Diving into Spring


By Megan Bradley, Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Each year our mussel biologists complete training, take their gear for servicing and then reassemble their kits to make sure they can safely dive for the season.  This involves ensuring that tanks that hold their air are safe and sealed and taking the regulators they breathe from to be cleaned and parts replaced, as filters inside of them collect fine silt from the water and their occasional contact with the river bottom [you’ll have to excuse the snail shell that we found one year].

Training is going to be a bit late this year, falling in the first week of May.  We’ll start by testing our new BC’s (Buoyancy control devices- or the vests we wear to keep our gear on our backs, and together) in the pool at Marineland to see how they work for our style of diving.  Next, we’ll do a First Aid, CPR, AED and Divers Alert Network Oxygen refresher online, then meet in person to practice scenarios and apply our skills.  Finally, we’ll dive in the university pool to demonstrate our basic dive skills and train a new diver on dive tending skills and to test our athletic prowess in swimming.  This is everyone’s least favorite part since we don’t swim much when we dive for mussels, as we’re pretty practiced in staying right on the bottom.  Gathering and training together is a learning experience, and a fun one, and makes our divers safer and builds a strong team to accomplish our freshwater mussel conservation goals. 

 Genoa NFH diver, Beth Glidewell, clears her mask during this year’s dive skills checkout in the pool. Credit: USFWS




Friends of the Upper Mississippi




Friends of the Upper Mississippi along with CARP(Boathouse Owners), US Fish & Wild Life Service and the US Army Corp of Engineers are asking for your help in cleaning up the Mississippi River in Pool 8.

Saturday June 3rd  2023

8:00am  –   12:00 pm

Wild Cat Landing

Brownsville, MN.

Please wear old clothes, a long sleeve shirt, work gloves, boots/chest waders (if available) life jacket, sunscreen and bug spray. Boat, if possible.   Also a battery operated Saw Zaw is a big help. Donuts are provided along with bottled water and all the trash bags you will need. Any Questions please call (608) 780-2710


Thanks for another great Kids Fishing Day

Thanks for another Kids Fishing Day event 2 weeks ago now as the spring is getting away from us.  There was lots of smiles to be had as the bite was on and I don’t believe any one child left fishless.  Over 250 children and their family members were registered, not counting  the many Friends members and Volunteers that pitched in.  
Making outdoor and family memories is very important to make generational conservation values to pass along to the future.  Thanks so much for your part, whatever it was to make that happen.  And thanks to the presenters, the food distributors, pole and bait distributors and fishing mentors who helped kids and their parents learn how to identify fish, how to catch fish, and why mussels and boating safety are important. 
Doug Aloisi                           
Hatchery Manager
Genoa National Fish Hatchery


SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2023

8:30 AM—12:00 PM

Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Join staff from the 3 La Crosse area U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fisheries Offices and our Friends Group, the Friends of the Upper Mississippi for a day of fishing fun!

This popular annual event is for children 5-12 years old who are accompanied by a parent or guardian. The event begins with hands-on learning sessions about fishing techniques and conservation, then children are allowed to fish in a stocked hatchery pond.

Poles & Bait will be supplied, with no outside bait allowed due to biosecurity concerns.


Email: Erica_Rasmussen@fws.gov

Or call: 608-689-2605

Northern Pike egg collection

Last year, we had a new request for Northern Pike eggs from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Genoa National Fish Hatchery regularly collected these eggs in the past, but it had been several years. Some of us had never taken part in spawning Northern Pike. This year, we got the opportunity to continue to hone our craft, as we received another request from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Northern Pike on the Mississippi River in our neighborhood typically start spawning at the end of March or early April. Using information gleaned from last year’s work, we were able to narrow down our search for spawning sites and set our fyke nets in areas that were productive for us last year. Conditions were a bit different this year with lower water, but the fish were still there. Some of our net sites barely had a foot of water, but the fish didn’t seem to mind! The water in these shallow areas was up to 5 degrees warmer than main channel temperatures, drawing several species looking for a respite from the cold winter. We were able to get all the eggs we needed in two nights of net sets. Staff from IDNR’s Decorah State Fish Hatchery came over to pick up eggs, where they will be hatched out and stocked in hatchery ponds. They will grow for a brief stint in the ponds before being released into Iowa’s interior rivers.
By: Nick Bloomfield

Extracting eggs from a fish and the eggs are going into the pan. Photo: USFWS.

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly Culture: patiently waiting for spring!

Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly eggs that were received in November from research partners at Univ. of South Dakota are still happily chilling in their winter homes. These eggs are maintained at a steady 3-4°C until a planned warming schedule that will begin in April. During the warming time, temperatures are stepped up a few degrees per week and egg cups are checked daily for new hatches. New hatches are then placed in individual culture cups and a routine feeding schedule of zooplankton prey begins.
Hine’s Emerald eggs over wintering in a culture cup. Photo: Beth Glidewell/USFWS.

