Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting from Duck Boats Requires Safety

Waterfowlers hunting from boats are encouraged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.

photo by Ed Bry, ND Game and Fish

Hunting jackets with life jackets already built in are light and comfortable to wear. In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also slow the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.

Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters.

Eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and none were wearing life jackets.

Have You Read? Aug-Sept Outdoors Magazine

The 2017 August-September  North Dakota Outdoors magazine is available FREE online right now here.

North Dakota Game  and Fish Director Terry Steinwand  writes Matters of Opinion  

Where has summer gone? That’s probably the most frequently asked question I’ve fielded of late.

Considering that there are still 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and so on, this summer isn’t any shorter than those in the past.

I have a theoretical, and somewhat psychological answer to the question, though. Based on last winter’s weather, specifically a six-week stretch from late November to early January, we thought we’d have flooding and wet conditions once again. While there was flooding in some areas of the state, like Belcourt, overall flooding did not occur as anticipated.

 

Jeb Williams Chief of Wildlife and his staff have an overview of the 2017 Hunting Season Outlook

Most North Dakotans will remember 2017 as a time when drought returned to the state.

North Dakota is well known for wild weather swings, but the end of 2016, and so far into 2017, is about as weird as weather can get.

As a beautiful November ended last fall, December arrived with a mission, a seemingly singular focus to make things miserable for critters and citizens of the state.

septcover

North Dakota Outdoors editor Ron Wilson and Private Lands Coordinator Kevin Kading offer insight on the 2017 PLOTS Program Evolves, Adapts

The many upturned yellow signs anchored into rural North Dakota lands are unmistakably familiar. For those who hunt, the signs that trumpet the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Private Land Open To Sportsmen program, should be easily recognizable, as the walk-in access program is a long-time staple.

Have You Seen? North Dakota Outdoors Webcast – 07/20/2017

Watch the video right here on a North Dakota  salmon update

Lake Sakakawea has some very deep, cold water that is unused by most fish, so in 1970 the Department began stocking salmon in the lake. Now, each year from about mid-July through August, anglers can enjoy some great salmon fishing in Lake Sakakawea. Learn more about the lake’s salmon and the salmon stocking program in this week’s webcast.

Aquatic Vegetation Deserves Attention

 

Extensive vegetation growth along docks and boat ramps serves as a good reminder for anglers and boaters to follow aquatic nuisance species regulations.

 

North Dakota Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Jessica Howell said the Department has received reports of increased vegetation in local waters.

 

“Aquatic plants can be the most abundant in the warmer months due to a combination of available nutrients, light and steadily increasing water temperatures,” Howell said.

 

State regulations require all aquatic vegetation 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. Howell said that means “vegetation free” when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. She said time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

 

“Some plant species are highly invasive, and other ANS can hitch a ride in vegetation as well,” Howell said.

 

In addition to removing vegetation, other ANS regulations require:

 

  • All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body. Anglers can transport fish on ice in a separate container.
  • 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 of same.
  • 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.

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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 21-29 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. Two information centers staffed by Game and Fish Department personnel bookend the Conservation and Outdoors Skills Park, which is located on the north end of the fairgrounds near the State Fair Center.

 

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Conditions Right for Blue-Green Algae

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department advises outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious with their dogs around water this time of year, due to potential health hazards associated with blue-green algae.

Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Dan Grove said it only takes a few hot days for blue-green algae to bloom. “We have experienced many days like this already this summer, and with warmer temperatures yet to come, conditions are right for lakes, ponds and wetlands to become contaminated by toxins produced by blue-green algae,” he said.

Shallow, stagnant water, with moderate to high nutrient content, provides an optimum environment for blue-green algal growth. Water or wind movements often concentrate blue-green algae along the shoreline, and eventually the bloom appears as a blue-green “scum” floating on the surface. The threat diminishes, but is not completely eliminated, once the weather cools.

Dogs shouldn’t drink or swim in discolored water or where algal blooms are apparent. If dogs practice retrieving in these conditions, Grove said they should be rinsed off immediately and shouldn’t be allowed to lick their coat.

For additional information about the effects of blue-green algae blooms visit the North Dakota Department of Health website at ndhealth.gov, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Animal Health Division at 701-328-2655, or a local veterinarian.

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Record Number of Walleyes Stocked

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel are wrapping up a record-stocking of walleye fingerlings to more than 130 waters across the state.

fish stocking for 12-6-11 column

Jerry Weigel, fisheries production and development supervisor, said more than 12 million fingerlings were stocked, besting the previous high by more than 1 million fish.

“Considering not many went into Lake Sakakawea, this included an unprecedented stocking of nearly 7 million fingerlings into the smaller fishing waters across the state,” Weigel said.

With more than 50 new walleye lakes in North Dakota, Weigel said the demand to stock these waters, along with the larger, traditional fisheries, has greatly increased the demand from the hatcheries.

Valley City National Fish Hatchery produced more than 3 million walleye this year, the most in the hatchery’s 77-year history. In addition, Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery will ship a near-record number again this year.

Stocking conditions were optimal, Weigel said, with cooler weather at the time most of the fish were shipped. The 30-day-old fingerings averaged about 1.25 inches in length.

“They should find lots of food and good survival conditions, which bodes well for future fishing opportunities,” Weigel added. “Later this fall fisheries personal will sample walleye lakes to assess success of this year’s walleye stocking, as well as what Mother Nature provided.”

One common observation fish haulers noted while traveling across the state, Weigel said, was the amount of fishing taken place, both from shore and from boats. “There has never been a better time to fish for walleye,” he added. “Statewide, there are a lot of great opportunities, and a good chance of success.”

For a complete list of all fish stockings, visit the fishing link at the Game and Fish Department’s website at gf.nd.gov/fishing.

 

 

Have You Seen?

https://youtu.be/Bri53jYDsns

 

North Dakota Outdoors Webcast  is online now this weeks webcast features:

Fish Stocking in North Dakota

Fish stocking is critical for recreational fishing in North Dakota. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department stocked almost 250 lakes last year. Find out more about the stocking program in this week’s webcast with fisheries division chief Greg Power.

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