Spring Walleye Spawning Preparation

As spring approaches, hatchery staff are hard at work fixing and fine tuning any equipment that will be needed, come field season. This ranges from resupplying spawning kits to bagging dip nets to hemming hoop nets. During early April, hatchery staff set 63 hoop nets in Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River to collect actively spawning adult Walleyes. Before staff can do this, hoop nets are pressure washed, dried, brushed clean and hand stitched to ensure no debris or holes remain from the previous season. Any mesh that appears weak is replaced with new twine and the nets are later tarred to ensure durability throughout the spawning season. Once tarred these nets are extremely rigid and durable allowing for successful Walleye collection. In 2023, hatchery staff were able to spawn 82 ripe females and 164 ripe males in a single day! Once collected, eggs and fry are shipped to different federal, state, and tribal partners for restoration and sport fishing, including stocking Pool 9 of the Mississippi River. Some fry are also kept on station to be raised for freshwater mussel culture as host fish for the Black Sandshell mussel. With the abnormally warm winter the hatchery staff are excited to get back in

Orey Eckes using a brush to remove debris from hoop nets. Jeff Lockington and Jadon Motquin mending/patching hoop nets. Photo: Erica Rasmussen/USFWS.