Newborn northern pike head for home

Wooden fish traps capture northern pike fry on their journey to the waters of Green Bay

SUAMICO - An effort to help the population of northern pike in the area is getting results.

The fish spawn in wetlands from Suamico to Marinette.

Brown County's northern pike project is giving the inch-long northern a helping hand to a new home in the waters of Green Bay.

They're tiny, they're quick, and they're on their way to the bay.

"They probably hatched the last couple of weeks, maybe three weeks ago," said Chuck Larscheid, West Shore Northern Pike Project Technician.

"Those little buggers are fast in there right now, So it's a challenge to see them," said Mike Mushinski, West Shore Northern Pike Project Manager.

Mike Mushinski leads the pike project.

"We have traps set at about 30 sites on the west shore. We're getting an evaluation of the young of the year class of northern pike," said Mushinski.

The fish are corralled into underwater wooden boxes. Larscheid checks the traps every day.

"Okay, there's one, two. I would say they're about 20-25 millimeters in length," said Larscheid.

Larscheid says so far, it's been a good season.

"Last year, we had what we considered to be a very good year. About 23,000 young of the year produced. The year before, we had 300. And this year, like I said, we're over 25,000 already," said Larscheid.

Two wet springs in a row have kept the water in this area flowing.

"We're seeing a lot of movement of fish down these stream segments. Right now, there's good water to flush them out," said Mushinski.

County officials say many of the northern have to swim through private property before they make it to the bay. In the area there are about 40 landowners on board with the project.

"It's just made our family so happy," said Eileen Malchow.

Eileen Malchow's family farm has fostered northern fry for the past five years.

"The land is for restoration and preservation of wildlife, and this is what we thought was really great for us," said Malchow.

The fry are released downstream of the trap. Larscheid says every little bit of help, helps.

"This is one of those things where you see immediate success. You see young being produced, being released into the bay, and helping the population of northern in the bay," said Larscheid.

Crews will be checking the traps for another two weeks yet. Experts say the fish will grow about an inch per week as they begin to fend for themselves in the waters of Green Bay.