Fort McCoy News May 12, 2017

Thousands of trout stocked in time

for new fishing season

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Anglers out for the new fishing season, which began May 6, and who have a taste for rainbow trout can try for one of 15,000-plus rainbows planted in Fort McCoy waterways during the last two weeks of April.

Personnel with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Genoa National Fish Hatchery of Genoa, Wis., planted fish in several waterways throughout the post, including Suukjak Sep, Sandy, Stillwell, and Big Sandy lakes and in Sparta and Swamp ponds.

"We have an agreement with the FWS, who raise the fish and certify fish health before delivery and stocking," said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

Jeff Lockington with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks rainbow trout in Sparta Pond near North Post April 28.
Jeff Lockington with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks rainbow
trout in Sparta Pond near North Post on April 28
.

The Genoa National Fish Hatchery was established in 1932. The hatchery serves six Midwestern states and rears 23 species of fish to support high-priority federal management, restoration, and threatened and endangered species programs, according to the FWS. The certification of fish health is completed by the FWS La Crosse Fish Health Center.

The rainbow trout brought to Fort McCoy varied in sizes from about 10 inches to nearly 20 inches.

"We mixed in some larger (trout) that we had so anglers at (Fort) McCoy should have some decent-sized fish they can catch right away," said Jeff Lockington with fisheries maintenance at the Genoa hatchery. "Otherwise, most of the fish we stocked this year were originally hatched in early 2016 and have grown since then. The larger fish are about a year older."

Lockington, along with fellow FWS employees Zach Kumlin and Aaron von Eschen, led the stocking effort. Kumlin said the fish "are healthy and should adjust well to Fort McCoy waters."

Noble said rainbow trout are the preferred fish to stock. Also, stocking fish once a year in the spring allows for better survivability for the trout because of cooler water temperatures, and it saves money from multiple fish-stocking efforts.

"Trout are raised in water that is about 50 degrees (Fahrenheit), so, when the lake water is warmer, these fish need to be tempered by bringing up the water temperature on the fish inside the tank before stocking," Noble said. "We can have issues with mortality due to temperature stress and shock when stocking in warmer lake conditions, so cooler water temps (in spring) help significantly reduce fish mortality.

"Also, Since 2009, we've been selling about 3,600 fishing permits annually, and most are very fond of catching the rainbow trout, so it's quite popular," Noble said. "For decades, trout have traditionally been stocked in these waters on Fort McCoy. The addition of rainbow trout also helps reduce the burden of harvest on other species that are present and reproduce naturally."

Personnel with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Genoa Fish Hatchery of Genoa, Wis., stock rainbow trout in Suukjak Sep Lake near Pine View Campground on April 25 at Fort McCoy.
Personnel with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Genoa Fish Hatchery
of Genoa, Wis., stock rainbow trout in Suukjak Sep Lake near Pine View
Campground on April 25 at Fort McCoy.

Fort McCoy has not stocked trout in stream for nearly 20 years, Noble said. Rainbow trout and other fish will pass through some of the dams but not interfere with the existing trout in streams that are naturally reproducing.

"Streams are supported by naturally reproducing brook and brown trout," Noble said. "We have some impressive sizes for brook and brown trout in some of the bigger waters."

Anglers must have the appropriate Fort McCoy permits and state of Wisconsin licenses to fish on post. This includes a general Wisconsin fishing license, a trout stamp if fishing for trout, and a Fort McCoy fishing permit. Fort McCoy fishing permits are sold through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Automated License Issuance System (ALIS). Permits can be purchased at any authorized WDNR ALIS vendor.

Licenses also can be purchased at the WDNR online at https://gowild.wi.gov. All prospective anglers have to do is create an account at the Go Wild site, select the licenses they need, pay for the licenses, and print them, all online.

There also will be a free fishing weekend June 3-4 in Wisconsin and at Fort McCoy. No license is needed, but all bag limits and other rules apply.

For more Fort McCoy fishing information and to identify which waters are open for fishing, contact the Permit Sales office at 608-388-3337, or visit the Fort McCoy i-Sportsman website at ftmccoy.isportsman.net.