good news on bighorn sheep

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep in western North Dakota, virtually unchanged from the previous count of 297.

In total, biologists counted 85 rams, 159 ewes and 49 lambs. Not included are 24 bighorn sheep introduced from Alberta in February, and approximately 30 bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the count in the northern badlands was the highest on record, beating the previous record set in 2012, but the southern badlands population declined 15 percent.

“Rams and lambs showed a slight decline, but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said. “About 75 percent of lambs counted during last summer’s survey survived the winter, which is about average, but the recruitment rate of 37 percent was above average.”

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

Wiedmann is encouraged by another year of healthy numbers of lambs because it is indicative of a healthy population. “Adult mortality was also low last winter, so we expect another good crop of lambs to begin hitting the ground within a few weeks,” he said.

Game and Fish allocated five bighorn sheep hunting licenses for 2014, one more than 2013.

weekend snow goose insight

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As a former game warden, biologist and sometimes hunter since the 1999 birth of the spring hunt the best snow goose advice I can give you going into the weekend is use the snowline and your gut as a guide. I’ve put the snow line link in here, but check the date/current conditions as the air temperature will change it daily. While the massive snow/storms caught some birds off guard hunters right now in Dakota are looking for the belly of the migration and it stands to be on the South Dakota side of of the border as I type this.
Beyond that be prepared to drive and don’t forget to stop, shut off the truck and listen. You never know what you might be missing in the air and on the ground.

Snow goose migration in spring tends to occur farther east than in the fall. Birds generally arrive in the southeastern corner of the state and spread north and northwest through the Valley City, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Rugby and Kenmare areas. However, scattered flocks may be found anywhere in the state during spring.

Birds normally move through the state quickly, their arrival and stay depending on weather and availability of open water and food.

Spring snow melt progression.

Light Goose Hotline Provides Migration Updates

Migration updates available at 701-328-3697, until season ends or geese have left the state.

Devils Lake say’s it’s still ice fishing

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‘Very Good’ Devils Lake Winter Ice Fishing
Set to Change Seasons: Spring is Coming

Devils Lake fishing runs 12 months of the year-the only difference being the amount of clothing a person needs. Anglers are transitioning now from one of the best winter ice fishing seasons to what experts predict as a stellar spring “bite,” on one of North Dakota’s jewels.

Todd Caspers, Devils Lake area fisheries biologist said creel surveys this winter indicate a very good season. He said,“Depending on the weather and continued good lake drive-ability, if the perch continue biting like they have been, we could approach harvest numbers of the early 2000′s.” Like so many winter-weary anglers, Caspers is looking forward to spring fishing. “We will probably be ice fishing well into April, but everybody is ready for open water.”

The biologist said last summer produced a good walleye and perch bite; the good fishing continued all winter and he anticipates another good walleye and perhaps perch spring and summer. “Walleye populations are at very good levels with lots of keeper-size fish in the lake,” he said. “Pike are under-utilized and anglers should consider taking home limits.” Research shows many pike between 20 and 30 inches with top-end pike in excess of 40 inches.

Early open water depends on Mother Nature, but predictions from the guy with his finger on the pulse of flowing water, Jeff Frith said, “Usually, ice-off is about the third week of April, but based on the ‘cool’ National Weather Service forecast plus 40-inches of ice, it will likely be later this year,” the manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resources board said. The snow level is normal to slightly below normal, and his best guess is for a nominal rise in water levels of 12 to 18 inches and a light in-flow. “But, we know how March and April can be here in North Dakota,” he said. Boaters will again be able to travel under all bridges in 2014.

Lake observer and avid Devils Lake angler Al Freidig counts the first open water as his favorite time to be on the lake. Despite the anticipation, he figures it will probably occur towards the end of April. Pike will show up first in current areas, eventually running to the ends of Six-Mile and Pelican Bays. Walleyes will not be far behind, and their movements will stretch into early May. “All about the same time, incoming water creates openings by bridges and culverts. Fishermen on foot have a bonanza there,” he said. “Pike and walleyes travel 40 miles up the coulee system to reach their  spawning destinations, creating dozens of shoreline hot spots to ambush them.”

Caspers enjoys early season in the Six-Mile Bay Channel A and along Highway 19 where the road intersects twice with the lake. “These current areas are tops, and anglers know it,” he said.

 

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Like late ice?

There’s still time!

