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Atlantic Salmon Trial Enters Final Phase

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks plans to stock approximately 7,000 – 10,000 Atlantic salmon, 8-10 inches in length, at Whitlock Bay on Lake Oahe this fall.

Resident and nonresident anglers will recall that the department first sought public input on this effort back in 2014 for a potential stocking to take place in 2016. That stocking did not happen due to difficulties in obtaining fish eggs. During the public comment period, approximately 86 percent of respondents were in favor or neutral regarding this stocking and 14 percent of anglers were opposed to Atlantic salmon stockings for various reasons.

The primary objective for this potential stocking is to provide additional salmon fishing opportunities in Lake Oahe. Chinook salmon are stocked yearly in Lake Oahe and have been since the mid-1980s.

Hatchery biologists at McNenny and Cleghorn State Fish hatcheries have spent the last two years researching the feasibility of raising Atlantic salmon in South Dakota. Research indicates that these slow-growing fish can be raised in South Dakota’s hatcheries, but a substantial number of eggs are necessary each year to develop a stocking program similar to what the department does for Chinook salmon.

“Going forward, biologists will study the success of this introductory stocking into Lake Oahe to determine if enough adult salmon return to the Whitlock Bay Spawning Station to then provide adequate eggs for the future and if the Atlantic salmon are being caught by anglers,” concluded Will Sayler, fish hatchery and stocking program administrator. “A second stocking of 7,000 – 10,000 Atlantic salmon will also likely be completed in the fall of 2019 to allow for further evaluation; which could take up to two to three years.”