With North Dakota’s recent growth in walleye fisheries, a record 150-plus lakes across the state were stocked with nearly 11 million walleye fingerlings earlier this summer.
Jerry Weigel, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries production and development section leader, said this was made possible by record production of 10.4 million fingerlings at Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery.
“This is probably the most walleyes ever produced at a single hatchery anywhere in the country,” Weigel said. “Only one time in the past 20 years has 10 million fingerlings been reached.”
Valley City National Fish Hatchery also had a good year, shipping 1.7 million fingerlings. “Talk about bumper crops,” Weigel said. “This was a great year for both hatcheries.”
While the 30-day old fish averaged 1.25 inches, the cumulative weight tallied nearly 8,500 pounds, which made for an intense couple of weeks delivering fish.
In total, 154 lakes and rivers were stocked in North Dakota, including Devils Lake (1.7 million fingerlings) and Lake Sakakawea (1.3 million). Some other waters to receive fingerlings were Stump Lake (518,000); Lake Darling (461,000); Heart Butte Reservoir (320,000); Lake Ashtabula (305,000); Lake Audubon (234,000); Pipestem Reservoir (203,000); and Alkaline Lake (200,000).
One common observation Weigel noted while traveling across the state was the number of anglers fishing from boats and from shore.
“You now see boats and trailers in counties you never did before. We are fortunate to have the production capability at the hatcheries to adequately stock and maintain these fisheries statewide,” Weigel said. “Given all the new fishable waters across North Dakota’s prairie, there’s never been a better time to fish in the state.”