KDWP biologists now taking eggs for hatcheries

PRATT -- One of Kansas' most popular angling opportunities is just around the corner as walleye move into shallow, rocky areas - usually along the face of dams - to spawn. As waters warm and days grow longer, walleyes abandon deep water and migrate to these spawning beds. This can be one of the best times to catch this tasty fish.

This is also the time when Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) biologists begin the work that makes fishing for these fish possible. This year, KDWP fisheries biologists have placed nets at four Kansas reservoirs - Kirwin, Milford, Hillsdale, and Marion - to catch spawning females that provide eggs for the department's walleye hatching program. Biologists will work night and day for the next few weeks collecting walleye eggs that eventually bring this popular sportfish to lakes throughout the state.

Because fewer than 5 percent of eggs normally hatch in the wild, artificial spawning and hatching are widely practiced and increase egg survival rates to as much as 40-50 percent. When eggs reach the hatchery, biologists monitor incubation closely. Water flows are checked to ensure constant but controlled movement. Water temperatures and oxygen content are also routinely checked. Dead eggs rise to the top of the jars and are siphoned off each day. At 60 degrees, hatching generally occurs on the eighth or ninth day of incubation.

As the fry break out of their egg cases, they swim and are carried upward by the water into large circular holding tanks where they are held for two to four days. Then, they are ready for stocking.

Some fry are stocked in hatchery ponds to be raised to fingerling size and stocked later in the summer. Others are stocked directly into lakes as fry. Whatever the case, this often unseen work means fish in the frying pan for Kansas anglers.