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Salmon Spawn Completed

Fisheries crews completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System, collecting 944,000 eggs.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries supervisor Russ Kinzler said this year was more of a challenge to collect eggs.

“The spawn started about a week later than normal and then the cold weather at the end of October shut down egg collections before the spawning crew could meet the goal of 1 million eggs,” Kinzler said.

The eggs collected should be enough to stock the 300,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2024.

This year all the eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, unlike past years when some eggs were taken from fish in the Missouri River. The average size of female salmon was 4.4 pounds, which is about half a pound smaller than last year. The largest salmon was 8.5 pounds.

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.