It's human nature to look for available information and tips when it comes to finding spots to fish and learning what might—or might not— work to catch them. Many anglers have invested much time and energy into essentially scouting and learning about a fishery. Now, there's another tool available for North Dakota waters that will add to maps, everything electronic and word-of-mouth or online fishing rumors and reports.
When we think about proper catch and release of fish, we often think of stressed fish in warm water during the dog days of August. Most anglers who choose release fish they catch or may be required by law to release those fish — for instance, undersized fish on waters where length regulations exist — take great pride in not causing undue harm or delay so the fish is released safely. One of the important points to consider for catch and release, which is just as relevant during winter as it is in summer, is whether to release fish caught from deep water.
Looking for a sign of spring? For some, it will be hearing the official opening of the spring snow goose conservation season; others will note if and when the first robin arrives.The nesting of bald eagles and the annual groundhog celebration are also on the list. I started to notice the daylight getting longer at the end of January, even when the temperature was minus 25 and the snow was piling up.I know it was a stretch, but the later sunset gave me at least a little hope that winter was turning past the midpoint.
Two of the biggest concerns for the future of North Dakota outdoors really were not even on the radar in North Dakota less than 20 years ago. While we've known about chronic wasting disease and zebra mussels, it wasn't until the last 10 years they were documented in North Dakota.
So far, this version of a North Dakota winter has been fairly benign if you were a deer, pheasant or other resident species trying to survive one day at a time until spring arrives. But add on another snowstorm or two and a weeklong stretch of below-zero temperatures, and people will become more concerned. That's when calls to help wildlife will start coming in.
The fundamental principle of planning certainly applies when it comes to spending time outdoors. Planning ahead can help achieve a more positive or preferred outdoors experience. We likely all have a few stories related to forgetting a shotgun or shells or bait at home or having the ice auger run out of gas on the second hole with no reserves. While those are lapses on individual trips, when it comes to the big-picture planning for those trips this year, one of the best tips I can provide is checking the tentative opening dates, which have been released for 2019.
Did you know it's been nearly 20 years since the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has required licensing of ice fishing houses or shelters? While most young hard-water anglers don't remember that provision, I still get questions from time to time about fish house licensing.
Hunters and anglers may not realize how important they are to fisheries and wildlife management. While most of us understand the role that license fees, plus excise taxes on hunting and angling equipment, play in supporting fish and wildlife management programs, the information we provide about our time afield and on the water is also of great value to agencies such as the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. And this time of year, as hunting seasons are ending, is prime time for the agency to find out what hunters experienced.
One of North Dakota's most recent expansions in fishing opportunity is darkhouse spearfishing. It seems as if it's recent, at least, but in checking the record, it was back in 2001 that the North Dakota state Legislature authorized, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department implemented, a winter spearfishing season.
When it comes to conversations about hunting and fishing, it's pretty easy to understand when someone relates they caught a 5-pound walleye or brought home a limit of roosters. For me, those references bring to mind a stream of different fish and fowl I've seen, caught or shot for a comparative point of reference. There's something about a number to which we can all relate. A limit and a size both create a mental image of what is being related.