Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Be Courteous at Boat Ramps

North Dakota boaters are reminded to exercise patience and plan accordingly when heading to a lake or river this summer.

 

The state Game and Fish Department receives a number of complaints every year about overly aggressive behavior at boat ramps. A few simple reminders will help ensure a fluent transition when launching and loading a boat.

 

Launching

  • Don’t pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch.
  • Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug, before backing onto the ramp.
  • When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.
  • It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat: one to handle the boat and one to take care of the tow vehicle.

 

Loading

  • Don’t block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.
  • As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
  • Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.
  • Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unloading gear, draining all water and inspecting for and removing any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting boat.

Fishing for Free June 2-3

North Dakotans who want to give fishing a try are reminded they can fish for free June 2-3.

 

That is the state’s Free Fishing Weekend, when all residents age 16 and over can fish any North Dakota water without a license. Residents age 15 and under do not need a fishing license at any time of year.

 

“Most North Dakotans fish with family or friends, so it’s a great time for anglers to take someone new who otherwise might not have the chance,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “And you don’t have to travel far, as our state continues to offer real quality fishing opportunities in all corners of the state.”

 

Fishing regulations and information on fishing waters is available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov, and in the current regulations guide available at license vendor locations.

Some Lakes Suffer Winterkill

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists investigated winterkills at 13 lakes this spring, and some were considered significant enough to affect the quality of fishing.

 

Popular fishing lakes that appear to have suffered a significant kill include Spring Lake (Bowman County), Davis Dam (Slope County), Round Lake (Kidder County), Wentz WPA (Logan County), School Section Lake (Rolette County), Cavanaugh Lake (Ramsey County), Matejcek Dam (Walsh County), Casselton Reservoir (Cass County) and Bisek Slough (Richland County).

 

Fisheries biologists sample suspected winterkill lakes to assess the severity of the die-off, and make plans to restock fish where needed. Some lakes that were sampled and still have good populations of fish include Coal Lake (McLean County) and Island Lake (Rolette County).

 

Minor winterkills in some other lakes were not significant enough to affect fishing.

 

Anglers can contact fisheries biologists at local Game and Fish Department district offices to get more information on lake status, or to report fish kills that may not be on the list.

Catchable Trout Stocked

More than 50 local fisheries throughout North Dakota now have a fresh supply of catchable trout, as state Game and Fish Department personnel are wrapping up their annual spring trout stocking efforts.

 

Fisheries production and development section leader Jerry Weigel said while the number of fisheries statewide is at a historic high, many are not as easily accessible to youngsters, older adults and disabled anglers.

 

“The majority of these recently stocked waters are community fisheries that have fishing piers, and provide a great opportunity for first-time anglers to catch fish,” Weigel said. “These stockings put catchable fish in waters that are accessible.”

 

The trout were larger this year, with many averaging more than one-half pound, Weigel said. More than 60,000 11-inch rainbow trout were stocked, along with 1,000 1- to 3-pound cutthroat and rainbow trout.

 

Weigel emphasized that trout are kid friendly and bite aggressively in spring before temperatures rise, so the best time to catch them will be in the next few weeks.

 

“On late springs like this one, these catchable trout provide enjoyment as soon as they are stocked,” Weigel said.

 

Daily updates are listed on the Game and Fish Department’s Facebook page, and a complete stocking report is available on the department’s website, gf.nd.gov.

  • Adams – North Lemmon
  • Barnes – Blumers Pond, Hatchery Kids Pond
  • Bottineau – Strawberry Lake
  • Bowman – Lutz Dam
  • Burleigh – McDowell Dam, OWLS Pond, Wilton City Pond
  • Burke – Northgate Dam
  • Cass – Brooks Harbor, Casselton Pond, North Woodhaven Pond
  • Cavalier – Langdon City Pond
  • Divide – Baukol-Noonan Dam, Baukol-Noonan East Mine
  • Golden Valley – Beach City Pond, Camels Hump Lake
  • Grand Forks – Ryan Park Pond, Turtle River
  • Grant – Sheep Creek Dam
  • Hettinger – Castle Rock Dam, Mott Watershed Dam
  • McIntosh – Blumhardt Dam
  • McKenzie – Watford City Park Pond
  • McLean – Custer Mine, Lightning Lake, Riverdale City Pond
  • Mercer – Harmony Lake, Hazen Creek
  • Morton – Gaebe Pond, Harmon Lake, Krieg’s Pond, Little Heart Pond, Nygren Dam, Porsborg Dam
  • Mountrail – Stanley Pond
  • Oliver – Oliver County Sportsmen’s Pond
  • Ransom – Mooringstone Pond
  • Renville – Glenburn Pond
  • Richland – Mooreton Pond
  • Rolette – Hooker Lake
  • Slope – Davis Dam
  • Stark – Belfield Pond, Dickinson Dike
  • Stutsman – Streeter Lake
  • Ward – State Fair Pond, Velva Sportsmen’s Pond
  • Williams – Kettle Lake, Kota-Ray Dam, McGregor Dam, West Spring Lake Pond

The 2018 May North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

 

Ron Wilson explains how the extended winter resulted in a Northern Pike Spawn Delayed

When North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists set trap nets in Lake Oahe in spring for the northern pike spawn, they were as late to the game as they’d been in years.

