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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Production Year Totals Show Increase in Stockings from Past Years

Region 3, December 16, 2011
A black crappie brood fish.
A black crappie brood fish. - Photo Credit: n/a
Jen and Paige trapping fathead minnows for walleye forage.
Jen and Paige trapping fathead minnows for walleye forage. - Photo Credit: n/a

The 2011 Production Year is finally drawing to a close at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. Young of the year fingerlings have been stocked to their wild wintering waters after a season of intense growth, Genoa’s captive wild broodstocks have been stocked into their overwintering ponds, and indoor rearing raceways have been stocked with extended-growout fingerlings until ice-out on lake waters next spring.


The 2011 fall stocking totals have been tallied, and show an increase in production from other years. Between January and December, 15,719,522 individual fish and mussels were stocked out to tribal, state, and federal waters. Most of these animals stocked were to support threatened and endangered species recovery, sport fish conservation, tribal fisheries management plans, and research. In production year 2009, 12,483,949 fish and mussels were provided for these programs, and 11,796,904 fish and mussels were produced in 2010. This year’s stocking increases may be mostly attributed stellar increases in the “little guys”, namely freshwater mussel juveniles, fathead minnows, and spring walleye fry, all exhibiting average stocking lengths of 1 inch or less. Nathan Eckert, the station’s freshwater mussel biologist, came on station at the end of the 2010 production cycle, and so was here to oversee and plan for the entire 2011 production season. Number of freshwater mussels juveniles produced under his care almost doubled from 2010 to 2011. Early fathead minnow production was delayed this year by cool temperatures and a late spawn. Although minnow production was great for pond and lake stockings in the fall, minnows were smaller than average and hard to catch for Genoa’s walleye, bass, and panfish fingerling forage in July and August. The cool weather in spring was great for spring walleye fry production. More walleye fry were stocked this year than any other year.

Six species were cultured in Genoa’s fingerling production ponds this summer. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and fall walleyes all outdid last year’s production by 70% or more. These species are important for sport fish enhancement, tribal partnerships, state and federal fishery management plans, research, and threatened and endangered species recovery in the Mississippi River Basin. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and walleye serve as hosts for the first life cycle stage of the Higgins eye pearlymussel, and endangered species produced at Genoa NFH. Black crappie and bluegill were the only pond-cultured species in 2011 where stocking numbers were reduced. This was the result of a management plan to eliminate 2nd and 3rd spawns of these species so that first spawn fingerlings had less competition from younger cohorts and would produce a larger sized fish for fall stocking. Twelve, 3-inch largemouth bass were added to each black crappie and bluegill pond in June to forage on smaller sized fry, and allow larger sized panfish fingerlings to grow on the increased amounts of zooplankton in ponds. This strategy worked well for black crappie, average length of fingerlings stocked increased by 0.52 inches in 2011. Unfortunately the bluegill spawn was too much for 12 bass to keep up with, average length did not increase, but the fingerling bass from this pond did eat a lot of bluegill, these bass were 7 inches long! Next year 20 1-inch largemouth bass will give it a shot.
“Way to go!” To all of the staff and volunteers that put in the extra effort this year at Genoa NFH.

Contact Info: Jennifer Bailey, 608-689-2605, jennifer_bailey@fws.gov