Thanks for your help at 2019 Kids Fishing Day!

Thanks very much for volunteering your time, resources and passion for the outdoors this past weekend at the 2019 Kids Fishing Day at the Genoa hatchery.  Even with all of the activities ongoing in the area and the threat of bad weather, we had 248 people attend, with 136 of those being our target audience, children ages 5-12.  The rain held off for most of the event, and everyone went home with a fish, and many with their limit of 5.  Please find a few pictures of some happy attendees.
Thanks again for your efforts to create a culture of outdoor recreation and conservation in our community and the next generation of conservation stewards.
Doug Aloisi


Walleye Egg Hatch Continues to Improve at 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.


Shedd Aquarium Nets Some Coaster Brook Trout for Native Fish Display


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.

FWCO Project Leader, Rebecca Neeley.

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.

Welcoming our new Environmental Educator at Genoa










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.

Lake Sturgeon Growth Project

Lake sturgeon. Credit: Ron Everhart

Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) has been committed since 1993 to the goal of restoring lake sturgeon to its native range. In order to do this in the most effective and economic manner, the hatchery initiated a multi-year study to examine differing water temperature regimes with respect to lake sturgeon growth and feed consumption. The over-arching goal of the study was to determine growth rates across a wide spectrum of water temperatures for lake sturgeon    in order to create population models to estimate final size at stocking.

By also researching growth and food consumption at four separate water temperatures, we are also constructing feeding tables across this range of temperatures in order to gauge feeding efficiency and be able to project feed ordering needs for the entire production season.

Biologists with Genoa NFH collect length data from study fish. Credit: USFWS

Our maintenance staff at the station constructed a culture system consisting of six research tanks that have the capability of maintaining two distinct temperature regimes at once using a mixing valve. The experiment was run over two rearing seasons to include four test temperatures.

Results are being written up this winter for submission into an aquaculture journal in order to further lake sturgeon aquaculture programs. Our hope is to allow sturgeon culturists to better plan their production year and measure growth and efficiencies.
Many thanks to the Genoa NFH staff for all of their efforts to collect and disseminate great data, and our maintenance staff for their creativity and talents in order to make this project possible.

Temperature tank setup with test fish. Credit: USFWS



Long Range Sturgeon Stocking Completed

Tagged lake sturgeon ready for release. Credit: USFWS

Fish Biologist James Boase checks tag presence before stocking. Credit: USFWS

Every fall tens of thousands of lake sturgeon depart their temporary home at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) and begin their lives out in the wild, beginning the long process of maturing into 20 plus year old fish that are capable of reproducing on their own.  Lake sturgeon populations have been severely reduced throughout their native range the past century due to human influenced effects such as over harvest, dam construction blocking spawning   migrations, and degraded water quality. This year two far off restorations took hatchery crew over 500-1000 miles away in order to restore this intriguing species to two river systems within its native range. Genoa NFH was part of a cooperative effort to return lake sturgeon to the Maumee River, Ohio for the first time since they disappeared from the system in the mid 1900’s. This October, 2,400 fingerling lake sturgeon were transported the 9.5 hours to Toledo, Ohio where they were part of the first release ceremony in a cooperative release effort with the Toledo Zoo.
The fish were tagged with a PIT tag, or Passive Integrated Transponder tag, that transmits a unique tag number to an electronic reader when scanned, much the same as a tag that may be used to tag domestic house pets. They were then
released safely into the waters of the Maumee. The next week, over 12,000 fingerling lake sturgeon were transported over 1,000 miles away to assist the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s sturgeon restoration efforts. This year the waters of New York benefited by having another year class of lake sturgeon to grow and thrive in the St. Lawrence River, New York and Lake Ontario watersheds. These multiple year restoration programs ensure that lake sturgeon population numbers and genetic diversity are at levels that can begin to rebuild populations naturally once these long lived species begin to multiply on their own again. In these instances, long range partnerships provide great dividends for natural resource conservation in two distant states.

By Doug Aloisi, Genoa NFH

Kids Ice Fishing Day at Genoa NFH Great Success


Thanks so much for all of your hard work in the preparation and execution of the Kids Ice Fishing Day at Genoa NFH on Sunday February 9th this year.  This year was extremely challenging to pull off, due to 2 postponements of the event, one from the government shutdown and one from the weather, and an actual day change to Sunday.  We had 525 attendees, volunteers, Friends and staff from the 3 LaCrosse area Fisheries Offices at the event, not bad at all considering the circumstances.  To top this off most of the promotion for the event was contained to social media or just word of mouth.  Included in this number was 250 children, our targeted audience.  Many smiles were witnessed and everyone that attended caught at least one fish.  Thanks again for all that you do for our Mississippi Basin fish and wildlife resources and for helping us put the love of the outdoors into the next generation through events like these!

