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NDGF surveys oxygen level on area water systems

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has been monitoring oxygen levels on lakes to assess if winter kills will occur.

Mirror Lake in Hettinger, Cedar Lake southwest of New England, and Gascoyne Lake in Bowman County, are three lakes in the area that are at a high risk for partial winterkill this season.

Jeffrey Hendrickson, the western fisheries supervisor for NDGF, said that he was surprised to see some of the lakes he originally thought were going to winter kill were doing well.

Larson Lake near Regent, which was one of those lakes susceptible to winter kill, might make it unscathed.

"It's actually kind of surprising, but it's doing pretty good," said Hendrickson. "We're going to make it on that."

Earlier this month, Hendrickson said Odland Dam and Davis Dam were also on his list to watch out for.

Odland Dam in Golden Valley and Danzig Dam in Morton County are borderline for winter kill, but Davis Dam is doing fine.

"That's why we check them," he said. "We can guess which ones are going to winter kill, but you never know for sure."

However, Hendrickson said that there are some fishing waters that winter kill every season such as Beach Pond, Belfield Pond, Kriegs Pond, which are also known as urban fisheries.

He said it is difficult to keep the fish alive there from year to year, even in a good winter. The NDGF will stock trout in them every spring.

"When the ice does go off, we do appreciate the public reporting a fishkill," NDGF Fisheries Division Chief Gregor Power said. "Some of these lakes are pretty rural, and nobody may even get there, but we do need to know if they winterkill, so that we can restock it faster than we would otherwise."

Fisherman are still encouraged to keep ice fishing on the lakes with low oxygen levels, but fishing might prove to be difficult.

"When the oxygen is that low, the fish tend to not bite," said Hendrickson. "They are stressed out. They are just sitting there trying to breath. They don't eat much."

But in a couple of months, the waters will be restocked with fish giving fisherman a pristine opportunity to bring home 'a big one.'

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