GFP Completes Annual Salmon Spawn

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) recently completed their annual salmon spawning operations on Lake Oahe. Crews collected 900,000 eggs at the Whitlock Spawning Station.

Bob Hanten, GFP fisheries biologist, said 477 Chinook Salmon returned to Whitlock Spawning Station.

“This year, we yielded more eggs per female than we would have on a normal year and we saw larger fish, however, the number of fish that returned was lower,” said Hanten. “To make up for the collection of eggs for next year, we are working with the North Dakota Game and Fish to obtain approximately 400,000 salmon eggs.”

State agencies frequently partner together to help obtain egg take goals and meet other spawning objectives. These partnerships are crucial to meeting management objectives and continuing to provide high quality fisheries for anglers to enjoy.

South Dakota currently has 1.3 million Chinook eggs in the hatcheries across the state. The eggs available should be enough to stock approximately 400,000 juvenile salmon in Lake Oahe in 2021.

Each year, juvenile Chinook salmon are stocked into Lake Oahe. They then disperse throughout the reservoir until they become sexually mature. The water flowing down the fish ladder attracts mature salmon to the station where GFP staff collect, sort and spawn the fish. The salmon hatch and grow, spending about seven months in the hatchery before they are stocked back into the lake.

Chinook salmon do not naturally reproduce in Lake Oahe and would not exist there without the efforts of GFP staff collecting eggs, rearing and stocking them back into the lake for anglers to enjoy.

“The opportunity to catch salmon out on the prairie is pretty exciting for anglers,” says Geno Adams, Fisheries Program Administrator, “We saw some excellent salmon fishing this past year and many anglers were out taking advantage of the hot bite. The salmon fishing is just another aspect that makes Lake Oahe such a special fishery.”