Nets in place ahead of Northern Pike spawning run

Fish nets installed on Haller Creek in Suamico, March 16, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

SUAMICO (WLUK) -- A Brown County restoration project for Northern Pike is starting to take shape.

Crews spent Thursday morning placing nets at area streams, hoping to catch the fish on their way to spawning grounds in wetlands areas nearby.

The ice on Haller Creek at the Brown County Reforestation Camp in Suamico was about two inches thick, but crews chopped and tossed enough away to make room for the northern pike net.

"We put it in now, We're going to have some cold nights. The nets will probably freeze in the water, but I guess the days are going to be warmer, hopefully, we start catching fish. They capture the adults as they go up the streams. That gives us an idea of where the fish are trying to get to, or where they are going to," said Chuck Larscheid, Northern Pike Restoration Project Manager.

Larscheid says each spring, the fish travel up swollen creeks and roadside ditches looking for spawning grounds in marshes and wetlands. This year, those northern swimming up Haller Creek, will encounter a fish by-pass. This is the first season the $128,000 project will be put to the test. A valve upstream controls the flow of water around the nearby pond.

"We could manage this. Let the pike through. Let the small fish come back, migrate through when they've hatched, and then close the valve. The water can then go through the park's ponds again," said Dave Wetenkamp, Land Conservation Engineering Technician.

After about a half an hour, the net was in place. This is the second season Ryan Rasmussen worked on the project.

"I think it's incredible. I think it's a great thing to try to really figure out what's going on. I don't think enough time has been spent studying these fish. So now we have an understanding of what's going on, and hopefully it will benefit the future of these fish," said Ryan Rasmussen, Restoration Project Employee.

"We think if we could just get the fish through here, let them do their thing, and hopefully they can spawn, and work their way back down to the bay," said Larscheid.

Crews have a couple busy months ahead.

Once the nets are set, they need to be checked every day.

Last season, Brown County crews processed 83 fish at eight different sites over 41 days.

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