Although this past winter stretched beyond the norm, snowfall throughout most of the state was far from record-setting. Therefore, the number of lakes suffering a fish kill was not extreme.
Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said approximately 30 winterkills have been confirmed so far this spring. “Fortunately, the majority of these were considered minor/partial kills, meaning there are still desirable fish to catch in those lakes,” he said.
However, Gangl mentioned a number of lakes scattered across the state that appear to have suffered a significant kill. These include Powers Lake (Burke County), Warsing Dam (Eddy County), Juanita (Foster County), Schlecht-Weixel (LaMoure County), Stanley Reservoir (Mountrail County), Buffalo Lake (Pierce County), Fenster Lake (Ramsey County), Island Lake and School Section Lake (Rolette County), Coal Mine Lake and Wolf Lake (Sheridan County), and Harvey Dam (Wells County).
“The severity of a die-off may vary by lake, but usually there are some fish left in the lake,” Gangl said. “Most of the lakes that experienced winterkill are prone to die-offs. So while there was some disappointment in losing good fisheries, there weren’t many surprises.”
Fisheries personnel have already started or will soon restock lakes that experienced winterkill. “We are stocking with hatchery raised fish, or fish transported from another lake,” Gangl said. “These fish may take a while to grow to catchable size, but in two-to-three years there should be populations of fish for anglers to catch.”
Anglers can contact the local Game and Fish Department fisheries district offices to get more information on the status of these lakes, or to report fish kills that may not be on the list.