The November edition of North Dakota Outdoors is now available online at https://gf.nd.gov/magazine/2019/nov!
Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department fall advisory board meeting in their area.
These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.
The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.
Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.
District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner
Date: November 25 – 7 p.m.
Location: Fire Hall, 501 Main St., Munich
Host: The Ville Cafe
Contact: Heather Barker, 317-4390
Advisory board member: Tom Rost, Devils Lake
District 8 – Counties: Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark
Date: November 25 – 7 p.m.
Location: Choice Financial Bank, 201 Main St. N., Belfield
Host: Belfield Sportsman Club
Contact: Roger Decker, 575-8876
Advisory board member: Dwight Hecker, Dickinson
District 2 – Counties: Bottineau, Burke, McHenry, Mountrail, Pierce, Renville and Ward
Date: November 26 – 7 p.m.
Location: Wildlife Club, 1901 U.S. Highway 52, Velva
Host: North Dakota Fur Trappers and Harvesters Association
Contact: Rick Tischaefer, 460-1055
Advisory board member: Travis Leier, Velva
District 6 – Counties: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, Logan, LaMoure, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells
Date: November 26 – 7 p.m.
Location: Southeast Region Vo-Tech Center, 924 Seventh St. S., Oakes
Host: Ludden Sportsmen’s Club
Contact: Eric Larson, 210-0410
Advisory board member: Cody Sand, Ashley
District 1 – Counties: Divide, McKenzie and Williams
Date: December 2 – 7 p.m.
Location: Missouri Fairgrounds, 519 53rd St. E., Williston
Host: Missouri Basin Bowmen
Contact: Steve Rehak, 770-3643
Advisory board member: Beau Wisness, Keene
District 5 – Counties: Cass, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele and Traill
Date: December 2 – 7 p.m.
Location: Community Center, 299 Fourth Ave., Cogswell
Host: Cogswell Gun Club
Contact: Mike Marquette, 680-0860
Advisory board member: Duane Hanson, West Fargo
District 4 – Counties: Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh
Date: December 3 – 7 p.m.
Location: Cavalier Cinema, 104 Main St. W., Cavalier
Host: Shane Feltman
Contact and advisory board member: Bruce Ellertson, Lakota, 247-2915
District 7 – Counties: Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan and Sioux
Date: December 3 – 7 p.m.
Location: Game and Fish Main Office, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck
Host: Capital City Ladybirds Pheasants Forever Chapter
Contact: Lora Isakson, 426-9045
Advisory board member: Dave Nehring, Bismarck
North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters whenever ice-up occurs. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.
All individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must first register online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, anglers age 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license.
Spearers and anglers are reminded that materials used to mark holes must be in possession as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
North Dakota residents who do not have a fishing license may spear during the winter free fishing weekend Dec. 28-29, but they still need to register to spear.
All waters open to hook and line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except:
- East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Lake Audubon – McLean County
- Heckers Lake – Sheridan County
- Larimore Dam – Grand Forks County
- McClusky Canal
- New Johns Lake – Burleigh County
- Red Willow Lake – Griggs County
- Wood Lake – Benson County
Anglers and spearers should refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for more information.
Hunters and anglers are reminded to be cognizant of early ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota waters.
Game and Fish Department education coordinator Brian Schaffer said there haven’t been enough days when the high temperature has remained below freezing to produce stable ice. “There are already small and mid-sized waters that show the appearance of safe ice, but looks can be deceiving,” Schaffer said.
And with deer season opening Friday, Nov. 8 at noon, an estimated 60,000 hunters will be in the field the next two weeks. Schaffer said even though deer might be able to make it across smaller waters, it doesn’t mean hunters can.
“Hunters walking the edges will not find the same ice thickness in the middle, as the edges firm up faster than farther out from shore,” Schaffer added, while urging hunters to be cautious of walking on frozen stock ponds, sloughs, creeks and rivers.
A few reminders include:
- Snow insulates ice, which in turn inhibits solid ice formation, and hides cracks, weak and open water areas.
- Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions. Ice thickness is not consistent, as it can vary significantly within a few inches.
- Avoid cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signal thinner ice. The same goes for ice that forms around partially submerged trees, brush, embankments or other structures.
