Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Keep Fish Caught in Deep Water

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists are encouraging ice anglers to keep fish caught from deep waters.


Catch-and-release fishing, no matter the time of year, is discouraged for fish caught in 30 feet or more of water because fish reeled in from those depths have a greater chance of dying if released.


Fish caught in deep water won’t likely survive because of the extreme change in water pressure, which causes the swim bladder to expand. Fish can no longer control their balance in the water column when this happens. Other internal injuries, such as rupturing of organs and bleeding, are also likely for fish caught from deep waters.


Devils Lake ice anglers commonly catch yellow perch in 30-45 feet of water during the winter months. This practice also translates to other deep water bodies around the state.


Game and Fish recommends that anglers targeting fish in deeper water make the commitment to keep what they catch. And once they reach their limit, anglers should stop fishing at that depth to avoid killing more than their limit of fish.

Winter Anglers Reminded to Clean Up Ice

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds winter anglers to clean up the ice after fishing. This not only applies to trash, but fish as well.


It is not only unsightly, but it is illegal to leave fish, including minnows used for bait, behind on the ice. According to state fishing regulations, when a fish is caught, anglers must either immediately release the fish back into the water unharmed, or reduce them to their daily possession.


It is common practice for some anglers to fillet fish on the ice, which is allowed, as long as fish entrails and other parts are removed from the ice and properly disposed of at home.


In addition, all trash, including aluminum cans, cigarette butts and Styrofoam containers, must be packed out and taken home.

Contour Lake Maps on Website


North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently added new fishing waters to the list of available contour maps on the Game and Fish website.

In addition, Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development section leader, said maps of existing waters have been reprocessed to improve detail and quality. “We have access to more tools and options to create a better map then we did back in the early 2000s when most contour mapping occurred,” Weigel said.

Contour maps recently added or improved are: Fox Lake, Barnes County; Bowman-Haley Dam, Bowman County; Powers Lake, Burke County; Crimmins Lake, Burleigh County; North Washington Lake, Eddy County; Rice Lake, Emmons County; Larimore Dam, Grand Forks County; Alkaline Lake and Lake Geneva, Kidder County; Buffalo Lodge Lake and Cottonwood Lake, McHenry County; Kislingbury Lake and Lehr Wildlife Management Area, McIntosh County; Arnegard Dam, McKenzie County; Coal Lake, McLean County; Clearwater Lake, Mountrail County; Buffalo Lake, Pierce County; Hinsz Lake, Sheridan County; Dickinson Reservoir, Stark County; North Golden Lake, Steele County; and Epping Springbrook Dam, Williams County.

All contour maps are available by accessing the fishing link at gf.nd.gov/fishing, then clicking on “where to fish.”

2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS Calendar Available

The 2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar is available for ordering online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

The calendar features outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, and includes season opening and application deadline dates, sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

Calendars are also available via mail order. Send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers should have already received it in the mail.

Game and Fish Recognizes Employee Efforts

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Director Terry Steinwand recently honored a number of employees with performance-based awards. Steinwand presented the following employees with special recognition awards at the department’s annual staff meeting in December.


Renae Schultz, private land biologist, Jamestown, was recognized for her attitude, persistence and efforts in coordinating a Private Lands Open to Sportsmen tract along the James River.


Mike Anderson, video project supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his planning, shooting, editing, script writing and voicing the North Dakota Outdoors weekly broadcast, in addition to hosting and editing the Game and Fish Department’s weekly online webcast.


Justin Mattson, administrative staff officer, Bismarck, was recognized for his work ethic, reliability and willingness to take on extra responsibilities in the administrative services division.


Bill Haase, wildlife resource management supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his work on several projects, including public shooting ranges, cover crops and GPS mapping for weed spraying.


Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird management supervisor, Bismarck, was recognized for his vision and coordination in combining the three separate small game, waterfowl and furbearer/trapping guides into one combined hunting and trapping guide.


Steve Dyke, conservation section leader, and Sandra Johnson and Elisha Mueller, conservation biologists, Bismarck, were recognized for their efforts in developing a new standard for wind project planning and siting in North Dakota.


In addition to special recognition recipients, Keenan Snyder, district game warden, Williston, was named North Dakota’s Boating Officer of the Year. His district has approximately 150 miles of shoreline bordering Lake Sakakawea and portions of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. Chief game warden Robert Timian said warden Snyder has been tasked with water patrols relating to monitoring environmental issues associated with oil activities in, on and around these three water bodies, and has met these challenges with enthusiasm, which reflects highly on the department and the community he serves.

Art Cox Named Wildlife Officer of the Year

Art Cox, North Dakota Game and Fish Department district game warden stationed in Bowman, is the state’s 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Cox was honored recently by the Shikar-Safari Club International, a private conservation organization that annually recognizes outstanding wildlife officers in each state.

In a nomination letter sent to Shikar-Safari, chief warden Robert Timian said Cox’s district contains a variety of wildlife and recreational areas that encompasses parts or all of four counties.

“Warden Cox has a large district that requires energy and dedication to patrol with elk, deer, pronghorn, grouse, partridge, waterfowl, fishing and pheasant seasons overlapping,” Timian said. “He is often pulled in different directions but always finds a way to get his mission completed, and has a great working relationship with the public and landowners in his district.”

Alan Reile Named Game and Fish Employee of the Year

Alan Reile, information technology coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, received the agency’s Director’s Award for professional excellence at the department’s annual staff meeting in December.


Terry Steinwand, Game and Fish director, said Reile has had a hand in making all staff more efficient by maintaining department systems, law enforcement technologies, video production, cyber security and desktop support.


“Alan consistently demonstrates professionalism by supporting our technologies and staff,” Steinwand said. “His ability and effort have helped us all perform at a very high level. Perhaps most of all, his commitment to the department and his willingness to help is recognized and appreciated by all.”

Watercraft Registrations Online

North Dakota watercraft owners are reminded that 2020 is the first year of a new three-year registration period.


Watercraft registrations must be renewed online by visiting My Account at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov. A credit card is required.


The price to register motorboats in North Dakota under 16 feet in length, and all canoes, is $18, motorboats from 16 feet to less than 20 feet in length is $36, and motorboats at least 20 feet in length is $45. Fees are prorated.


In addition, Senate Bill 2293, passed by the 2019 state legislature, created an aquatic nuisance species program fund in the state treasury. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, this new state law establishes an ANS fee of $15 for each motorized watercraft registered in North Dakota to run concurrent with the three-year watercraft registration period.


For motorized watercraft operated on waters in North Dakota and not licensed in North Dakota, the state law establishes an ANS fee of $15 to be paid for each calendar year, and to display an ANS sticker on the watercraft.


New watercraft owners can attach the required documentation, such as the bill of sale or proof of taxes paid, with the online purchase, or send in the required documentation via standard mail. A 10-day temporary permit will be issued to allow for processing and delivery of registration and decals. For timely processing, Game and Fish encourages watercraft owners to submit attachments online.


The 2020-2022 watercraft registration cycle begins Jan. 1 and runs through Dec. 31, 2022. The online registration will be available mid-December.

Free Ice Fishing Weekend

North Dakota’s free ice fishing weekend is Dec. 28-29.


Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license. All other ice fishing regulations apply.


Those interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.