Fishing season is underway at area lakes and streams. Ever wonder where that walleye, northern or muskie came from that you caught?
Annual spring fish netting is underway at Lake Rathbun, Spirit Lake, Guttenberg and will begin at Storm Lake as the spawning season picks up steam.
Staff from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources collects walleye, northern pike and muskies soon after ice out to provide quality sport fishing in Iowa lakes and streams that otherwise could not support it.
Iowa Conservation Officer
"If we didn't stock walleyes and northern pike, the only place you could catch them would be on the Mississippi River," said Joe Larscheid, chief of fisheries for the Iowa DNR. "And our muskie population is totally reliant on stocking."
The DNRs goal is to catch enough walleyes to fill hatcheries with about 750 quarts at Rathbun and 1,000 quarts at Spirit Lake. With a good hatch, that should equate to about 200 million walleye fry.
The muskie goal is to produce 1.5 million eggs and to produce 2 million northern pike each at Guttenberg and Spirit Lake. Northern pike collection is in full swing collecting adult fish from the shallow water sloughs at Spirit Lake and backwaters of the Mississippi River near Guttenberg. Walleye and muskie collection is expected to begin at the Iowa Great Lakes after the ice is off the main lakes.
Hatcheries are running 24/7 during this time as fish are spawned and released. The fish are handled as little as possible and once spawned, are returned to the waters where they were caught, usually that same day. These large adult fish are highly valued because they can produce a large amount of eggs. Walleyes, muskies and northern pike do not successfully reproduce in the wild even in the highest quality lakes.
Where does the money come from to stock fish and to provide fishing opportunities? Answer: your fishing license purchase.
In other news, the first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild Iowa deer has been confirmed. The deer was reported as harvested in Allamakee County during the first shotgun season in early December. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is currently working to obtain as much information as possible about the infected deer to implement its CWD response plan.
We have been testing for CWD in Iowas deer herd for more than a decade and are optimistic, given the extensive data we have collected, that we have caught this early, said Chuck Gipp, DNR director. The next step will be to focus our monitoring efforts in the area where the animal was harvested and work closely with local landowners and hunters to gather more information. said Gipp.
CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. The only reliable test for CWD requires testing of lymph nodes or brain material.
There is currently no evidence that humans can contract CWD by eating venison. However, the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that hunters do not eat the brain, eyeballs or spinal cord of deer and that hunters wear protective gloves while field dressing game and boning out meat for consumption.
Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, CWD had been detected in every bordering state.
With CWD in all the states around us, we have understood the possibility of a positive detection in the wild deer herd for some time said Gipp.
Since 2002, the DNR has collected more than 650 samples of deer from within a five-mile radius of where the deer is believed to have been harvested.