- Anglers should drill test holes as they make their way out on the lake, and an ice chisel should be used to check ice thickness while moving around.
- Daily temperature changes cause ice to expand and contract, affecting its strength.
- The following minimums are recommended for travel on clear-blue lake ice formed under ideal conditions. However, early in the winter it’s a good idea to double these figures to be safe: 4 inches for a group walking single file; 6 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle; 8-12 inches for an automobile; and 12-15 inches for a pickup/truck.
While heading onto North Dakota lakes this winter, Schaffer offers these life-saving safety tips:
- Wear a personal flotation device and carry a cell phone.
- Carry ice picks or a set of screwdrivers to pull yourself back on the ice if you fall through.
- If someone breaks through the ice, call 911 immediately. Rescue attempts should employ a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit. If that’s not possible, throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug or other buoyant object. Go to the victim as a last resort, but do this by forming a human chain where rescuers lie on the ice with each person holding the feet of the person in front.
- To treat hypothermia, replace wet clothing with dry clothing and immediately transport victim to a hospital.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys and the future looks promising, especially compared to a year ago when many waters were struggling.
Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader, said many lakes already had low water levels going into last winter, and then a heavy snowpack resulted in significant winterkill.
“Good moisture throughout the summer rejuvenated the habitat in many of the smaller lakes around the state, primarily in the central and southeast,” Gangl said.
The cooler, wet summer produced ideal receiving conditions for stocked pike and walleye. “We saw really good survival and growth on most stocked species,” Gangl said.
Similar to last year, Devils Lake saw fair to good numbers of walleye, with the catch close to average. “However, we saw very low numbers of yellow perch, which means there wasn’t a good reproductive year for perch,” Gangl said.
In Lake Sakakawea, Gangl said there was a good catch of young walleye. “This was a result of a combination of stocking efforts and natural reproduction,” he added. “We also saw a lot of rainbow smelt, so the forage base is still pretty solid.”
Lake Oahe has had several years of good reproduction of walleye, Gangl said, including this year. “The walleye population continues to be dominated by smaller fish,” he added. “Lake Oahe is lacking forage which causes fish to grow slower than they should.”
Reproduction surveys evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking orders for its North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar, the source for all hunting season and application dates for 2020. Along with outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, it also includes sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.
To order online, visit buy and apply at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov., or send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095. Be sure to include a three-line return address with your order, or the post office may not deliver our return mailing.
The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers will automatically receive it in the mail.
The deadline for submitting entries in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is Oct. 1.
The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.
The contest guidelines are the same as in previous years, but the process for submitting photos has changed. This year, photographers will provide information and upload images through the Game and Fish Department website only, at gf.nd.gov/photo-contest.
Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.
By submitting an entry, photographers grant permission to Game and Fish to publish winning photographs in North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine, and on the department’s website.
For more information or questions, contact Patrick Isakson, conservation biologist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking water recreationists and property owners to check for zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species when removing boat lifts, docks and other equipment from area lakes.
ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said zebra mussels attach to hard surfaces that are left in the water for long periods of time, first settling in tight spaces and areas that are protected from sunlight. She said this can make searching for them in the lake difficult when there are few mussels present.
“It makes it easier to do a thorough search on equipment when it’s taken out of the water in the fall,” Howell said. “Pay special attention to wheel wells, right angles on frames, and areas that are otherwise protected from sunlight. Feel for attached organisms that have small hair-like structures holding them in place. Small mussels can feel like rough sandpaper, and adults can be as large as two inches long.”
Howell said if you think you’ve found a zebra mussel, take pictures, write down any relevant information such as how many were found and where, and report it online at the Game and Fish website gf.nd.gov/ans, or email Howell at email@example.com.
Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas and were introduced to the United States in the mid-1980s. Since then, they have caused massive damage to infrastructure, increased costs to electric and water users, and altered the ecosystems into which they were introduced. They were first discovered in North Dakota in the Red River in 2015 as a result of downstream drift from infested Minnesota lakes. Most recently, zebra mussels were discovered earlier this year in Lake Ashtabula.
“Help stop the spread by reporting anything that seems out of place, and remember to clean, drain and dry equipment before moving between waters,” Howell said.