Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Fall Fish Survey Completed

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys and most waters fared as good as or better than expected.

 

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, said Lake Sakakawea had the eighth highest catch of young-of-the-year walleye on record.

 

“There was good reproduction of most game species in the big lake, as we saw healthy numbers of pike, perch, smallmouth bass, white bass, crappies and walleye,” Gangl said. “And it’s the second year in a row of good walleye reproduction, which isn’t a surprise considering the high water is resulting in an abundance of food and habitat for the young fish.”

 

Lake Oahe showed good reproduction of walleye this year, which Gangl said is not necessarily a good thing. “This is the fourth good year class out of the last five years, leaving a lot of small fish out there right now,” he added. “Lake Oahe is lacking forage which causes fish to grow slower than they should.”

 

Gangl said while there was some indication of gizzard shad reproduction in Lake Oahe in 2017, there wasn’t much this year. “The cold winter didn’t allow for much survival with this forage fish,” he said.

 

Devils Lake saw fair to good numbers of walleye, with the catch close to average even though Game and Fish didn’t stock any walleye in the fishery this year. “The end result was all from natural reproduction,” Gangl said.

 

Sampling results on smaller lakes generally vary from lake to lake. The common theme mentioned this year from fisheries personnel across the state is that the young-of-the-year fish were larger than normal. “This is significant because bigger fish generally have a better chance of surviving through the first winter,” Gangl said, “and that’s an important step in getting to a catchable size in the future.”

 

Reproduction surveys evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance.

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2018, 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 2018 include:

Spring Turkey April 14
Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion August 31
Dove September 1
Sharptail, Hun, Ruffed Grouse, Squirrel September 8
Youth Deer September 14
Youth Waterfowl September 15
Early Resident Waterfowl September 22
Regular Waterfowl, Youth Pheasant September 29
Pronghorn Gun October 5
Pheasant October 6
Fall Turkey October 13
Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping October 27
Deer Gun November 9
Deer Muzzleloader November 30

 

Salmon Spawn Completed

Fisheries crews have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System after collecting more than 2.5 million eggs.

Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor, said crews easily collected enough eggs to stock the 400,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2018.

The majority of eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, with help from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of Lake Sakakawea female salmon was 6.2 pounds, about 1.2 pounds smaller than last year. Fryda said once again there was an abundance of young male salmon, which forecasts a good run the next couple years.

Additional surplus eggs were provided to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to help with their Lake Oahe salmon program.

Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish Department and Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery personnel collect eggs and transport them to the hatchery.

Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend several months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.

Fall Fish Surveys Provide Insight

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys, which evaluate natural reproduction, stocking success and forage abundance in many waters across the state.

walleye release 3

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, said there is good news from the survey efforts.

“We are seeing really good numbers of walleye and sauger in Lake Sakakawea, so we think those two had a pretty good year,” he said. “Devils Lake is seeing pretty good numbers of walleye, but the Missouri River and Lake Oahe are still really low in the production of anything.”

Gangl said the Missouri River flood of 2011 is still influencing this popular fishery.

“We’ve had some good walleye reproduction in the Missouri River System downstream of Garrison Dam over the last few years,” he said. “It is actually a good thing that we did not have a good walleye year-class again this year because there are a lot of small fish out there and they are going to start competing for limited forage.”

Gangl said that while biologists have not seen a lot of forage production in recent years in Lake Oahe, there was some indication of gizzard shad reproduction.

“The gizzard shad numbers are not what they were back in, say, 2008, but we did see quite a few fish down around the state line and we did catch some shad all the way up to Bismarck,” he said. “So there are shad in the system right now and they did reproduce, but I don’t think the numbers are there yet to provide a lot of forage.”

Considering summer drought conditions and other factors, Gangl said the results of the fall reproduction survey in district lakes scattered across the state vary.

“There are some good ones and some bad ones,” he said. “Department fisheries biologists are finding some good stocking success in a few lakes, but in some lakes, it wasn’t so good. It is all dependent on the different factors from lake to lake.”

From a statewide perspective, Gangl said North Dakota’s fisheries are sitting in pretty good shape.

“In our big lakes, Devils Lake has a pretty robust walleye population and Sakakawea is very good right now,” he said. “We may have lost some water in the more than 400 district lakes, but in the grand scheme of things, I think we are still riding high with all the adult fish and whatever young fish we had this year. I think we are sitting really well going into winter. We’ll just see what Mother Nature gives us in terms of moisture for the coming year.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Fish Surveys Completed

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists have completed fall reproduction surveys, which evaluates natural reproduction and stocking success across the state.

