Biologists collect lake depth information

Not all information that state fisheries biologists collect is about fish.

Fisheries biologist Jerry Weigel is boating in circles at near trolling speed on some of North Dakota's high priority lakes, collecting lake depth information.

"We go parallel to the shoreline and go around the lake, say at 4 or 5 feet of depth. Then we make a second trip at, you know 9, 10 feet of depth and so on and so on," said Weigel.

Weigel says this information is valuable when it comes to navigation on a lake.

"When you have new neighborhoods and roads around where you drive, you appreciate having them in your navigation, in your vehicle or on your phone," said Weigel.

We're basically doing the same thing here by collecting the data to create fishing maps, depth maps that help in navigating around the lake."

About 228 of North Dakota's more than 400 fishing lakes have been mapped. Besides lake contours, biologists collect additional information as well.

"We also are able to calculate volumes of the amount of water and every foot of depth. So things like that we use for making stocking decisions and things, we have better information to make those versus just guessing on size and volumes," said Weigel.

Anglers also benefit with lake contour maps.

"Is if you don't have any contour data, you're guessing on the depths until you start driving your boat and to measure it," said Weigel.

And so, you got to measure and determine that information right off the bat, where if you have the contour data, you can say, I want to go to this area of the lake and drive straight there without ever having to check any depths on the way."

Once the contour information is processed, the information is available on the Game and Fish Department's website at

Jerry Weigel says the general rule is if a lake has a boat ramp, there is typically a lake contour map on the Game and Fish Department's website at