Approximately 15,000 rainbow trout were stocked at several lakes and ponds April 27-29 at Fort McCoy by workers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Genoa National Fish Hatchery of Genoa, Wis.
USFWS personnel delivered the trout which averaged at least 10 inches, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch. Trout were stocked in Suukjak Sep, Sandy, Stillwell, and Big Sandy lakes and Sparta and Swamp ponds.
“It’s always good to get the trout stocked in time for the new fishing season, which began May 2,” Noble said.
Some fish are larger, exceeding 2 pounds, too, Noble said.
“We always put in some bigger fish — some nearly 20 inches in length — in all of the places we stock at Fort McCoy,” said USFWS employee Nick Bloomfield, who stocked Stillwell Lake on April 29.
Noble added, “The larger fish give anglers a chance at a bigger prize. They also are all very healthy fish.”
Fort McCoy has an agreement with the USFWS to stock fish every year. The USFWS hatchery raises the fish and certifies their health before delivery and stocking on post, Noble said.
The Genoa National Fish Hatchery was established in 1932. The hatchery serves six Midwestern states and rears 23 species of fish to support high-priority federal management, restoration, and threatened and endangered species programs, according to the USFWS. The certification of fish health is completed by the USFWS La Crosse Fish Health Center.
Noble said rainbow trout are the preferred fish to stock. Stocking fish once a year in the spring allows for better survivability for the trout because of cooler water temperatures, and it saves money from multiple fish-stocking efforts.
“Trout are raised in water that is about 50 degrees (Fahrenheit),” he said. “So, when the lake water is warmer, these fish need to be tempered by bringing up the water temperature on the fish inside the tank before stocking. We can have issues with mortality due to temperature, stress, and shock when stocking in warmer lake conditions, so cooler water temperatures (in spring) help significantly reduce fish mortality.”
Most anglers are used to catching the rainbow trout on post, and it’s quite popular, Noble said.
“For many years now, trout have been stocked in waters on Fort McCoy,” he said. “The addition of rainbow trout also helps reduce the burden of harvest on other species that are present and reproduce naturally.”
Fishing on installation lakes and flowages is allowed May 2 through March 7, 2021, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.
The 2020 season also begins as Fort McCoy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Due to COVID-19 concern, Pine View Campground — to include Suukjak Sep Lake—is closed for fishing and recreational activity. All other fishing areas are expected to be open unless closed due to mission training. Anglers are reminded to check the game line for information on fishing area closures.
“As for regulation changes this year, all remain the same except anglers will not have to sign in and out of areas they are fishing,” Noble said. “Anglers are asked to please remember to display a card or sheet of paper with your iSportsman account number on the dashboard of your vehicle.”
Also, because of the pandemic response, the Fort McCoy Permit Sales Office remains closed until further notice. People can purchase Fort McCoy fishing permits through the installation iSportsman website, https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net. People without internet access may utilize the iSportsman computer kiosk at the hunter information point to purchase their permits or to check the game line.
Permit sales staff are also available to provide over-the-phone support to people who need help with the process or for any other questions customers may have. Anyone with questions can call 608-388-3337, leave a detailed message, and a permit sales member will return the call. Messages are checked periodically, so customers should plan ahead as responses may not be immediate due to remote office working conditions.
All permits for hunting, fishing, and firewood cutting at Fort McCoy must be purchased through iSportsman and an iSportsman account is required to purchase any of these permits.
There also will be a Free Fishing Weekend on June 6-7 in Wisconsin and at Fort McCoy. No licenses or permits are needed, but all bag limits and other rules apply.
“The Free Fishing Weekend is an excellent time for people to come out and see all the fantastic fishing areas we have here,” Noble said.