- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

RIVERDALE, N.D. (AP) - Chinook Salmon are not a native fish in North Dakota.

So to increase population in surroundings regions, the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery is helping the process along, KXMC-TV (https://bit.ly/1DlotAB ) reported.

The salmon tanks are full in Garrison as the North Dakota Game and Fish Department works with the National Fish Hatchery in spawning this year’s shoal. They say the results will be a guaranteed surprise.

“For our Chinook Salmon, we are normally look at 3 and 4 year old fish, primarily the three year old fish, and that would bring us back to 2011,” said Rob Holm, project leader at the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery. “If we think back, that was the year of our flood. A lot of Chinook’s that were in the lake, that were stocked up there, were washed downstream and further south. It’s kind of an unknown. We don’t know what we are going to get back this year for the numbers of fish.”

A couple thousand salmon are caught in Lake Sakakawea, and brought to the hatchery — divided between male and female, and that’s when their spawning begins.

“We will be stripping the milt from 10 males, poring it into a beaker, to fertilizer the eggs,” Holm said. “After the 10 males have gone through the process, we will bring the females out, anesthetizing them, putting them on a scale, injecting a needle into their abdomen and then forcing air into the abdomen to force the eggs out.”

Then the eggs are mixed with the male’s milt and incubated for about one month. Chinook Salmon typically produce 2,500 to 7,000 eggs, and even in captivity their chances in North Dakota are slim.

“Because we are collecting fish at large in the river, they may or may not be at their peak spawning time, and so if they are not we could have zero’s coming in on some fish,” Holm said. “Overall the average is around 39 percent.”

In spring, the young fish will placed back into Lake Sakakawea. Historically, the hatchery takes in around 1 million eggs each year, but because of more requests, Holm says he thinks his team needs to produce half a million more.

“This year we have request from both Montana and South Dakota for eggs because their eggs are going to be a bit limited based on the 2011 flood,” he said.

Salmon Spawning at the Garrison Hatchery dates back to 1979, according to Holm.


Information from: KXMC-TV, https://www.kxnet.com

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