Buffaloberry Patch

Authors and Contributors

Greg Freeman

Trout Stocked in Community Fisheries

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel have stocked catchable trout in about 40 waters around the state.

Jerry Weigel, Department fisheries production and development section leader, said while fisheries statewide are at historic highs, many are not as easily accessible to youngsters, older adults and disabled anglers.

“These stockings put catchable fish in waters that are accessible,” Weigel said. “Many community fisheries have fishing piers, and provide a great opportunity for a first-time angler to catch fish.”

In addition, Weigel emphasized that trout are kid-friendly and they bite aggressively in spring and early summer before temperatures warm up. The trout are nice-sized too, he said, as more than 20,000 11-inch rainbow trout were stocked, along with 800 1- to 2-pound cutthroat trout. Following is a list of lakes, by county, that received trout in spring 2017:

  • Barnes - Blumers Pond (rainbow), Hatchery Kids Pond (rainbow)
  • Bottineau - Strawberry Lake (rainbow)
  • Bowman - Lutz Dam (rainbow)
  • Burleigh - McDowell Dam (rainbow), OWLS Pond (cutthroat, rainbow), Wilton Pond (cutthroat, rainbow)
  • Cass - Brooks Harbor Pond (rainbow), Casselton Pond (rainbow), North Woodhaven Pond (rainbow)
  • Cavalier - Langdon City Pond (rainbow)
  • Golden Valley - Beach City Pond (rainbow)
  • Grand Forks - Ryan Park Pond (rainbow), Turtle River (rainbow)
  • Hettinger - Castle Rock Dam (rainbow), Mott Watershed Dam (rainbow)
  • McKenzie - Watford City Park Pond (rainbow)
  • McLean - Camp Loop Pond (rainbow), Custer Mine (rainbow), Lightning Lake (rainbow), Riverdale City Pond (rainbow)
  • Mercer - Hazen Creek (rainbow)
  • Morton - Gaebe Pond (rainbow), Krieg’s Pond (rainbow), Little Heart Pond (rainbow), Nygren Dam (rainbow), Porsborg Dam (cutthroat, rainbow)
  • Mountrail - Stanley Pond (rainbow)
  • Oliver - Oliver County Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)
  • Ransom - Mooringstone Pond (rainbow)
  • Renville - Glenburn Pond (rainbow)
  • Rolette - Lake Udall (rainbow)
  • Stark - Belfield Pond (rainbow), Dickinson Dike (rainbow, cutthroat)
  • Stutsman - Streeter Lake (rainbow)
  • Ward - State Fair Pond (rainbow), Velva Sportsmen’s Pond (rainbow)
  • Williams - West Spring Lake Pond (rainbow, cutthroat), Kettle Lake (rainbow)

Complete Stocking Report

Courtesy at Boat Ramps

Boaters need to exercise patience and plan accordingly when heading to a lake or river this summer.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department receives a number of complaints every year about overly aggressive behavior at boat ramps. A few simple reminders will help ensure a smooth transition when launching and loading a boat.

  • Launching
    • Don't pull onto the ramp until your boat is ready to launch.
    • Prepare for launching in the parking area. Remove covers, load equipment, remove tie downs, attach lines and put in drain plug, before backing onto the ramp.
    • When ready, pull into line to launch. Wait your turn. Be courteous.
    • It takes at least two people to efficiently and courteously launch a boat - one person to handle the boat and another to take care of the tow vehicle.
  • Loading
    • Don't block the loading area with your boat until your tow vehicle is ready to load. Wait until you are clear of the launch area to unload gear.
    • As soon as your trailer is in the water, load and secure your boat to the trailer.
    • Remove boat and trailer from the water as quickly as possible.
    • Get clear of the ramp. Pull into the parking area to finish securing your boat, unloading gear, draining all water and inspecting for and removing any vegetation. Remember to leave plugs out when transporting your boat.

New Buffalo Record Set by Bow Fisherman

Twice this spring, North Dakota bow fishermen set state records.

Derek Larson, Mandan, arrowed a new record buffalo on May 5 to follow up a new record common carp taken by Derek Barnick of Tappen on April 21.

Larson’s buffalo, pulled in from Heart Butte Reservoir, weighed a hefty 57 pounds, 8 ounces and

measured 45 inches. It broke the previous buffalo record of 54 pounds, taken in the Heart River in 2011 by Keith Huschka of Dickinson.

Buffalo are a native fish sometimes confused with the nonnative and invasive common carp. State Game and Fish Department records indicate that Larson’s fish is the largest ever weighed in the state that was not a paddlefish or pallid sturgeon.

Operation Dry Water - Never Boat Under the Influence!

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will again participate in Operation Dry Water as part of a nationally coordinated effort to increase knowledge about the dangers of boating under the influence. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on our waterways.

Operation Dry Water weekend, June 30-July 2, is the national weekend of heightened enforcement effort directed at boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach.

While informing and educating boaters about the hazards and negative outcomes associated with boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a year-round effort. On ODW weekend the Game and Fish Department’s game wardens will be focused on the water informing boaters about safe boating practices, and removing impaired operators from the water.

“Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, noise and the vibrations of the boat,” said Jackie Lundstrom, the Game and Fish Department’s enforcement division operations supervisor. “Everyone wants to have a great summer on the water, and to do that you’ve got to stay safe and stay sober while underway.”

Tips to staying safe on the water:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 85 percent of drowning victims nationwide were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 71 percent of deaths nationwide occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

2016 Early Canada Goose Harvest Results

For the sixth consecutive year, North Dakota early Canada goose season hunters bagged more than 36,000 birds, according to a recent harvest estimate released by the state Game and Fish Department.

