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.

Fishing for Free June 4-5

North Dakotans who want to give fishing a try are reminded they can fish for freeJune 4-5.

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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.

“It’s a great chance for people who may be new to fishing, to give it a try,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “There are lots of diverse, quality fishing opportunities scattered across 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.