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Sakakawea, Oahe fish populations rebounding

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- A fisheries official with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department says Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe are experiencing a turnaround in fish populations.

Scott Gangl says the drought years of the early 2000s hurt the fish populations in the Missouri River reservoirs because low water reduced spawning habitat and the forage base.

Gangl says the high water of recent years has improved habitat and boosted the smelt forage base.

He says recent netting operations on Lake Sakakawea found abundant walleyes, with many in the 18-22-inch range. Northern pike, yellow perch and sauger also were plentiful.

The walleye population also is strong on Oahe, though many fish in the nets were less than 14 inches. Gangl says northern pike numbers on Oahe are higher than has ever been documented.