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West Virginia Wildlife
Cold Weather Hatchery
Patrick McMurtry Cold Temperatures Effect Stocking Program

March 19, 2014
Reporter: Patrick McMurtry
Videographer: Brad Rice


This time of year, DNR biologists are usually out on the rivers collecting walleye, sauger and musky brood fish so they can really concentrate on their stocking programs. This year, well, let's just say the cold weather's made things miserable for everyone. Ryan Bosserman is a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources biologist, he explains the challenge the hatchery has faced this winter.

"This is one of our eastern walleye we collected. We get them from the New, Kanawha and Ohio rivers. She's a pretty good female we are going to use for spawning. It's the middle of March and the weather hasn't been too kind to us this year. We've been collecting these as brood fish for our spawning program and we'll stock in multiple rivers."

But to stock, you have to have frye, and to have them, you need plenty of brood fish. The problem is, when the water stays cold, the fish don't come up to spawn and that kind of pushes back the guys at the Apple Grove Hatchery in Mason County. But it doesn't stop them.

"It's delayed us quite a bit. We're at least a week behind schedule. Usually at this time, we have 20 plus females and 50 males that we'll be able to use. We have about 12 females and 25 males." says Bosserman.

Ryan and Tim Swisher supervise a dedicated crew that's literally broken the ice on the ponds all over this site. And there are a lot of them.

"We've got 34 ponds and 43 acres of water. What's zero degrees do to the impoundments? They have frozen completely over. It has thawed up. What's that do to the fish? It really doesn't affect the fish."

Tim says when the water's this cold in the ponds, the fish get pretty lethargic, but once the weather warms up, the fish get frisky and it's business as usual at the hatchery and that ultimately means great fishing on rivers and lakes throughout the state.

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