Fisheries crews in North Dakota have completed their annual salmon-spawning operation on the Missouri River system after collecting more than 2.5 million eggs.
Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor, said in a news statement that crews easily collected enough eggs to stock the 400,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2018.
The majority of eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, with help from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of Lake Sakakawea female salmon was 6.2 pounds, about 1.2 pounds smaller than last year, according to the statement. However, there was an abundance of young male salmon, which forecasts a good run the next couple years, Fryda said.
Additional surplus eggs were provided to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department to help with their Lake Oahe salmon program.
Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Because salmon cannot naturally reproduce in the Dakotas, NDGF and Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery personnel collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.
Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.