Hatchery comes up big for North Dakota walleye stocking
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently finished stocking more than 140 lakes across the state with walleye fingerlings, completing one of the largest stocking efforts in the history of the agency. This includes more than 11.3 million fingerlings from Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery, besting the previous record walleye production by nearly 1 million fish.
Fisheries production and development section leader Jerry Weigel said a big year was needed from the Garrison Dam Hatchery.
“They had to make up for the production that couldn’t be used out of the Valley City National Fish Hatchery due to the recent zebra mussel discovery in Lake Ashtabula, which is the water source for the Valley City Hatchery,” Weigel said.
Walleyes were already in production at Valley City when it was decided to only use those for stocking Lake Ashtabula. Some Valley City walleye fingerlings were also sent to other states for use in lakes where zebra mussels already exist.
“This was done out of caution until more is known about the zebra mussels in Ashtabula,” Weigel said.
Getting fish back into lakes that suffered winterkill was a priority this year, along with keeping up with the growing number of walleye fishing lakes in North Dakota.
“The condition of the receiving waters could not have been better, with cool temperatures and a lot of newly flooded vegetation, which makes for excellent survival conditions for the one-and-a-quarter inch fingerlings,” Weigel said. “The combination of an amazing walleye production effort and lots of water across the state bodes well for continued great walleye fishing in the future.”
The number of acres of production ponds at both hatcheries has remained unchanged in more than 30 years, yet Weigel said hatchery staff continue to find ways to produce more each year when requested.
“This is a testament to the dedicated and experienced staff at both hatcheries in the state,” he said.