Sauger project boosts Wyoming fishery

RIVERDALE – The Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery loaded 52,000 sauger fingerlings onto a Wyoming Game and Fish truck this past week. Several weeks ago the hatchery received a shipment of sauger eggs from Wyoming and were tasked with hatching and raising the fish.

“We’re in the second year of a five-year plan to restore the sauger population on the Wind River in Wyoming,” explained Rob Holm, hatchery manager. “They have one of the few remaining pure sauger populations and were down to just a few hundred brood stock a few years ago.”

Holm called the small population of pure wild sauger “pretty amazing,” even if the number may have been underestimated. Wind River sauger have been limited in their downstream movements by Boysen Reservoir which has been stocked with walleye, a species that dominates over sauger. No walleye have been stocked on the Wind River above Boysen Reservoir, making that area a target for sauger recovery.

The 52,000 sauger shipped from the Garrison Dam Hatchery was somewhat more than expected. The reason was very high survival on 30,000 fry stocked out into two outdoor ponds.

Wyoming Game and Fish and the Wind River tribe have been cooperating in the sauger restoration project.