Lake sturgeon are being reintroduced into Big Stone Lake, which straddles the Minnesota-South Dakota border.
Some 4,000 lake sturgeon fingerlings will be dumped into the lake Thursday in a joint effort by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Historically, Big Stone Lake had a wild lake sturgeon population, but the last known fish washed up on shore in 1946. The large prehistoric fish is native to the Minnesota River drainage and the Missouri River in South Dakota.
The two state agencies are coordinating a project to release 4,000 tagged lake sturgeon fingerlings into the 12,610 acre lake. The project plan calls for repeated stockings of 4,000 fish per year for up to 20 years.
While only 5 inches long at the time of stocking, lake sturgeon can exceed 100 years in age and 300 pounds in weight. Lake sturgeon feed on a variety of insect larvae, crayfish and mollusks.
The fingerlings are from the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources obtained the eggs from fish in the Wisconsin River. Minnesota and South Dakota along with the Citizens for Big Stone Lake partnered on the cost of the fish.
“This is like planting a tree for future generations,” concluded John Lott, chief of aquatic resources in South Dakota. “The fisheries biologists working on this project may never see one of these huge fish that result from this effort, but hopefully future generations of South Dakotans and Minnesotans will be able to enjoy these prehistoric fish. The ultimate goal in this stocking it to restore a historic fishery and a potential angling season could be established in the future. ”
The stocking is taking place at 5 p.m. Thursday at Hartford Beach State Park, about 15 miles north of Milbank, S.D. The public is welcome to watch.