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Minnesota DNR says its fish stocking efforts were successful despite pandemic

The state said efforts to stock ponds with naturally low fish populations were successful despite changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it has had a successful year of stocking fish in the state’s water, despite COVID-19 challenges.

Fish stocking provides anglers opportunities to fish in waters that have naturally low or no populations of fish including walleye, muskie and trout.

The DNR usually stocks fish through egg harvesting, but that practice was put on hold in April because it could not be done under COVID-19 guidelines. Egg collection for walleye, for example, requires six to eight people working closely together, which contravened the Stay at Home order then in place in Minnesota.

This year, the DNR relied on walleye for other sources, including harvesting 42,000 pounds of 1-year-old walleye from ponds and an additional 40,000 pounds of walleye from private sources.

The White Earth Nation also helped stock young walleye in lakes in Becker County. In total, the DNR was able to stock more than 82,000 pounds of walleye, or around 71% of what was originally planned.

The DNR was also able to stock around 1,370 muskies that had grown in hatcheries over the summer, in addition to nearly 600 from ponds.

Because trout stocking involves growing the fish in hatcheries for several months, the process had already begun prior to the start of the pandemic.

The DNR stocked more than 400,000 rainbow trout, more than 40,000 brown trout, 40,000 brook trout, 35,000 steelhead and 2,200 lake trout this year.

“We have reason to be grateful despite a challenging year. We appreciate the creativity of our partners and DNR staff who found ways to locate and raise fish to stock,” DNR central region fisheries manager Brian Nerbonne said in a statement.

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