One Wild Week in June
BY DOUG ALOISI, GENOA NFH
the Genoa NFH this June. Credit: USFWS
In the not so distant past, June at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in Wisconsin meant hunkering down at the station, and being immersed in getting our lake sturgeon fry on feed. This was mixed in with harvesting our spring fingerling walleye, bass and yellow perch ponds. In recent history, however, now we are involved in the egg collection and culture of two more strains of lake sturgeon that spawn in early to mid-June, the St. Lawrence River strain of New York, and the St. Clair River strain of Michigan and Canada.
This year for some reason the two farthest reaching strains decided to spawn on the same week, requiring two different spawning crews. So four staff members from Genoa NFH packed to leave God's country (as Southwest Wisconsin's locals affectionately call it) and travel to the far reaches of upstate New York and Canada.
NFH and Ontario MNR collect sturgeon eggs
from a large female. Credit: USFWS
All the while staff remaining at the hatchery were involved with moving surplus cisco (also known as lake herring) to the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan, our sister station to the east. Cisco that were transferred to Jordan River NFH had been raised from eggs taken in the fall of 2016 from northern Lake Huron and quarantined at Genoa NFH to ensure that no fish diseases were imported with the eggs that may affect hatchery and wild fish populations. These fish passed their three fish health inspections and will be developed as captive brood stock at Jordan River NFH to produce eggs for restoration efforts in Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. This is a new species for Genoa NFH as well and we were glad to be able to provide the first captive cisco brood stock developed for this fledgling federal effort to culture a native forage fish to restore to the Great Lakes.
Returning to our travelling sturgeon egg takers, both crews were successful in their egg collections, with both the St. Clair River and St. Lawrence crews returning with enough eggs to meet our future restoration commitments when the resulting fall fingerlings will be released at six to eight inches in length. “Got to make hay while the sun shines” is as appropriate when applied to a fish farmer, as an agrarian farmer in the month of June at Genoa NFH.