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North Iowa Outdoors: Fish hatcheries busy netting walleye

The late night, annual walleye collection has begun at Clear Lake, Rathbun Reservoir, Storm Lake and the Iowa Great Lakes. Crews with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau will set gillnets at night looking for walleyes that are ready to spawn.

This time of year, hatcheries operate around the clock as local staff bring in the nightly haul well past midnight. As fish “ripen,” the eggs are removed from the walleyes and the fish are returned to the lake where they were caught to make room for the next night’s catch.

The goal is to collect enough fish to hatch 140.9 million walleye fry that will supply Iowa lakes and fish hatcheries.

After being closed for the past two spawning seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clear Lake, Rathbun, Spirit Lake, and Storm Lake fish hatcheries are open and ready for visitors.  Contact the hatchery you plan to visit for visitor hours.

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