You know the overwhelming feeling that can come from living in a small town and visiting a large city?
Several hundred lake trout now know how you feel.
Staff at the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery realized they have too many brood stock that produce many more eggs than they can use.
Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton
Allegheny National Fish Hatchery Assistant Manager Dave Blick loads a six-pound lake trout into a holding tank for transport and release in the Allegheny Reservoir on Tuesday.
Release the six-pound fish into the Allegheny Reservoir above Kinzua Dam.
In a cooperative effort between the hatchery and the Pennslvania Fish and Boat Commission, approximately 800 of the hatchery's 2, 200 brood stock were given a new home and "retired" from service.
"Brood fish are held at the hatchery to produce eggs for on-going production of yearling lake trout for stocking into Lakes Erie and Ontario as part of a federal multi-state and Canadian effort to restore populations of these fish in the Great Lakes," Project Manager Larry Miller said. "The hatchery has over 2,200 brood fish on-hand at the beginning of last month's egg take of over two million eggs. Only about 1,400 adult fish were found to be needed to produce the number of eggs for next year and beyond."
He also explained that the fish tend to produce more eggs as they grow and age, further reducing the number of fish that will ultimately be needed to facilitate hatchery operations.
The fish were corralled in the raceway and then removed via net and placed in holding tanks on the bed of a truck.
While they were released at an "undisclosed location" on the reservoir, the future of the fish is a mixed bag. "The adult lake trout can survive in the reservoir for several years, however it is unlikely that they will successfully reproduce in the reservoir due to normal operations whereby the reservoir is drawn down several feet in the fall to provide spring flood protection, thus impacting potential spawning areas," Miller explained.
While they may not re-produce, the fish still provide one benefit to the reservoir. "It is hoped that these large fish will provide a unique angling opportunity to local anglers fishing the Allegheny Reservoir," he said. "In past years many similarly stocked lake trout were caught by ice anglers in the winter with good numbers also being caught in the spring when they are in shallow cold water."
Those brood stock left behind at the hatchery will produce the eggs needed for future hatchery operations for the next six to seven years. At that point, and at a significantly larger size, they will be released into the Allegheny Reservoir as well.
Eggs from wild adult fish captured in New York's Finger Lakes are currently being raised to replace the hatchery's brood stock in the future. Miller explained that shifting to wild fish eggs in the future enhances the "genetic diversity" of the hatchery and also allows the hatchery to raise the fish that will do the best once released into the Great Lakes.