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Atlantic salmon to be stocked in Lake Oahe; likely 5 years before anglers will catch them

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PIERRE, South Dakota — South Dakota wildlife officials are moving forward with a plan to stock Atlantic salmon in Lake Oahe, though it likely will be at least five years before any end up on a dinner plate.

Two public surveys over the summer found strong support for introducing the species in the Missouri River reservoir in the Dakotas, Game, Fish and Parks fisheries biologist Bob Hanten told the Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/1tFwQlr ).

The state has bought 40,000 Atlantic salmon eggs from a New Hampshire hatchery for $2,500, and in January two fish hatcheries in South Dakota will begin raising them as a trial run.

"We just don't really know how they will perform in our hatcheries," Fisheries Program Administrator Will Saylor said. "Every hatchery is different."

Chinook salmon have been stocked in Lake Oahe each year since the mid-1980s. Wildlife officials want to boost the salmon fishery with the new species, which can switch to other prey if rainbow smelt are low. Chinooks feed almost exclusively on rainbow smelt, a species prone to large population swings.

Chinook salmon also spend most of their time in deep water, making them harder to catch.

Biologists plan to stock the first batch of Atlantic salmon in the spring of 2016. It could take about three years for them to grow big enough for anglers to catch.

No Missouri River reservoirs currently have Atlantic salmon, but the species has had a fairly successful run in the Great Lakes.


Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, http://www.capjournal.com

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