Hatchery stocks splake in Superior

MARQUETTE — The weather Tuesday may have felt like the beginning of winter, but for the DNR’s Marquette State Fish Hatchery, it was a great spring day for planting fish in Lake Superior.

Trucks from the hatchery arrived at the dock near Marquette’s Shiras Steam Plant Tuesday morning to deliver a big load of young splake to the cool Superior waters.

“We release most of our fish in the spring while the water temperature of the hatchery and the lakes are both cold,” said Bryce Kucharek, a fisheries technician at the Marquette State Fish Hatchery. “We have two trucks total. 23,400 splake for Marquette. We’re also stocking splake in Munising — about 32,700 splake total for Munising. We still have a few more places to stock, but we’re getting down toward the end.”

The hatchery helps restock fish for anglers throughout the state. That job can sometimes pose unique challenges beyond even the weather.

“Some of our plants, [we] actually bucket the fish in through the woods quite a ways,” added Kucharek. “Depending on the year, sometimes we run into some muddy conditions and stuff, so it can — we have a little four–wheel–drive truck for that. It can be a little bit of a challenge with some of our lakes, but overall it’s a lot of fun. You get to see a lot of different areas, put fish in a lot of different places, and a lot of times see a lot of happy fishermen, too.”

Fish restocking operations begin each spring in the southern areas of Michigan and move their way to northern waters as ice continues to melt. Last year, the DNR stocked a total of around 22 million fish throughout the state.