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Eastern South Dakota 'Flooded' With Fish

Nate Wek
Lake Norden Recreation Area seeing flooded areas around their lake - July 12, 2019

The eastern part of South Dakota has experienced a wetter than normal spring and summer. Areas like Watertown are experiencing water levels up to eight inches above normal for this time of year.

While the water can have a negative effect on crops and plants, fish populations should see a boost in their numbers. Brian Blackwell is a fisheries biologist for South Dakota Game Fish and Parks in the Webster area. He claims the unusually wet year on the eastern side of the state will ultimately help the multiple species of fish.

"Fish respond great to this high water. We’ll see the benefits of it probably two years, three years from now. We get a big influx of nutrients in these systems, we flood habitat, it creates new spawning grounds for these fish, and productivity goes up. So we have new fish being born," explained Blackwell. "The fish that are there are going to start growing faster, more than likely, because there’s more food out there. Reproduction generally is higher, so we’ll just definitely see these benefits down the road."

Blackwell said Northern Pike and Yellow Perch should benefit most from the high water levels, because it’ll enhance their overall habitat the most. He says fishermen are also having an above average year with catching fish, especially when it comes to Walleye in northeast South Dakota.