Iron River NFH
Supports Fisheries Management and Recreational Fishing
BY BRANDON KEESLER, IRON RIVER NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY
Wisconsin. Credit: USFWS
Mid-autumn brings an end to lake trout spawning for the year at the Iron River National Fish Hatchery (NFH). Annually the hatchery raises 1.2 million lake trout and 100,000 coaster brook trout. Iron River NFH also raises lake trout and coaster brook trout broodstock. Each year after spawning we evaluate how many brood fish need to be kept and how many can be retired. Here at the hatchery we have an extensive brood program consisting of two species, thee strains, and seven year classes of adult fish. We provide eggs for programs across the United States. We produce 800,000 lake trout eggs and one million coaster brook trout eggs annually. The egg requests change every year so we constantly need to evaluate our egg production and brood fish needs.
The decision for how many fish to keep is dependent upon factors like, how many eggs per female we receive, how well the eggs from those fish survive or “eye up”, and how many requests we have for that strain. With the use of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone, or LHRH, we see better eggs per female and much higher survival among our lake trout. With the increase of viable eggs we no longer need to keep as many broodstock for future egg requests.
Once we decide how many fish to retire, we contact the agencies to find good home for these fish, such as local Native American tribes and the states of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requested we stock the lake trout into two cold-water lakes in Iron County. With the help of Wisconsin DNR employees, we were able to stock Weber Lake with 345 fish, and Plunkett Lake with 792 fish. These fish are used to control native forage species in each lake and provide excellent fishing opportunities for local anglers. Go Fishing and Catch the Fun!