Fishing changes likely in 2014

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has been informing fishermen that some notable changes are being proposed for the 2014-2016 fishing proclamation. The possible changes have been discussed at the most recent round of Game and Fish Advisory Board meetings, including this past Tuesday in Anamoose.

Several changes are being proposed for the paddlefish season, with the primary reason being to protect a resource that has been in slow decline. Paddlefish are slow growing and late to mature. Artificial stocking is credited with helping maintain the current population of paddlefish in catchable numbers.

According to Game and Fish, biologists have determined that changes in regulations are necessary to insure the future of paddlefishing. The State Legislature passed legislation this year to allow Game and Fish to begin a lottery system for paddlefish tags. Currently an unlimited number of tags are sold over-the-counter. However, Game and Fish has determined that other measures should be attempted before a lottery system might need to be invoked.

Proposed changes beginning in 2014 includes reducing paddlefishing hours by one hour per day, reducing the in-season closure notice from 36 to 24 hours, elimination of the extended snag-and-release seasons and possibly changing the days open to snagging and harvest. Currently the paddlefish season is closed within 36 hours by notice of biologists who closely monitor the harvest.

Another proposed change will affect only crappie fisheries, of which the state has a very limited number. Biologists are requesting the daily limit be reduced from 20 to 10 and that the possession limit be reduced from 80 to 20.

Bowfishermen will have extended opportunities if proposed changes are included in the 2014-2016 fishing proclamation. Game and Fish is considering expanding the bowfishing season by three months, adding April, October and November. The proposed extension comes as a result of a growing interest and participation in bowfishing. Only rough fish are allowed to be taken with bow and arrow.