To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2015, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.
Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2015 include:
Winter anglers are reminded that any fish house left unoccupied on North Dakota waters must be made out of materials that will allow it to float.
A popular question this time of year is if campers qualify as legal fish houses. The answer is the same for any structure taken on the ice – if it’s left unattended, it must be able to float; if it’s not able to float, it must be removed when the angler leaves the ice.
Other fish house regulations include:
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds winter anglers to clean up the ice after fishing. This not only applies to trash, but fish as well.
It is not only unsightly, but it is illegal to leave fish behind on the ice. According to the fishing proclamation, when a fish is caught anglers must either immediately release the fish back into the water unharmed, or reduce them to their daily possession.
It is common practice for some anglers to fillet fish on the ice, but if they don’t clean up after themselves, it’s a problem.
North Dakota waterfowl hunters are reminded the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons close Dec. 7. However, duck hunting in the high plains unit reopens Dec. 13 and continues through Jan. 4, 2015.
In addition, the season for Canada geese closes Dec. 25, except for the Missouri River Zone, which closes Jan. 2, 2015. Light goose hunting closes statewide Jan. 4, 2015.
North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2014-16 North Dakota Fishing Guide or the State Game and Fish Department’s website for winter fishing regulations.
Some winter fishing regulations include:
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program has scheduled a one-day darkhouse spearfishing class Jan. 10 at the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Minot.
North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters Dec. 1. The season extends through March 15. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.
Darkhouse spearing is allowed for all residents with a valid fishing license and for residents under age 16. Nonresidents may darkhouse spearfish in North Dakota if they are from states that offer the same privilege for North Dakota residents.
Winter anglers and late-season hunters are reminded to consider ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota lakes, as most small and mid-sized waters currently give the appearance of safe foot travel.
Fisheries crews have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System after collecting roughly 1.3 million eggs.
Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor, said about two thirds of the eggs came from Lake Sakakawea and the remainder from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam.
Organizers planning fishing tournaments, including ice fishing contests this winter, are reminded to submit an application along with fishing tournament regulations to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at least 30 days prior to the start of the event.
The 30-day advance notice allows for review by agency staff to ensure the proposed tournament will not have negative consequences or conflicts with other proposed tournaments for the same location and/or time.
Hunters are reminded that several North Dakota national wildlife refuges open to late-season upland game bird hunting the day after the deer gun season closes.
Arrowwood, Audubon, Des Lacs, J. Clark Salyer, Lake Alice, Lake Zahl, Long Lake, Lostwood, Tewaukon (pheasants only), and Upper Souris NWRs open Nov. 24.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel have wrapped up surveys and sampling efforts for the open water season, and results point toward good conditions on the state’s big waters.
“Fishing in North Dakota continues to be record-setting on most all levels,” said Greg Power, fisheries chief. “A record number of fishing lakes has contributed considerably to the record number of fishing licenses sold in recent years.”