FISHERIES– We have great news on the fisheries front. If the plans put into place come to fruition we should be stocking 2,300 muskies this fall!!!! Words cannot describe the amount of time and energy it took to get to this point.
We received a nod of approval from Joseph Gerbyshak during the winter of 2019—spring 2020 for our chapter to stock 2,000 muskies in the fall of 2020. Due to the WIDNR’s new musky genetic management plan the stipulation was that those fish would need to be raised via the DNR’s aquaculture bill. Meaning-in a nutshell as best as I can describe it. The fish we stock need to come from the DNR’s spring netting/harvest of eggs/milt for the appropriate zone they will be stocked in. The hatchery that will grow these fish needs to bid on excess eggs/milt that the DNR harvests, then takes it back to their hatchery and raises the muskies, they then must pass a health test with DNR and in the fall we can then purchase and stock these fish.
Our state is divided into what is basically 4 area- south of hwy 10- universal receptor, basically any strain is allowable in most instances and is a non-native range. Green bay drainage system that is primarily getting Great lakes spotted strain of muskies, eastern northern Wisconsin that is the Wisconsin River Strain, and our area which is the Chippewa River Strain. Our area being the Chippewa River Strain means that Lac Courte Orielles is the brood source the DNR will be using for 2021.
After receiving Joseph Gerbyshak’s approval to stock fish the next task was to find a hatchery willing to work within this new framework and program with DNR to allow us to purchase and stock fish. This proved far more difficult than I would have ever imagined. Countless hours and phone calls were made repeatedly bouncing around every hatchery list we could find, working diligently with people like Jordan Weeks, Todd Kalish, Dave Gietbach, and several others who then also tried to simplify the process and find a hatchery on board with making it all happen.
This process was a learning experience for everyone involved, as it sounds like we will be the first chapter to stock fish within the framework of this new system. A couple weeks ago we found a hatchery in Minnesota willing to work with us and DNR to raise muskies for us to purchase within the framework of this aquaculture bill.
Having finally found someone willing to grow muskies for us we decided to expand our outlook and reach out to Jeff Scheirer of Rusk County. In a long conversation with Jeff while reviewing stocking data we found an area of opportunity on the Island Chain of Lakes and he gave us the nod of approval to stock 300 additional fish in that system this coming fall as well, bringing the total number to 2300 fish for this fall.
Joseph Gerbyshak is not 100% sure exactly where within Chippewa/Eau Claire county the 2,000 fish he approved will all go yet many things may change between now and the fall regarding how the DNR fills its own quotas. He wants to put them in the best fit possible for success.
We are all extremely excited to see this process play out and to help give our area waters a little boost this fall. I should caution that there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome, this entire process is based on the DNR capturing enough specimens on LCO to obtain enough eggs/milt for their own hatcheries, as well as having excess that they can then pass on to the hatchery that will be growing fish for us. Which sounds like is generally a common occurrence, but LCO has also been one of the trickier brood lakes in the past, fingers crossed! Even then there is a lot of work and time that goes into growing these fish to a stock able size by fall and therefore are many other steps that need to go right.