Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologists introduced monsters in the making to Lost Grove Lake on Monday.
They stocked 200 muskellunges in the lake in northern Scott County.
Muskellunges — or muskies — can get to be 50 inches long as adult males, while the females can reach 40 inches long. A state record 52-inch muskie was pulled from Big Spirit Lake in 2000 in northwest Iowa. The fingerlings that arrived Monday were about 12 inches.
"I'd like to catch one of these someday," said Mike Davids, of Princeton, who watched DNR workers haul them by bucket from a pickup truck to the lake. "It has been a long time in coming."
Larry Thompson of Davenport, president of the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, also looked on. His group has worked with the DNR to build fish habitat that will be conducive to fly fishing. He learned about the muskie release Monday morning.
"We have several people who enjoy catching muskie," Thompson said, explaining the fish's fighting nature. "They enjoy catching the toothy critters. They just take off."
DNR fisheries biologists had more good news for anglers. The DNR traditionally doesn't stock lakes smaller than 500 acres with walleye. Lost Grove, expected to be 350-400 acres, wasn't originally going to receive any walleye, but that has changed, fisheries biologist Chad Dolan said.
Because of the lake's location near the Quad-Cities, it is expected to attract enough anglers to pull a sufficient number of walleye from it to control the population. The first stocking of walleye is expected next month, along with channel catfish. More walleye will be stocked next year, too.
Fishermen have been pulling adult-sized fish for some time from the 22-acre causeway impoundment, upstream from what will be the main body of the lake, Dolan said. About 20 muskies were released into that part of the lake.
Don't expect good fishing in the main body of the lake immediately, the biologist warned. Bass, bluegill and sunfish were stocked last fall.
"You need some pretty small hooks right now," he said.
Monday's stocking is the latest step forward for the $7.15 million project that has been 20 years in the making. Located on 1,700 acres of land about three miles west of Princeton, the lake is expected to take two to three more years to finish filling.
Although slowed by last summer's drought, this year's soggy spring did wonders for the lake.
It grew from less than 30 acres in area last fall to more than 150 acres now, Dolan said.
"It was almost too much rain at once for the infrastructure to take," he said.
Construction of a boat ramp and access roads is expected to begin this summer, DNR lakes coordinator Mike McGhee said. All of that is welcome news to Quad-City anglers.
"We've all put in overtime to get this under way," Thompson said. "It is a really a fine thing."