Fish Population Down | VideoRetha Colclasure | 10/22/2012
Plenty of water came through Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe last year for fish to swim in, but that same water washed out a lot of the available food.
"The flooding was so excessive it hurt the population," said Scott Gangl with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Gangl says the fish population had just been coming back after years of drought in the early 2000s, but then a flood, followed by the beginning of another drought cycle, didn`t do the fish any favors.
"Most of the 2011 fish went through the dam, that young of the year class, adults too. We lost most of our forage base again this year."
Which leaves those big fish with nothing to eat.
"Now we`ve got a lot of predators, but not a lot of prey."
He says the department knew that was going to be an issue, so they weren`t surprised by the skinny, slow-growing fish that turned up this fall.
"Now we have a lot of small fish out there still from 2009."
But he says anglers should still go after what is out there.
"Not a bad thing to take those mouths out of the system because you`re not going to have enough food to feed them."
He says the fish need a more stable water level in Sakakawea and Oahe for the population to even out but says it doesn`t look like things will be much better for fishing next year.
Gangl says fishing in Lake Sakakawea is still good, even though the reproduction in the lake isn`t as good as he`d like.