Fathead Minnow Production at Genoa National Fish Hatchery

Fathead minnow fingerlings are used throughout the year as a forage base to feed hatchery captive broodstock as well as advanced growth largemouth, smallmouth, and walleye. These species feed on zooplankton and invertebrates as their primary food source when they are first stocked into hatchery ponds, as these fish grow, they switch to larger forage items, hence hatchery fathead minnows are stocked into ponds as their secondary food source. Prior to 2003, the bulk of fathead minnows used on station were purchased from private bait dealers in the area. This method was discontinued due to the risk of transmitting many unknown diseases from wild populations of fish to hatchery fish and to eliminate the risk of nuisance species such as brook stickleback. A fathead minnow brood line was developed at Genoa to prevent disease transfer and to reduce costs associated with the purchase of the wild baitfish.
In early spring approximately 50 gallons of broodstock fathead minnows are stocked into a 34-acre pond. During the summer these fish will spawn multiple times producing millions of new young of year fathead minnows. By mid-July, fathead minnows can be trapped using specially constructed minnow traps baited with dog food. This method results in variable catches of minnows per day using cloverleaf traps. The traps are available in a variety of mesh sizes to target different sizes of minnows. Hatchery staff irregularly set cloverleaf minnow traps around the pond by boat. Two people are required during the collection, a boat driver and another situated on the bow that can grab the float of each trap. The traps are emptied into an oxygenated 50-gallon tub filled with pond water in the center of the boat. After all the traps are collected and reset, the fathead minnows are transferred to a distribution truck and then to production ponds where minnows are measured by gallon and fed to production fish.
By: Orey Eckes

YCC student and staff getting ready to collect minnows in their boat. Photo: USFWS.

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities at Genoa National Fish Hatchery!

• Lake Sturgeon tagging (August through Early September)

• Coaster Brook Trout tagging (September)

• Pond Harvest (September through October)

Call for more details! (608) 689-2605

Erica Rasmussen
Environmental Education Specialist Genoa National Fish Hatchery S5631 State Hwy 35 Genoa WI, 54632 608-689-2605  http://www.fws.gov/midwest/genoahttp://www.facebook.com/GenoaNFH Erica_Rasmussen@fws.gov

Cages Deployed

Over the years at the hatchery we’ve been working to improve how we manage ponds for mussel culture. Often the best conditions for growing fish don’t result in great algae and bacteria for growing juvenile mussels, so it takes lots of data collection and experimentation to find a balance between the two needs. This year we’re trying to culture our freshwater mussels in pond 10 right next to the mussel building. We placed our cages before the pond was filled. Our Youth Conservation Corps workers stocked the Largemouth Bass infested with Plain Pocketbook into the cages this week. The juvenile mussels will drop off into the sand in the bottom of the cages and hopefully grow and thrive. We added a tarp below this year’s cages to see if many of our juveniles are washing out of the cages due to fish movement or waves from storms. Any juveniles will be cultured to a large enough size to stock into Iowa to replace Plain Pocketbook killed in a spill. By: Megan Bradley

YCC workers place freshwater mussel infested Largemouth Bass into mussel culture cages at GNFH. Photo credit: Megan Bradley/USFWS.

Pond Production Season Kicks Off


Our pond production season is in full swing at the hatchery. Four ponds have been stocked with Walleye fry that will be ready for harvest in June. These ponds are treated with a steady diet of alfalfa meal to stimulate zooplankton production. Once the Walleye begin to transition to invertebrates, we’ll pull the plug and harvest the pond, usually about 35 days after stocking. Our Yellow Perch, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Fathead Minnow and Smallmouth Bass brood stock have all been separated into their own ponds to do their thing. We have had a lot of success pulling Smallmouth Bass fry off their nest prior to them swimming up the last couple of years, so we decided to try something similar with Largemouth Bass this year. As it turned out, we were too late and there were bass fry swimming everywhere! However, the young Largemouth Bass fry school up very strongly the first few days after swimming up, so were able to seine about 50,000 up from one school of fish! We will try to raise these intensively for a short time before stocking to a pond. Next year, we will transition to a plan where we’ll have pond rearing space available for Largemouth Bass fry like how we do Smallmouth Bass currently. Hopefully we will see a boost in Largemouth Bass production similar to the boost we’ve seen in Smallmouth Bass production in recent years! By: Nick Bloomfield

Welcome Reghan



Reghan feeds Hines Emerald Dragonfly larvae. Photo credit: Megan Bradley/USFWS.

We’re excited to welcome a new Pathways student to the hatchery. Reghan Yourell joins
us from U.W. Eau Claire where she’s majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in
psychology and is on the Dean’s List. Reghan started at the hatchery in May and has
been working hard from day one, learning, caring for our fish, mussels and dragonflies,
and building things to help move forward our hatchery programs. Reghan finds that most
of her time is occupied with classes since she’s still a student, but she enjoys reading,
playing with her family dogs, spending time outdoors and traveling. We’re looking
forward to her teaching our staff more about how we can put together psychology and
the environment to improve our conservation mission and to seeing how she grows in her
conservation career. By: Megan Bradley

Wolf River Lake Sturgeon Spawning

As Walleye season and Rainbow trout stocking come to an end, Lake Sturgeon spawning season has begun. Our first trip is to the Wolf River located below the dam in Shawano, WI. This is where WI DNR staff and UWSP students collect adult Lake Sturgeon to checks tags, take lengths, and extract eggs and milt. Once the eggs and milt are collected the adult Lake Sturgeon are immediately returned to the Wolf River. Eggs are then fertilized and transported back to the Genoa National Fish Hatchery for rearing. The eggs will rear for approximately 7 days before hatching and 21 days after hatching they will start feeding. The juveniles are provided brine shrimp for the first four weeks followed by ground bloodworms and eventually whole bloodworms for the next 8 weeks until they are fed krill for the remainder of the season. Once the growing season (May-Sep.) is completed they are approximately 7 inches in length and are ready to be stocked. The Wolf River juveniles will be stocked in the Cumberland River and the Upper Portion of the Tennessee River through partnerships with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. While feeding the juveniles 3 times a day staff are also working on ongoing research projects such as the recently completed study: Growth and Survival of Lake Sturgeon Fed Traditional Diets vs. Commercial diets and Bioaccumulation of Contaminants of Emerging Concern within Traditionally and Commercially Fed Lake Sturgeon. By: Jadon Motquin

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