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Doug Leier, Published March 04 2014

Leier: Fishing changes worthy of your attention

West Fargo - North Dakota’s fishing regulations are different from any other set of regulations the State Game and Fish Department produces.

While they all cover laws, limits and season lengths, the fishing regulations cover a two-year period, while the others are developed annually.

Fortunately, for pretty much all of the regulations guides that Game and Fish develops, they don’t have a lot of changes from year to year. And that is the case for the 2014-16 fishing guide, which will be available at license vendors and online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, within the next couple of weeks.

Paddlefish snagging

After a full review of the 2013 paddlefish season, and considering ongoing population research, Game and Fish is making a number of changes for the 2014 paddlefish snagging season. However, this does not include establishment of a lottery to issue paddlefish snagging tags.

While the 2013 state legislature passed a law that gives Game and Fish the option to hold a paddlefish tag lottery, agency administrators are going to try a few regulatory changes before possibly implementing a lottery.

Modifications to the paddlefish season include:

Changing the hours open to snagging from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. to 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Reducing the 36-hour notice required to close the season to 24 hours.

Reducing the snag-and-release extended season from seven to four days.

Establishing a new requirement that all paddlefish snagged and tagged must be removed from the river by 9 p.m. of each snagging day.

A change in the days open to snagging from Wednesday through Saturday, to Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday; and additional requirements to accompany a harvested fish.

Bow fishing, spearing

In response to increasing interest and participation in bow fishing for

non-game fish, the bow fishing season is extended to run from April 1 through Nov. 30. Previously, this season started May 1 and ended Sept. 30, so the new rule provides an extra three months for people who like to pursue

non-game fish with their bow.

The open-water spearing season for non-game fish was also extended. It still starts on May 1 as in previous years, but like bow fishing, it now ends Nov. 30 instead of Sept. 30.

Darkhouse spearfishing

The previous fishing proclamation opened most water bodies in the state to darkhouse spearfishing for northern pike. The Red River was excluded due to the desire to standardize boundary water regulations with Minnesota. Beginning next winter both states have agreed to allow darkhouse spearfishing on the Red, although use will likely be limited.

Reduced crappie limit

The statewide daily and possession limit of crappie is reduced from 20 and 80 to 10 and 20, respectively.

North Dakota only has a handful of quality crappie fisheries. Due to the fact that crappie populations are usually dominated by just a couple of year classes (due to inconsistent recruitment) and these fish grow slowly, there is a need to provide additional protection to extend these limited fisheries.

So with spring and open water just around the corner … we hope … don’t forget that a new fishing license is required April 1, and a new fishing guide should be part of the package.


Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov Leier’s blog can be found online

at dougleier.areavoices.com