Fisheries staff with the Game, Fish and Parks Department have opened the Whitlock Bay Salmon Spawning Station for the 2013 season.
Anglers experienced low catches of salmon in 2013 and GFP personnel expect the annual fall collection of salmon eggs to be challenging due to the effects of the 2011 flood.
“We are still in the rebuilding stages of the salmon population following the 2011 flood. The majority of our adult and juvenile salmon were lost through Oahe Dam.” Robert Hanten, fisheries biologist for the GFP said. “Currently there is a low number of 3-year-old female salmon in the lake which are the bulk of the egg producing stock. This will make egg collection efforts difficult.”
Fisheries crews will be electrofishing on Lake Oahe in an attempt to capture additional adult salmon for egg collection.
Chinook salmon do not naturally reproduce in Lake Oahe and would not exist there without the efforts of GFP staff who collect eggs, raise young salmon in state hatcheries and stock them back into the lake for anglers to enjoy.
Each year juvenile Chinook salmon are stocked in middle and lower Lake Oahe. They then disperse throughout the reservoir until they become sexually mature. The flowing water down the fish ladder attracts mature fish to the station where GFP personnel collect, sort and spawn the salmon.
The Oahe salmon fishery has become very popular with anglers. Surveys show many anglers travel over 200 miles one-way for the chance to catch a hard fighting Chinook salmon.
Whitlock Bay Salmon Station is located 18 miles northwest of Gettysburg by West Whitlock Recreation Area. The station is open for tours from 9 – 11 a.m., Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during October. Tours will not be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, but on Wednesday, Oct. 16, instead. The fish ladder observation deck is open to the public at any time. Group tours can also be arranged by calling 605-223-7681.
Logo courtesy South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission