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More precipitation fills water bodies, good for fish populations

Jamestown has received almost 4.5 inches of precipitation in April and about 4.2 inches of rain this month as of Friday morning, May 20, according to measurements taken at the North Dakota State Hospital.

Fishing from shore.jpg
Two anglers prepare their lines Monday, July 27, 2020, in attempt to catch some fish from shore out of Jamestown Reservoir. Jamestown Reservoir is abundant in crappies, said Michael Johnson, a biologist with the Southeast Fisheries District for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN – All of the precipitation the Jamestown area has received will be good for fish populations but could make it more difficult to catch them, according to Michael Johnson, a biologist with the Southeast Fisheries District for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Much of the previously dry habitat got vegetated with grass and weeds, and the rain this spring has created good habitats for fish spawning, Johnson said. He said the vegetation also provides good food and protective cover for young fry and fingerlings.

“It will be good for our fish populations, but it might translate into not as good fishing just because there is going to be an extra food surplus,” he said.

Jamestown has received almost 4.5 inches of precipitation in April and about 4.2 inches of rain this month as of Friday morning, May 20, according to measurements taken at the North Dakota State Hospital.

During years with less precipitation, the water bodies can lose depth, which can result in low oxygen conditions potentially in the summer but especially in the winter, he said. He said fish can be more clustered and easier to catch in a smaller body of water.

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In general, higher water is good for natural reproduction for northern pike and perch, Johnson said.

“The production of smaller food items via small fish or aquatic invertebrates, that will really be good for the food chain and the overall health and growth of our walleyes, perch and pike,” he said.

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And with Jamestown and Pipestem reservoirs filling up and combined releases increasing, Johnson said fish tend to migrate upstream and repopulate in areas that were thinned out because of lower water depth.

“This time of year especially it seems like fish are tending to move in an upstream fashion,” he said. “When you have higher water, they can overcome some of those obstacles like dams, snags and other obstructions to upstream movement.”

The Southeast Fisheries District includes about 130 lakes. The southeast region includes Stutsman County and spans east to Minnesota and south to South Dakota.

Johnson said there are about 50 fishable lakes about 30 miles from Jamestown.

With fishing waters filling up in the state, he said the Game and Fish Department sees more sales of fishing licenses.

“As you increase the number of fishing waters, it seems like you increase licenses to a certain extent,” he said. “I would say there is some relationship there for sure.”

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Good fishing spots around the Jamestown area depend on what type of fish that anglers are seeking. Jamestown Reservoir is abundant in crappies, Johnson said.

“You can’t beat the reservoir for crappies here,” he said. “That is about the best for that.”

Pipestem Reservoir is abundant for northern pike and walleyes lately, he said. He said Spiritwood Lake is well known for anglers catching small-mouth bass.

Johnson said Heinrich Martin Dam near Adrian, N.D., is a great location to try to catch bluegills. For perch, he said there are a fair amount of lakes in the Cleveland, N.D., area.

To find more fishing areas in North Dakota, visit https://bit.ly/3NqN1DB .

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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