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Iowa DNR to release 145 million walleyes into waterways and lakes

It's all part of an annual restocking dating back to the 1880s.

IOWA, USA — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will soon release 100 million walleyes into Iowa's lakes and rivers, and it's all for sport. 

Walleyes are one of the most popular gamefish, and in order to meet demand for anglers, the state has to restock the water, according to Joe Larscheid, Fisheries Bureau Chief for Iowa DNR. 

"If we didn't do that, there wouldn't be ... a fishable population of walleye in our state," said Larscheid. "There's about 350,000 resident anglers a year. Another 50,000 non-residents a year that go after fish. One of the main fish they target are walleyes."

To produce that many fish, the DNR collects walleyes already in Iowa's lakes.

For example, the DNR said it collected more than 700 fish from Clear Lake. Those walleyes produced 300 quarts of walleye eggs, which are then grown inside two fish hatcheries the DNR has across the state. 

Jay Rudacille, Supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Warm and Coolwater Fish Culture Section, said the DNR is incubating 1,696 quarts of walleye eggs. The original goal was to gather 1,600 quarts which would produce 145.3 million walleye fry, which are newly hatched fish the size of 10 to 12 millimeters in length. 

Larscheid said the DNR will begin releasing the fish in the next couple of weeks, first releasing about 100 million walleye fry. 

In June, they will stock about 1.2 million of the two-inch fingerlings. Those will be sent mostly into Iowa's interior rivers, some lakes, and impoundments. Then in September and October, Larscheid said the DNR will release 300,000 to 350,000 eight to ten-inch walleye in different lakes and impoundments. 

The Iowa DNR will also restock northern pike and muskellunge, among other species. 

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