A family smiles with their catch at Kids Spring Fishing Day in May. Photo by Megan Bradley/USFWS.
More than 3,000 people connected with hatchery staff at outreach events and school trips this spring, including more than 1,900 kids! Staff traveled to 9 outreach events at schools, museums, and nature centers conducting programs on mussels, fish, and other aquatic organisms. On station, staff hosted 21 school field trips ranging in age from pre-school to college. Students toured hatchery facilities, explored the Great River Road Interpretive Center, and some groups had the unique opportunity to view fish relocation operations. A highlight from this season includes Kids Spring Fishing Day on May 18, 2019, where close to 250 people joined hatchery staff and volunteers for a day of fishing fun. 136 children first walked through a set of 4 learning stations. After an hour of learning more about fish and conservation, the kids were allowed to put their newfound knowledge to practical use with a 2 hour open fishing event on a stocked hatchery pond. Most children went home with their five fish limit. A light lunch was provided by our Friends group, and many door prizes were distributed thanks to local area vendors supporting the event. Many thanks to the staff, sponsors, volunteers, and Friends of the Upper Mississippi for making this event possible.
Are you interested in bringing your group to the hatchery? Contact the hatchery Environmental Education Specialist, Raena Parsons, for more information. Raena_Parsons@fws.gov or 608-689-2605.
Staff measure the fish caught at the Tomah VA Medical Center’s Fishing Tournament. Photo by USFWS.
The 29th Annual Hospital-Wide Tomah VA Medical Center’s Fishing Tournament was held on Wednesday, May 15. The 7th and 8th grade class (125 students) from the Tomah Middle School escorted the Veterans to the VA’s Fishing Pond. The Annual Fishing Tournament is co-sponsored by the Vernon County American Legion Associations, the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, and the Midwest Fisheries Center (which includes the following offices: Fish and National Wildlife Conservation Office and the La Crosse Fish Health Center). Staff from the Genoa National Fish Hatchery stocked 500 Rainbow Trout in preparation for the annual fishing tournament held at the VA pond. Genoa National Fish Hatchery staff and volunteers also provide an annual fish fry for the veterans. The Vernon County American Legion Associations donated 100 pounds of flat head catfish that were served after a successful morning of fishing. The Tomah VAMC houses 270 veterans focusing on medical specialties such as acute medicine, acute and long-term psychiatry; vocational and social rehabilitation; Alzheimer’s assessment and management; residential substance abuse treatment and post-traumatic stress disorder.
By: Darla Wenger
Clouds reflect off a hatchery pond. Photo by Raena Parsons/USFWS
Pond production season is in full swing at Genoa NFH. As a new employee at the hatchery, I’m making my first journey through the annual cycle. I was promised it would be busy and hectic at times, and I haven’t been disappointed. We kicked off the season dividing bloodstock out from their overwintering ponds. The Yellow Perch are the first to take action. We barely got them into their pond in time from the overwintering pond, with eggs and milt running from the fish as they were going into the pond. These will be ready to be harvested in mid-June and sent to their new homes in several state and federal waters. Walleye were next. Once fry were hatched from the egg battery, four production ponds were stocked with around 100,000 fry each towards the end of April. Since then, we have focused on water quality and zooplankton production to start growing these guys up. Phase 1 harvest is underway as of this writing. From there, ponds will be re-stocked at new rates, with any surplus going to state and tribal partners. As waters have warmed, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, and Black Crappie have started to do their thing. About 16,000 Smallmouth Bass fry were pulled from the nests in the end of May and restocked into 2 ponds to continue grow out. Soon, it will be time to conduct the phase 1 harvest on the others and divvy them to their new ponds to continue growing. As I take my first trip through a production season, I continue to learn something new every day. I can’t help but ponder the future for these fish. Some may find their way onto somebody’s fishing line and provide a meal or a smile. Some might produce the offspring that somebody catches years down the road. Fun to think about the possibilities! By: Nicholas Bloomfield
Genoa National Fish Hatchery’s mission is to recover, restore, maintain and enhance fish and aquatic resources on a basin-wide and national level by producing over 35 aquatic species of varying life stages, participating in active conservation efforts with our partners, and becoming a positive force in the community by educating future generations on the benefits of conservation stewardship.
The Mississippi River Multimedia Gallery sits out front of our Mississippi River Room, located on the bottom level of the Great River Road Interpretive Center. Photo by Raena Parsons/USFWS.