This is the combined harvest from the August Canada goose management take, and the September Canada goose hunting season.

While the 2016 harvest is somewhat lower than the peak early season bag in recent years, Mike Szymanski, Game and Fish migratory game bird management supervisor, said it’s still a highly successful season in the Department’s effort to reign in the state’s resident Canada goose population.

Szymanski estimates that approximately 3,600 residents and 1,000 nonresidents who actually hunted averaged about 8 birds apiece for the combined effort in August and September, which started August 15 with a “management take.”

The regular early hunting season started September 1 and ran through September 7 in the Missouri River zone, and through September 15 in the rest of the state. In total, that’s about 18 percent fewer hunters than 2015, a fact that Szymanski attributes to extensive late summer movement of Canada geese, which made finding huntable numbers of birds difficult in many areas.

“This late summer waterfowl movement is something that seems to be more pronounced in recent years,” Szymanski said. “Birds that were produced in North Dakota are showing up in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by early September. We don’t know if it’s related to avoiding hunting pressure or availability of food, as there’s very little harvested small grain fields for feeding in some areas. It could even relate to the birds trying to find cooler temperatures during years when we seem to be warmer than normal in the state.”

Barnes and Ramsey counties had the highest numbers of birds harvested by resident hunters, while McIntosh and LaMoure counties had the highest number of Canada geese harvested by nonresident hunters.

The top 10 counties for total harvest were Ramsey, McIntosh, Kidder, Benson, Stutsman, Barnes, LaMoure, McHenry, Nelson and Ward. Ramsey County had more than 3,000 birds harvested, while the estimate for Ward County in 10th place was 1,207.

“We’re seeing a good harvest in the eastern half of the state where there seems to be the most conflicts between crop producers and geese during the summer,” Szymanski said. “We need to keep the pressure on to keep our locally breeding Canada goose population from growing any larger.”

It’s important for landowners experiencing depredation issues to allow goose hunters on their property not only during the early season, Szymanski said, but also in October and November as birds that may have made late-summer movements come back through the state.

The 2017 early Canada goose season is tentatively slated to start on August 15 again, with a similar structure as in recent years.

Fireworks Prohibited on State WMAs

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds citizens that possession or use of fireworks on state wildlife management areas is prohibited.

The primary objective of a wildlife management area is to enhance wildlife production, provide hunting and fishing opportunities, and offer other outdoor recreational and educational uses. Only activities that would not disrupt the intentions of how these areas are managed are encouraged, and a fireworks display is not compatible.

Excessive noise and commotion that come with fireworks disturbs wildlife, and their explosive nature is a potential source of wildfires. Chances of a wildfire developing are greatly enhanced when explosives, such as fireworks, come in contact with tall grasses in rural areas.

Complete list of WMA regulations

Traveling Boaters Should Check Border State and Provincial ANS Regulations

North Dakota boaters who are traveling to other states or Canadian provinces should check the aquatic nuisance species regulations of their destination to make sure they are in compliance.

While many of North Dakota’s ANS prevention regulations are similar to surrounding states and provinces, state Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Jessica Howell says there are some subtle differences that could lead to travel interruption or citations depending on the circumstances.

“Removal of all water and vegetation, as well as pulled plugs while traveling, are generally the rule in neighboring states and provinces,” Howell said, “but there are some places where ‘dry’ is also a requirement, meaning no residual water anywhere in the boat.”

Mandatory boat inspections may be required based on destination or route taken. For example, Howell said anyone pulling a boat into Canada will likely have it inspected at a border crossing, some states have inspection checkpoints along highways, and some lakes have inspectors at boat ramps. Any boats that are not in compliance will likely get delayed in their travels or be prevented from launching, Howell said.

In addition, Howell said boats on Canyon Ferry or Tiber reservoirs in Montana will need to be decontaminated when leaving. “There is a greater chance of being stopped for inspection in Montana because of zebra mussel findings,” she said.

Boaters should be aware of regulations for not only their destination, but for any states they are traveling through. More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the following web addresses.

North Dakota ANS regulations are as follows:

  • All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water. That means "vegetation free" when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.
  • All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body.
  • All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.
  • Transportation of fish in or on ice is allowed.
  • Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota.
  • All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota.
  • Anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River (Class I ANS infested waters). All water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal.
  • In all other waters not infested with Class I ANS species, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume.

Summer Safety on the Water

Failure to wear a personal floatation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents.

North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices.

A new law passed in spring by state lawmakers allows an operator of a personal watercraft to tow an individual on water skis, a kneeboard or an inflatable craft without an observer, if the watercraft is equipped with a mirror on each side. In addition, the bill allows an individual who is at least 16 years old to windsurf or boardsail without wearing a PFD, and prohibits water skiing and surfboarding from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

Water users should make sure to wear life jackets that are the appropriate size, and in good condition. It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming.

Water skiers and tubers should wear a life jacket with four nylon straps rather than one with a zipper, because straps are stronger than zippers upon impact with water. Anglers or persons paddling a canoe should opt for a PFD that is comfortable enough to wear for an entire outing.

Swimmers should know the water’s depth, as large objects hidden below the water’s surface can lead to significant injury.

North Dakota boaters also are reminded that marine VHF radios are an important part of boat safety that should not be improperly used by operators. These radios are intended for boat operators who are in distress and facing an emergency situation.

Regulations to help ensure safe boating this summer are found in the 2016-18 North Dakota Fishing Guide. A more comprehensive listing is available in the North Dakota Boat and Water Safety Guide or the Boat North Dakota education book. These guides are available online, by email at ndgf@nd.gov, or at a local Game and Fish Department office.