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Late spring delays walleye netting in Iowa lakes

MORAVIA, Iowa – Crews with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are usually working around the clock in early April collecting walleyes. The cold, late spring is making this year’s collection schedule less predictable and much later than normal.

“This spring has been very unusual,” said Jay Rudacille, DNR Warm and Coolwater Fish Culture supervisor. “Typically there is a lot of overlap between our four walleye spawning operations with netting at Rathbun Lake and Storm Lake starting about the same time followed by Clear Lake and Spirit Lake.“

The late night, walleye collection was completed at Rathbun Lake on April 15, with crews netting for nine nights starting April 7. Netting began at Storm Lake on April 11, was delayed a week with cold weather and winter conditions, and has started again. Netting operations are expected to start at Clear Lake and Spirit Lake later this week.

“Looking back on the history of walleye netting, Rathbun Lake has never finished netting before Spirit Lake has started,” Rudacille said.

Winter is still hanging on in northern Iowa. “The latest ice out for Spirit Lake and the Okoboji’s is April 28th, 1951,” said fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins.  “We’re on track to get close to that date this year.”

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