Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 24

September 1994 Lake Sakakawea Forage Update Plans for lake herring stocking on hold L in Saskatchewan put a crimp in spawning operations there. Actually cisco were already present in Sakakawea, but the idea was to increase their numbers enough to get them established more quickly. Ft. Peck Reservoir above Sakakawea has had a good population of cisco for many years, and a large 3-year stocking program of cisco took place on Lake Oahe in South Dakota a few years go. Unlike smelt, cisco are fall spawners, altho ugh their eggs don’t hatch until the following spring. For now, no cisco eggs will be sought. “Cisco are showing up in greater numbers in Sakakawea than ever before,” said fisheries chief Terry Steinwand. “It seems to be coming on. If the trend continues as it is, it’s on track as if we would be stocking them ourselves.” Increasing cisco numbers have been showing in game and fish nets through the summer in Lake Sakakawea, moreso than ever before, biologists say. For that reason, Steinwand said acquiring cisco just doesn’t appear to be a necessary more right now. He also talked down the economic expense of making the trip to Canada to acquire the eggs if it isn’t necessary, in addition to opening North Dakota to further possible criticism for introducing a non-native fish to the state. This, he said, if it occurred, would be on a national level, not just local. “Filling that empty niche just isn’t a valid theory anymore,” he said of stocking cisco. “We’re not immune here in North Dakota to criticisms for things like that.” In addition to the improvement in the cisco population, other forage has dramatically improved in Lake Sakakawea with the rising water level. Officials also cited nearby Lake Audubon as experiencing a sharp increase in Prairie Recall ast year at this time, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department was making plans to acquire up to 10 million cisco (lake herring) eggs for stocking into Lake Sakakawea. The forage fish were needed, officials said, to add another food source to the big lake in view of reduced water supplies and a sometimes erratic population of smelt and other forage. Those plans were interrupted by Mother Nature, when high water flows from the Fort Qu’appelle Reservoir Dakota Country Staff Report Page 24, Dakota Country, October 2016 www.dakotacountrymagazine.com