Geiser: North Platte Fish Hatchery Raises Millions of Fish | outdoor sports

By Julie Geiser Outside Columnist / NGPC

Most people don’t realize that many fish in Nebraska waters were raised in a state hatchery. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission operates five fish production facilities throughout the state. These facilities allow the commission to provide fish for angling and conservation purposes. The hatcheries are North Platte, Calamus, Rock Creek, Valentine and Grove Trout.

Each year, millions of species of fish are stocked in Nebraska waters across the state. Fish are stocked to supplement populations that have a high angler harvest, limited natural survival, or low natural reproductive abilities. Fisheries management biologists conduct biological and angler surveys and work with hatchery production staff to determine stocking plans to ensure Nebraska anglers have plenty of opportunities to catch multiple species of fish different.

North Platte Hatchery biologists had a busy spring collecting eggs and milt from walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, sauger and other species to be reared at the hatchery.

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Eggs and milt are expelled from female and male fish, combined together, and placed in glass jars with water continuously circulating around them, which keeps the eggs healthy before hatching. Hatchery staff monitor the eggs daily as they develop before hatching about 14 days later, depending on the species of fish. Newly hatched fry or fish are only a few centimeters long. Some fry are stocked in lakes where the smaller the fish, the better their chances of survival. Other fry are kept in tanks inside the hatchery where they are fed and mature into fry, which are about an inch and a half to two inches long before being released into Nebraska waters. Some of the fish raised will grow to larger sizes at the hatchery and will be released in the fall or later until they have reached the desired stocking length.

This spring, the North Platte Hatchery will hatch more than 50 million walleye, sageye and musky tiger eggs. Other hatchery-raised fish include river catfish, blue catfish, muskellunge, white bass, wipers, bluegill hybrids, and yellow perch.

Anglers across the state will enjoy fishing a variety of stocked reservoirs, city lakes, I80 lakes and other bodies of water for years to come thanks to the fisheries biologists who spend countless hours fishing, breeding, studying and stocking fish. The next time you catch a fish, chances are you have a fisheries biologist to thank.

The Game and Parks Division of Fisheries establishes fish stocks for every public water body in the state. To view stocking reports, visit outdoornebraska.gov/fishsamplingreports. Reports show the size and size of fish in each lake, as well as water levels and fishing prospects.

The Game and Parks Take ‘Em Fishing Challenge encourages anglers to take someone who has never fished before or hasn’t fished in several years fishing this summer and fall. Anglers who take a picture of themselves fishing for someone can enter an online raffle for dozens of prizes.

The benefits of fishing are many. Fishermen report feeling more satisfied with their mental health, more inspired at work and closer to their family than non-fishermen, according to the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.

Fishing is a unique sport in that it allows groups of friends or family to spend time together while doing the same activity, regardless of the physical condition or skill level of the various participants. Fishing requires only basic, inexpensive equipment that can be found at any sporting goods store.

Fishing is also crucial for the conservation of our natural resources. Money generated from the sale of fishing licenses and aquatic habitat stamps is used to maintain healthy fisheries in Nebraska’s water bodies and to improve access for anglers. But many anglers are aging, and we need a new generation of anglers to take their place to ensure the health and vitality of Nebraska’s aquatic resources for generations to come.

The Take ‘Em Fishing Challenge will run from April 15 through September 15. For more information, including prizes, official rules, and how to enter, visit outdoornebraska.org/takeemfishing. For questions about initiation to fishing or in public places to fish, visit our website or contact your nearest Game and Parks office.

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