Fall fish surveys show good numbers in North Dakota
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys, which evaluates natural reproduction and stocking success across the state.
Fisheries management section leader Scott Gangl said Lake Sakakawea produced the fourth highest young-of-the-year catch of sauger since 1970. In addition, walleye numbers were relatively good due to natural reproduction and stocking efforts.
“We are seeing a lot of young-of-the-year smelt in the stomachs of other fish, which is an indication of good smelt reproduction in Lake Sakakawea this year,” Gangl said.
The Missouri River is still recovering from the flood of 2011, Gangl said. “But this year we did sample gizzard shad at all sites from the Garrison Dam down to Lake Oahe,” he said.
Gizzard shad in Lake Oahe saw the highest number since 2008. But overall, Gangl said forage is still lacking. “With good natural reproduction again in 2016, this is the third consecutive strong year class of walleye,” he added. “Which means the walleye catch will continue to be dominated by smaller fish.”
The Devils Lake basin reported relatively good catches of young-of-the-year walleye, after Game and Fish stocked 1.7 million fingerlings this spring.
Statewide, smaller lakes showed various levels of success. “We saw good walleye survival on the newer lakes, with more variable success on the established lakes,” Gangl said. “In addition, we saw good reproduction of bluegills in many of our lakes statewide.”