Biologists with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will collect walleye eggs this spring, however, social distancing requirements mean this popular springtime activity will not be open for public viewing this year.
Hatcheries, the destination for the eggs collected, also remain closed to the public.
“Egg take operations are neat things to watch,” said Henry Drewes, northwest region fisheries supervisor. “But the closeness required to observe this work makes it impossible for onlookers to maintain safe and adequate social distancing among themselves and from DNR staff.”
The Fergus Falls DNR Fisheries crew by fisheries manager Jim Wolters collects walleye eggs from spawning females in a fish trap on the Dead River. They are stored in water-fed battery jars at the Walker Lake Fish Hatchery for 18 to 20 days until they reach the fry stage. In the fry stage the walleye are around 3/8 of an inch in size. The DNR transplants the fry into predetermined area lakes and ponds in May. Pond-raised fry are removed when they reach the fingerling stage (1 ½-2 inches) and transplanted into larger lakes with public accesses.
Last year, DNR fisheries biologists did not collect walleye eggs because of COVID-related considerations. This year, egg collection procedures have been reengineered to minimize close contact among employees.
Egg take stations and hatcheries will remain closed and offer no tours through 2021.
“We’re asking that people respect these closures and not visit these sites so we can work safely,” Drewes said. “We really appreciate the interest in our work, but keeping the public and DNR staff healthy is our number one priority.”