Doug Aloisi

Genoa National Fish Hatchery
S 5631 State Highway 35
Genoa WI 54632
608-689-2644 fax


Genoa National Fish Hatchery site of Kids Ice Fishing Day

Kids Ice Fishing Day is back at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery. The event will be held Feb. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

 The event, which draws roughly 200 local area youth, ages 5 through 12, and their families, offers participants an opportunity to learn and perfect the skill of ice fishing on a hatchery pond stocked with 2,000 rainbow trout.
The Genoa National Fish Hatchery is located at S5631 State Hwy. 35, Genoa.

The event is hosted by Friends of the Upper Mississippi River Fisheries Services, Genoa National Fish Hatchery, La Crosse Fish Health Center, and La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.

Dragonfly Culture…A Continuing Education Species!


A Hine’s emerald dragonfly in the cage during a monthly health check. Credit: Angela Baran Dagendesh, USFWS

After working with the Hine’s emerald dragonfly for almost 20 years, both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and University of South Dakota are finding out there is still much to learn! At the beginning of the captive rearing program at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in 2014, there were thought to be three “absolutes” regarding the species (later found to be assumptions!)

Number 1: After the eggs were deposited by the females in the wetlands, they would develop to the point of eye spots over the summer and fall and then hold off at that point until spring. Number 2: In March or April 95% of the eggs would complete development and then begin hatching right around April 1st for about 2-3 weeks total. Number 3: The larvae would grow and molt through several instars over the next 3-5 years before they were ready to emerge.

In the first year of working with the larvae at Genoa NFH, the Hine’s emerald dragonfly shattered assumption Number 3! By having a plentiful food source available to them in the hatchery ponds, the larvae went from newly hatched to their last instar during that summer, with some of them emerging the following spring. Early concerns were that the emerging dragonflies would be under-developed or not up to the normal adult size, possibly causing issues with reproduction. Measurements taken on the newly emerged adults laid those concerns to rest, the dragonflies were up to normal size and no issues with flight were seen as they were released. In following years, the Illinois Dragonfly Rearing Facility managed by University of South Dakota and the DuPage Forest Preserve District’s Urban Stream Research Center began to change their rearing techniques. They incorporated more natural water sources with a larger variety of zooplankton and experienced similar growth patterns. So it would seem the dragonfly larvae grow according to temperature, water availability and food availability, similar to most other aquatic species.

In the second year of the grant, the hatchery received eggs to hatch out, and the Hine’s emerald dragonfly decided to shatter assumption Number 2! That year, the eggs hatched over a three month span, it is thought perhaps they were placed in the cooler to go dormant over the winter too soon, throwing off development timeline. This pattern is still being studied and has repeated over the last couple years.

Dragonfly larva being weighed at the end of
the growing season. Credit: Angela Baran
Dagendesh, USFWS

During the summer months of 2017, the dragonfly shattered the final assumption remaining, that they would only hatch in the spring. Eggs collected early in the summer began hatching a couple of weeks after they were collected. Originally it was thought this was a survival technique, by holding off until spring, the resulting larvae would be hatching at a time when the water would be warming and food would be present. This pattern was seen again over the summer in 2018, but the early hatching larvae in 2017 still grew enough to have sufficient energy stored to survive the winter and continue growing the following spring. Perhaps the survival technique is still the reasoning, but on years when the weather supports it, they can start the process early.

This species continually challenges all partners working with it and with each passing year, a wealth of knowledge continues to be collected. This knowledge is applied to each facility in different ways for new methods of rearing and has made huge impacts to the recovery programs. To date, 2018 seems to be a successful year, 43 newly emerged adult dragonflies were released in Illinois, bringing the total released since 2016 up to 64 individuals. After working with fish and mussels, these numbers seem very small, but when you consider the Illinois population is estimated at 86-313 total adults each year it gives hope for the future of the species. This summer was also a good one for egg collections, with more than 3500 collected in Illinois and over 2000 eggs collected from the Wisconsin population. So early indications show there should be a strong year class in 2019. The hope and goal of the program is to stabilize the genetically diverse population in Illinois and then to increase the population and begin to restore historic habitats throughout their range.