By: John E. Durben, President WCSFO
The Shawano Chapter of Walleyes for Tomorrow (WFT) has taken it upon themselves in cooperation with the Local Wisconsin DNR and and the Village of Cecil to set up one of their portable fish hatchery wagons on Shawano Lake. This particular hatchery is set up at the campground situated on the Cecil end of Shawano Lake.
The results of testing as well as documentation being gathered during the process of this project so far indicates that the female Walleye population in Shawano Lake are mature females who could be up to 20 years old and there is little natural reproduction.
The Walleye project began about two weeks ago with members of the Club that was formed about a year ago taking on the challenge of setting up the nets used to catch the fish that will provide the fertilized eggs and act as Foster Mothers until the eggs have hatched and the small Walleye fry are released into the depths of Shawano Lake.
The Hatchery (above left) is situated at the mouth of Pickerel Creek. Members of (WFT) bring back adult Walleyes that were caught in nets that were placed in various spawning areas on the Lake.
When the fish are taken from the tanks on the boat they are sorted by sex in holding tanks near the hatchery. WFT Chairman Mike Arrowood strips the eggs from one of the female Walleye that is considered ripe (the eggs are ready to be released.)
Eggs gathered from at least two female Walleyes. Mike milks one of several male Walleye into the dish to fertilize the eggs.
Water is added to the mixture and the eggs are then stirred as pictured above by one of the local spectator kids for about two minutes to aid in fertilization.
Another step includes putting the fertilized eggs in a clay solution to allow them to sit and double there size and harden up before they are placed in the hatchery jars. The fish are measured and released.
More of the area kids get involved in helping out with the process. The inside of the portable hatchery shows the tubes that hold the eggs until they are hatched. Water is pumped into the tubes holding the eggs in order to keep a constant slow roll of the eggs to keep them circulating. If they eggs weren’t constantly moving, they would clump together and the center eggs would suffocate and the entire tube of eggs would die. Also shown in the above right photo the WWF member is adding a measured amount of hydrogen peroxide which drips from the white bottles on the shelf above the tubes. This aides in protecting the eggs during the process.
At the time of this photo, the amount of eggs in the tubes is estimated to be over 2.1 million eggs. History of WTF involvement in hatching the eggs shows that they normally get about an 85% success hatch rate from the eggs collected. Chairman Arrowood stated that this is a numbers game. They hope to get .5 to 1 percent of the fish to grow large enough to spawn or be caught in 3 to 4 years. .5 percent would be about 12,000 fish and 1 percent would be twice that or 24,000 fish. (There goal is to get at least 3 million eggs.)
WFT, the DNR and the Village of Cecil have agreed to make this a three year project. At that time tests will be conducted through netting, creel census, and some harmless die that the fish are also treated with.
Walleyes for Tomorrow currently operates 7 such hatcheries throughout Wisconsin each Spring. They have 15 Chapters throughout Wisconsin.
Photos by: John E. Durben – Click on photos to enlarge.