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Published March 25, 2013, 08:36 AM

Walleye research project includes cash for anglers

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Anglers who catch walleyes on Lake Oahe in the Dakotas in coming years might earn something more than just the joy of landing a big one.

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Anglers who catch walleyes on Lake Oahe in the Dakotas in coming years might earn something more than just the joy of landing a big one.

South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks Department and North Dakota's Game and Fish Department are cooperating on a project to tag at least 40,000 walleyes in the next four years as part of a project to learn more about the fish population in the lake. About 500 of the tagged fish each year will be given a "reward" tag — and an angler who catches one and turns in the tag to researchers will be given $100.

The reward tags — silver with the word "reward" on them — are aimed at increasing angler participation in the study, the goal of which is to compile information on such things as fish movement to help with walleye management, Mark Fincel, senior fisheries biologist for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, told the Capital Journal.

South Dakota State University researchers are involved in the study. Anglers with reward tags also will be given information on where and when the fish they caught was tagged and how big it was.

"A big question is fish movement. A lot of people want to know where was that fish tagged, how far did it travel, how much did it grow? People are genuinely curious," Fincel said. "Some of these tags might be recovered 15 years from now."

Lake Oahe on the Missouri River begins at Oahe Dam, just north of Pierre, and extends into south central North Dakota. Officials have divided the lake into five zones — three in South Dakota and two in North Dakota — and will be tagging and releasing fish at various locations in the two states.

Fincel said his own research shows that walleyes can live at least 18 years in Lake Oahe, and they have been found to live even longer in other places, so it is possible that some lucky angler will still be able to claim a $100 reward years from now. It also is possible that some tags will be recovered on Lake Sharpe or even farther downstream on the river if some tagged fish move through dams.

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