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Authors and Contributors
Greg Freeman

Tentative 2022 Season Opening Dates

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates to help hunters prepare for hunting seasons.

You can view tentative dates here.

Salmon Spawn Completed

Salmon eggs

Fisheries crews completed their annual salmon spawning operation on the Missouri River System in fall, collecting more than 1.8 million eggs.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department Missouri River System fisheries biologist Russ Kinzler said crews collected enough eggs to stock 400,000 smolts planned for Lake Sakakawea in 2022.

The majority of the eggs were collected from Lake Sakakawea, with a significant contribution from the Missouri River below Garrison Dam. Average size of female salmon was 7.4 pounds, which is about 1 pound smaller than 2020. The largest salmon in 2021 were about 14.5 pounds, which is about 2 pounds heavier than the largest salmon the year prior.

“We’ve had good numbers and size of rainbow smelt, which is the primary forage for salmon in Lake Sakakawea,” Kinzler said. “That has led to some larger salmon the last couple years.”

Chinook salmon begin their spawning run in October. Since salmon cannot naturally reproduce in North Dakota, Game and Fish personnel capture the fish and transport them to Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery where they are relieved of their eggs.

Once the eggs hatch, young salmon spend about 6 months in the hatchery before being stocked in Lake Sakakawea.

Coyote Catalog Available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture are again opening the Coyote Catalog, a statewide effort designed to connect committed hunters and trappers with landowners who are dealing with coyotes in their areas.

Landowners can sign up on the Department of Agriculture website. Hunters and trappers can sign up online here.

Anyone who registered for the Coyote Catalog in the past must register again to activate their names on the database.

Throughout winter, hunters or trappers may receive information on participating landowners, and they should contact landowners to make arrangements.

Landowners experiencing coyote depredation of livestock should first contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

The Coyote Catalog will remain active through March 31.

For more information, contact Ryan Herigstad at Game and Fish, 701-595-4463; or Colby Lysne, at the Department of Agriculture, 701-390-7515.

NDO Calendar Available

The 2022 North Dakota OUTDOORS calendar is available for ordering online.

The calendar features outstanding color photographs of North Dakota wildlife and scenery, and includes season opening and application deadline dates, sunrise-sunset times and moon phases.

Calendars are also available via mail order. Send $3 for each, plus $1 postage, to: Calendar, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, Bismarck, ND 58501-5095.

The calendar is the North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine’s December issue, so current subscribers should have already received it in the mail.

Ice houses

Fish House Regulations

Winter anglers are reminded that any fish house left unoccupied on North Dakota waters must be made of materials that will allow it to float.

Other fish house regulations include:

  • Fish houses do not require a license.
  • Occupied structures do not require identification. However, any unoccupied fish house must have an equipment registration number issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, or the owner’s name, and either an address or telephone number, displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least 3 inches high.
  • Fish houses may not be placed closer than 50 feet in any direction to another house without consent of the occupant of the other fish house.
  • All unoccupied fish houses must be removed from all waters after midnight, March 15.

Anglers should refer to the North Dakota 2020-22 Fishing Guide for other winter fishing regulations.

Staff Notes

Sherry Niesar

Niesar Receives 2021 Trees Award

Sherry Niesar was awarded the 2021 Environmental Educator of the Year Trees Award at the Trees Bowl in Fargo in October. Nominations were received from across the state and the winners were recognized by the North Dakota Forest Service and North Dakota State University.

Niesar has been an environmental educator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department since 1985 when she began as a Project Wild facilitator.

In 2019 alone, she hosted 30 events throughout the state for students of all ages. She has led Habitats of North Dakota trainings at seven universities for credit to teachers, as well as hunter education for the Game and Fish Department.

Connie Schiff

Schiff Retires

Longtime employee Connie Schiff retired Dec. 31 after 16 years with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Schiff was a graphic designer during her service to the agency, beginning in 2005.