Wildlife populations were flourishing in 2006-07 when Conservation Reserve Program acres peaked at more than 3.25 million in North Dakota. Since then, as CRP acres have steadily declined, so has the overall harvest of game species.
This is never more evident than with pheasant (see attachment). According to statistics released by the State Game and Fish Department, while the number of pheasant hunters increased by 4 percent from 2011 to 2012, overall harvest fell 10 percent.
Years of rising water, a record number of fishing lakes and aggressive fish management in North Dakota have helped produce record fishing license sales.
State Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Power said in 2012-13 virtually every license category established a record high, or at the least had a substantial increase. â€śEven more impressive is this was spread throughout the state, and not just in the rapidly growing counties of western North Dakota,â€ť Power said.
Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest
The deadline for submitting photos to the North Dakota Game and Fish Departmentâ€™s annual Watchable Wildlife Photo Contest is Sept. 30.
The contest has categories for nongame and game species, as well as plants/insects. An overall winning photograph will be chosen, with the number of place winners in each category determined by the number of qualified entries.
Contest entries are limited to digital files submitted on disk or via email. Contestants are limited to no more than five entries. Photos must have been taken in North Dakota.
North Dakotaâ€™s 2013 pheasant crowing count survey indicates that rooster numbers were down about 11 percent statewide compared to last year, heading into the spring breeding season.
All four pheasant districts had lower counts than last year. The number of crows heard in the northeast declined by 18 percent, southeast and southwest by 11 percent, and the northwest by nearly 2 percent.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reminds outdoor recreationists who celebrate the Fourth of July along any heavily-used recreational area to keep it clean by packing out all trash, including fireworks.
All garbage, including used fireworks, should be placed in the proper trash receptacle. If trash cans arenâ€™t available, or are full, take the trash and dispose of it at home.
North Dakota game wardens issued a record number of citations during the recent paddlefish snagging season.
From opening day May 1until the season closed May 19, wardens cited more than 170 individuals as part of an annual saturation effort in Williams and McKenzie counties. Last year the citation total for a similar timeframe was 82.
One thing I've learned with close to two decades of work as a game warden and biologist is the outdoors is relative. No matter the deer population if you draw a tag and fill it, odds are you'll consider it pretty successful. And in similar fashion if the duck index is strong (which it is) but the weather pushes the birds through or you just don't have good "luck" hunting, it's hard to acknowledge a strong waterfowl population.
Lab results confirm Dan Faimanâ€™s state record fish is a saugeye.
The Fairview, Mont. angler caught the 12 pound record fish on Jan. 16 from the Yellowstone River. Because the fish had identifying characteristics of both species, genetic material was sent to a lab to determine whether the fish was a walleye, sauger or saugeye, which is a cross between the two.
Faimanâ€™s catch broke the previous record, set in 1984, by 4 ounces.
First let me say that fishing is the most reasonable and economical hobby/activity/past-time you could find in terms of the license to fish. $11 for the entire year! Seriously. Not just one trip...it's good until March 31 of 2014.
I asked myself the question this morning. If I was fishing by myself and caught the state record walleye (or bullhead?) would I feel a little empty compared to if my wife, and/or kids were with me? I would. I know I would. If you don't fish, compare it to getting a hole in one if nobody else is along to witness? Does it count even?
The point in all of this is fishing is not about just catching a limit or a lunker. And getting kids fishing is no easy task. So in that vain we celebrate the FIRST FISH!