Outdoors briefly

Special fishing day at Upper Souris NWR

The Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, in cooperation with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department and local volunteers, will sponsor a fishing day for individuals with special needs from Minot and the surrounding area.

The event, planned for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will take place in the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam. It will include a picnic lunch at noon. The event is funded in part by the Kenmare Veterans Club, Kenmare Goosefest Committee and The Souris River Basin Longbeards.

Because of the large number of people planning to attend this event and the limited parking spaces available, the Outlet Fishing Area will be closed Saturday to Refuge visitors from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Individuals attending the event will be assisted by Fish and Wildlife Service employees, staff from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and local volunteers. Rods, reels, tackle and bait will be supplied for those individuals who do not have equipment.

Parents and guardians of special service students should contact the refuge at 468-5467 to tell them your plans.

Remember that the weekend of June 1 and 2 are Free Fishing Days. Residents of North Dakota may fish without a resident license during the free fishing days. However, all other state and federal regulations apply.

Some N.D. lakes suffer winterkill

Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, says approximately 30 winterkills have been confirmed so far this spring. “Fortunately, the majority of these were considered minor/partial kills, meaning there are still desirable fish to catch in those lakes,” he said.

However, Gangl mentioned a number of lakes scattered across the state that appear to have suffered a significant kill. Those include Powers Lake (Burke County), Stanley Reservoir (Mountrail County), Buffalo Lake (Pierce County), Island Lake and School Section Lake (Rolette County), Coal Mine Lake and Wolf Lake (Sheridan County), and Harvey Dam (Wells County).

Fisheries personnel have already started or will soon restock lakes that experienced winterkill. Anglers can contact the local Game and Fish Department fisheries district offices to get more information on the status of these lakes, or to report fish kills that may not be on the list.

Mo. River system, Devils Lake ramps

Even though Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe are approximately 10 feet lower than last year at this time, anglers shouldn’t have a problem finding public access points to launch a boat.

Bob Frohlich, North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries development supervisor, said most of the main recreation areas will have a usable boat ramp and provide ample boating access. “Some of the main concrete ramps are out of the water, so anglers will have to use low-water ramps in those areas,” Frohlich said. “While these low-water ramps will certainly be sufficient to get boaters on and off the water, anglers may notice that some may not be as wide or quite as nice as the primary ramps and may be located some distance from the other amenities in the area.”

At Lake Sakakawea, all but two of the 34 recreation sites will have a usable ramp. Only Littlefield Bay and West Totten Trail will be unusable. All 12 boat ramps will be usable on the Missouri River stretch from Garrison Dam to MacLean Bottoms. Seven of eight recreation areas will have operational ramps on Lake Oahe from Hazelton to the South Dakota state line. Only the Fort Yates ramp will be unusable.

A complete status report of Missouri River and Devils Lake boat ramps is on the Game and Fish website at (gf.nd.gov).

Threat of exotics in state waters ongoing

Outdoor recreationists are once again reminded to help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota.

Robert Timian, State Game and Fish Department enforcement division chief, said ANS violations include both warnings and citations. “Warnings serve a purpose in some occasions, but citations will become more commonplace this summer,” he said.

Current law states all water must be drained from watercraft prior to leaving a water body, including livewells. This means fish, including bait, cannot be transported in a livewell containing water. However, bait buckets and/or any container of 5 gallons or less in volume can be used to transport legal live baitfish or other bait in water. All other fish species may not be held in water and/or transported in bait buckets/containers when away from a water body. Transportation of fish in or on ice is allowed.

In addition, no aquatic vegetation, or parts thereof, shall be in or on watercraft, motors, trailers and recreational equipment when out of water. Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

All built-in structures to boats, including livewells and bait compartments, and containers (bait buckets) used to transport legal live bait, must also be free of aquatic vegetation.

May highlights safe boating practices

A public awareness campaign held annually in May emphasizes the need for boaters to wears life jackets. Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the message reinforces the importance of personal flotation devices.

“Facts prove there is no safety substitute for wearing a life jacket while recreating on public waters,” Boldt said.

Failure to wear a personal flotation device is the main reason people lose their lives in boating accidents. Boldt said each year, about 700 people nationwide die in boating-related accidents. Nearly 70 percent are caused by drowning, and eight of 10 victims were not wearing a life jacket.

Boaters are reminded to test life jackets for serviceability and fit. All straps and buckles must be intact and there should be no rips or tears in the fabric.

First Fish Certificate still available

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding parents to capture their little angler’s first catch on a specially designed First Fish certificate.

First Fish has no qualifying weights or measurements. The only requirement is the successful landing of a North Dakota fish. Certificates are available to all who request them, and have ample room for all the important information, such as name, age, lake and a short fish story, plus a blank space for a photograph big enough to contain the smile of the happiest little angler.

Free certificates are available by contacting the Game and Fish Department at 328-6300, or send an email to (ndgf@nd.gov).