DOUG LEIER: Access, other amenities make now the 'good, old days' for anglers

Not surprisingly, my youngest daughter, who's 6, considers me as old, and I'd guess that most kids look at Mom and Dad in the same way, no matter the age of the parent.

Fishing photo
There's no such things as a bad day of fishing. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

Not surprisingly, my youngest daughter, who's 6, considers me as old, and I'd guess that most kids look at Mom and Dad in the same way, no matter the age of the parent.

On the positive side, I find myself enjoying the added knowledge that comes from experiences along the way. And a visit with others who have more experience than I do is a perfect opportunity to learn.

Earlier this summer, I was visiting with a couple of wise (older) friends after a nice meal of reservoir walleyes, pike and perch. This particular small reservoir is one of many manmade lakes scattered across North Dakota, and I've fished them in all corners, from Patterson Lake to McGregor Dam, Wilson Dam, Dead Colt Creek and others.

Beginning decades ago, government entities and local groups changed the landscape of North Dakota with small impoundments on rivers, streams and creeks. Flood control, recreation, irrigation and economics of different priorities all factored into construction of these reservoirs, and dozens were created from the 1950s through the 1980s.

In casual conversations, I learned that the land for Lake LaMoure in LaMoure County, where I have spent a fair amount of time since my youth, was bought many years ago for just more than $600,000, and recent repair work to just the emergency spillway cost more than $2 million. Talk about inflation!


We also touched on the changing times and how the process for creating one of these small reservoirs today is much more involved. That's not necessarily good or bad; it just means that not many Brewer Lakes or Homme Dams will be added to the landscape in the coming decades.

The conversation with longtime friends Ron and Alan turned to fishing in "the good old days," which proved equally as compelling. I'd just finished loading Dad's boat and checking out the dock, concrete ramp and adjacent fishing pier, all in excellent user condition, and available to make a 21st century fishing outing quite a bit more convenient than it might have been in the past.

Before Lake LaMoure existed, Alan explained how every Sunday he'd pack up the family for an afternoon of shore fishing and picnicking along the James River, and how few "good" spots there were to catch fish, let alone comfortable places to take a family.

That made me think of how good we anglers of today really have it. Modern amenities make fishing now sometimes feel like a literal walk in the park.

While there is a level of accomplishment with overcoming natural obstacles and grasping willow branches to pull yourself up the bank with a rod, net, tackle box, lunch and a child hanging on for dear life, it's also nice to have fishing piers, shoreline access areas and quality boat ramps.

The fact is, I'd guess my friends wouldn't necessarily consider the "old days" as the "good old days" for fishing.

That designation probably fits today. Just recently, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported a record number of fishing licenses issued in 2012. That due primarily to a record number of fishing lakes, many created naturally in the past 20 years, and good fishing success all around, from Sakakawea to Devils Lake to Lake LaMoure.

While there's no shortage of excuses to keep from fishing as summer wears on, a quick visit with anglers of any experience, and you'll soon realize there's no such things as a bad day of fishing.


There will be days you catch more fish than others, but access and availability of fishing spots have never been better.

Leier is a biologist for N.D. Game and Fish Department. Reach him at . Read his blog at

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