North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys and the future looks promising, especially compared to a year ago when many waters were struggling.
Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader, said many lakes already had low water levels going into last winter, and then a heavy snowpack resulted in significant winterkill.
“Good moisture throughout the summer rejuvenated the habitat in many of the smaller lakes around the state, primarily in the central and southeast,” Gangl said.
The cooler, wet summer produced ideal receiving conditions for stocked pike and walleye. “We saw really good survival and growth on most stocked species,” Gangl said.
Similar to last year, Devils Lake saw fair to good numbers of walleye, with the catch close to average. “However, we saw very low numbers of yellow perch, which means there wasn’t a good reproductive year for perch,” Gangl said.
In Lake Sakakawea, Gangl said there was a good catch of young walleye. “This was a result of a combination of stocking efforts and natural reproduction,” he added. “We also saw a lot of rainbow smelt, so the forage base is still pretty solid.”
Lake Oahe has had several years of good reproduction of walleye, Gangl said, including this year. “The walleye population continues to be dominated by smaller fish,” he added. “Lake Oahe is lacking forage which causes fish to grow slower than they should.”
Reproduction surveys evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance.