The Waterville Hatchery was established in 1954 major updates of facility occurred in 1989, 1998, and 2012.
Why was it established? Northern pike eggtake and incubation started in 1990 instrumental in northern pike fry reintroduction in some area lakes after winterkill and reclamation.
Muskie program provides muskie transplants for distribution to statewide rearing ponds for fingerling production, also to provide swimup fry for private hatchery sales.
Walleye program produces fry for Waterville areas management lake fry stocking and also fry for Waterville and Windom area fisheries walleye rearing ponds. We also produce fry for private hatchery sales when needed. Walleye frylings are produced to fill statewide requests, as are the walleye fingerlings.
Channel catfish are raised for distribution to areas with fingerling requests and for St. Paul hatchery yearling production for stocking in the FIN program.
What is the general technology used for the hatchery? A 8.3 acre pond is filled and levels are maintained by a 500 gpm, 6 inch well. The ponded water is pumped to a 5,800 gallon head tank by a 700 gpm 15 hp submersible pump, this is the main water supply for the hatchery. A 3 hp, 50 gpm well is also available to the hatchery, 25 gpm of iron filtered water is available, as is 15 gpm of heated water between 60-120 degree, heating capacity is inversely related to flow.
Lake Tetonka water is used to fill all on site production ponds, two pumps are used, 1 20 hp pump to fill ponds 12 and 13 (19.5 acres) and 1 20 hp pump to fill ponds 1-10 and 14 (14.5 acres).
Well water from a 6 inch well is available to fill 10 one acre ponds and one 4.5 acre pond if desired. All water for hatchery use is pumped either by a well or submersible pump, a risk of failure exists with this type of system. A backup generator, in case of power outages, and an alarm call out system relying on employee response are used to lower the risk.
Has the technology been modified since establishment?
In general, fish management tools fall into one of four categories:
Lake surveys and research provide the information used to select appropriate management tools.
Minnesota has more walleye, walleye lakes, and walleye anglers than any other state. Each year, anglers harvest about 3.5 million walleye.
The best way to maintain walleye numbers is to protect critical habitats. Shore land zoning and related laws aid fish by controlling development and protecting spawning sites and aquatic plants that fish use for cover.
Stocking is another management tool used. Minnesota’s cool water hatcheries produce 2 - 5 million walleye fingerlings and millions of fry each year. Stocking can provide walleye fishing in lakes that lack spawning habitats but can otherwise support walleye. Stocking is also effective for lakes that have been “rehabilitated” or occasionally winterkill. Like any tool, stocking must be used appropriately. If misused, it will be ineffective or possibly harmful to existing fish populations. Stocked walleye may compete for food with other game fish, particularly largemouth or smallmouth bass.
Stocking a lot of small fish does not guarantee catching a lot of big fish. Fish managers estimate only 4 percent of the annual statewide walleye catch comes from stocked fish. The rest is the result of natural reproduction.
Loss of habitat, pollution, and increasing fishing pressure continue to be the biggest issues in walleye management. Everyone must work to improve water quality, control runoff and waterfront development, and maintain aquatic vegetation. Anglers, in addition, will need to comply with regulations and harvest only what they intend to use, for Minnesota to maintain a quality fishery.
WALLEYE AND SUCKER PRODUCTION
Walleye begin spawning in April as water temperatures approach 45 degrees. Workers collect, then combine, the eggs and milt from walleye. Spawning usually lasts one to three weeks. The fertilized eggs are transported to the hatchery and fry hatch in three weeks.
Fry are stocked in area lakes and rearing ponds depending upon management plan needs. Fry in rearing ponds are raised to fingerling stage by fall; then are stocked in area lakes.
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