Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Game and Fish at State Fair

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will host thousands of visitors to its free Conservation and Outdoors Skills Park July 19-27 at the State Fair in Minot.

 

Visitors will be treated to an array of activities, exhibits and useful information as the park is open from 1-7 p.m. daily. Pathways to Hunting, Fishing, Trapping and Archery are major attractions where interested kids and adults participate in each outdoor activity.

 

In addition to hands-on outdoor learning opportunities, the area offers a live fish display, furbearer exhibit and native prairie plantings. An information center staffed by Game and Fish Department personnel greets visitors to the Conservation and Outdoors Skills Park, which is located on the north end of the fairgrounds near the State Fair Center.

 

 

The North Dakota State Fair begins Friday. Visit us there at the Department’s Conservation and Outdoors Skills Park. The park and activities are free and open daily from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. The park offers hands-on outdoor learning opportunities like a fishing pond and archery range. There are also many informational exhibits including a live fish display and native prairie plantings. Learn more

have you read? FREE July ND Outdoors Magazine

The July 2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find a great piece by editor Ron Wilson  The Value of Helping Hands You can hardly swing a gillnet at a North Dakota Game and Fish Department gathering without hitting a full-time staffer who was employed as a seasonal worker earlier in their career. By most counts, more than half of the 163 full-time Game and Fish Department employees hired on as seasonal staff during their college years.

 

Alicia Underlee Nelson takes a look at One of the longest trails in the nation which starts in North Dakota. The North Country National Scenic Trail will span more than 4,600 miles (more than twice the length of the Appalachian Trail) between Lake Sakakawea State Park and Crown Point, New York on the western shore of Lake Champlain.
Fisheries biologist Randy Hiltner shares his insight Managing Fish and Angling Opportunities in the Northeast The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s northeast fisheries management district encompasses all or parts of 16 counties. Included are several large natural lakes, such as Devils Lake, Stump Lake and the Lake Irvine complex.

Bighead Carp Caught in James River

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently collected and verified bighead carp in the James River near LaMoure during silver carp monitoring efforts. Bighead carp, an exotic species, are established in the lower Missouri River and in the James River in South Dakota. This is the first report of this aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota waters.

Jessica Howell, Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator, said department personnel are disappointed but not surprised that bighead carp have entered the state.

“High water levels in the James River this year have facilitated their movements upstream, providing an opportunity for them to enter the state from the South Dakota portions,” Howell said.

Game and Fish staff will continue to sample the James River on a regular basis to monitor the silver and bighead carp populations as well as to detect any new potential species that migrate during high flows.

“Once established in a large river system they are virtually impossible to eliminate,” Howell said.

Like the closely related silver carp that showed up in 2011, bighead carp can out-compete native and other game fish in large river systems. They eat phytoplankton, a food item used by zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by small game fish. They concentrate below dams and in confluence areas and can drive out desirable fish.

Operation Dry Water

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will again participate in Operation Dry Water as part of a nationally coordinated effort to increase knowledge about the dangers of boating under the influence. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on state waterways.

 

Operation Dry Water weekend, July 5-7, is the national weekend of heightened enforcement effort directed at boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach.

 

While informing and educating boaters about the hazards and negative outcomes associated with boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a year-round effort, on ODW weekend the Game and Fish Department’s game wardens will be focused on the water, informing boaters about safe boating practices, and removing impaired operators from the water.

 

Tips to staying safe on the water:

  • Boat sober – alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket – 85 percent of drowning victims nationwide were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Take a boating safety education course - 71 percent of deaths nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

WMA Regulations Prohibit Fireworks, Camping Restrictions Lifted for Holiday

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds citizens that possession or use of fireworks on state wildlife management areas is prohibited.

 

The primary objective of a wildlife management area is to enhance wildlife production, provide hunting and fishing opportunities, and offer other outdoor recreational and educational uses that are compatible with these objectives. Only activities that would not disrupt the intentions of how these areas are managed are encouraged, and a fireworks display is not compatible.

 

In addition, the Game and Fish Department will lift the Tuesday-Wednesday no-camping restriction for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday week, which will allow overnight camping July 2-3 on those WMAs that otherwise have this two-day restriction in place.

 

A complete list of the WMA regulations is available on the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.

Zebra Mussels Discovered in Lake Ashtabula

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Lake Ashtabula.

Last week, an angler discovered a suspected zebra mussel and turned it into Game and Fish aquatic nuisance species coordinator Jessica Howell. Howell confirmed it as an adult zebra mussel, and subsequent inspections of Lake Ashtabula, an impoundment on the Sheyenne River in Barnes and Griggs counties in east central North Dakota, also found well-established populations of zebra mussels of various ages throughout the lake.

At 5,200 acres, Lake Ashtabula is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it offers a variety of outdoor activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, camping and skiing. Howell said it’s unknown how these small, sharp-shelled mussels were introduced into Lake Ashtabula, and there is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels.

“This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” Howell said. “Everyone who uses this lake now plays a key role in stemming the spread of these mussels to uninfested waters.”

