FARGO — Despite a long, brutal winter, the population and size of fish in many North Dakota lakes are expected to be bigger this year than in 2018.

The North Dakota Department of Game and Fish expects a strong year for fisheries in the state, but that doesn't mean better luck for anglers out on the lake.

The reason for the strong fish population statewide is that there's a large supply of healthy food for the fish to eat, according to Game and Fish biologist Doug Leier, who says the well-fed fish might not be as interested in bait on a hook.

"It doesn't equate into strict catching, it means the fish are there," Leier said. "(It) doesn't just mean you're going to catch more fish."

The numbers and health of fish are up overall across the state, but not every lake in North Dakota fared well this winter.

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"The overall picture is very, very bright for fishing in North Dakota," Leier said. "There are going to be some spots that are going to be struggling a little bit and part of that can definitely be attributed to the winterkill."

More than two dozen lakes across the state suffered partial, significant or total winterkill this winter, the Forum reported in May.

Information on the fish population of different lakes across North Dakota, including information on winterkill, can be found on the North Dakota Game and Fish website.