Fall fish surveys show a promising future, especially compared to a year ago, when many North Dakota waters were struggling, the Game and Fish Department reports.
Many lakes had low water levels going into last winter, and 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,” said Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for Game and Fish.
The fish reproduction surveys evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance. The cooler, wet summer produced ideal conditions for stocked northern pike and walleye, according to Game and Fish
“We saw really good survival and growth on most stocked species,” Gangl said.
Devils Lake saw fair to good numbers of walleye, similar to last year, with the catch close to average.
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“However, we saw very low numbers of yellow perch, which means there wasn’t a good reproductive year for perch,” Gangl said.
There was a good catch of young walleye in Lake Sakakawea.
“This was a result of a combination of stocking efforts and natural reproduction,” Gangl said. “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, including this year.
However, “The walleye population continues to be dominated by smaller fish,” Gangl said. “Lake Oahe is lacking forage, which causes fish to grow slower than they should.”