Looking Ahead to Fishing in 2006

February 1, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

Another good year of ice fishing expected

Another good year of ice fishing expected

Fishing, and the rules, regulations and prospects surrounding it, was a major topic at this fall’s round of North Dakota Game and Fish Department Advisory Board meetings.

That’s as it should be, as 2006 is an even-numbered year, and that means a new fishing proclamation is in the development stages and most of the possible changes were up for discussion at eight public meetings around the state.

These advisory board meetings are a valuable opportunity for hunters, anglers, trappers, landowners and anyone else with a stake in the future of outdoor recreation in North Dakota, to engage in the process of shaping future regulations.

The Department’s philosophy is to maintain uncomplicated, user-friendly regulations, both for fishing and hunting, as much as possible. However, widespread support from the angling community could be catalyst enough to make a particular change, as long as it doesn’t hurt the resource.

One such potential change is to reduced panfish limits. Panfish include bluegill, yellow perch, crappie and white bass, and the current daily limit for each is 35, with 175 in possession. That may change to 20 per day and 60 in possession for each species. With even lower limits possible of 10 and 20 as experimental panfish limits for Pipestem Reservoir (Stutsman county), Kraft Slough(Sargent) and Odland Dam(Golden Valley) but these are still in the discussion phase.

Just a few years ago, North Dakota did not have any daily or possession limit on panfish. But social tolerance for fish hogs, even if they were operating within the limit, has decreased dramatically.

In addition, Game and Fish biologists believe that high daily panfish limits are at least partially responsible for certain waters becoming “fished out,” rather than maintaining a quality fishery over time.

Another fishing topic relates to a potential need for restrictions on use of downriggers by boat anglers at the Garrison Dam Tailrace. Currently, there is some discord between boat and shore anglers who frequent the Tailrace, and Game and Fish is hoping the two groups can resolve their differences without additional regulations.

Technological advances, specifically devices that set the hook and reel in line without hand operation – sometimes called auto-reelers – have Department staff and anglers alike wondering where to draw the line on equipment. Outlawing of such automatic devices is one of the options under consideration.

While no further public meetings are currently scheduled to specifically gather input on possible fishing regulation changes, there is still time to provide comment. The best way is to send an email to [email protected]; or call 701-328-6300.

Beyond Regulations


Water levels will be up next spring, but way below the average leaving many landings unusable.

Water levels will be up next spring, but way below the average leaving many landings unusable.

While it’s still too early to know for sure, it appears the Missouri River System in North Dakota will at least start off with more water at ice-out in 2006 than it had in 2005, when only one boat ramp was usable on Lake Sakakawea. That should mean access to the lake early on will be much improved.

Lake Oahe, however, will likely not have enough water early on to bring any additional ramps into service.

ANS Prospects


Aquatic nuisance species are getting a great deal of attention in North Dakota, and rightly so. The discovery of Eurasian watermilfoil in Ransom County’s Dead Colt Creek reservoir this summer is proof that North Dakota is at risk, and we all need to do everything possible, even if it may seem inconvenient, to prevent movement of ANS within the state, or between states.

Water Levels

Heading into winter, water levels in most North Dakota fishing waters were in good shape – with a few exceptions in the southwest. That should translate into good fishing in 2006.


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