PARSHALL – The holding tanks were full of healthy walleyes, brought in from over-night capture nets placed at various locations in Parshall Bay by North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists. With white-tipped tail fins splashing water, the walleyes were about to be artificially spawned and the fertilized eggs transported for hatching at the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery.
This day was a bit different from others as a very attentive group of seventh grade students watched the process. They were from the ASB Innovation Academy at Williston, a new school that includes North Dakota Outdoors as an elective class. ASB is an acronym for American State Bank.
“We got them down here to observe the walleye spawn,” said Matt Liebel, life science teacher. “It’s a pretty fun class and they seem to enjoy it.”
Biologists carefully removed walleyes from a large holding tank on a Jon boat that returned from pulling trap nets, and placed them in tanks located on the Parshall Bay boat ramp. It was there that other fisheries biologists were carefully pushing the eggs of female walleyes into a large stainless steel bowl. Smaller male walleyes were used to fertilize the eggs prior to their transportation to be transported to the Garrison Dam Hatchery.
It’s a yearly effort by Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The egg take and artificial spawning is done to greatly increase the percentage of young fish that will be successfully produced. Later, the young walleyes will be released in several waters in North Dakota.
A seventh-grade class from Williston’s ASB Innovation Academy listens and watches as Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, explains the procedures used during spring walleye spawning.
For young students witnessing the process, they got to see first-hand the impact a fisheries biologist can have on an environment.
“We’ve done lots of different things, from turkey calling to archery,” remarked Liebel. “We have a real good group of kids. They were excited to do this.”
For Liebel, who is an avid walleye angler and tournament fishermen, there was an excitement factor as well.
“Absolutely! This is the first time I’ve got to come and see this in person,” said Liebel. “It’s cool to see all these big fish.”
There was an abundance of six to eight pound walleyes brought to shore, and several that were much larger. The largest walleye, brought in a day later, weighed over 16 pounds.
Dave Fryda, NDG&F Missouri River System supervisor, responds to questions about the spring walleye spawn.
Dave Fryda, NDG&F Missouri River system supervisor, explained the spawning process to the students and answered…
Read more:: Learning at water’s edge | News, Sports, Jobs