Good News On The ND Salmon Side

Salmon in North Dakota? Yes. A some have never heard we do have salmon fishing in ND and things are trending up with the refill of Lak Sakakawea:

With the return of water to Sakakawea, the coldwater habitat essential to the survival of smelt, chinook salmon and other species has improved dramatically. Water levels reached an all-time low on Sakakawea just five years ago.

The new water has increased productivity in the reservoir, and fisheries biologists noted a major increase in rainbow smelt growth from the previous year. While smelt numbers haven’t increased significantly yet, the average size of individual fish is larger than before, meaning there’s more poundage of forage for predators to eat.

Scott Gangl, NDGF, said salmon numbers in Sakakawea should be similar to the past couple of years. To help the forage base rebound, biologists stocked fewer salmon, about 67,000 each year from 2007-09. With improved conditions, more than 200,000 hatchery-raised chinook salmon smolts were planted last month in the reservoir, but these fish won’t show up in the fishery for a couple years.

“There is more food in the lake right now for salmon,” Gangl said. “Their body condition last fall was much better than recent years. We should see improvements to the salmon fishery in the years to come.”