ND Fishing Questions

August 11, 2011 by  

By Doug Leier

Questions tend to flow with the seasons and while hunting is starting to gain ground, fishing continues to lead my list of phone, email and random inquiries. Here’s a sample of some the North Dakota Game and Fish Department typically receives, with answers from the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Why can’t I release fish held in a livewell at the end of a fishing outing?

If allowed, fish that were stressed (e.g. on stringers, possibly not in a functional live well, etc.) would experience delayed mortality after being released. The fish may swim away but may not be healthy and eventually die. Further, if the release of a fish (or two) at the end of the day was allowed, it could possibly lead to high-grading or culling.

High grading is the practice of selectively harvesting fish – catching a fish, reducing it to creel (e.g. in a livewell), and then later releasing the fish after catching additional fish of a more preferable size. High grading is and has been against the law for at least the past 60 years in North Dakota. Allowing for some release of fish after being reduced to creel, would at the very least, complicate enforcement and at its worse, greatly confound overall fishing regulations.

After filleting a fish in a boat or on shore, why can’t I throw a fish carcass back into the water body from which it was caught?

It is illegal to litter due to sanitation and aesthetic concerns. Not all parts of the fish sink, and body parts may wash up on a shoreline. If everyone chose to throw carcasses into the water, areas around ramps and popular shore-fishing spots could become a big mess.

Why can’t we “party” fish?

Each individual should have their own opportunity to experience and enjoy the outdoors … and catch and harvest their own fish. There are always concerns that less experienced anglers, especially youth, are taken on fishing trips so older anglers can catch and keep additional limits … and thus ruin the enjoyment of fishing for those who aren’t allowed to catch their own fish

Also, North Dakota fishing regulations are based on past and present fishing experiences and success rates. If regulations allowed for party fishing, overall limits might need to be reduced.

How do I properly transport cleaned fish? Do these same regulations apply after I get the fish home, and later transport them to another location for consumption or to give away?

The current regulation regarding transportation of cleaned fish reads, “The packaging of fish away from one’s permanent residence must be done in such a manner that the number of fish in each package may be easily determined.”

This applies whether the fillets are fresh or frozen and does not change after the fish reach a permanent residence and are later transported to another location. Laying out individual fillets (versus stacking or clumping) before freezing is highly recommended. Remember, at no time may a person transport more than his or her possession limit.

Fish that are given away must still be packaged in a manner that the number can be easily determined and must include the name of the person gifting the fish, fishing license number, phone number, date, and species and number of fish given away.

Can I bring nightcrawlers, wax worms or leeches from another state into North Dakota?

Terrestrial bait such as night crawlers and wax worms can be legally transported into North Dakota. However, that is not the case for aquatic bait such as leeches (and minnows). Regulations specify “no live aquatic organisms may be imported into the state by anglers.”

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email:[email protected]


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