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The Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery is a walleye, northern pike and muskellunge hatching and rearing station. Production facilities include seven egg incubators with a total capacity of 1100 quarts, 20 indoor raceways, six non-drainable ponds and two natural lakes. Water is obtained from Spirit Lake and is discharged into East Okoboji Lake.
The annual hatching period begins in late March, when ice cover leaves area lakes. Adult fish are collected when they travel the shoreline to spawn and are captured using gillnets. Fish are transported to the hatchery where eggs are removed and fertilized. All adult fish are returned to the lake in which they were captured. Incubation takes place in special jars that allow fresh water to flow over the eggs, supplying oxygen. Walleye eggs are also collected from Storm Lake and Clear Lake, and transported to the Spirit Lake hatchery for incubation. After hatching, fish may be stocked as fry or reared to advanced fingerling stages.Fry are fed either a commercial diet in the hatchery or stocked into a nursery lake where they consume natural foods.
Annually, 95 million walleye fry, 250,000 two inch walleye fingerlings, 100,000 six inch walleye fingerlings, 25,000 seven inch walleye fingerlings, 1 million northern pike fry, 200,000 three inch northern pike fingerlings, 1,000 ten inch northern pike fingerlings, 500,000 muskellunge fry, 25,000 four inch muskellunge fingerlings and4,000 11 inch walleye fingerlings are produced at the hatchery.