Dakota Trails - North Dakota Outdoor Sports

Have You Seen? Transporting Fish Regulationis


Many are taking advantage of the open waters and beautiful spring weather to get outside and do some fishing. In this week’s North Dakota Game and Fish Department webcast, district game warden Corey Erck talks about some of the North Dakota fishing regulations and about how to properly transport the fish you catch.

Watch the video right here or here: http://gf.nd.gov/publications/television/outdoors-online-webcast
Full North Dakota Fish regulations can be found right here or here http://gf.nd.gov/fishing/fishing-regulations-guide

Game and Fish urges early ice house removal

While the deadline for removing permanent fish houses from North Dakota lakes isMarch 15, the State Game and Fish Department is urging anglers to consider removing their houses early in areas of the state where ice conditions are deteriorating, especially in the southern and western portions.


Given the current long range weather forecast predicting temperatures well above normal, coupled with a thin icepack in much of the state, department education coordinator Brian Schaffer says mild weather can quickly result in unstable ice conditions that can make removing a fish house with a vehicle difficult or dangerous.

Even on lakes where ice remains solid away from shore, specifically in the northeast where ice conditions are much better than the rest of the state, Schaffer said anglers should watch the weather and adjust activities accordingly. “It is always important to check ice thickness, especially this time of year,” Schaffer said. “We have heard recent reports of several vehicles breaking through the ice, and anyone going on the ice should be extra careful.”

Ice conditions can vary from region to region, between lakes in the same region, and even on the same lake, Schaffer added. “We know people want to keep fishing,” he said, “but given the current conditions it’s good for anglers to keep safety in mind.”

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.


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.

District Game Warden Exam Set For March 18

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has scheduled an examination to select candidates for the position of district game warden. The test is at 10 a.m., March 18, at the department’s main office in Bismarck.

010113Game warden checking  hunters

Applicants must register to take the exam no later than March 14 by submitting an online application through the North Dakota State Job Openings website.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree at time of hire (tentative hire date is June 1), have a valid driver’s license and a current North Dakota peace officer license, or be eligible to be licensed. Candidates must have excellent interpersonal skills in communications and writing, and must not have a record of any felony convictions.

District game wardens enforce game and fish laws and related regulations in an assigned district and other locations as determined by the department. Wardens normally work alone under varied conditions, at all hours of the day, night and weekends. In addition to law enforcement duties, wardens assist in the areas of public relations, education programs, and hunter and boat safety education.

Salary through training for a district game warden is $3,600 per month. Upon successful completion of training, the monthly salary ranges are $4,136 – $6,894. Wardens also receive the state benefits package, including travel allowance. Uniforms and other equipment are provided.

walleye stocking record for North Dakota

Excellent walleye fingerling production from the Garrison Dam (9.7 million) and Valley City (1.3 million) national fish hatcheries resulted in a record 11 million walleye fingerlings stocked into state waters.


Jerry Weigel, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries production and development section leader, said with a record number of walleye waters across the state, there has never been a larger demand for walleye production. “We are fortunate to have the production capability of the two federal hatcheries to help address this demand,” he said.


According to Weigel, spring rains raised water levels at many fisheries across the state, resulting in conditions that should be good for survival of the 30-day old fish that averaged about 1.25 inches in length when stocked.


Altogether, 110 lakes and rivers were stocked in North Dakota, including 4.3 million fingerlings in Lake Sakakawea, 863,000 in Stump Lake, 495,000 in Lake Darling, 329,000 in Lake Ashtabula, 321,000 in Heart Butte Reservoir, 218,000 in Paterson Lake, 205,000 in Bowman-Haley Reservoir and 200,000 in Lake Metigoshe.


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

Missouri River walleye tag study

A multi-year walleye tagging study that will eventually include thousands of fish was initiated on the Missouri River earlier this spring.

The study area is big, running from Garrison Dam in central North Dakota downstream to Lake Oahe Dam in South Dakota. It’s being conducted by biologists and researchers from the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, and South Dakota State University.

The study, which falls on the heels of the 2011 flood and a major decline in the forage base, is designed to assess walleye movements, mortality and what proportion of the walleye population is harvested annually by anglers.

“The goal is to tag 10,000 walleye in study area in the Dakotas per year,” said Scott Gangl, Game and Fish Department fisheries management section leader. “Up to 4,000 of those fish will be tagged and released annually in the Missouri River and upper Lake Oahe in North Dakota.”

The four-year study will target adult walleye and each will be fitted with a metal jaw tag stamped with a unique number to identify the fish, and a phone number to report the tag. “Anglers should treat tagged fish like any other fish they catch,” Gangl said. “If they would normally harvest that fish, they should harvest it. If they would typically release it, they should release it. Anglers practicing catch-and-release can write the tag number down and report it, leaving the tag in the fish when released.”