Because of this new finding, the Game and Fish Department has classified Lake Ashtabula, and the Sheyenne River downstream all the way to the Red River, as Class I ANS infested water. Emergency rules will go into effect immediately to prohibit the movement of water away from the lake and river, including water for transferring bait. Notices will be posted at lake access sites and popular shore-fishing spots along the river.

The Red River is the state’s only other Class I ANS water. Adult zebra mussels were discovered in the Red in 2015.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS, Howell said, as they often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain and dry boats and other equipment before using another lake,” Howell said. “Also, don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present.”

Zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands may be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when wading, or walking on shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the nonnative aquatic species that threaten North Dakota waters and native wildlife, Howell said. North Dakota regulations designed to prevent the spread of ANS include:

  •           Remove aquatic vegetation before leaving the water access and do not import into North Dakota.
  •           Drain all water before leaving the water access.
  •           Remove drain plugs and devices that hold back water, and leave open and out during transport.
  •           Do not import bait. For Class I ANS Infested waters, bait cannot be transported in water away from the river or lake. In all other areas, bait must be transported in a container that holds 5 gallons or less. Fish cleaning stations are available around Lake Ashtabula to dispose of unused bait. Remember that it is illegal to dump unused bait on shore or into the lake. If no fish cleaning station is available, place in a dry container and dispose of the bait at home.

In addition to North Dakota regulations, the Game and Fish Department strongly recommends that all equipment is cleaned, drained and dried every time it is used.

  •           Clean – remove plants, animals, and excessive mud prior to leaving a water access
  •           Drain – drain all water prior to leaving a water access
  •           Dry – allow equipment to dry completely before using again or disinfect

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota, options for disinfection, or to report a possible ANS, visit https://gf.nd.gov/ans.

About Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are dime-sized mollusks with striped, sharp-edged, two-part shells. They can produce large populations in a short time and do not require a host fish to reproduce. A large female zebra mussel can produce 1 million eggs, and fertilized eggs develop into microscopic veligers that are invisible to the naked eye. Veligers drift in the water for at least two weeks before they settle out as young mussels, which quickly grow to adult size and reproduce within a few months.

After settling, zebra mussels develop byssal threads that attach their shells to submerged hard surfaces such as rocks, piers and flooded timber. They also attach to pipes, water intake structures, boat hulls, propellers and submerged parts of outboard motors. As populations increase, they can clog intake pipes and prevent water treatment and electrical generating plants from drawing water. Removing large numbers of zebra mussels to ensure adequate water flow can be labor-intensive and costly.

Zebra mussels are native to the Black and Caspian seas of western Asia and eastern Europe, and were spread around the world in the ballast water of cargo ships. They were first discovered in the United States in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River in 1988, and quickly spread throughout the Great Lakes and other rivers including the Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas and Hudson. Moving water in boats and bait buckets has been identified as a likely vector, as has importing used boat lifts and docks.

Traveling Boaters Take Note of ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to or through other states or Canadian provinces, are reminded to check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination, to make sure they are in compliance.

 

Mandatory boat inspections may be required along highways or at lakes based on destination or route taken. In general, to ensure compliance, boaters are encouraged to clean, drain and dry equipment.

  • Clean: remove plants, animals and excessive mud from trailers, hulls, motors and other equipment such as fishing rods.
  • Drain: drain all water, including bilges, livewells and bait buckets.
  • Dry: allow all equipment to dry completely, as an inspection might be failed in a neighboring state if any standing water is present. If necessary, use sponges or towels to remove excess water and leave compartments open to dry.

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

Hunting Guide and Outfitter Exam Scheduled

The next guide and outfitter written examination is Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department office in Bismarck. The test is given periodically to anyone interested in becoming a hunting guide or outfitter in the state.

 

In addition to passing a written exam, qualifications for becoming a guide include a background check for criminal and game and fish violations; certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid; and employment by or contract with a licensed hunting outfitter.

 

Hunting outfitter eligibility requirements include the guide qualifications, as well as an individual must have held a hunting guide license for two years; and must have proof of liability insurance.

 

Interested individuals are required to preregister by calling the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement office at 328-6604.

have you read?

The June  2019 North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

You’ll find a great piece by Editor Ron Wilson  Big Lake Walleye Spawn Fuels State Fisheries “Walleye spawning is driven by two things – water temperature and photoperiod (daylight),” said Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries supervisor. “Especially in Lake Sakakawea, which is a big body of water, there is warmer water in many of the bays, while the water is still cold out in the lake.”

Ron also shares thoughts from Greg Power, fisheries division chief, who revists the changes in fish spawning in 40 Years of Eggs and Change

“1979 – 40 years ago – was the first year I spawned fish at this location,” Power said. “At the time, there was a spawning shack here, but very few trees and there weren’t many anglers to speak of back in those days.”

 

Operation Dry Water takes a look at work by game wardens to keep boating safe this summer.

Boating under the influence is always a concern for law enforcement during North Dakota’s open-water season. With more than 64,000 registered watercraft in the state, it’s a certainty when the sun pops, weather warms and the wind dies, that not all water enthusiasts are playing it smart.