1.8 million salmon eggs spawned at Garrison Dam

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 3:46 PM CST
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RIVERDALE, N.D. (KFYR) - With the two feet of snow, it seems like summer is an eternity away. However, the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery is casting out preparations to ensure the lake is fully stocked this summer.

To keep Lake Sakakawea stocked, the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery spawns salmon. This year, biologists collected 1.8 million eggs.

”There is a lot of salmon in the hatchery right now and they have all just finished hatching,” said Russell Kinzler, Missouri River fisheries biologist, ND Game and Fish.

After the eggs have hatched, the fish will be kept in tanks until they grow to be about five inches long. They are then released in the spring to help stock the lake.

”It’s a pretty labor-intensive project to raise that many salmon over the winter,” said Kinzler.

Salmon don’t naturally reproduce in the state, so without the hatchery, they would disappear.

”In a matter of four years, five years salmon would be gone from North Dakota. So, in order to maintain that fishery for the anglers, we have to keep spawning them,” said Kinzler.

A half million of the eggs were given to South Dakota. Out of the 1.3 million in the state, Kinzler estimates four to five hundred thousand will end up in Lake Sakakawea in the spring.

”There is some lost due to natural causes,” said Kinzler.

Roughly 3,500 gallons of water run through the salmon tanks per minute.

The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery is one of the only joint state and federal hatcheries in the nation. The hatchery also raises rainbow and brown trout, walleye and northern pike.