As the flood waters began to recede within the city of Minot and evacuees were allowed to return to their homes, many were surprised to find abundant numbers of fish swimming in water still standing in their neighborhoods. Some flooded homeowners reported northern pike up to a foot long splashing about in their basements while they pumped water. Other sightings included perch, walleye and perhaps smallmouth bass.
"The young-of-the-year pike were all over the place," said Greg Gullickson, Minot, outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. "It shows you how resilient pike are and how they do. When that water started moving this spring, the pike were on the move."
Northern pike and walleye tend to swim into the current. However, the possibility exists that some of the fish were flushed down the Souris by high flows in the river or that eggs carried by the current hatched far downstream from spawning areas.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN - - Young-of-the-year northern pike followed flood waters into Minot. Not all made it back to the river channel. These pike were photographed at the intersection of 11th Street Northwest and Cedon Drive.
"With all the new water there is a huge nutrient load in there that is good for the whole food chain," Gullickson said. "New water really makes fish boom, especially pike. We had reports of some pike in culverts in Sheridan County that were maybe 40 miles from the nearest source."
According to Gullickson, a number of young pike swimming in the flooded North Dakota State Fairgrounds apparently followed receding water and are now residing in the State Fair Conservation Pond. In the past that pond has primarily been stocked with bluegills, perch and trout.
The pike that moved in won't be there very long. Current plans call for the draining of the Conservation Pond so that it can be dredged and re-sloped to make it more user-friendly. At that time the pike will likely be recovered and released back into the Souris River.