Thanks to our generous sponsors: Friends of the Upper Mississippi, Friends of Pool 9, Dairyland Power Cooperative, and the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission, the Great River Road Interpretive Center has a new interactive multimedia display. Produced by Hamline University, The Mississippi River Multimedia Gallery features a wide variety of multimedia content ranging from photo galleries about hatchery programs to educational games and videos. Users have the opportunity to explore the vast history, culture, and story of the mighty Mississippi while also getting more in-depth information about the work Genoa National Fish Hatchery accomplishes annually. Stop by the interpretive center soon to explore this wonderful addition! By: Raena Parsons
BY OREY ECKES, GENOA NFH
Photo Credit: USFWS
Over the last few months, hatchery staff members have been finalizing additional renovations of the holding house from the 2018 walleye production season. Due to increased demand for more walleye eggs from state, tribal and federal partners, the hatchery had increased holding and hatching capacity for walleye eggs and fry in 2018. The modifications of hatching tanks and rearing space allowed the hatchery to collect nearly 70 million walleye and sauger eggs from the Upper Mississippi River for stocking in the spring of 2018.
Upgrades and renovations consisted of: A new aluminum head tank that was installed allowed for a larger available water volume to supply fish rearing tanks, increased particulate settling time and improved oxygenation. New oxygen lines had also been added to improve delivery of oxygen, create more working space, and allow for easier access to the oxygen supply tanks. Maintenance staff member, Jeff Lockington fabricated and installed egg incubation tanks and fry hatching tanks.
The new egg incubation setup allowed for incubation of over 60 million walleye eggs. Zach Kumlin, also a part of the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) maintenance team, installed flow meters wired to a control box (PLC) to allow biologists to review and manipulate flows for walleye egg treatments. He also installed a peristaltic pump for chemical treatment of eggs to reduce loss of eggs from fungus.
In 2019, staff members are hard at work installing a larger pump to increase water volume and are incorporating a sand filter into the system to remove particulates such as iron, which bind to eggs and newly hatching fry. These new modifications for 2019 will help increase eye up percentages, resulting in better survival of eggs and newly hatched fry. This new setup will allow the hatchery to produce and stock more walleye for recovery and restoration efforts. Genoa NFH staff will be on the Upper Mississippi River this spring in an effort to collect enough walleye eggs to meet our partners’ requests.
DOUG ALOISI, GENOA NFH
Photo Credit: USFWS
Since Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is centrally located, many Midwestern aquariums periodically contact us for fish for their exhibits to engage the public with. Through these exhibits, our conservation message is also relayed to the public, which helps us to complete our mission to engage the public to conserve and protect our nation’s fish and wildlife resources for the continuing benefit of the nation’s populace. We were able to do this again this spring by making available a net full of nine to ten inch coaster brook trout for display at the world renowned Shedd aquarium at Chicago, Illinois.
These fish were available because of our ongoing cooperative restoration efforts that include the waters of the Grand Portage tribe on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The Fish and Wildlife Service has been working with the Isle Royale National Park staff and the tribe since the mid 1990’s to return this popular sportfish to its formal prominence in eastern Lake Superior. Reservation waters receive 10,000 yearling brook trout from Genoa NFH annually.
Through these efforts and strict harvest limits along the north shore that were implemented by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, fall coaster brook trout surveys have indicated an increase in numbers for the recent decade. Good news for the American people, this popular sport fish and a beautiful native fish historically abundant in Lake Superior.
Our new FWCO Project Leader, Rebecca Neely, has been with the Service for almost 19 years and is excited about starting her new position at La Crosse . She has been the station lead of the Carterville FWCO Wilmington Substation for the last three and a half years where her work has been focused on Asian carp in the Illinois River. Prior to working for the Carterville FWCO, Rebecca worked for the Sea Lamprey Control Program, which is where her career with the Service began. She started as a seasonal employee and worked her way up to a team lead position, working in both Ludington and Marquette. Rebecca holds a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University, and an M.S. in Fisheries from Michigan State University The most rewarding aspect of her job is the professional and personal relationships she has developed with staff and partners. Away from the office, Rebecca enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling, and working on her many craft projects. Stop by the Lester Street office and welcome Rebecca to our Upper Miss.
The Genoa hatchery staff is happy to announce that we are now able to staff the Great River Road Interpretive Center this November with former National Park Service Park Ranger Raena Parsons. Raena joins us as our new Environmental Education Specialist. Raena earned her Bachelor’s degree at Eastern Washington University in 2010, and promptly began her federal career as an intern with the Bureau of Land Management. She also interned with the National Park Service at San Juan Island National Historical Park, and became a full time biological technician at the Historical Park in the same year. She also continued her education, earning her Master’s degree in Environmental Education from Western Washington University. Raena, her husband and daughter made the trek east and arrived just before Thanksgiving. She enjoys family activities, outdoor sports such as rock climbing, running and just plain getting outside. You will find Raena in our new Interpretive Center getting acclimated to our ongoing programs and preparing to build upon a conservation legacy in the community and the Upper Mississippi River Region.