Tag Archives: winter

2014 mid-winter waterfowl survey results

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated 71,500 birds were in the state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 40,700 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 12,000 were scattered on Nelson Lake. Lake Sakakawea, declared iced-over on Dec. 14, had no geese on the lake itself. Szymanski said after summarizing the numbers, a total of 52,700 Canada geese and 18,700 mallards were tallied statewide.

“Conditions leading up to this year’s survey were colder than normal, resulting in fewer birds in the state compared to the past couple winters,” Szymanski said. “Most waterfowl were pushed from North Dakota just prior to Thanksgiving, with the exception of those using the Missouri River System.”

According to Szymanski, early December cold temperatures and strong winds pushed most Missouri River birds from the state. Conditions remained the same through most of January, essentially causing all waters in the state to freeze by the time of the survey, with the exception of a few places with fast moving, or warm water.

Overall, Szymanski said although the counts are lower than those observed during the past couple years, numbers of birds remaining in the state are surprisingly large given the harsh weather conditions experienced thus far.

“Snow cover was probably borderline for allowing birds to feed without too much trouble,” he added. “If more snow had fallen in December, this year’s count would have been even lower.”


ice house regulations for North Dakota

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Winter anglers are reminded that any fish house left unoccupied on North Dakota waters must be made out of materials that will allow it to float.

A popular question this time of the year is if campers qualify as legal fish houses. The answer is the same for any structure taken on the ice – if it’s left unattended, it must be able to float; if it’s not able to float, it must be removed when the angler leaves the ice.

Other fish house regulations include:

  • Fish houses do not require a license.
  • Occupied structures do not require identification. However, any unoccupied fish house must have the owner’s name, and either address or telephone number, displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high.
  • Fish houses may not be placed closer than 50 feet in any direction to another house without consent of the occupant of the other fish house.
  • Fish houses shall be removed from all waters by midnight, March 15, of each year. They can be used after March 15 if they are removed daily.

Anglers should refer to the 2012-14 North Dakota Fishing Guide for winter fishing regulations.

winter ice fishing regulations

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North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2012-14 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 websitegf.nd.gov, for an extensive list of fishing questions and answers, and a winter fishing preview from North Dakota Outdoors magazine.

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, 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.

winter aquatic nuisance species regulations

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North Dakota ice anglers are reminded that regulations designed to reduce the spread of aquatic nuisance species also apply in winter, and law enforcement officials will continue their efforts to ensure compliance.

It’s important to reiterate that only legal live bait can be transported in water in a container up to five gallons. Neither game nor nongame species can be transported in water, although a daily catch can be packed in snow.

Other simple methods to prevent winter ANS introductions are:

  • ·         Do not use illegally imported baits.
  • ·         Do not empty a bait bucket into any water body.
  • ·         Do not drop plant fragments into the water.
  • ·         Dispose any unused bait into the trash.


still room for winter outdoors woman workshops

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BOW Program Offers Darkhouse Spearfishing, Ice Fishing Class

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program has scheduled a one-day darkhouse spearfishing and ice fishing class Feb. 11 at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge in Ward County.

Women interested in attending the class are encouraged to register online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Aregistration form is also available for download, or by contacting Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095; (701) 328-6312; or email ndgf@nd.gov.

The cost is $50, and preregistration with payment is required. Equipment and snacks will be provided.

re-stating the obvious

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I’m guilty of one of my pet peeves, re-stating the obvious. Like when a coach explains they would’ve won the game if they had played better defense. Duh.

So excuse when I explain this snow has turned ice fishing conversations into the problems created by the snow. So here’s the rundown..again…and again.

1) snow insulates ice, slowing ice formation. And thus many lakes are stuck on 14″-16″ of ice, which isnt’ exactly preferred for extensive use

2)snow weighs down the ice. start punching holes in the ice and the weight of the snow pushes down on the ice which forces some water up all the holes and we have slushy conditions underneath a half foot of snow, which is on top of 15″ of ice. =mess.

3) snow blocks off access to lakes and makes even getting to some of the winter sloughs and ponds a trial. not to mention once you are on…the wind can pickup and making exiting an adventure.

ugh. that’s my story and i’m sticking to it. UGH

mid-winter waterfowl survey

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No doubt it’s been a little more an ’08 winter and not an ’06 winter and the wintering waterfowl numbers are a good indication.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey revealed 25,400 Canada geese wintering on the Missouri River in early January.
Waterfowl biologist Mike Szymanski said harsh winter conditions beginning in mid-December pushed most waterfowl out of the state. “A mild fall allowed a significant number of smaller-sized Canada geese and snow geese to move through the state before Thanksgiving, but there was not a pronounced movement of large-sized Canada geese through the area,” he said.
Last year’s severe winter broke the pattern of more geese staging on the Missouri River in North Dakota, when only 9,700 geese were counted during the midwinter survey. Prior to that, several years of unseasonably mild winter weather allowed numbers of Canada geese using the river through winter to increase.
“Since 2005 a new record was established every year, reaching 175,000 geese in 2008,” Szymanski said. “But geese could not tolerate the severe weather last winter, thus the dramatic drop in numbers.”
From 1998 to 2004, the number of Canada geese on the river during the midwinter survey was between 2,000 and 89,000. Prior to 1998, the count was rarely more than 10,000.
Szymanski said it takes years for geese to establish a migratory pattern, and that’s why it may take several more years of favorable staging conditions before the record high numbers of the mid-to-late 2000s are reached again. “It’s really important for those birds to maintain a positive energy balance,” he added. “Otherwise, we may not regain the numbers of geese we had several years ago.”


about the weather

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It’ll be easy to mentally book mark 2009-10 blizzard and deep freeze. Christmas brought two feet of snow and New Years rung in -30 below temperatures across the region.

My neighbor Burdell will attest as we shoveled last Sunday when I exclaimed, "first comes the snow…then we’ll get the cold" and we sure did. About as intense two winter events you could draw up. The heavy snow (1.53" of moisture) plugs up CRP, cattail sloughs and covers food sources. Next the -30 stresses everything from pheasants and deer to coyotes and grouse. Me, you and all the critters are crossing for a much needed 2 week January thaw…before the next onslaught of winter bears down on us.