 

Ron also authored the story on Deer Gun Applications go Electronic  A law passed by the North Dakota Legislature requiring the Department to develop an all-electronic licensing system, and phase out the old paper license books, actually went into effect April 1, 2016.

 

The North Dakota State Water Commission explains the history and transition of lowhead dams and how State Agencies Work Together To Eliminate “Drowning Machines”

 

One of the unintentional consequences that materialized is that these lowhead dams created dangerous conditions that recreational river users may not be aware of or may underestimate.

 

Drain Water from Boats

North Dakota anglers and water recreationists are reminded that all water must be drained from boats before leaving a water body.

 

This regulation, intended to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, includes all watercraft and associated bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors. However, anglers can transport fish on ice in a separate container.

 

In addition, all drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport.

 

Other ANS regulations require:

  • All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing rods, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. That means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.
  • All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota. Anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume. The only exception is that anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). At Class I ANS infested waters, all water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.
  • Transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is illegal.

Deer Season Set, Online Apps Available

North Dakota’s 2018 deer season is set, with 55,150 licenses available to hunters this fall, 650 more than last year.

In total, antlered mule deer licenses increased by 150 from last year, antlerless mule deer by 550, antlered whitetail by 150 and antlerless whitetail by 150. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reduced the number of “any antlered” licenses by 100, and reduced “any antlerless” license by 250.

In addition, restricted youth antlered mule deer licenses increased by 15, and muzzleloader licenses remained the same.

As in the past several years, no mule deer doe licenses are available in unit 4A.

North Dakota’s 2018 deer gun season opens Nov. 9 at noon and continues through Nov. 25.

Applicants for regular deer gun, youth and muzzleloader can apply online through the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or call 800-406-6409. A service fee is charged for applications made through the 800 number.

Gratis applicants must apply online – the toll-free licensing telephone number is not set up to receive gratis applications. In addition, paper applications are no longer available for any lottery or gratis licenses.

The deadline for applying is June 6.

Applicants who do not have access to a computer can submit the application at a public service location such as a public library, stop at a Game and Fish office, or request help from a friend, relative or neighbor.

Gratis applications received on or before the regular deer gun lottery application deadline will qualify for an any-legal-deer license. As per state law, gratis applications received after the deadline will be processed based on licenses remaining after the lottery – generally only antlerless licenses remain.

Total deer licenses are determined by harvest rates, aerial surveys, depredation reports, hunter observations, input at advisory board meetings, and comments from the public, landowners and department field staff.

Leave Baby Animals Alone, Watch for Deer

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department offers a simple message to well-intentioned humans who want to pick up and rescue what appear to be orphaned baby animals this time of year – don’t touch them. Whether it is a young fawn, duckling, cottontail rabbit or a songbird, it is better to just leave them alone.

 

More often than not, young animals are not abandoned or deserted, and the mother is probably nearby. Young wildlife are purposely placed into seclusion by their mothers to protect them from predators.

 

Anytime a young wild animal has human contact its chance for survival decreases significantly. It’s illegal to take wild animals home, and captive animals later returned to the wild will struggle to survive because they do not possess learned survival skills.

 

The only time a baby animal should be picked up is if it is in an unnatural situation, such as a young songbird found on a doorstep. In that case, the young bird could be moved to the closest suitable habitat.

 

Citizens should also steer clear of adult wildlife, such as deer or moose that might wander into urban areas. Crowding stresses animals, and this could lead to a potentially dangerous situation.

 

In addition, motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways. June is one of the peak months for deer‑vehicle accidents because young animals are dispersing from their home ranges. With deer more active during these months, the potential for car‑deer collisions increases.

Spring Mule Deer Survey Complete

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department completed its annual spring mule deer survey in April, and results indicate western North Dakota’s mule deer population is similar to last year, and 45 percent above the long-term average.

photo by Craig Bihrle, ND     Game and Fish

 

Biologists counted 2,540 mule deer in 245.8 square miles during this year’s survey. Overall mule deer density in the badlands was 10.3 deer per square mile, compared to 10.9 in 2017.

 

Big game management supervisor Bruce Stillings said mule deer in the badlands have recovered nicely following the winters of 2009-11, which led to record low fawn production and a population index low of 4.6 mule deer per square mile in 2012.

 

“The population recovery is due to no antlerless harvest for four years combined with milder winter conditions during 2012-2016, which led to good fawn production since 2013,” Stillings said. “However, the long-term health of the population will depend on maintaining high quality habitat. Rangeland conditions are in tough shape in the badlands due to drought conditions, and could have a negative impact on fawn production this summer.”

 

The 2018 survey results show that hunting opportunities, according to Stillings, can increase slightly in all badlands units except 4A, which has been slower to recover than the rest of the badlands units. “There are localized areas that have very high mule deer densities and have exceeded landowner tolerance levels,” Stillings said.

 

The spring mule deer survey is used to assess mule deer abundance in the badlands. It is conducted after the snow has melted and before the trees begin to leaf out, providing the best conditions for aerial observation of deer. Biologists have completed aerial surveys of the same 24 study areas since the 1950s.