Red River Part Deux

Ongoing Lake sturgeon restoration efforts were jump started this year due to a dedicated collection of conservation partners. While losing the original source of lake sturgeon eggs for 3 ongoing restorations from the Rainy River due to a retirement at a First Nations tribal hatchery in Canada, a temporary holding site was needed on the U.S. side of the river to hold and spawn spawning adults. Conversations began in early 2022 to begin a search where a temporary adult holding facility could be housed by the source population of Rainy River to collect eggs from. With several coordination meetings arranged by our neighbors to the north (the Midwest Fisheries Center) to determine partner roles, the hatchery volunteered to begin equipment acquisitions to set up a mobile brood stock holding unit on the banks of the Rainy River close to an active spawning site. A generous donation of poly tanks was made by the Red Lake tribe of Chippewas to get us started. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) found an optimal site located inside a Minnesota State Park with available electrical and facilities. Genoa acquired the pumps, piping and alarm monitoring and notification systems for the mobile unit. Upon reports that the lake sturgeon had gathered at the spawning site, the mobile holding facility was rapidly set up and put into operation. DNR personnel began collecting adults and 8 females and 18 males were placed in the tanks for Genoa NFH and partners to begin hormone induction to stimulate egg and milt release. Eggs were gathered for two federal hatcheries with all the adults being safely returned to the river. After a grow out period of 4-5 months 6-8 inch fall fingerlings will be released in 2 Minnesota tribal waters and the Red River of Minnesota. Thanks to all our state, federal and tribal partners and our very own maintenance and biological staff members at Genoa and Upper Midwest Fisheries Center in La Crosse Wisconsin for your talents, technical expertise, and muscles to make this effort possible! By: Doug Aloisi

2023 Kids Fishing Day!

Kids fishing a hatchery pond. Photo: Erica Rasmussen/USFWS.





We had a great turn out at the Kids Fishing Day this last Saturday with over 250 people! Thank you for attending and supporting the hatchery! Kids from all over the area gathered at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery for our seventeenth annual event on May 13. Children started out the morning with 4 learning stations. One was on boat safety taught by the Corps of Engineers, a station on fish identification and behavior led by our lead fish biologist, Nick Bloomfield, a station on life cycle of a Freshwater Mussel led by our lead mussel biologist, Megan Bradley and a station on rules and regulations by a Federal Game Warden.
After an hour of learning, the kids were allowed to put their newfound knowledge to practice with a two-hour open fishing event on a stocked hatchery pond. Children were able to take home three trout. Thank you to the Friends of the Upper Mississippi for sponsoring the event and providing a cleaning station for families to take home clean trout and arranging a light lunch for all to enjoy! Thank you so much to all of our Genoa National Fish Hatchery staff and from the La Crosse area U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Fisheries Offices, our Friends Group and the Friends of the Upper Mississippi, and our Volunteers. This event couldn’t happen without everyone’s help! Thank you! Thank you to McDonalds and Rock Kendrick Trust for your donations. By: Erica Rasmussen



Kids holding up their rainbow trout fish that they have caught. Photo: Erica Rasmussen/USFWS.



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.



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