Spotted Musky spawning on Fox River

DNR fish technician Ben Thome holds a Great Lakes Spotted Musky, May 18, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

DE PERE (WLUK) -- The fishing season for Muskies begins in just 10 days.

Ahead of the opener, Department of Natural Resources crews are in the Fox River in De Pere, netting fish, and collecting eggs.

It's all part of a program designed to boost the population of the sport fish.

The Great Lakes Spotted Musky can typically grow to four feet or more.

"We have four nets set on the river, collecting fish for us the last two days. This morning, we're lifting the nets, and taking the musky out," said Steve Hogler, DNR Fisheries Biologist.

The trophy fish can weigh about 40 pounds. Crews used special narrow nets, to scoop them up, as carefully as possible. The fish were escorted back to the Fox Point Boat Launch, where a team of workers was waiting.

"We're weighing, measuring. We're putting tags in them, so we can identify them at a later date," said Hogler.

Biologists are also collecting eggs and milt.

"We split the eggs for the female into half, and then we spawn them with the male milt. And they're separated. That way we don't have too many contributions from the same fish, and then we have a healthier population," said Hogler.

Area musky clubs are on board with the effort as well. Members say seeing the big fish up close is proof, of what anglers might be able to catch out on waters of Green Bay.

"Just the fact that it's 98 percent sheer boredom, and two percent chaos. You catch these fish, and it's just, it's amazing. They're very tight-lipped, but when you get one, you've really accomplished something," said Bob Volm, Titletown Muskies Club President.

The eggs will be sent to the fish facility in Kewaunee where an estimated 7,500 muskies will grow enough to be stocked right back on the Fox River, in the fall.

"Certainly we have much greater success in the hatchery. Our success is pretty good. Over 50 percent of the eggs we collect turn into fish. In the wild, we'd be lucky if it was one percent," said Hogler.

The musky stocking project began back in 1989, with about 3,000 fish. Since then, more than 150,000 spotted muskies have been placed into the waters of Green Bay.

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