BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – The Game and Fish Department fisheries staff have been busy stocking lakes all 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 fingerlings for stocking and future angler opportunities.
“We’re going to be plus or minus a few fish of 10 million. we’re going to be really close to an all-time record or, you know, an amazing year, let’s put it that way,” said NDGF fisheries supervisor Jerry Weigel.
Fisheries biologists decide what lakes to stock based on netting surveys on district lakes around the state.
“We stocked just a little bit over 170 lakes across the state. That’s down a little bit because of not having full potential out of Valley City with the zebra mussel issue and our trying to limit that to the three lakes that are positive for zebra mussels,” said Weigel.
Weigel said around 2 million fingerlings were stocked in Lake Sakakawea, 310,000 in Devils Lake, and 842,000 in Stump Lake.
“So the eggs are collected by our state folks taken to the federal hatchery at Riverdale or Valley City. They then rear the fish out in earthen ponds for 30 to 40 days and we end up with our one and a quarter to inch and a half walleye fingerlings right now. And the state, we come back in and truck the fish to all these 170 plus lakes,” said Weigel.
The reason for stocking walleye fingerlings is because some lakes don’t have a lot of natural reproduction.
“So we’re able to create walleye fisheries in areas that never would otherwise be. The other really unique thing we’re finding is, is in a lot of this prairie pothole center part of the state, these lakes are crazy productive, and they’ll grow a walleye to a say, a pound in two years,” said Weigel.
Weigel said there were several other fish species stocked statewide, like 450,000 salmon in Lake Sakakawea, rainbow trout in a variety of lakes and community fisheries. This is the first time since the hatcheries existence, not one lake was stocked with northern pike because of weather delays and hatchery space, but the pike populations are doing OK.
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