Fisheries crews have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System, collecting more than 1.8 million eggs. About 500,000 went to South Dakota to meet their egg collection goal.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries biologist Russ Kinzler said crews collected enough eggs to stock 400,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2023.
About 80% of the eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea and the remainder from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of female salmon was 5 pounds, which is about 2.5 pounds smaller than last year. The largest salmon was 21 pounds and was collected in the Missouri River below Garrison Dam.
Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish personnel capture the fish and transport them to Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery where they are relieved of their eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend about 6 months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.