Each July, I promise myself to fish more the rest of the summer. It's usually because I'm wondering where the first month of summer went, and I realize I haven't gotten out as much as intended ... so far. I do know I've never made it to fall freeze-up and said I've spent way too much time fishing, but it's always good to focus on spending more time outdoors, this summer especially. North Dakota never has had so many lakes with good fishing prospects. The state has about 420 "managed fisheries," and there is little argument that fishing in North Dakota is better than ever.
Here it is barely summer—the calendar says summer began June 21—and a lot of us already are looking ahead to what the fall hunting seasons might provide. While some prospects are risky to try to pin down just yet, spring weather conditions can give us some ideas about how various species have fared so far. After a light winter snowpack and a dry early spring, eastern North Dakota was about the only segment of the state not dealing with extremely dry conditions. With little runoff and no rain, April wetland conditions weren't ideal.
I grew up in the 1980s when recommendations for seatbelt use were turning into laws, and people were trying to adjust to the process of having to click in before driving off. And who would argue about that? It's impossible to plan the best time to wear or not wear a safety belt, so it just makes sense to wear one all the time. The premise for wearing personal flotation devices while in a boat isn't much different.
This is the time of year when North Dakota Game and Fish Department game wardens, biologists and other staff throughout the state handle an influx of calls about young animals. From seemingly abandoned deer fawns to birds that fell from a nest or a mother duck trying to lead her brood across a crowded city parking lot, people care about North Dakota wildlife and want to do what they can to help when these situations arise. But the best thing to do in almost all such cases is simply to leave the young animal alone.
The late Dean Hildebrand, North Dakota Game and Fish Department director from 1996 through 2005, had a number of quotes that typically connected his small-town North Dakota roots to the management of hunting, fishing and conservation in North Dakota. One that is appropriate now, since details of the 2015 deer gun, archery and muzzleloader seasons are official, went something like this: "There's three things every guy in North Dakota thinks he can do.
The 2015 North Dakota legislative session recently wrapped up.
To the delight of many anglers, spring fishing this year got an early start, and few seasoned residents of North Dakota will ever lament a shorter winter. From the Red River and Devils Lake to the Yellowstone, there was no shortage of open water. And, with lower fuel and transportation costs than in years past, it's no wonder anglers were hitting the dusty trail to get in the first casts.
One of my first work details after I became a game warden in 1996 was working an enforcement effort during the paddlefish snagging season.
My first open-water cast of the 2015 fishing season came before spring turkey season, and even before Easter. While the first fish of the year didn't happen on the same trip, it was reason to smile. Just getting outdoors in early April without mud boots or winter jacket was enough to call it a successful outing. Heading into the last half of April, we all realize the topsoil and even our fishing waters could use a little spring precipitation.
The spring snow goose season opened in mid-February, and leading up to it, the open winter and unseasonably warm weather had hunters and biologist alike thinking this just might be the year birds arrived before March. As luck and meteorologists would have it, a more typical weather cycle settled in, and colder temperatures and a little snow held off spring and the migration until mid March. The majority of the massive flocks—tens of thousands at a time—pushed through in late March and early April.