DNR experiments with muskie food
Some muskies are getting a new menu at Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery as part of an experiment aimed at saving money while boosting production of the state fish.
Starting this spring, Wild Rose staff are raising muskies two different ways-one is the traditional diet of zooplankton and minnows; and two is to feed manufactured fish food at first, then minnows for the remaining 60 days before they are stocked into Wisconsin waters.
“Feeding the muskies manufactured food is cheaper than collecting or buying minnows and there is no risk of parasites or diseases that can come in with minnows,” Steve Fajfer, hatchery superintendent, said.
Before the fish are transferred to their new homes, DNR staff will mark them with a fin clip to tell the two groups apart in coming years.
“We estimate we can save 15 to 30 percent of the cost of raising musky by starting them on artificial feed, but we need to see whether the fish grow to an acceptable size and survive after stocking before we adopt this as standard practice at all hatcheries,” Mike Staggs, DNR fisheries director, said.
Raising a musky to stockable size-10 to 12 inches or what’s known as “large finglering” size-is estimated to cost $10 to $11 a fish, recent DNR estimates show. That includes food, labor, hatchery overhead and the cost of retiring debt from hatchery construction and renovation.