BY DOUG ALOISI, GENOA NFH
Natalie Mamerow, Washington Office Legislative Assistant for Representative Kind's 3rd district of Wisconsin toured the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) this September. District visits are used to gather information and stay informed with the people and federal activities ongoing in the home district, and we were glad to have the opportunity to show Natalie ongoing U.S. Fish and Wildlife conservation actions at the Genoa NFH. Some of the activities that Natalie witnessed were quantitative surveys of an active mussel bed conducted by hatchery dive team members and mussel biologists in Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River, and ongoing lake sturgeon tagging operations.
Over 70,000 lake sturgeon fingerlings were tagged for fall release mainly with volunteer labor, and Natalie got to tag a number of them herself! She was also shown the hatchery's coaster brook trout restoration propagation, which will overwinter and grow at the hatchery to be released in spring of 2015. She also toured the station's offsite mussel propagation trailer housed at the Corps of Engineers (Corps) Blackhawk Park, adjacent to the Mississippi River. It is strategically located at the Corps facility to take advantage of the optimal growing conditions of Mississippi River water in regards to temperature and natural food supplies that the River provides. It was a pleasure to have Natalie tour the facility and observe firsthand what happens on any given workday on a beautiful fall day at Genoa NFH.
BY GARY CZYPINSKI, ASHLAND FWCO
The Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) provided fish collection assistance for a genetics study being conducted by Dr. Carol A. Stepien, Director of the Lake Erie Center, University of Toledo, Oregon, and Ohio. Dr. Stepien is examining the genetic patterns of selected established invasive Eurasian ruffe populations in the Upper Great Lakes. He wants to determine whether or not the genetic composition of the original ruffe populations has changed, whether relationships between populations have changed, and whether ruffe from different locations in Eurasia have been introduced and established. One ruffe population of particular interest is located in the Sand River estuary, a tributary to Lake Superior located in northern Wisconsin, and lying within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, National Park Service (NPS). The NPS is also interested in the current status of ruffe in the Sand River estuary in relation to the population status when established during the mid-1990’s.
With support from NPS, Ashland FWCO staff surveyed the Sand River estuary with bottom trawl gear. A total of six tows were completed, which covered the entire estuary. Two young-of-the-year ruffe were captured which confirms continued reproduction in the system. The catch per minute bottom trawl in 2014 was 0.08 compared to 0.27 in 1992. The low capture rates are likely due to the sensitivity of ruffe to light levels. Ruffe prefer low light habitats, and low light areas are primarily associated with deeper or turbid water. In 1992, the average trawling depth in the estuary was 1.9 meters, while in 2014 the average trawling depth was 1.2 meters.
BY ADAM KOWALSKI, ALPENA FWCO
During July and August, staff from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) and volunteers conducted the annual fishery independent lake whitefish survey in 1836 Treaty waters of northern Lake Huron. The purpose of this survey is to collect fishery independent abundance and biological data on lake whitefish stocks in treaty waters for use in statistical catch-at-age population models that are updated annually to determine harvest regulations for commercial fisheries in 1836 Treaty waters of the Great Lakes.
During the survey, 24 variable mesh gill nets (two to six inch) were set at randomly selected sites in lake whitefish management unit WFH 04 (Hammond Bay to Presque Isle) and lake whitefish management unit WFH 05 (Presque Isle to Alpena). All whitefish and lake trout collected were measured, weighed, sexed, assessed for maturity and visceral fat content, and checked for sea lamprey wounds, fin clips, and tags. Scales and otoliths were collected for age determination. Similar biological data were collected from non-target species. Four lake whitefish were collected from unit WFH 04 and one was collected from unit WFH 05.