BY: RACHEL SMITH
Normally at this time of the year, our thoughts have drifted from the cold, frozen depths of winter into warm, sunny visions of open water and green grass. Mother Nature has been a fickle little creature lately, taunting us with a few days of decent, snow-melting weather this week before she wallops us tomorrow with another mountain of snow.
So my random thought this week was… what’s up in the world of water? I mean, we live in a lake town that is typically full of open water by this time of the year. I’m guessing the local fisherman are getting a bit anxious, itching to get a line in the water and see if they can catch ‘the big one.’ Instead, I read somewhere that many places on the lake still have almost 12 inches of ice.
Guess that average “ice out” date of March 31st will be a bit skewed this year.
I think we should have a party when it happens. Or maybe a parade.
Considering the importance of fishing revenue for our tourist community, I asked Scott Grummer at the Iowa DNR to fill me in on any issues they have due to our never-ending winter.
Typically, they begin walleye egg collections in early April. Once the water temperatures move into the upper 40s (after the ice leaves), the walleye spawn. This year, obviously, will be much later than average.
Likely starting next week, the DNR team will begin their spring walleye work. Three netting crews will be out from sunset to 1am collecting fish. The crews bring the captures fish back to the hatchery and pull the nets out for the night. During the day, the walleye ready to spawn are stripped of their eggs. (see photo)
The eggs are then transported to either the Spirit Lake or Lake Rathbun Fish Hatcheries for fertilization and incubation. In about 2-3 weeks, the eggs hatch. At this time, Clear Lake receives approximately 16 million hatched walleye fry (meaning newly hatched). All fish brought into the hatchery are measured and tagged before being returned back to Clear Lake.
If you’ve never been to the fish hatchery located along North Shore Drive, I highly suggest stopping in sometime. It’s a really neat place to learn what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of our amazing lake to keep the fish population strong and healthy.
I guess just like anything else in life, good things come to those who wait. I’m hoping that means we have an amazing spring and summer of perfectly ideal temperatures, an abundance of tourist visitors to fuel the economy of our incredible town.
And maybe, just maybe, the fish will be biting more than ever!