Outdoors briefly

Permission to hunt unharvested crops

Wet conditions over the past two weeks have delayed the fall harvest of row crops. North Dakota hunters are reminded that hunting in unharvested crops is not allowed without a landowner’s permission, including waterfowl hunters driving on land to set up decoys.

To maintain proper landowner-sportsmen relations, hunters are urged to stay off harvested fields in wet conditions.

Unharvested crops include sprouted winter wheat, which is typically planted in September as a no-till crop. A sign of a seeded winter wheat field is rows of green-colored sprouting wheat, or rows of tilled ground 6-12 inches apart indicating planting has taken place. Stubble from the previous crop will still be in the field.

Besides winter wheat, other unharvested crops that hunters need landowner permission to access include more recognizable standing crops like corn, soybeans and sunflowers, in addition to alfalfa, clover and other grasses grown for seed.

The notable exceptions are crops within North Dakota Game and Fish Department PLOTS tracts, which are open to walking hunting access unless they are posted with an orange rectangular sign that states that hunting in the standing crop portion of the tract is not allowed, and standing crops on state wildlife management areas.

Trout stocked in seven waters

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently stocked seven waters with catchable trout.

Jerry Weigel, fisheries development and production section leader, said these trout will provide exciting fall and winter fishing opportunities. “Shasta strain rainbow trout average more than 1 pound each, with some up to 5 pounds,” Weigel said. More than 800 were stocked in the Turtle River near Arvilla in Grand Forks County, while 115 went in the Owls Pond in Burleigh County.

In addition, Wyoming Game and Fish Department provided 7,500 Firehole strain rainbows as part of an annual trade for walleye fingerlings. These half-pound fish were stocked in McGregor Dam in Williams County, Lightning Lake in McLean County, Fish Creek Dam and Harmon Lake in Morton County and Mooreton Pond in Richland County.

“Trout provided from Wyoming give anglers a chance to catch unique strains and species that otherwise would require a trip to the Rocky Mountains,” Weigel said.

Late spring affects fish reproduction

Fisheries biologists who questioned how a late spring and delayed ice-off would influence fish reproduction in North Dakota waters finally have a few answers.

“It looks better than we expected,” said Scott Gangl, State Game and Fish Department fisheries management section leader. “Our biologists have been seeing some pretty good numbers of young-of-the-year yellow perch in lakes statewide, signaling some good reproduction this year. This was especially true in our larger lakes that traditionally provided a perch fishery.”

Devils Lake and Stump Lake reported excellent numbers of young-of-the-year yellow perch. Reports also indicated good numbers of young walleye in the upper reaches of Lake Sakakawea, and fair to good numbers of perch on the east end of the lake.

Reproduction was poor for most fish in the Missouri River and Lake Oahe, which are still recovering from the forage losses during high water in 2011.

“We found some shad and decent numbers of white bass in Oahe,” Gangl said. “This was our second year in a row of stocking shad in Oahe, so it’s nice to see some reproduction of those alternate forages. The sport fishery will have a difficult time recovering without that forage base.”

On another note, Gangl said fisheries biologists are seeing good survival of walleye stocked around the state in North Dakota’s smaller waters.

“There were also fair numbers of young-of-the-year pike,” he said. “While we initially didn’t know what to think of the late spring, it apparently was good for fish.”