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Lewis & Clark Lake walleye, sauger and hybrids

walleyeDid you know that the spawning seasons of walleye and sauger naturally overlap and they sometimes spawn together, forming hybrids known as saugeye.  Saugeye can also spawn with one another, or with pure walleye or sauger. Of all four Missouri River reservoirs in South Dakota, Lewis and Clark Lake has the highest percentage of walleye/sauger hybrids. This means many of the fish caught by anglers in Lewis and Clark Lake that look like pure walleye or sauger could be hybrids.

These regulations apply to waters of the Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam upstream to Fort Randall Dam.


Walleye abundance is monitored through an annual September population survey. The average number of walleye per gill net is compared with the data from previous years to detect changes in abundance. Since the highest recorded walleye abundance in 2008, there has been a decreasing trend  through 2014. This is mostly due to low walleye recruitment during 2009-2013. Sampling for age-0 walleye (the 2014 year-class) was conducted using gill nets and nighttime electrofishing.  Results indicated moderate production in 2014; however most of those fish will not grow to harvestable size until 2017. The majority of the harvestable population currently is from the 2012 year classes with a few fish from the 2009 and older year classes. The 2012 fish will provide much of the angling opportunity in the summer of 2015, these fish should average around 15 inches.

Anglers will likely see reduced catch rates of legal sized walleye and sauger in 2015.  This is due to lower recruitment in 2009-2013. However, a low-moderate year class was produced in 2012, which will provide opportunity to harvest some walleye between 15 and 16 inches. For catch rates to increase to levels seen in 2008, moderate to strong reproduction needs to occur in upcoming years. 

Lewis and Clark Lake walleye tend to have stronger year classes produced during drought years. If water yield through the reservoirs is lower than average in 2015, the chances of another moderate to strong year class increases.