Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Sandra Johnson Named Game and Fish Employee of the Year

Sandra Johnson, conservation biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, received the agency’s Director’s Award for professional excellence during the Department’s annual meeting Dec. 6 in Bismarck.

 

Terry Steinwand, Game and Fish director, said Johnson was instrumental in the development and implementation of North Dakota’s state wildlife action plan; in determining and providing technical advice on the status of the state’s nongame species, including the rare and declining species of conservation priority and federally listed threatened and endangered species; and in coordinating select projects that have been awarded state wildlife grants funding.

 

“Sandra accomplishes these roles in an effective, efficient, comprehensive and professional manner,” Steinwand said. “She continually looks for new and innovative ways and opportunities to fulfill her duties.”

Anglers May Not Bring Aquatic Bait into North Dakota

Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to import minnows and other forms of live aquatic bait into North Dakota.

 

Anglers should buy bait from a licensed North Dakota retail bait vendor. Bait vendors can properly identify species and have taken steps to ensure all bait is clean of any aquatic nuisance species.

For more information, refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide, available at license vendors or online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.

Fish House Regulations

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 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 an equipment registration number issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, or 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.
  • All unoccupied fish houses must be removed from all waters after midnight, March 15.

 

Anglers should refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for other winter fishing regulations.

Tentative 2019 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2019, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.

Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2019 include:

 

Spring Turkey April 13
Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion August 30
Dove September 1
Youth Deer September 13
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 14
Youth Waterfowl September 14
Early Resident Waterfowl September 21
Regular Waterfowl September 28
Pronghorn Gun October 4
Youth Pheasant October 5
Pheasant, Fall Turkey October 12
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 26
Deer Gun November 8
Deer Muzzleloader November 29

Winter Fishing Regulations

North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2018-20 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.
  • Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
  • Mechanical devices that set the hook are legal; however, the use of any device that automatically retrieves the fish is illegal.
  • There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. Materials used to mark holes must be in possession of anglers and spearers as soon as a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
  • 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.
  • All aquatic bait, such as fathead minnows, must be purchased or trapped in North Dakota.
  • Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
  • The packaging of fish (including parts thereof) away from one’s permanent residence must be done in such a manner that the number of fish in each package may be easily determined.
  • 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 fishes 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.
  • It is illegal to introduce anything into the water for the purpose of attempting to attract fish (chumming, artificial light, etc.) that is not attached or applied to a lure.
  • Licensing of fish houses is not required in North Dakota. However, any unoccupied fish house must have displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high, either a registration number issued by the department, or the owner’s name and address or name and telephone number.

Sampling Data Available

Anglers looking for a more in-depth look into many of North Dakota’s fisheries will have that chance soon on the state Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

 

Jerry Weigel, fisheries production/development section supervisor, said beginning in early December, anglers will be able to view the most recent fisheries sampling data on those waters surveyed, which is the same data biologists use to make management decisions.

 

The various sampling surveys, for example, provide some insight into the sizes of fish in a lake and general population trends.

 

This most recent data will be available online for those lakes surveyed. Weigel said Game and Fish doesn’t have the personnel to survey all of the nearly 450 active lakes every year, but the majority of the better fishing waters are monitored annually.

 

Weigel said sampling data complements the other information – driving directions, contour maps, fish species and boat ramp availability – already provided on the website for all active fisheries.

Ice Awareness for Anglers, Hunters

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is urging winter anglers and late-season hunters to use extreme caution when venturing out on ice.

 

Ice thickness is never consistent, especially early in winter, and can vary significantly on the same body of water. Edges become firm before the center.

 

A few reminders include:

  • Snow insulates ice, which in turn inhibits solid ice formation, and hides cracks, weak and open water areas.
  • 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.
  • Ice thickness is not consistent and can vary significantly even in a small area. Ice shouldn’t be judged by appearance alone. 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.

 

These tips could help save a life:

  • 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.

Fishing Tournaments Require 30-Day Notice

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 biological consequences or conflicts with other proposed tournaments for the same location and/or time.

 

Fishing 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 week, year and location.

Darkhouse Spearfishing Opens at Ice-Up

North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters whenever ice-up occurs. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

Prior to this year, the darkhouse spearfishing season had opened on Dec. 1.

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. 29-30, 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.