Hopefully, by the time North Dakota OUTDOORS’ annual fishing issue reaches readers, winter will have loosened its grip on the state once and for all. For the most part, this has been an “average” winter in terms of snowfall and temperatures, and we were looking forward to spring and the new life that comes to the prairies.
While it has become an extended winter, the past ice fishing season appears to have been very good from the reports I’ve received. Until mid-March, access was good to most lakes across the state and fishing was better. I wish I could provide a firsthand ice fishing report, but I just never seemed to find the time to make it on the ice.
Even though much of the state had plenty of snow and, eventually, runoff to contend with, it’s shaping up to be another good open water fishing season. There will be exceptions, of course, but overall water levels and access look to add up to another great fishing season. It’s always a combination of factors that provide good fishing opportunities in North Dakota. Mother Nature has to cooperate, and the Game and Fish Department fisheries division has to do its part to manage the fish stock and provide angler access. It’s always difficult to predict what Mother Nature will do, but I can predict with accuracy that our fisheries crews will do another tremendous job.
In early April, I know fisheries crews were anxiously waiting for the thaw so they could get out and gather fish eggs and begin other necessary spring work. As the thaw is delayed, however, their time frame becomes more compressed and days get long. But, as always, they’ll get the job done and eggs will be delivered to the hatchery. Then, in about mid-June, young walleye, northern pike and other fish species will be distributed to a growing number of lakes across the state.
Every year at this time I remind everyone that spring is one of the best times of the year to go fishing. And there are more than enough lakes, small and large, across the state to wet a line. It wasn’t that long ago the Game and Fish Department managed around 150 lakes. Today, that number has jumped to about 400 waters, all of which provide great opportunities for spring fishing.
And let’s not forget about aquatic nuisance species. While we’ve been fortunate that many of these creatures haven’t been introduced into North Dakota waters, some are creeping closer to the state. The introduction and transportation of aquatic nuisance species is not simply a fishing issue, but can also affect municipal water supplies and cause other frustrations. Still, I’m asking all anglers to be aware of the threat and take the necessary action to reduce the risk of exotics getting into North Dakota waters.
To do your part to reduce the spread of aquatic nuisance species, visit the Department’s website at gf.nd.gov. As you will learn, prevention measures are simple and won’t take much of your time.
Most of all, take friends and family out fishing this spring and enjoy some of the best that North Dakota has to offer. It’s relaxing and offers the opportunity to reconnect with the outdoors and those close to you. I know I’m going to do it.