We are still drilling through 40 inches of ice and cold temperatures mean we will be at it for a while. Guiding services are done for the season, but the opportunity to ice fish on Devils Lake will extend well into April. If your group is planning a self-guided trip, check out the resources below and take the lake! Don’t forget your ice cleats and auger extension!

 

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Know where to go & how to catch ‘em…

[Fishing Reports]

Click here for the latest updates from local guides plus five years of archived fishing reports.


Devils Lake fishing guides target perch, walleyes, white bass and northern pike. Click herefor guide service information. Open water trips are booking now!

[Lodging] 

Click here for comfortable accommodations at Devils Lake area hotels, motels, resorts, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds.

 

[Public Access & Fish Cleaning] 

Click here for a map of the convenient public accesses. Visiting anglers will appreciate thefish-cleaning station located next door to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake). The 20 x 32 station, like the Devils Lake fishing season, is open all year. The heated (and air conditioned) building has two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms, and is free to the public.

 

Click here for information on obtaining a North Dakota fishing license.

congrats to Ducks Unlimited

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BISMARCK, N.D. – April 3, 2014 – The President’s Elite are among Ducks Unlimited’s most prestigious volunteer chapters throughout the nation. Every year, the list is reserved for the chapters that raise $100,000 or more for DU’s habitat conservation work. In 2013, the Bismarck chapter made the list as one of the organization’s best fundraising chapters.

“These fundraising events are the backbone of DU’s habitat conservation efforts, and the volunteers who make up these chapters are the grassroots force making a difference for North American waterfowl populations,” said DU President George Dunklin. “It takes a great deal of effort to achieve the President’s Elite level, and these chapters deserve to be congratulated by every person who enjoys the outdoors.”

The Bismarck chapter earned a spot in the President’s Elite out of the more than 2,600 DU chapters nationwide. DU’s event fundraising system has become a model for other conservation organizations around the world and has funded a significant portion of the more than 13 million acres of wetlands and associated habitat DU has conserved since 1937.

The 2013 President’s Elite chapters also have the distinction of being honored during DU’s 77th National Convention in St. Louis at the end of May, with many chapter representatives in attendance.

“DU chapters across the country are showing that the future of waterfowl populations and the wetlands that filter our drinking water and protect us from flooding are important to them and to their communities,” Dunklin said. “The more money we raise, the more habitat we can conserve and the closer we are to preserving our waterfowl hunting heritage. I would like to personally thank all our President’s Elite chapters for their achievement and look forward to seeing them among our distinguished chapters next year.”

snow goose update

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Prior to Monday’s spring blizzard, snow geese were seen moving north through much of the state, with some reaching as far as Devils Lake. However, up to a foot of snow fell throughout the day, and the weather forecast calls for more snow through Thursday. Temperatures call for highs in the 40s the end of the week.

 

 

Some Notes on the Spring Migration Route

Snow goose migration in spring tends to occur farther east than in the fall. Birds generally arrive in the southeastern corner of the state and spread north and northwest through the Valley City, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Rugby and Kenmare areas. However, scattered flocks may be found anywhere in the state during spring.

Birds normally move through the state quickly, their arrival and stay depending on weather and availability of open water and food.

Spring snow melt progression.

Light Goose Hotline Provides Migration Updates

Migration updates available at 701-328-3697, until season ends or geese have left the state.

ND State Archery Tournament

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The State Game and Fish Department invites all North Dakota schools participating in theNational Archery in the Schools Program to register for the annual state tournament. The 2014 tournament is April 11-12 at the VFW Sports Center in Bismarck.

 

Schools can enter teams and individuals in the following grade level divisions: elementary (4-5), middle (6-8), and high school (9-12). Teams must have 12-24 members, with a minimum of four from each gender. If smaller schools wish to form a team, archers may participate up one grade division for team competition, but they would compete individually in their appropriate age category.

 

Small schools of 100 students or fewer (all grades combined) may also assemble teams from NASP schools in the same town, county or district. Schools that cannot form a team may register students for individual competition.

 

NASP state coordinator Jeff Long said only schools offering NASP lessons during school hours as part of their standard curriculum are eligible to participate in the state tournament. Schools that don’t meet this requirement are encouraged to contact Long to get the program started.

 

Recognition will be given to the top placing team in each division, the top five males and females in each division, and the top scoring male and female regardless of division. Top scoring individuals are given early registration and receive priority in flights for the national tournament, held May 9-10 in Louisville, Ky.

