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OUTDOOR NOTES: NDGF offers walleye tagging update

Year one of a multi-year walleye tagging study on the Missouri River and Lake Oahe is complete, and returns are providing biologists with valuable information, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said.

According to Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for Game and Fish in Bismarck, more than 9,100 fish were tagged in 2013, the first year of the four-year study, and nearly 1,400 tag numbers were turned in by anglers.

The study area extends from the Garrison Dam in central North Dakota downstream to Oahe Dam in South Dakota, and involves a major collaboration of biologists and researchers from North Dakota Game and Fish, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and South Dakota State University.

The study is designed to assess walleye movements, mortality and what proportion of the walleye population is harvested annually by anglers.

Gangl said the first year of the study revealed that fish tagged in North Dakota moved greater distances than those tagged farther downstream. In North Dakota, fish tagged in both Oahe and the Garrison reaches of the Missouri River traveled an average of 40 river miles. Fish tagged in Lake Oahe’s upper and middle zones within South Dakota moved an average of 10 to 15 river miles, and those tagged in the lower zone moved only about five miles. North Dakota fish moved both upstream and downstream after tagging.

Gangl said most of the returns were from May, June and July, and when the fishing slowed in August, so did the returns.

The goal of the four-year study is to tag 10,000 walleyes in the study area in the Dakotas annually, Gangl said, with as many as 4,000 of those fish tagged and released each year in the Missouri River and upper Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Ask the DNR

Q. National Volunteer Week is April 6–12. What sort of volunteer opportunities does the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have to offer?

A. Volunteer opportunities vary across the state from assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair, to name a few. Right now, the DNR is looking for volunteers to help count loons and frogs, plant trees, bait hooks at fishing clinics, build portable field desks and search for rare wildflowers.

Volunteer positions are listed on the DNR website at or by calling toll free (888) 646-6367.

— Renee Vail

Vail is the DNR’s volunteer programs and state fair project manager.

Did you know?

  • The North Dakota state tournament for schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program is Friday and Saturday at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck. Info: Jeff Long, NASP coordinator for the Game and Fish Department, or (701) 328-6322.
  • The Bismarck chapter of Ducks Unlimited has been named one of DU’s President’s Elite chapters for 2013. The distinction is awarded to chapters that raise $100,000 or more for DU’s habitat conservation work. Info:
  • The U.S. Forest Service will be conducting approximately 19 prescribed burns as weather permits within the next month on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in southeast North Dakota. The goal is to burn 4,000 to 5,000 acres to regenerate prairie habitat and native grasses.
Brad Dokken

Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University. 

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