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Rathbun and Spirit Lake fish hatcheries busy netting walleye

MORAVIA – The late-night, annual walleye collection will start this week at Rathbun Lake and the Iowa Great Lakes. Crews with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau will set gillnets at night looking for walleyes ready to spawn.

Hatcheries will operate around the clock as local staff bring in the nightly haul well past midnight. The eggs are removed from the walleyes in the morning and the fish are returned to the lake where they were caught to make room for the next night’s catch.

All DNR offices, including fish hatcheries, are closed to the public until further notice due to COVID-19 precautions. Since you can’t come to the Rathbun or Spirit Lake fish hatcheries this year to see the walleyes collected, check out last year’s walleye collection efforts with the Iowa DNR Storm Lake Gillnetting 2019 video.

Iowa fishing, hunting regulations not affected by COVID-19

Iowa’s hunting and fishing regulations are not affected by the current COVID-19 health emergency in Iowa. Despite rumors on social media channels, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has no plans to eliminate seasons, relax regulations, nor change license prices.

“Fishing and hunting regulations exist to protect human safety as well as wildlife populations over the long-term,” said Dr. Dale Garner, Conservation and Recreation division administrator at the Iowa DNR. “We balance the long-term sustainability of Iowa’s natural resources with the well-being of Iowans, and will continue to take a thoughtful, science-based approach to Iowa’s hunting and fishing laws.”

For more information about Iowa’s hunting and fishing regulations, visit the Iowa DNR website at