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Students learn what it takes to be a small fry at Lake Carroll hatchery – Shaw Local

LAKE CARROLL — When some kids went on an egg hunt last month at Lake Carroll, they hit the jackpot. They found thousands of them.

Don’t worry, the Easter Bunny didn’t run his furry little feet off hiding them. They were in plain sight, and not one of them was dyed pink or purple. That’s because there was nothing to dye for; the kids were learning about life instead — as in the facts of — and they were doing it at Lake Carroll’s fish hatchery.

Nearly 50 Eastland Jr. High students visited the hatchery during an open house April 11 to learn more about how the operation works and see the miracle of life in action.

The hatchery, one of the few in the state that’s privately owned, keeps the lake stocked with fish. Lake Carroll’s Fishing Club maintains the hatchery and the gear that keeps it running, and for six weeks out of the year the hatchery is teeming with life as members keep their eye on millions of eggs vying to see the light of day.

Once ice thaws on the lake, by early April, club harvest members start gathering up as many walleye as they can to their eggs, as many as 25,000 from one fish.

How do you harvest fish eggs? With a squeeze, kinda like a tube of toothpaste. Once they’ve got the eggs, they’re placed in a steel bowl and fertilized (courtesy of the male walleyes’ contribution to the cause).

The next step on their journey back into the water is into a bin for a few hours, then into a large tube. About two weeks later, they begin to hatch and the small fry — no, that’s not a nickname; newly hatched fish are called fry — wiggle in to the world.

The fry are then placed into another tub for about four days before being placed in a nearby holding pond where they’ll become strong enough to survive in the lake.

After a few months, the pond is drained through a valve where the fish are netted and transported to the lake. The survival rate for the eggs is less than 1 percent, so of the nearly 25,000 eggs laid by one fish, usually less than 250 make it through the hatching process.

“You got to consider all of the other fish and the predators. If we can get half of 1 percent of what we put in, it’s a good hatch,” club member Mike Siciliano said in an interview with Lake Lifestyle last year.

With odds like that, maybe the small fry could increase their odds with a lucky rabbit’s foot — just don’t ask the Easter Bunny for his.

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