You know the flooding is bad when even fish have to be evacuated.
In what became an overnight operation on Wednesday, an estimated 150,000 rainbow and brook trout were evacuated from the Big Spring Hatchery located on the banks of the Turkey River near Elkader in Clayton County.
Recent heavy rains in northeast Iowa have caused the level of the Turkey River to reach the top of a levy protecting the hatchery. With the potential of the hatchery flooding, fisheries staff of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources spent most of a day starting Wednesday afternoon and running through Thursday afternoon moving the trout to the Decorah and Manchester hatcheries.
Since it takes approximately 15 months to raise trout to catchable size, the move was necessary to ensure there are trout available for stocking not only the remainder of this year, but into next year. Trout from the Big Springs Hatchery are stocked into 15 different coldwater streams in the local area.
The Decorah hatchery has not been affected by flooding but has been affected by highly turbid spring water that feeds the hatchery. Stocking out of the Decorah and Big Spring Hatcheries will be postponed until water levels recede and the stocking roads are dry enough to drive on.
The Manchester hatchery has not been impacted and will continue to stock streams as conditions allow.