Time to go fishing: Mild winter caused limited to zero winter kill, anglers should expect a good fishing seasonHook, line and sinker. Well, not everybody uses a sinker anymore, but the new North Dakota fishing season is right around the corner.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Hook, line and sinker.
Well, not everybody uses a sinker anymore, but the new North Dakota fishing season is right around the corner.
Anglers will have to get their new fishing licenses starting April 1. This fishing year should be a healthy refresher after the last three harsh winters.
“The first thing the anglers are going to note from years past is the lack of ice,” said Greg Power, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries chief, with a laugh. “April 1 is the opener and we got the earliest ice out ever in a lot of our lakes.”
The brightest spot about the winter this season is the lack of winter kill on the surrounding lakes. Fish populations should be abundant, but many of them are still too small to keep.
“People are already catching fish in the Missouri River,” said Jeff Hendrickson, NDGF Department southwest supervisor in the Dickinson office. “Fishing is already pretty good there. We have some trouble with winter kill here in the southwest, but all our lakes made it through this year. They should have growing fish populations in them.”
Though the fish in some lakes, rivers and ponds might be on the small side, Power said that can all change in a few years.
“Well in select waters,” Power said. “In some waters, there should be bigger fish. It depends on which part of the state. If you ask me that same question in a year or two, you are going to see a lot more.”
Last year brought many different fishing records, most notability Keith Huschka of Dickinson, who reeled in a 54-pound carp at Heart River in the tail waters of the Heart Butte Dam. The carp measured 42 inches long.
Huschka has his eyes set on catching another fish of that magnitude.
“Oh yeah, I plan on pursuing just that,” Huschka said.
As the owner of Precision Machines in Dickinson, fishing has taken a back seat for Huschka, but he tries to get out every chance he gets.
“I fish as much as I can,” he said. “We can put it that way. The fishing is pretty hard to get out.”
With a new fishing season comes new regulations, but most of the new rules are on a minimal side. There are two new regulations this season that will have a bigger impact. Anglers are able to keep five northern pike. The new limit on northern pike has been raised from three to five and the possession limit went from six to 10.
“We have pike in a lot of our lakes now and they are abundant,” Hendrickson said. “We are going to let the anglers use the resources.”
Another new addition to the regulations is most of the lakes in the southwestern part of North Dakota will be open to darkhouse spearfishing.
“We are a little different than other states,” Power said. “Our fishing proclamation is good for two years. We probably had a dozen or 20 changes, but most of them are extremely minor.”
The only hope Power has along with a majority of the western part of the North Dakota for the upcoming future is for rain.
“We could definitely use some rain, but our lakes are in good shape water wise,” Power said. “Now if we just get some timely rain, we will be great shape.”