South Dakota collecting walleye eggs again

Capitol News Bureau

Set up on Moreau River beach

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Because of COVID-19, state crews broke from tradition last spring and didn’t collect walleye eggs for hatching. This spring, they hit the water again and took 211 million.

“We set some records this year on walleye spawning,” fisheries chief John Lott told the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission last week.

The Moreau River that feeds into the Missouri River west of Akaska turned out to be a hot spot, producing 96 million.

Crews took 110 million from a variety of northeastern waters in the Glacial Lakes region.

Most of the eggs went to Blue Dog State Fish Hatchery at Waubay, where they’ll grow to mosquito-sized fry. Some will be kept longer to become fingerlings.

They’ll then be stocked back into other South Dakota waters.

Lott said one of the Moreau walleye weighed 16 pounds, 10 ounces before it was spawned and released again.

The state record is 16 pounds, 2 ounces, caught by Georgine Chytka on November 16, 2002, in the tailwaters below Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River near Pickstown.

Meanwhile sales of fishing licenses were strong so far.

Nonresidents bought 17,173 annuals, plus 4,030 three-day and 5,435 one day through May 2. All were ahead of 2020, when sales were 13,951 annuals, 3,955 three-day and 3,446 one-day.

Residents purchased 74,774 annuals plus 1,042 one-day licenses. That was off a bit from 81,196 and 1,344 in 2020, but well ahead of 2019 and 2018.

State Wildlife Division director Tom Kirschenmann said he wasn’t quite sure why resident-sales were somewhat down.

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