Iowa DNR's Twitter Iowa DNR's Flicker Iowa DNR's YouTube Iowa DNR's Pinterest Iowa DNR's Facebook | Iowa Outdoors Magazine | News | Contact Us

Site Search  search button

Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery

122 252nd Ave.
Spirit Lake, IA  51360
712-336-1840
712-336-0921 (fax)

 

Species reared:

                  Muskellunge                                  Northern Pike                                 Walleye
         

The Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery is a walleye, northern pike, and muskellunge hatching and rearing station. Production facilities include seven egg incubators with a total capacity of 832 quarts, 29 indoor tanks, nine non-drainable ponds, two drainable ponds, and two natural lakes.  Water is obtained from Spirit Lake and is discharged into East Okoboji Lake. 

The annual hatching period begins in early April, when ice cover leaves area lakes.  Adult fish are collected when they travel the shoreline to spawn and are captured using gillnets. Fish are transported to the hatchery where eggs are removed and fertilized. All adult fish are returned to the lake in which they were captured. Incubation takes place in special jars that allow fresh water to flow over the eggs, supplying oxygen. Walleye eggs are also collected from Storm Lake and Clear Lake, and transported to the Spirit Lake hatchery for incubation. After hatching, fish may be stocked as fry or reared to advanced fingerling stages.  Fry are fed either a commercial diet in the hatchery or stocked into a nursery lake where they consume natural foods.

Fish produced by the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery are stocked into many lakes and rivers across the state. The hatchery also serves as the northwest Iowa district headquarters for fisheries, wildlife, parks, and law enforcement personnel.

 
Back Row, from left to right: Hatchery Technician - Aaron Ohrn, Hatchery Technician - Shawn Peterson, Hatchery Technician - Andrew Scholten, Hatchery Technician - Jeff Dennis.
Front Row, from left to right: Secretary - Wendy Sander, Hatchery Biologist - Donna Muhm, Hatchery Technician - Robert Benedict

 
The first fish hatchery at Spirit Lake was established in 1880.  The original hatchery building, constructed in 1915, was enlarged in 1927.  This building was used until 1963 when it was replaced by the facility currently being used.  The only major structural change since the 1963 construction was the enlargement of the tank room for the intensive rearing of coolwater fish species.

Walleye fast facts:

• Under natural conditions in Iowa, walleye survival from egg to fry may be poor.  In the hatchery, nearly 80% of the eggs hatch.
• The Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery produces between 50 to 110 million walleye fry each year.  The total number produced is determined by management needs.
• Approximately 5,000 adult walleye are handled each year during hatchery operations.  After stripping, fish are returned to the water in which they were captured.
• The average adult female walleye produces 75,000 eggs.
• There are approximately 150,000 walleye eggs per liquid quart.
• Eggs are incubated in special plastic jars, and are fitted with “shad” tubes to deliver water evenly through the eggs.
• Each jar contains two quarts of eggs.
• The incubation period for walleye eggs depends on water temperature.  Under ideal conditions, hatch takes place after 18 days of incubation.
• Walleye fry are stocked very soon after hatching.  Yolk sac absorption takes place within a few days, making it important to place fry in a location where natural food is available.
• The majority of fry are stocked directly into waters where walleye are desired.
• Some fry are introduced into nursery lakes, where they are reared until either two inches or six inches in length before stocking.
• Walleye have only a moderate growth rate.  They will reach four to six inches the first year and nine to eleven inches at the end of two years.

Muskellunge fast facts:

• Natural reproduction of musky in Iowa is limited or nonexistent.  In order to maintain populations, supplemental stocking is required.
• Between 50 and 100 adult muskellunge are required for fry production each year.
• Due to their great size and physical strength, musky must be anesthetized before stripping to avoid injury to the fish.
• There are approximately 55,000 musky eggs per liquid quart.
• Eggs are incubated in plastic jars and provided with heated water at a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, eggs will hatch in roughly 12 days.
• After hatching, muskellunge fry will absorb their yolk sac in 5 to 7 days, when they become “swim-ups”.
• Swim-up fry are introduced to a dry commercial diet in rearing tanks and fed automatically every 5 minutes.
• When they reach 2 to 4 inches in length, some fingerlings may be traded to other states for fish species not produced in Iowa.
• At five inches in length, muskellunge fingerlings are converted to a minnow diet.
• Musky fingerlings are transported to the Rathbun Fish Hatchery in October for overwintering in ponds.
• Musky fingerlings are stocked in the spring of each year when they have attained a length of approximately 14 inches.

Northern pike fast facts:

• Northern pike naturally reproduce very well in Iowa waters. 
• Stocking northern pike is required in winterkilled or newly impounded waters.
• The vast majority of northern pike in Iowa are stocked into rivers and streams, which have greatly fluctuating water levels.
• Between 10 and 20 adult pike are required for fry production each year.
• Due to physical characteristics, northern pike must be anesthetized before stripping to avoid injury to the fish.
• There are approximately 60,000 pike eggs per liquid quart.
• Eggs are incubated in plastic jars and provided with heated water at a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit.  At this temperature, eggs will hatch in roughly 12 days.
• After hatching, pike will absorb their yolk sac in 5 to 7 days, when they become “swim-ups”.
• Swim-up fry are introduced to a dry commercial diet in rearing tanks and fed automatically every 5 minutes.
• Northern pike fry grow quickly, and will reach three inches by early June.  They are then stocked into target water
 

Menu