New juvenile culture is a very hands-on, time intensive stage of the culture cycle, so while we’re waiting for the spring hatch to begin, supplies are being gathered and prepared. One of the steps that slowed down the process last season was filtering and concentrating zooplankton prey out of pond water that is pumped through the mussel building raceways. Each culture cup is fed a few milliliters of this concentrated food 2-3 times per week, so to speed up this step, additional sieves were assembled to double the filtering capacity. Culture cups have also been gathered, pre-written labels are being prepared, pipettes and other bench-top supplies have been collected… now fingers crossed that the eggs remain stable for a few more weeks, then a successful hatch can begin!
By: Beth Glidewell

Hine’s Emerald eggs over wintering in a culture cup. Photo: Beth Glidewell/USFWS

Winter planning for spring and summer success…

While winter and early spring aren’t normally a hotbed of mussel activity it’s an important season for preparing for the coming year. We start by reviewing what was successful last year before deciding what our priorities are for the next. Some of this work includes assessing the status of cages, preparing dive gear for another season and coordinating plans with our partners. We’ve had discussions with our various State and Federal partners, as well as the staff at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, about plans for the coming season. If you’ve been following the mussel program for a while you know that we meet with the rest of the Mussel Conservation Team in March. We had a great meeting this week with colleagues from across the upper Mississippi River basin. We talked about success from last year and what we hope we can get to this year. We’re still providing extensive care for six species of host fish, brooding freshwater mussel adults, and several thousand sub-adult mussels that are overwintering in the mussel building. By: Megan Bradley

A pair of PowerPoint slides from the GNFH presentation for the MCT meeting. Photo: USFWS




















2 Friends Group Members Honored at Annual Appreciation Banquet












Al and Doug holding an award in their hands and Vickie and Doug hold an award. Photo: USFWS.

Two of our very special Friends were honored at our recent Volunteer and Friends Appreciation Banquet on Friday night. These two award winners provide such energy, enthusiasm and dedication to support the Fish and Wildlife Service and the hatchery and its Conservation and Environmental Education Goals. Our first recipient, Al Brinkman has been a dedicated Friend and Volunteer. He spends many hours helping us tag 1,000’s of lake sturgeon, freshwater mussels and whatever task that needs a helping hand.
He has also served as a board member and officer in our Friends Group, serving a vital role as Vice President and Co-President for the group. Al has been a Friends Group member for over a decade and is an active volunteer in the larger community of La Crosse, Wisconsin. For his continued service as a Volunteer and Valued Friend Al earns the hatchery’s Conservation Steward Award of 2022.

Vickie Walley has been an active and productive supporter of the hatchery’s conservation mission over the years by running the Friends Group Bookstore and Gift Shop since 2018. Her fantastic energy and organizational skills assisted in the acquiring of all the initial inventories, setting up computerized credit card access and inventory controls, and re-stocking necessary items when needed. She also did the accounting for the store with reports to the Friends Group quarterly. Vickie also set the staffing schedule to ensure hours were covered during opening Visitor Center hours during peak times of tourism season. Her and her husband Ron make a great team, assisting in many youth oriented programs to cultivate the next generation of conservation stewards in the La Crosse area. They do this by supporting youth outdoor events such as Youth Outdoor Fest and our Kids Fishing Days. Vickie is stepping down this year after 5 years of service and we are awarding her with the hatchery’s Meritorious Service Award for 2022. Thanks Vickie and Al! We truly can’t accomplish our Conservation Mission without your help!
By: Doug Aloisi

To the Friends of the Upper Miss and all the volunteers who helped with Kids Ice Fishing Days

I would like to express my sincere thanks for your assistance in putting together a fantastic 2003 Kids Ice Fishing Day at the hatchery February 4th!  There was 529 attendees at the event, with 39 volunteers and staff assisting, giving us a total of 568 people on or around the ice!

Needless to say, it could not have happened with all our your participation and efforts.  Thank you so much for your continued help in reaching out to our community to spread the message that outdoor activities involving our fish and wildlife resources are of great value, multi-generational, and deserve to be passed on for future generations to enjoy and protect.  Thank you for your foresight to be the current generation of conservation stewards, and your help in growing the next one.

All the best, 

Doug Aloisi                           

Hatchery Manager

Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Genoa National Fish Hatchery is in need of volunteers to help with mussel cage prep and mussel cage repairs.

We could use support from about 10 people to prep the mussel cages on Wednesday, February 15 @ 9:00am until about 2pm. Lunch will be provided. 
We could use support from about 15 people to repair mussel cages on Thursday, February 23 @ 8:00am – 3pm. Lunch will be provided. 
Please call the Hatchery at 608-689-2605 and ask for Erica or email me at erica_rasmussen@fws.gov
Please let me know if you have any questions. Any help is greatly appreciated! If you could please RSVP to phone or email so I can have a number for food. 
Thank you so much for your support! 
Erica Rasmussen