North Dakota continues to produce a record number of anglers, and many are anxious to get on the ice and enjoy a favorite pastime. With that in mind, winter anglers are reminded to consider ice conditions before traveling onto and across North Dakota waters.
State Game and Fish Department enforcement chief Robert Timian said this winter should provide plenty of opportunities for anglers, as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
Students interested in taking a hunter education class in 2016 should visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at gf.nd.gov for a statewide list of courses. Many classes will be added over the next several weeks, and the rest will be added throughout the year as they are finalized.
North Dakota waterfowl hunters are reminded the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons close Dec. 6. However, duck hunting in the high plains unit reopens Dec. 12 and continues through Jan. 3, 2016.
In addition, the season for Canada geese closes Dec. 24, except for the Missouri River Zone, which closes Jan. 1, 2016. Light goose hunting closes statewide Jan. 3, 2016.
Mountain lion hunting during the early season in Zone 1 closed Nov. 22 with six of 14 cats taken. The late season in Zone 1, with a quota of seven, runs Nov. 23 through March 31, 2016, or until the quota is filled.
In addition to other legal methods, the late season allows mountain lions to be pursued with dogs. The late season quota in Zone 1 filled early last year, so hunters are advised to check for updates by visiting the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov.
All individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing this winter must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to participating. Registration is available at the department’s website, gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish Department office.
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.
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. 23.
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.
Tournaments may not occur without first obtaining a valid permit from the department.
North Dakota crane hunters are reminded the season closed statewide Sunday, Nov. 15.
However, the statewide duck and white-fronted goose seasons remain open through Dec. 6, and then duck hunting in the high plains unit reopens Dec. 12 and continues through Jan. 3, 2016.
Fisheries crews have completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System after collecting roughly 500,000 eggs.
Dave Fryda, North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System supervisor, said the salmon spawning season was a challenge, with almost all of the eggs taken from Lake Sakakawea. Only a few were collected from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam.
Trappers using cable devices must register with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department prior to trapping this year.
Registration is available through the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, or through any Game and Fish office. Upon completion, a registration number will be provided. The number must be written on the back of the furbearer or combination license.
Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department fall advisory board meeting in their area.
These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel.
The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s fall mule deer survey indicated the population continues to recover in the badlands.
Biologists counted 2,157 (1,958 in 2014) mule deer in the aerial survey in October. The buck-to-doe ratio of 0.42 (0.50 in 2014) is similar to the long-term average of 0.43 bucks per doe, while the fawn-to-doe ratio of 0.84 (0.95 in 2014) is slightly below the long-term average of 0.90 fawns per doe.
“The buck-to-doe ratio remains stable, and we had another year of good fawn production,” Stillings said. “Overall, the numbers are encouraging.”