This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov. Click here to Watch! NDGF fisheries division chief Greg Power talks about this season’s Ice Fishing Prospects. Click here to Watch!
North Dakota waterfowl hunters are reminded the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons close Dec. 7. However, duck hunting in the high plains unitreopens Dec. 13 and continues through Jan. 4, 2015.
In addition, the season for Canada geese closes Dec. 25, except for the Missouri River Zone, which closes Jan. 2, 2015. Light goose hunting closes statewideJan. 4, 2015.
Archery deer, fall turkey, sharp-tailed and ruffed grouse, partridge, pheasant and tree squirrel hunting seasons continue through Jan. 4, 2015.
North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2014-16 North Dakota Fishing Guide or the State Game and Fish Department’s website for winter fishing regulations.
In addition, anglers can visit the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, 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. See regulations for more information.
• 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.
• It is illegal to catch fish and transport them in water.
• 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. No person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while on the ice or actively engaged in fishing. If a situation occurs when an angler engages in fishing overnight, the first daily limit must be removed from the ice by midnight prior to continuing to fish.
• 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.
North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters December 1. The season extends through March 15. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.
Darkhouse spearing is allowed for all residents with a valid fishing license and for residents under age 16. Nonresidents may darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota if they are from states that offer the same privilege for North Dakota residents.
All individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available at the department’s website,gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish Department office.
All waters open to hook and line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except:
Braun Lake – Logan County
East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Lake Audubon – McLean County
Heckers Lake – Sheridan County
New Johns Lake – Burleigh County
Red Willow Lake – Griggs County
Sweet Briar Dam – Morton County
Anglers should refer to the 2014-16 North Dakota Fishing Guide for more information.
This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online athttp://gf.nd.gov.
Ice has been forming for several days now across North Dakota and anglers are eager to get out for this winter time hobby. But there’s plenty of safety considerations to take into account.
NDGF water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt talks about Safety on the Ice. Click here to Watch! . This week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, Outdoors Online, is now online at http://gf.nd.gov.
Winter anglers and late-season hunters are reminded to consider ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota lakes, as most small and mid-sized waters currently give the appearance of safe foot travel.
State Game and Fish Department boat and water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt said ice thickness is never consistent, especially this time of the year, and can vary significantly within a few inches. “The edges become firm before the center,” Boldt said. “So, with your first step the ice might seem like it is strong enough, but it may not be anywhere near solid enough once you progress away from the shoreline.”
This was apparent last weekend as one hunter experienced this while trying to retrieve a duck that had landed on ice. “He went through up to his neck and his waders filled with water, and the freezing temperature instantly took his breath away,” Boldt said. “He was extremely fortunate to be able to pull himself out, as most people would not have been able to with the extra water weight.”
Boldt said some tips include:
These tips could help save a life:
Hunters are reminded that several North Dakota national wildlife refuges open to late-season upland game bird hunting the day after the deer gun season closes.
Arrowwood, Audubon, Des Lacs, J. Clark Salyer, Lake Alice, Lake Zahl, Long Lake, Lostwood, Tewaukon (pheasants only), and Upper Souris NWRs open Nov. 24.
However, portions of each refuge are closed to hunting. Hunters should contact refuge headquarters for map leaflets designating closed areas and other restrictions: Arrowwood 701-285-3341; Audubon 701-442-5474; Des Lacs 701-385-4046; J. Clark Salyer 701-768-2548; Lake Alice 701-662-8611; Lake Zahl 701-965-6488; Long Lake 701-387-4397; Lostwood 701-848-2722; Tewaukon 701-724-3598; and Upper Souris701-468-5467.
National wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hunters are reminded that use of nontoxic shot is required on all USFWS lands. State regulations found in the North Dakota 2014-15 Small Game Guide apply. Seasons for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse close statewide on Jan. 4, 2015.
Organizers planning fishing tournaments, including ice fishing contests this winter, are reminded to submit an application along with fishing tournament regulations to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at least 30 days prior to the start of the event.
The 30-day advance notice allows for review by agency staff to ensure the proposed tournament will not have negative consequences or conflicts with other proposed tournaments for the same location and/or time.
Tournaments may not occur without first obtaining a valid permit from the department.
In addition, the number of open-water tournaments on lakes Sakakawea and Oahe, the Missouri River and Devils Lake are capped each year, depending on the time of the year and location. Sponsors for tournaments on these water bodies must submit their application to the department prior to Jan. 1 to ensure full consideration.
Fisheries crews have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System after collecting roughly 1.3 million eggs.
Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor, said about two thirds of the eggs came from Lake Sakakawea and the remainder from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam.
The average size of Lake Sakakawea females was 8.5 pounds, almost 3 pounds larger than 2013 and among the highest weights documented since the inception of the salmon program. The Missouri River females, which are typically larger than the lake fish, averaged 10.4 pounds.
“The 2014 salmon spawning run was successful in obtaining enough eggs to meet next year’s stocking goals.” Fryda said. “However, contrary to recent years, we might not be able to provide excess eggs to Montana and South Dakota to meet their egg goals.”
Fryda said the number of salmon in the 2014 spawning run was greatly reduced throughout the Missouri River reservoirs due to the lingering effects of the 2011 flood. “Salmon stocked during the 2011 flood would have been a major component of this year’s spawning run,” he said. “Unfortunately, large numbers of juvenile and adult salmon were entrained through the dams during the record flows of 2011.”
Plans for 2015 are to stock Lake Sakakawea with 400,000 salmon, with none scheduled for the river below Garrison Dam, Fryda said.
Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish Department and Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery personnel collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.
Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.