Winter Fishing Regulations
North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide or the state Game and Fish Department’s website for winter fishing regulations.
In addition, anglers can visit the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, for an extensive list of fishing questions and answers.
Some winter fishing regulations include:
- A maximum of four poles is legal for ice fishing.
- Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
- Mechanical devices that set the hook are legal; however, the use of any device that automatically retrieves the fish is illegal.
- There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. Materials used to mark holes must be in possession of anglers and spearers as soon as a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
- It is only legal to release fish back into the water immediately after they are caught. Once a fish is held in a bucket or on a stringer, they can no longer be legally released in any water.
- It is illegal to catch fish and transport them in water.
- It is illegal to leave fish, including bait, behind on the ice.
- All aquatic bait, such as fathead minnows, must be purchased or trapped in North Dakota.
- Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
- The packaging of fish (including parts thereof) away from one’s permanent residence must be done in such a manner that the number of fish in each package may be easily determined.
- The daily limit is a limit of fish taken from midnight to midnight. No person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while on the ice or actively engaged in fishing. If a situation occurs when an angler fishes overnight, the first daily limit must be removed from the ice by midnight prior to continuing to fish.
- The possession limit is the maximum number of fish that an angler may have in his or her possession during a fishing trip of more than one day.
- It is illegal to introduce anything into the water for the purpose of attempting to attract fish (chumming, artificial light, etc.) that is not attached or applied to a lure.
- Licensing of fish houses is not required in North Dakota. However, any unoccupied fish house must have displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high, either a registration number issued by the department, or the owner’s name and address or name and telephone number.