hard-water fishing in North Dakota

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has already received reports of ice fishing activity in several locations across the state. With many more waiting for ice conditions to improve, anglers are reminded to refer to the 2010-12 North Dakota Fishing Guide, or Game and Fish website (gf.nd.gov), for the new two-year winter fishing regulations.

In addition, anglers can access the department website for an extensive list of fishing questions and answers.

Some winter fishing regulations include:

  • A maximum of four poles is legal for ice fishing. However, when fishing a water body where both open water and ice occur at the same time, an angler is allowed a maximum of four poles, of which no more than two poles can be used in open water.
  • Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
  • There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. When a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is left in the ice, the area in the immediate vicinity must be marked with a natural object, such as a tree branch or tumbleweed, or a brightly painted or colored wooden lath. Markers must be visible from a minimum of 150 feet.
  • It is only legal to release fish back into the water immediately after they are caught. Once a fish is held in a bucket or on a stringer, they can no longer be legally released in any water. In addition, it is illegal to catch fish and transport them to another water body.
  • It is illegal to leave fish, including bait, behind on the ice.
  • Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
  • Any dressed fish to be transported, if frozen, must be packaged individually. Anglers are not allowed to freeze fillets together in one large block. Two fillets count as one fish.
  • The daily limit is a limit of fish taken from midnight to midnight, and no person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while actively engaged in fishing. The possession limit is the maximum number of fish that an angler may have in his or her possession during a fishing trip of more than one day.

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