Jan 10th, 2023
As most of you know, I've assisted our State folks with WAE egg-take for over 20 years now.
This year I had a private hatchery ask for help with his WAE season. Beings his spawn was later, it worked out for me to do both.
This private sector gent has had zero success hatching WAE eggs in the past so this year, we made it all come together.
One of the issues he'd been having in the past was running gill nets on a 2hr schedule to keep from killing fish, that gets really labor intensive and time consuming. I got him talked into buying some new fyke nets and made the trip to his place last summer to show him how to set them.
This last winter he was able to obtain access to a fishery with a known WAE population so the deal was 50,000 fry had to be stocked back into this impoundment.
I made the trip out on day 2 of net collection and we had a few ripe females and a good number of males.
In going through this process, I followed my previous training to a "T".. on Day 2 we fertilized 730,000 eggs (2 full hatching jars).
On Day 3 we had no ripe females, day 4 we had enough ripe females to fertilize and fill 2 more jars. In the next 5 days the remaining jars were filled to the tune of 5.5 million eggs.
Water temp starting out was 45 degs in hatching jars, matching lake temp. Temp was raised to match lake temp everyday going fwd. On Day 9 of the filling of jar 1 I got a phone call and my buddy says he didn't like the color of the eggs, that they appeared to be getting clearer (This was a green flag for me), I told him to give it a couple of days and I think you'll see some darkening.
The next day he called and said "should've listened, they turned dark".
All jars went through the same process with no surprises.
WAE eggs can take upwards of 20 days to hatch at 45 degs, clear up to 3 days at 60 degs.
During this process, temps were brought up 1 deg per day to 58, then kept stable.
A few days after he had called about his concerns, he called again and said fry are swimming out everywhere! We had already planned ahead and had specific baskets made and waiting for hatching fry, all floating in wait below the jars. Every 48hrs, the basket is replaced and the hatched fry are put into another tank with each basket having end hatch date, WAE fry need to be stocked out at the beginning of day 3 to end of day 4 post hatch. That first jar fertilized at near 100% and had about 1000 eggs left in jar-of 730,000 eggs.
We continued taking turns babysitting baskets 24/7 between 5 of us for nearly 16 days.
There is a specific egg fungus treatment that is done every 24hrs post fertilization until eye-up, I won't get into specifics as it's been a somewhat secretive method used by my State guys that just flat works :-))
There is way more to this than just fertilizing eggs!
Anyway, It's now complete and if calculations and measurements are correct, we stocked out 5.47 million fry.
3.5 mil went into his grow outs consisting of 26 ponds from 1.5 to 36 acres, AND we put 75,000 fry in the impoundment adult WAE were extracted from.
This gent has tried for 4 years with no success in hatching WAE eggs and I'm very proud of what we achieved in this private endeavor.
It's why I'm sharing here, sharing good things with good people.
On a side note, Our State hatcheries had an average of 84% fertilization rate followed by a 90% hatch rate... Highest ever recorded in our system.
On my buddy's project, we got nearly 100% fertilization with over 99% hatch rate, which is almost unheard of.. very proud to say that-maybe we got lucky-but I'd like to think it was proper planning and good technique.
Fish condition going into the spawn probably has more to do with viable eggs AND sperm, than any other factor to include how the artificial process is performed. So although we mess with Mother Nature, I think she helped us out in this venture.
Hope those that read this enjoy as much as I enjoy doing it!