Fisheries crews for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are wrapping up their annual walleye stocking effort and are on track to stock a record 180 lakes across the state with nearly 12 million walleye fingerlings.
The number of waters being stocked topped the previous high by nearly 30 lakes, said Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development supervisor for Game and Fish in Bismarck.
“There is record water across the state, so timing of a near record walleye production could not have come at a better time,” Weigel said. “Valley City and Garrison Dam national fish hatcheries contributed to make this happen. Both hatcheries have been outstanding in helping address our demand for walleye fingerlings.”
Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery set a record for the most pounds shipped of the 1- to 1.5-inch walleye fingerlings, with more than 8,400 total pounds.
The record walleye production, coupled with a record number of lakes stocked, resulted in a lot of driving time for fish haulers, Weigel said.
“Just in the first seven days of this year’s walleye production, haulers traveled more than 8,200 miles and stocked over 150 lakes with 7.6 million fish,” he said.
Crews had near perfect conditions, with most lakes at or near record water levels, with flooded vegetation for the young fish to hide and plenty of food for them to eat, which bodes well for future fishing opportunities.
“One of the biggest challenges this year was access to some lakes,” Weigel said. “As a result of last fall’s record rains, a lot of local roads in central and eastern North Dakota remained flooded and often closed, thus making navigating some roads more challenging.”
Later this fall, fisheries personnel will sample walleye lakes to assess success of this year’s walleye stocking, as well as what Mother Nature provided.
One common observation fish haulers noted while traveling across the state, Weigel said, was the high amount of fishing taking place, both from shore and from boats.
“It’s a great time to fish for walleye,” he said. “Statewide, there are a lot of opportunities, and a good chance of success. This is especially true if you live in rural North Dakota, where a lot of varied fishing opportunities exist.”
Among lakes and reservoirs in northeast North Dakota, Game and Fish stocked 728,100 walleye fingerlings in Devils Lake, 553,050 fingerlings in Stump Lake, 25,000 walleye fingerlings in Fordville Dam, 10,000 walleye fingerlings in Larimore Dam, 9,000 in Bylin Dam, and 27,000 in Homme Dam.
For a complete list of all fish stockings, visit the fishing link at the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov/fishing.