Game and Fish tracking walleye in two N.D. Lakes

State News

This 2018 photo, provided by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department shows walleye fingerlings at Lake Ashtabula near Valley City, N.D. North Dakota wildlife officials are trying to boost the walleye population in new, smaller lakes that have popped up around the state during recent wet decades. (North Dakota Game and Fish Department via AP)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Wildlife officials are studying the walleye population in two North Dakota lakes.

Fisheries officials with the state Game and Fish Department recently tagged about 3,000 walleye in Lake Sakakawea and about 2,000 in Alkaline Lake in Kidder County.

Tagging involves attaching a metal band on the jaw of a fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to report it, along with information such as the tag number, when it was caught and how big it was. There are posters around the lakes notifying anglers of the study. The signs include a QR code, which is a type of barcode that can be read by cellphones and takes anglers directly to the tagged fish reporting page on the Game and Fish website.

“Basically it gives us a snapshot of how anglers are using the resource,” said Dave Fryda, Game and Fish fisheries supervisor for the Missouri River system. “We’re just making sure we’re continuing to manage it properly, that (walleye) are not getting overharvested.”

The four-year study in Lake Sakakawea will focus on tracking fish movements, the number of walleye that are dying naturally, and the size of fish that are being caught by anglers. A similar one-year study is taking place at Alkaline Lake.

Overfishing is not a concern at either fishery. Wildlife officials said both lakes have an abundant walleye population. They noted that they’ve tagged the fish to enhance their management of the fisheries.

“We just want to make sure we’ve got the most appropriate regulations in place to ensure good fishing for years to come,” said Paul Bailey, a district fisheries supervisor for Game and Fish. “Fishing has been good there for sure.”

Fryda echoed Baily’s confidence on the fish’s population.

“Right now the fishery is in really good shape,” he said. “The walleye are exceptional, both size structure and abundance.”

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