 

For more information regarding the tournament, schools should contact Long by email atjrlong@nd.gov, or call 701-328-6322. To learn more, visit the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

walleye tagging study

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Year one of a multi-year walleye tagging study on the Missouri River and Lake Oahe is complete, and returns are providing biologists with valuable information.

 

Scott Gangl, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries management section leader, said more than 9,100 fish were tagged in 2013, the first year of the four-year study, and nearly 1,400 tag numbers were turned in by anglers.

 

The study area extends from the Garrison Dam in central North Dakota downstream to Oahe Dam in South Dakota, and involves a major collaboration of biologists and researchers from North Dakota Game and Fish, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and South Dakota State University.

 

The study is designed to assess walleye movements, mortality and what proportion of the walleye population is harvested annually by anglers.

 

Gangl said the first year of the study revealed some interesting movement patterns. For example, fish tagged in North Dakota moved greater distances than those tagged farther downstream. In North Dakota, fish tagged in both Oahe and the Garrison Reach of the Missouri River traveled an average of 40 river miles. Fish tagged in Lake Oahe’s upper and middle zones within South Dakota moved an average of 10-15 river miles, and those tagged in the lower zone moved only about 5 miles. North Dakota fish moved both upstream and downstream after tagging.

 

Gangl said most of the returns were from May, June and July, and when the bite slowed in August, so did the returns.

 

The goal of the four-year study is to tag 10,000 walleye in the study area in the Dakotas per year, Gangl said, with up to 4,000 tagged and released annually in the Missouri River and upper Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

 

The study targets adult walleye, each fitted with a metal jaw tag stamped with a unique number to identify the fish, and a phone number to report the tag. Anglers can either keep or release the fish. Anglers practicing catch-and-release can write the tag number down and report it, leaving the tag on the fish when released.

 

Anglers can report tags by calling the phone number found on tags, which, anglers should note, is a South Dakota phone number. Tag information can also be reported on the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, tag reporting page or by calling 701-328-6300.

 

Anglers should record the date and location of the catch, whether the fish was kept or released, tag number and length and weight (if the fish was measured). Anglers who report tagged fish can keep the tag, and will receive a letter providing some history on the fish.

 

Gangl said a small portion of the tags offer a reward to anglers to encourage them to turn them in. These tags clearly marked “Reward.”

 

Reward tags must be physically turned in to Game and Fish offices in Riverdale or Bismarck, or to a Game, Fish and Parks office in South Dakota.

 

 

Advisory Board meetings rescheduled

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s advisory board meetings scheduled for tonight and tomorrow in Williston, Turtle Lake and Walhalla have been postponed due to inclement weatherand travel difficulties. The meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Makoti will take place as planned.

 

The meeting in Turtle Lake is rescheduled for Monday, April 14. Reschedule dates for the Williston and Walhalla meetings are pending.

 

The complete list of spring advisory board meetings is available by visiting the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

keep an eye out for whoopers

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Whooping cranes are in the midst of their spring migration and sightings will increase as they make their way through North Dakota over the next several weeks. Anyone seeing these birds as they move through the state is asked to report sightings so the birds can be tracked.

 

Whoopers stand about five feet tall and have a wingspan of about seven feet from tip to tip. They are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail. Whooping cranes typically migrate singly, or in groups of 2-3 birds, and may be associated with sandhill cranes.

 

Other white birds such as snow geese, swans and egrets are often mistaken for whooping cranes. The most common misidentification is pelicans, because their wingspan is similar and they tuck their pouch in flight, leaving a silhouette similar to a crane when viewed from below.

 

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them, but record the date, time, location, and the birds’ activity. Observers should also look closely for and report colored bands which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

 

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office at Lostwood, 701-848-2466, or Long Lake, 701-387-4397, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, 701-328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state. Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.

 

 

snow goose migration update

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While most of the migration appears to remain south, large numbers of snow geese could be on the move into the state this weekend with temperatures to be in the 60s on Saturday. Snow geese have been observed in North Dakota mainly in the southeastern and south central portions of the state.

 

 

Some Notes on the Spring Migration Route

Snow goose migration in spring tends to occur farther east than in the fall. Birds generally arrive in the southeastern corner of the state and spread north and northwest through the Valley City, Jamestown, Devils Lake, Rugby and Kenmare areas. However, scattered flocks may be found anywhere in the state during spring.

Birds normally move through the state quickly, their arrival and stay depending on weather and availability of open water and food.

Spring snow melt progression.

Light Goose Hotline Provides Migration Updates

Migration updates available at 701-328-3697, until season ends or geese have left the state.