BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — Fisheries employees at the Department of Wildlife and Fish have been busy stocking lakes across the state.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department manages around 450 lakes statewide, which means the two federal hatcheries are busy raising walleye fishlings for stocking and future fishing opportunities.
“We’re going to be plus or minus a few fish out of 10 million. we’re on the verge of an all-time record or, you know, amazing year, let’s put it that way,” said NDGF Fisheries Supervisor Jerry Weigel.
Fishery biologists decide which lakes to stockpile based on net surveys of district lakes across the state.
“We’ve only stocked just over 170 lakes across the state. That’s a little less because Valley City isn’t at full potential with the zebra mussel problem and we’re trying to narrow that down to the three lakes that are positive for zebra mussels,” Weigel said.
Weigel said around 2 million juvenile fish were stocked in Lake Sakakawea, 310,000 in Devils Lake and 842,000 in Stump Lake.
“So the eggs are collected by our statesmen and taken to the federal hatchery in Riverdale or Valley City. Then they breed the fish in soil ponds for 30 to 40 days and we end up with just our one and a half to one and a half inch walleye. And the state, we come back and transport the fish to all these 170+ lakes,” Weigel said.
The reason for keeping pike-perch pike-perch is that some lakes do not have much natural reproduction.
“It allows us to create walleye fisheries in areas that would otherwise never exist. The other really unique thing we’re finding is that in much of this prairie pothole center of the state, these lakes are insanely productive and will grow a walleye to, say, a pound in two years,” he told Weigel.
Weigel said there are several other species of fish nationwide, such as 450,000 salmon in Lake Sakakawea, rainbow trout in a variety of lakes and community fisheries. This is the first time in the hatchery’s history that not a single lake was stocked with pike due to weather delays and hatchery space constraints, but pike populations are doing well.
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