North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel are wrapping up a record year for stocking of walleye fingerlings in more than 130 waters across the state.
Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development supervisor, said more than 12 million fingerlings were stocked, besting the previous high by more than 1 million fish.
“Considering not many went into Lake Sakakawea, this included an unprecedented stocking of nearly 7 million fingerlings into the smaller fishing waters across the state,” Weigel said.
With more than 50 new walleye lakes in North Dakota, Weigel said the demand to stock these waters, along with the larger, traditional fisheries, has greatly increased the demand from the hatcheries.
Valley City National Fish Hatchery produced more walleye this year than in any other year in its 77-year history, Weigel said, and in its 54 years of raising fish, Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery shipped a record number again this year.
“Both hatcheries have been outstanding in helping address our demand for walleye fingerlings,” Weigel said.
Stocking conditions were optimal, Weigel said, with cooler weather at the time most of the fish were shipped. The 30-day-old fingerings averaged about 1.25 inches in length.
“They should find lots of food and good survival conditions, which bodes well for future fishing opportunities,” Weigel added. “Later this fall fisheries personal 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 amount of fishing taken place, both from shore and from boats. “There has never been a better time to fish for walleye,” he added. “Statewide, there are a lot of great opportunities, and a good chance of success.”