Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

​North Dakota’s free ice fishing weekend is Dec. 30-31.

North Dakota’s free ice fishing weekend is Dec. 30-31.

Resident anglers may fish that weekend without a license. All other ice fishing regulations apply.

Those interested in darkhouse spearfishing that weekend must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available by visiting the Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish office. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

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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.

Have You Seen? Online Services Updates

North Dakota Outdoors Webcast 

License buyers who use the Game and Fish website will notice a new look to the online system. The system has been upgraded to improve backend processes and website usability. 

Some benefits of the new system include:

  • Customers are able to view licenses, lottery applications and results, bonus points, boat registration, magazine and calendar orders, and more, all in one place.
  • Address information is stored (and may be updated), so license buyers no longer need to reenter personal information each time a license is purchased or an application is filled out.
  • Replacement hunter education cards can be printed directly from your account page.
  • Email and text notification preferences can be managed from your account page.
  • Purchase and renew magazine subscriptions and purchase calendars online.
  • Mobile friendly – making it easier to conduct business on a smartphone.

Learn more in this week’s webcast.

Related Links:

New Licenses Needed April 1

North Dakota anglers, spring light goose hunters and trappers are reminded that new licenses for the 2017-18 season are required starting April 1.

Anglers and hunters can purchase new licenses  beginning March 15 at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, and at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state.

license

License buyers who use the Game and Fish website will notice a new look to the online system, which allows customers to purchase, apply for or renew licenses.

Hunters and anglers who have purchased licenses in the past should find their information in the new system. However, if prior information isn’t found, or if the information seems incorrect – such as boat registrations or bonus points – customers should contact the Department at 701-328-6335.

Game and Fish IT supervisor Brian Hosek said the new system, which has been in place since December, has met expectations and is working well. “The majority of users, such as people renewing their boat registrations, and spring turkey applicants, have experienced a smooth transition, but with a major overhaul like this we expect some issues to arise that need to be worked out,” Hosek said. “We ask anyone who experiences a technical issue to contact the Department so we can help them work through it.”

Help and tutorial links are available, which highlight new changes to the online services system. Some benefits of the new system include:

·         Customers are able to view licenses, lottery applications and results, bonus points, boat registration, magazine and calendar orders, and more, all in one place.

·         Address information is stored (and may be updated), so license buyers no longer need to reenter personal information each time a license is purchased or an application is filled out.

·         Replacement hunter education cards can be printed directly from your account page.

·         Email and text notification preferences can be managed from your account page.

·         Purchase and renew magazine subscriptions and purchase calendars online.

·         Mobile friendly – making it easier to conduct business on a smartphone.

One other item that some license buyers will notice is that the vendor service fee has changed. In the past, vendors could charge a 50-cent service fee on a license purchase, but the 2017 North Dakota Legislature changed that to allow vendors the option to add a 3 percent service fee to the total transaction.

The service fee does not apply to license purchases or applications made through the Game and Fish Department’s website.

The 2017-18 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

2016-18 Fishing Regulations Set, New License Required

North Dakota’s 2016-18 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018. Anglers are reminded that new fishing licenses are required April 1.

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Noteworthy regulation changes include:

·         A free fishing weekend was added for North Dakota residents during the ice fishing season. In the coming winter, the free weekend will be held Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, 2017.

·         The statewide possession limit for bluegill, yellow perch and white bass was reduced from 80 to 40 each.

·         All water must be completely drained from bait containers, including bait buckets, upon leaving the Red River, or any other waters designated as infested with Class 1 prohibited aquatic nuisance species.

·         Sweet Briar Dam and Braun Lake are open to darkhouse spearfishing, and Larimore Dam and Wood Lake are closed to darkhouse spearfishing.

·         Markers must be in the possession of anglers and/or spearers as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.

·         Largemouth bass and northern pike length restrictions are eliminated on Red Willow Lake and largemouth bass length restrictions removed on North and South Golden lakes.

·         Fishing rods must be easily visible and within a maximum distance of 150 feet of participating anglers.

·         One snapping turtle may be harvested annually between July 1 and Nov. 15.

Fishing licenses can be purchased using a computer or smartphone by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or at license vendors that are linked to the department’s online licensing system. Since participating vendors will need to sell licenses electronically, paper license booklets are no longer available at license vendors.

Not all vendors that sold licenses in the past will still sell licenses. A list of vendors participating in electronic licensing sales is available on the department’s website.  Vendors on the list as of April 1 will be linked to the department’s online licensing system.

Licenses may also be purchased by calling the department’s instant licensing telephone number at 800-406-6409 any time day or night. A service charge is added for licenses purchased through the instant licensing telephone number.

North Dakota fishing license sales setting records

Years of rising water, a record number of fishing lakes and aggressive fish management in North Dakota have helped produce record fishing license sales.

State Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Power said in 2012-13 virtually every license category established a record high, or at the least had a substantial increase. “Even more impressive is this was spread throughout the state, and not just in the rapidly growing counties of western North Dakota,” Power said.

Statistics compiled by the Game and Fish Department revealed more than 218,000 fishing licenses were sold last year, 20 percent higher than the previous record set in 1982. A total of 159,500 resident fishing licenses were sold last year, also breaking the record set 30 years ago. In addition, nearly 59,000 nonresident fishing licenses were purchased last year, easily surpassing the previous high set two years ago.

“North Dakota remains near the top in the country in terms of per capita residents who fish,” Power said.

In terms of actual individuals participating in fishing, the past year was again record-setting with more than 200,000 active anglers and about 2 million days of fishing. Both open water and ice fishing activity experienced substantial increases. Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River remained the top three fisheries in the state