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Walleye Make Splash at Lake MacBride

LAKE MACBRIDE STATE PARK, IA (CBS2/FOX28)  Biologists call it one of the worst winters in decades for fish kills as ice and a lack of sunlight sucked the oxygen and life out of many area lakes and ponds. But spring is a time of renewal and along the shores of Lake MacBride near Solon, Iowa that came in the form of beeps from a tanker truck backing up to the water.

Inside,  2.8 million Walleye that Fisheries Manager Paul Sleeper describes as essentially two eyeballs and a tail.  Fresh from the hatchery at Lake Rathbun, its quickly apparent how so many can make the trip in a truck barely ten feet long and six feet wide, they are all about the size of a pin.

Sleeper says those who fish in Iowa are constantly begging for more Walleye and the technique of quickly shooting them out of the tanker truck, through a six inch hose and into deep water may look like a fire drill, but it gives them the best chance for survival, We do whats called tubing them in. We have all that water where it kind of just shoots it out.  We cant use nets, theyre tiny, only a couple days old so we want to just handle them as little as possible so we use these tubes.

In the bottom of the tanker truck they appear like something under a microscope with small life forms darting this way and that.  The process to transfer them down the tube and into the lake takes maybe one minute and they disappear into the murky water.

Across Lake MacBride, by the boat launch near the beach, Bob Holets and Richard Baird are celebrating what they call one of the best days of fishing theyve enjoyed in years.  Look in here .. this is full,  They both smile as they open their fishing boats live well and show off some huge Crappies. They proudly pull a few out and hold them up.

While this day of fishing is all about the pan fish, when they learn about the DNR stocking, Richard says its good to hear more Walleye will be in their future, The last couple of years its getting better all the time.  You dont get a lot of really big Walleye, but there are a lot of them 16 or 18 inches .. these are nice fish.

Sleeper says Its clear the tiny fish shot into the water on Monday wont be on any stringers this season, but considering their size right now, it actually may be sooner than anyone would imagine, These little fry will be anywhere from eight to ten inches by fall, then the next year theyll be around 12 to 14 after three years maybe 16 to 17 inch range .. in this area they grow extremely fast.

In the final count, DNR biologists delivered nearly ten million fish to the corridor on the latest trip, 2.8 million to MacBride, 5.4 million to Coralville Reservoir and 1.2 million to Pleasant Creek near Palo.  
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