May 17, 2022 - News

Walleye season is booming in Iowa

Walleye eggs hatching
Some just hatched caviar. Video courtesy of Iowa DNR

It's prime walleye season in Iowa. Did you know the magic doesn't start in the state's rivers, but rather, in giant fish lava lamps?

Driving the news: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is busy hatching an astounding 145 million walleyes and stocking them into the state's waters this year.

  • Most of those will be sac fry. But they're also raising around 700,000 two-inch fish and 400,000 seven-inch fish.

State of play: The number of naturally spawning walleye in Iowa is low, but they're one of the most popular fish for anglers to catch, said Joe Larscheid, the department's chief of fisheries. That's where the DNR's bustling fisheries come in.

  • One hatching jar, as seen below, can hold up to 450,000 eggs and have an 80% success rate.
Walleye hatching at an Iowa DNR fish hatchery
Walleye hatching at an Iowa DNR fish hatchery. Photo courtesy of Iowa DNR

Where to road trip: If you want to see them in person, eggs are hatching at the Spirit Lake and Rathbun hatcheries.

  • Or if you want to catch walleye near Des Moines, go out now, Larscheid said. The best spots are Big Creek, the Des Moines River and Brushy Creek.

The bottom line: If you're eating walleye at your local fish fry, chances are it came from the hatchery "without a doubt," Larscheid said.

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