Thousands of trout delivered to Lakewood Hatchery

    Brook trout in the sunshine, June 20, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

    LAKEWOOD (WLUK) -- A sea of tiny trout could be an angler's next trophy catch.

    An effort to make sport-fishing in the Northwoods better, continues at the Lakewood Fish Hatchery in Oconto County.

    After a five hour drive from the St. Croix Falls fish hatchery, the Department of Natural Resources stocking truck arrived in Lakewood early Wednesday evening.

    "This is my favorite day of the entire year. You come in with little babies, this big, and they go out that big, I'ts like having 24,000 pets almost," said Angelica Komarek, DNR Creel Survey Clerk.

    There were 25,000 in all, including 18,000 brown trout, and 7,000 brook trout.

    "It's always a good day. A special day when our fish come.They're so excited. They've been waiting since last fall to get back into another year of raising trout," said Scott VanLaanen, Northern Oconto County Trout Alliance.

    "The first three and then the back two," said one volunteer.

    Brook trout fingerlings at the Lakewood Fish Hatchery, June 20, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

    Bucket after bucket, 17 concrete tanks will hold anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 trout, each.

    "And they'll stay in that tank until they're fully grown. And they'll average between eight and eleven inches when we plant them," said VanLaanen.

    The DNR provides the fish and volunteers from the Northern Oconto County Trout Alliance take it from there.

    "The enthusiam is growing. We started out with 30. We're up to 50," said VanLaanen.

    VanLaanen says raising trout takes a lot of work.

    "We're here twice a day, for about half an hour, 45 minutes in the morning. Then, we'll send another crew back in in the evening to do some of the work. And then twice a week, we come in on Mondays and Fridays, and we clean the tanks, and that's about a 45-minute job," he said.

    Brown Trout fingerlings in tank at Lakewood Fish Hatchery, June 20, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

    DNR hatchery workers say, genetically, the fish are considered to be a domestic strain, but volunteers say they notice a difference.

    "The brookies are just really personable. They come right up to the surface of the water. It's really neat. They come up right to see you," said VanLaanen.

    VanLaanen says the brown trout, may act a little differently.

    "The browns are skiddish. You walk to one end of the tank, and they all go to the other end," he said.

    VanLaanen says the stocking effort at the Lakewood Hatchery is in its fourth year, and in that time nearly 100,000 trout have been planted in area waters.

    "And our local fishermen have reported just phenomenal results, phenomenal results. They're catching a lot more brook trout," he said.

    Rearing tanks at the Lakewood Fish Hatchery, June 20, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

    Hatchery visitors agree.

    "I think it's pretty cool. They bring all the fish in. Now they all grow here, and they put them all out in the streams. I think it's pretty neat. Good thing for all the anglers," said Randy Buss, Marion.

    And as the last fish are delivered to their new temporary home, hatchery worker Angelica Komarek says, at the end of the summer, she will miss them.

    "Once they get out to the stream, it's like my pets going off to bigger and better places. It's absolutely wonderful," she said.

    The fish will be stocked locally.

    In the fall. the trout will be placed in different rivers and streams, in Northern Oconto County.

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