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North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel, along with staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish hatcheries, recently completed stocking 9.8 million walleye fingerlings in 113 lakes across the state.
Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development section leader for the Game and Fish Department, said this year’s walleye goal required exceptional production from nearly every hatchery pond in the state.
“Overall, we were able to meet every request with Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery contributing 8.7 million fingerlings and Valley City National Fish Hatchery 1.1 million fingerlings. On average the fish were some of the largest in recent years,” Weigel said.
Stocking goals for each water body can differ depending on need. Some of the notable stockings include: Lake Sakakawea – 4 million; Stump Lake – 577,000; Lake Darling – 450,000; Devils Lake – 367,000; Heart Butte Reservoir – 325,000; and Lake Ashtabula – 262,000.
“This year’s efforts finished in the top five of most waters stocked and most fingerlings stocked,” Weigel said.
Stocking conditions were great, Weigel said, with lots of cool water given this year’s season was a week earlier than normal. “We had all the fish stocked before this recent hot spell set, which should help increase the chances of good survival,” he added. “We’ll know more this fall when crews check on survival rate of the stocked fish and determine the amount of natural reproduction.”
State Fair Conservation Skills Park Expands
The green space at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Conservation and Outdoor Skills Park at the state fairgrounds in Minot turned brown last summer following the Mouse River flood.
Like the rest of the fairgrounds, though, it’s coming back nicely this summer and will once again welcome visitors at the state’s biggest outdoor gathering July 20-28 at the North Dakota State Fair.
“We’ve basically had to redo our entire area,” said Greg Gullickson, the Game and Fish Department’s outreach biologist in Minot, “and we’ve even added some new space for educational displays.”
Construction of a new dock is just one of the improvements, Gullickson said, while mentioning major repairs to structures, landscaping and the fishing pond.
In addition, Gullickson says the free fishing, shooting, archery and furtaker education programs are still a mainstay of the Game and Fish Department’s state fair presence.
“Our conservation area is a great place to take a break from other fair activity,” Gullickson said. “Our pond is stocked with fish and we invite anyone headed to the fair to stop by and try to catch one.”