. By: Megan Bradley
Tyler sorting mussels into a tray. Photo credit: USFWS.
Our largest pond on station is a 33-acre pond used for rearing fathead minnows. During the summer months clover minnow traps are place around the pond to capture minnows. These minnows are released into other ponds on station containing other species such as Walleye, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass, and Yellow Perch allowing these fish to grow and later be stocked. This minnow pond allows the hatchery to maintain a cost effective and clean supply of minnows to use as a food source to raise other species. Juvenile piscivores on station love fathead minnows as a food source due to their lack of spines and small size. As winter approaches this pond is drained and a specialized seine is used to collect the fish and put them on trucks to be moved around the hatchery. Once minnows are on the truck they are stocked to overwinter ponds and brought into buildings to be sorted. Once in the building these minnows will be hand sorted, removing any other species and the adults will be set aside for the following year. These adult broodstock minnows will be released back into the 33-acre pond in the spring to begin the cycle again. If you’re interested in sorting minnows, please feel free to contact our Volunteer Coordinator Erica Rasmussen at (608) 689-2605.
By: Jadon Motquin
Genoa staff collect Fathead minnows to be put onto trucks and transported around the hatchery. Photo: USFWS.
In early November, Genoa NFH staff were busy collecting and checking Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae that had spent the 2023 growing season in culture at the Hatchery. These larvae had been collected as eggs in late summer 2022 by research partners with the University of South Dakota, and had been transferred as eggs to Genoa NFH last November. This cohort was the first group from the Lower Des Plaines River (IL) population to be cultured at Genoa NFH; previous cohorts of Hine’s Emeralds had been collected from a population in Northern Wisconsin. The population in the Des Plaines River area is smaller though more genetically diverse than the Northern Wisconsin population, this coupled with increased threats from urban development (the Chicago metro area) makes augmentation and conservation of the Des Plaines population a high priority for this project.
Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae collected from its culture cage at the end of the growing season and placed in a culture cup for transport. Larvae from Genoa NFH will over winter at the University of South Dakota in Dr. Dan Soluk’s research lab..
This year’s cohort at Genoa NFH had 43.5% survival from the egg stage to the end of the growing season, or 241 individuals. They were transported to USD for over wintering, and when they are ready to emerge as adults, will be released into the habitats along the Des Plaines River to augment that population. As these larger larvae were leaving Genoa NFH, the next cohort was arriving—Lower Des Plaines River population eggs that had been collected in late summer 2023 to over winter at the Hatchery. Drought conditions last summer limited the number of ovipositing females that could be collected, so the 2024 cohort is going to be a smaller group than previous years. These eggs will be held at a steady 3-4°C all winter, until warming in the spring begins the hatching process and the cycle continues.
By: Beth Glidewell
Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly eggs housed at Genoa NFH. Individual Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly larvae packed for transport. Photo credit: Beth Glidewell/USFWS.
Saturday, November 11, 2023, 10am -2pm
Come join the Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUM), Friends of the Refuge –Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8 (FOR78) and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge to celebrate the fall migration!
Spotting scopes and bird identification guides will be available for visitors to enjoy. Refuge staff, and members of FUM and FOR78 will assist with bird ID and related questions. Please dress for chilly weather!
Light refreshments will be available while supplies last, during this event only. All donations for refreshments will benefit FUM. Members of FUM and FOR78 will have wildlife-themed items available for purchase.
The Brownsville Overlook is one of the best places along the river to view hundreds of tundra swans, ducks, pelicans and bald eagles. The overlook is located about three miles south of Brownsville, MN along MN Highway 26.
At the Brownsville Overlook near Brownsville, MN
This year Genoa National Fish Hatchery staff collected lake sturgeon eggs from the Wolf, Wisconsin, Rainy, St. Clair and St. Lawrence Rivers. Throughout the summer hatchery biologists, pathways students and youth conservation corp. enrollees have their hands full feeding and caring for lake sturgeon. As the summer season comes to an end and fall begins, these fish are ready to be tagged before being released to their stocking locations. Lake sturgeon are coded wire tagged, which gives them a batch identification number, allowing resource managers to assess future population growth and survival. Thank you to all of our volunteers we tagged over 40,000 lake sturgeon this year. Hatchery staff rely heavily on volunteers and partnerships to assist with individually tagging. Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission: working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. When these fish are tagged, they are ready for transport to many locations from Northern Minnesota to Southern Tennessee and west to South Dakota and east as far as New York in support of continued restoration efforts.
Although our sturgeon have been all tagged, there is still time to volunteer! If interested in volunteering contact Erica Rasmussen email@example.com (608)689-2605. We will be tagging our Coaster Brook Trout in October. By: Orey Eckes
Volunteers helping tag Lake Sturgeon. Photo credit: Erica Rasmussen/USFWS.
The last warm months of the summer growing season are always busy at Genoa NFH. The mussel program manages culture systems in numerous locations, and at the end of the summer we start the process of cleaning, collecting, counting and measuring the juveniles from these systems. These culture locations have allowed juvenile mussels to eat and be exposed to a diverse, natural food base in secure locations (Dubuque’s Ice Harbor, in partnership with the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, and Blackhawk Park, in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers), but are not as easily managed in freezing winter temperatures. So, juvenile mussels are brought back to the Mussel Culture building at the hatchery where they will spend the winter inside in flow through pans, circular tanks, and raceways. The pond water flowing through these pans, tanks, and raceways will be near freezing, but we can make sure pipes and valves don’t freeze and compromise water flow, and that the juvenile mussels are safe all winter.
Juvenile Higgin’s Eye going in to tanks in the MARS culture trailer early in the summer. Photo credit: MeganBradley/USFWS.
For the 2023 growing season, thousands of new juveniles and larger sub-adults were housed in the Mobile Aquatic Rearing System (MARS trailer) at Blackhawk Park, mussel cages were placed in Pond 10 on the hatchery grounds, and in Dubuque at the River Museum, while larger juvenile mussels were in SUPSYs (Suspended UPwelling SYStems: buckets suspended in the water column with mesh bottoms and air flow that moves water through the bucket). October will be a busy month collecting juvenile mussels from these systems and getting them settled into their winter culture homes. By: Beth Glidewell