Reprinted with permission from: Steven J. Fajer, Fish Propagation
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries
Brochure Written by: Cindy Borgwordt and Tammy Peterson
Brochure Edited by: Fisheries Management
Brochure Layout by: Jeanne Gomoll
Cold Water: Big Fish
Imagine yourself plunging into a 40-60 degree Fahrenheit lake or stream! While most people
would find that unbearable, trout and salmon thrive in such frigid waters. At Wild Rose
Hatchery, we specialize in raising these cold water fish. In fact, Wild Rose Hatchery is
the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' largest coldwater fish hatchery. We also
raise coolwater fish which prefer 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season.
on map for a better view]
The Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery is located on State Highway 22, just north
of the Village of Wild Rose.
N5871 State Road 22
Wild Rose, WI 54984
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. everyday
What is unique about this hatchery?
Wild Rose is the only hatchery to experimentally raise northern pike,
muskellunge and walleye on artificial feed.
Successful rearing of lake sturgeon was developed here and this is one
of only two combination (cold and coolwater) state hatcheries in Wisconsin.
The Wild Rose timber demonstration forest planted with native white,
jack and red pine is adjacent to the hatchery. You may hike or cross country ski the trail
while learning more about forestry management.
A smorgasbord of fish
With both cold and coolwater capabilities, Wild Rose Fish Hatchery is able to raise a
variety of fish. Brown trout and Chinook salmon are the coldwater fish raised here.
Coolwater fish raised at Wild Rose Hatchery include northern pike, muskellunge, hybrid
muskellunge (cross between northern pike and musky), walleye, suckers and sturgeon.
Coolwater fish are very sensitive to movement, light, noise and other distractions.
Something as simple as walking along the ponds could startle these fish, causing them to
stress and an easy target for disease. To prevent such problems, we do not allow the
public to view the coolwater fish. A show pond with a few large is available for viewing
these elusive creatures.
How did they get here?
Brown trout eggs (roe) and sperm (milt) come from brood stock kept on the premises.
Brood fish are mature adult fish which are kept for egg and sperm collection. This allows
hatchery workers to begin production of brown trout right at the hatchery, without having
to go elsewhere to collect fish. An average of 2.9 million brown trout eggs are taken
yearly. Some of the brood stock can be seen in the show pond.
Our Chinook salmon come from roe and milt collected from spawning adults at Strawberry
Creek in Door County, Wisconsin. After stocking, Chinook salmon migrate out to live in the
Great Lakes for four years, returning to reproduce (spawn) in the fresh water streams in
which they were stocked. During their spawning "run," the adults are netted at
selected sites, roe and milt are removed, mixed and taken to the hatchery for incubation.
About 2.7 million Chinook eggs are collected annually.
Coolwater fish raised in Wild Rose Hatchery originate from wild fish parents. When these
species are ready to reproduce in the spring, hatchery workers set nets in various lakes
and streams in areas where the fish are known to spawn. Roe and adult milt are taken from
the netted adult by gently rubbing their abdomens. An average of 8 million northern pike
eggs and 22 million sucker eggs are brought into Wild Rose Hatchery each year.
Care and feeding of fish
Fertilized coldwater fish eggs are put in horizontal trays. About 8,000 eggs fit in
each tray. The trays stacked tanks or "incubator" so water can flow continuously
over and through them. When the fish hatch, they are called sac-fry. Sac-fry are
small fish with the yolk sac attached to their bodies. The yolk sac nourishes the small
fish approximately 30 days, or until they begin to feed on their own. When the yolk sac
become completely absorbed, fish are called fry until they are about 1 inch long.
After that, they are called fingerlings until they reach 1 year old. At 1 year
old they are called yearlings.
Fertilized coolwater fish eggs brought to the hatchery are put into incubators called
"hatching jars." Water continuously flows from under the eggs so they remain
slightly in suspension or "rolling." Excess water and dead or unhealthy
eggs float to the top and run out of the jar over a spout.
As the fish grow they are moved with a portable tank on a tractor. Moving fish prevents
the fish from becoming too crowded in the rearing tanks. Some of the trout are fed with an
automatic feeder which is hooked up to a tractor. The tractor drives along the raceways
and a large fan blows fish food into the water. The fish can feel vibrations from the
tractor approaching and they anxiously await their meal at the edges of the
raceways. Other trout are fed by hand. Most of the coolwater fish are fed with
automatic feeders that distribute a set amount of food at timed intervals.
Hatchery employees are responsible for all phases of hatching and rearing the fish. Their
duties include: collecting trout eggs, incubating eggs, feeding fish, keeping important
records on the fish, stocking some of the fish and maintaining all equipment.
Northern pike, walleye, muskellunge, hybrid muskellunge and sturgeon raised at
Wild Rose Hatchery are stocked in Wisconsin inland waters. Approximately 6.4 million
northern pike fry (newly hatched) and 47,000 fingerlings 1-11 months old) up to eight
inches long are stocked annually.
Ninety-nine percent of all northern pike are stocked to reintroduce fish into waters were
previous populations have been depleted.
About 19,000 hybrid musky are reared and stocked annually. In addition, cooperating sports
clubs are also given hybrid muskellunge to rear each year. The fish are eight to ten-inch
fingerlings and then stocked in the southern half of Wisconsin. True
muskellunge and walleye fingerlings are also stocked in southern and central
Sturgeon have been stocked in the St. Louis River (on the Minnesota and Wisconsin border)
and in the Menominee River (on the border between the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and
Wild Rose Hatchery produces more brown trout than any other Wisconsin state hatchery.
About 280,000 fingerlings and 400,000 yearlings are stocked annually. Ninety percent are
stocked in Lake Michigan. Also, about half a million small fingerlings are transferred to
other facilities for further rearing.
Chinook salmon are raised to three-inch fingerlings and a total of 1.5 million are stocked
in lakes Superior and Michigan. Fisheries managers make certain enough fish are released
in Lake Michigan near Strawberry Creek so they can find the creek four years later when
they are ready to spawn.
When stocking time arrives, the trout and salmon are seined out of the ponds and raceways
with nets, put into transport trucks and driven to their stocking destination.
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Last edited on 12/10/99