AZGFD partners with Iowa DNR to stock more than 1.5 million walleye sac fry at Apache, Canyon lakes

Apache Lake - Tortilla Flat, AZ

Photo Credit: AZGF

by Arizona Game & Fish Department

Fishing for walleye is a unique opportunity in Canyon and Apache Lakes. For years the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) worked with other state hatcheries to get free walleye sac fry to continue this angling opportunity. Unfortunately, the hatchery that supplied them had an aquatic invasive species (AIS) outbreak and the department was no longer able to get walleye. Walleye were last stocked at Apache Lake in 2014 and at Canyon Lake in 2016.

AZGFD staff continued to try and find another hatchery that was free of any AIS concerns, but no one was able to produce a surplus. However, last year Aquatic Wildlife Branch staff contacted the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and they indicated the Spirit Lake Hatchery in Iowa might be able to assist. Iowa had just started using a new integrated recirculating aquaculture system (aka RAS system) that was self-contained and had no AIS concerns. This was an amazing opportunity and a chance to partner with another state to help create angling opportunities for Arizona. Based on the supply Iowa was expecting, the best option was to get surplus walleye to stock into Canyon and Apache Lakes. 


Coordination began with constant communication between AZGFD and Iowa DNR. Iowa’s unseasonably colder winter ran longer than usual and pushed back their collection dates, but DNR staff were eventually able to collect eggs and start the process in their new RAS system. By April they had produced many of their walleye demands and the outlook was that they were going to have a surplus to provide to Arizona.

On May 12, 2022, AZGFD Region VI Aquatic Wildlife Program staff flew to Iowa and met up with Iowa DNR staff to collect the surplus walleye. The Spirit Lake Hatchery went above and beyond and produced about 1,634,000 three-day-old walleye sac fry for free so AZGFD could stock them into Apache and Canyon Lakes. More than 774,000 sac fry were stocked into Canyon Lake and more than 860,000 were stocked into Apache Lake. 

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