USFWS plants 15,000-plus rainbow trout at Fort McCoy for 2019 fishing season

Anglers have several thousand more reasons to fish at Fort McCoy in 2019 as workers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Genoa National Fish Hatchery of Genoa, Wis., stocked more than 15,000 rainbow trout in several waterways throughout the post.

USFWS personnel delivered the trout April 26 and 29, said Fisheries Biologist John Noble with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch. Trout were stocked in Suukjak Sep, Sandy, Stillwell, and Big Sandy lakes and Sparta and Swamp ponds.

“The trout were stocked in time for the new fishing season, which began May 4, and the average fish size is 10 inches long,” Noble said.

Some fish are larger, too, Noble said. “They (USFWS) like to throw in some larger fish every time just to give anglers a chance at some bigger fish,” he said.

Fort McCoy has an agreement with the USFWS to do the fish stocking every year. The USFWS hatchery raises the fish and certifies the fish health before delivery and stocking on post, Noble said.

The Genoa National Fish Hatchery was established in 1932.

The hatchery serves six Midwestern states and rears 23 species of fish to support high-priority federal management, restoration, and threatened and endangered species programs, according to the USFWS.

The certification of fish health is completed by the USFWS La Crosse Fish Health Center.

Noble said rainbow trout are the preferred fish to stock. Also, stocking fish once a year in the spring allows for better survivability for the trout because of cooler water temperatures, and it saves money from multiple fish-stocking efforts.

“Trout are raised in water that is about 50 degrees (Fahrenheit), so, when the lake water is warmer, these fish need to be tempered by bringing up the water temperature on the fish inside the tank before stocking,” Noble said. “We can have issues with mortality due to temperature, stress, and shock when stocking in warmer lake conditions, so cooler water temperatures (in spring) help significantly reduce fish mortality.”

Stocking numbers for each waterway included: Suukjak Sep Lake, 4,220 trout; Big Sandy Lake, 4,080; Sandy Lake, 3,200; Stillwell Lake, 1,260; Swamp Pond, 1,120; and Sparta Pond, 1,120.

Most anglers are used to catching the rainbow trout on post, and it’s quite popular, Noble said.

“For many years now, trout have been stocked in waters on Fort McCoy,” he said. “The addition of rainbow trout also helps reduce the burden of harvest on other species that are present and reproduce naturally.”

The 2019 fishing season also comes with new procedures and rules, Noble said. First, people must now purchase Fort McCoy fishing permits through the installation iSportsman website, All permits for hunting, fishing, and firewood cutting at Fort McCoy must be purchased through iSportsman.

An iSportsman account is required to purchase any of these permits.
Also different from the 2018 season is the requirement for anglers to check-in and check-out on iSportsman for each location they may fish at Fort McCoy, as shown in the new fishing regulation posted on the Fort McCoy iSportsman website.

The only exception is that if an angler is fishing within the post cantonment area or at Suukjak Sep Lake, checking in on iSportsman is not required.

The iSportsman system can be accessed by calling 866-277-1597, visiting online, or at the kiosk at the Fort McCoy Hunter Information Point just off of Highway 21.

When fishing, anglers must access iSportsman, select the activity (fishing), and then identify the zone where they will be fishing to check in. Anglers must check out when they leave. Anglers also are required to keep an activity information card in their vehicle.

“All recreational participants/permit holders are required to display an activity information card on the passenger side of the windshield/dash with the following information: permit holder’s full name (if there is more than one permit holder per vehicle, the names of all permit holders will be noted), activity (such as archery, cantonment archery, fishing), personal cellphone number, and two emergency contact phone numbers for each permit holder in the vehicle,” the fishing regulation states.

Directorate of Emergency Services police and conservation officers will be checking to see if recreational participants/permit holders are following the guidelines of the regulation. For example, if an activity information card is not displayed in the exact location required and does not have the information required, recreational participants/permit holders may be found in violation and ticketed immediately. Refer to the regulation, available on iSportsman, for more information about violations.

There also will be a Free Fishing Weekend on June 1-2 in Wisconsin and at Fort McCoy. No licenses or permits are needed, but all bag limits and other rules apply.

“The Free Fishing Weekend is an excellent time for people to come out and see all the fantastic fishing areas we have here,” Noble said. Anglers should call the iSportsman Game Line at 866-277-1597 or visit the i-Sportsman website at for updated fishing area closures.

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub ( The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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