Anglers can report tags by calling the phone number found on tags, which, anglers should note, is a South Dakota phone number. Tag information can also be reported on the Game and Fish Department’s website, gf.nd.gov, tag reporting page or by calling (701) 328-6300.

“When an angler does report a tag, we ask for the date the fish was caught, where it was caught, was the fish harvested or released, tag number and length and weight of the fish,” Gangl said. “An angler who reports a tagged fish, along with their contact information, will be sent a letter providing some history on the fish, such as when and where it was tagged, how big it was when tagged and so on.”

Gangl said a small portion of the tags, just 5 percent, will offer a reward to anglers to encourage them to turn them in. These tags will be clearly marked “Reward.”

Reward tags need to be turned in to Game and Fish offices in Riverdale and Bismarck, or to a Game, Fish and Parks office in South Dakota.


Good News on Devils Lake Access

Good News: Devils Lake Open from One End to the Other By: Devils Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau For the first time in several years, contestants fishing the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce walleye tournament will be able to pass under bridges.

“This means they can fish wherever their boats will take them,” said tournament director Johnnie Candle. “Another new concept in and around Devils Lake is that the road work will be completed, paved and back to normal,” he added.

Rising water has created havoc and headlines as Devils Lake, with no outlet, increased in size from 40,000 acres in 1992 to covering approximately 240,000 acres of North Dakota today.

The Chamber tournament now in its 37th year will run Friday and Saturday, June 21 – 22. Last year’s winners Jason Ramberg and Travis Clemens will be back. Ramberg, from Langdon, ND, said, “With the lake wide-open, anglers will spread out and fish their favorite spots. Many of the teams that stayed away due to roads and limited boundaries will be back. This is the most enjoyable tournament we fish.”

His partner for the past 15 years is from Velva, ND, and Clemens said, “It’s a major accomplishment to win with the great field of anglers; they’re all friends.” He also added, “Stick to a game plan, and don’t chase memories. The winners earn $5,000 guaranteed.

Flying 3,000 miles from Anchorage each year is Matt Perleberg. He grew up in North Dakota, and uses the tournament as an excuse to get home. He said, “The salmon and halibut fishing is great in Alaska, but I can’t get enough of my favorite — walleye fishing.”

Clark Williams has fished nearly every Chamber tournament, with third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and tenth place finishes. “My partners and I have done well, and we’ve also bombed,” he said, “I like the fact that every year I meet new people and make new friends. Yeah, there’s the competition and the need to put together a pattern, but it’s the camaraderie I like.”

With the great fishing and ability to fish everywhere, he also expects more teams to enter. The specifics of the tournament are two days of fishing, with Sunday, June 23 reserved as a “blow day.”

The possession limit is six walleyes in the boat, with each team weighing five walleyes. There is no upgrading (culling) in this tournament. There are also prizes for other species and the incentives for entering early (by March 31) are very attractive.

The entry fee is $275, which includes a banquet. All ages are welcome; one team member must be at least 18 years old. Artificial and live bait are permitted. Boats must be washed, cleaned, dried and inspected for aquatic nuisance species prior to launching before tournament pre-fishing. The biggest walleye each day is worth $500. The largest pike each day pays $250, and the heaviest perch and white bass award is $100 daily.

Director Candle, a professional walleye angler, Championship winner and full-time promoter said, “I enjoy being on the other side, making this event better for everyone by listening to the anglers and making the tough calls, when needed.”

He especially likes the fact that many teams are father-son or grandpa-granddaughter or husband-wife teams. “This year, it will be back to the original concept of a big tournament with a local feel,” he said. “The teams heading out from Graham’s Island State Park each day are some of the best walleye fishermen in North Dakota.”

To download the tournament application, go to www.devilslakend.com or call 701-662-4903 to have one mailed to your address. Devils Lake has one of the highest-tech fish-cleaning stations in North America. It’s located just south of Ed’s Bait Shop on Hwy 20 (south of the city of Devils Lake), and free to the public.

The 20 x 32 building can handle 15 anglers at one time. It has two grinders, a separate clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms, is heated (A/C for summer), has plenty of parking for trucks and trailers and is well-lit.

Devils Lake ice and open-water fishing guides target perch, walleyes and pike. They make every first-time angler feel like this is home, and the thousands of anglers who return year after year to fish with the same guides know that’s the case.

For Devils Lake guides, winter ice conditions or the summer “bite,” activities, fish-cleaning station (open all year), lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.