As winter approaches, North Dakota anglers are eagerly anticipating the ice fishing season. Traditionally, around 25% of licensed anglers engage in ice fishing during an average year when favorable conditions permit access.
This year, the weather appears to be cooperating, and fish populations are showing promise. According to Scott Gangl, the fisheries supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, walleye populations across the state have held up well despite last year’s harsh winter conditions. Gangl is optimistic about the upcoming season, stating, “Things are maintaining quite well.”
Regarding northern pike populations, Gangl believes that anglers familiar with traditional pike fishing spots will likely find success this winter. Pike, known for their hardiness, seem to have weathered the challenges faced in the previous year.
Reflecting on perch populations, Gangl notes that five years ago, these fish peaked in abundance and quality. While the overall abundance may have decreased, quality perch can still be found in various locations, with particular emphasis on newer lakes in Barnes County and Stutsman County.
Anglers seeking information can visit the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s website, which provides a wealth of resources. The “Where to Fish” page allows users to search by lake, providing updated information on fish status. Additionally, netting survey results for lakes surveyed during the summer will be posted starting mid-December.
Despite challenging conditions last winter, Mother Nature seems to be more favorable this year, raising hopes for an excellent ice fishing season. Gangl expresses optimism, stating, “I think as long as we don’t have a lot of snow and access is good to these lakes, I think we’ll have a really good ice fishing year, and I’m kind of looking forward to it.”
North Dakota residents can take advantage of a free ice fishing weekend on December 30-31, where fishing licenses are not required. It’s a great opportunity for residents to enjoy ice fishing, although adherence to all rules and regulations is essential during this weekend.