Fisheries crews completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System, collecting more than 2.2 million eggs.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor Dave Fryda said crews easily collected enough eggs to stock the 500,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2019.
“Salmon were very abundant throughout the run, resulting in one of the highest collection of eggs in the history of the salmon program,” Fryda said. “After Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery was filled to capacity, crews were able to collect an additional 387,000 excess eggs that were provided to Montana.”
The majority of eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, with help from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of Lake Sakakawea female salmon was 6 pounds. Fryda said once again there was an abundance of young male salmon, which typically forecasts a good run the next couple years.
Additional surplus eggs were provided to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to help with their Lake Oahe salmon program.
Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish Department and Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery personnel collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.
Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.