Fisheries management section leader Scott Gangl said Lake Sakakawea produced the fourth highest young-of-the-year catch of sauger since 1970. In addition, walleye numbers were relatively good due to natural reproduction and stocking efforts.

“We are seeing a lot of young-of-the-year smelt in the stomachs of other fish, which is an indication of good smelt reproduction in Lake Sakakawea this year,” Gangl said.

The Missouri River is still recovering from the flood of 2011, Gangl said. “But this year we did sample gizzard shad at all sites from the Garrison Dam down to Lake Oahe,” he said.

Gizzard shad in Lake Oahe saw the highest number since 2008. But overall, Gangl said forage is still lacking. “With good natural reproduction again in 2016, this is the third consecutive strong year class of walleye,” he added. “Which means the walleye catch will continue to be dominated by smaller fish.”

The Devils Lake basin reported relatively good catches of young-of-the-year walleye, after Game and Fish stocked 1.7 million fingerlings this spring.

Statewide, smaller lakes showed various levels of success. “We saw good walleye survival on the newer lakes, with more variable success on the established lakes,” Gangl said. “In addition, we saw good reproduction of bluegills in many of our lakes statewide.”

2016 Fall Turkey Season Preview

 

Have you seen? This week’s North Dakota Outdoors Online webcast video features upland game biologist Rodney Gross with a look at  how the 2016 fall turkey season is shaping up.

Note: Lottery application deadline: September 7 apply right here

You can watch the video right here: or http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast

More video’s are available right here or http://gf.nd.gov/video

 

<iframe width=”863″ height=”485″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/_0Kkfk_VXS4″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

https://youtu.be/_0Kkfk_VXS4

Fall Turkey Season Set

 

North Dakota’s fall turkey season is set with 3,510 licenses available to hunters,145 fewer than last year.

Prospective hunters, including gratis applicants, can apply online, or print out an application to mail, at the State Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications will be available at vendors Aug. 31. The deadline for applying isSept. 7

In addition, applicants can apply by calling the department’s toll-free licensing line,800-406-6409. A service fee is added for license applications made over the phone.

Only North Dakota residents are eligible to apply in the first lottery. Nonresidents can apply for fall turkey licenses that are still available following the first lottery.

Hunting units 21 (Hettinger and Adams counties) and 53 (Divide and Williams counties) will remain closed to fall turkey hunting in 2016 because of low turkey numbers.

The fall wild turkey season extends from Oct. 8 through Jan. 8, 2017.

Wild turkeys ND badlands photo by Craig Bihrle, ND Game and Fish

Have You Read? February North Dakota Outdoors Magazine

The February  issue of North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now. One of the features is  Managing Mountain Lions: A Look at the Past and Future by Ron Wilson. North Dakota held it first mountain lion hunting season in 2005, and it’s ran uninterrupted since. The Game and Fish Department in conjunction with researchers from South Dakota State University, launched the first part of a two phase research project in 2011.

FEB

There’s some great information breaking down the deer lottery, and the Enforcement Division’s 2015 year in review.

 

Greg Freeman explains how All-Electronic Licensing Starts April 1Elimination of paper  licenses sold at vendors has been in the works since 2013, when the state legislature passed a law requiring each county auditor to implement a computerized online licensing system by March of last year, and each agent or vendor appointed by a  county auditor by March, 1, 2016.

 

Check these stories and more for free in the full February issue available right here or here http://gf.nd.gov/publications

Mountain Lion Management Meetings Set

North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials will host three public meetings this month to discuss the status of the state’s mountain lion population.

Cougar photo 3

Results of a two-phase research project and biological findings from animals harvested over the last decade show the population has steadily declined over the past several years.

“We want to share what we’ve learned about managing mountain lions in North Dakota over the last 10 years,” said Jeb Williams, wildlife division chief. “Considering what we knew about mountain lions in North Dakota prior to 2005, which was very little, the information gathered in the last decade is significant.”

Meeting dates and locations to discuss what state wildlife managers have learned are as follows: Feb. 23, Game and Fish Department headquarters, 100 North Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, 7 p.m.; Feb. 24, Fargo Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Avenue South, 7 p.m.; and Feb. 29, Killdeer Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, 158 Rodeo Drive, 7 p.m.

North Dakota has had a mountain lion hunting season every year since 2005. The Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with researchers from South Dakota State University, launched the first part of a two-phase research project in 2011. Phase II is expected to be completed in 2017.

“We have made amazing headway in the last four years, and by the time Phase II is done we will have a really good handle on this population,” said Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist.