DNR sets four-walleye winter limit on Red

Anglers fishing during the winter season on Upper Red Lake will have a four-walleye bag limit, with only one walleye longer than 17 inches allowed, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has announced.

The regulations, which become effective Sunday, Dec. 1, are the same as those of last winter but more restrictive than during 2019 open water fishing.

“Anglers should remember to take a good measuring device along with them on their trip to Upper Red Lake as many walleye will measure just above, and just under, the 17-inch size restriction,” Andy Thompson, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji, said in a press release.

More restrictive winter regulations are necessary because of the amount of fishing pressure during the winter. Anglers spent 1.9 million hours fishing Upper Red Lake during the winter of 2018-19, significantly higher than the 178,000 hours they spent open-water fishing in 2019. Those anglers harvested 293,000 pounds of walleyes during the summer and winter of 2019 — a record high for annual harvest since walleye fishing resumed on the lake in 2006.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

The Red Lake Nation and the DNR manage walleye harvest on Red Lake under a joint harvest plan that was revised in 2015 by the Red Lakes Fisheries Technical Committee.

Next year’s open water harvest regulations will be determined after the winter fishing season. An Upper Red Lake Citizen Advisory Committee reviews walleye harvest totals and regulation options and provides recommendations for regulations for the state waters of Upper Red Lake.

Upper Red Lake fishing regulations are available at mndnr.gov/regulations/fishing.

— Forum News Service

Adair takes new role with DU

Steve Adair, director of operations for Ducks Unlimited’s Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck, has been promoted to the new position of national director for conservation strategies. He moves into his new position effective Sunday, Dec. 1, and will be staying in Bismarck.

“During his long tenure with DU, Steve has been a conservation thought leader for the organization,” Adam Putnam, Ducks Unlimited CEO, said in a statement. “His vision and expertise in the prairies and for all wetlands conservation make him the perfect fit for this new position.”

In his new role, Adair will be responsible for providing strategic leadership focused on accelerating conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region and for guiding and coordinating the implementation of DU’s highest priority strategic focal areas related to conservation delivery, including water and ecosystem services.

“It’s evident that our wetlands conservation work benefits not only waterfowl, but other wildlife and even people,” Adair said. “I’ve worked for DU for 22 years and in that time have seen the great benefits DU’s conservation efforts provide for communities across the continent. It’s because of the importance of that work that I’m excited about taking on this new role to further our international conservation efforts.”

In related news, Karen Waldrop has been hired as DU’s new chief conservation officer. Most recently, Waldrop has served as deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

She starts her new job as a member of DU’s executive leadership team Monday, Nov. 18.

“Karen’s state and national leadership experience, passion, and reputation in wildlife conservation are a perfect fit for Ducks Unlimited,” Putnam said.

— Herald staff report

NPS offers free park admission Monday

To commemorate Veterans Day, the National Park Service will offer free admission at all park units on Monday, Nov. 11. Entrance fees will be waived at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota, giving visitors one last fee-free opportunity to enjoy spectacular badlands scenery before winter.

Camping fees will still be charged.

“We want to take this opportunity to honor our military veterans, including Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, and what they have done for our country,” said Eileen Andes, chief of interpretation at the park. “Spending a single day or an entire week enjoying our national parks is a wonderful way to salute our veterans and celebrate our national heritage.”

The other two national park units in North Dakota — Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site near Williston, and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton — are among the more than 300 national parks that never charge entrance fees.

More info: www.nps.gov/thro.

— Herald staff report

DNR offers mentored deer hunt options

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a number of options for anyone wanting to give deer hunting a try, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association supports efforts to mentor new hunters.

Each year, the MDHA collaborates with environmental learning centers and the YMCA to offer hands-on training for future hunters through camps for youth ages 11 to 17. At Forkhorn Camp, youth get a hands-on approach to sharing knowledge on hunting practices and hunter safety.

The DNR this year offered mentors an ideal way to share hunting knowledge and traditions with young hunters during the inaugural statewide youth deer season in mid-October. The four-day hunting season just for kids gave a chance for parents, relatives and trusted adults to discover, explore and practice hunting with youth in Minnesota's fields and forests.

Leading up to deer seasons, the DNR hosts a variety of classes aimed at adults interested in learning how to hunt. Learn to Hunt Deer 101 teaches adults 18 and older all the skills they need to hunt and process deer. The Becoming an Outdoors Woman program offers women interested in hunting a chance to gain skills with the support of other women and knowledgeable instructors.

The DNR's recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) program offers grants to organizations that make ongoing efforts to get more people outdoors. With new legislative funding, this year the DNR began a grant program called “No Child Left Inside” that will fund efforts to get young people outdoors doing a variety of activities, including hunting.

Hunters themselves continue to play the largest role in bringing new hunters out into the woods and fields, and hunters are encouraged to take someone else hunting.

— Herald staff report

N.D. spearing opens at freeze-up

North Dakota’s darkhouse spearfishing season opens on most state waters whenever ice-up occurs. Legal fish are northern pike and nongame species.

Anyone who participates in darkhouse spearfishing must first register online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, anglers age 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license.

Spearers and anglers are reminded that materials used to mark holes must be in possession as soon as a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.

North Dakota residents who do not have a fishing license may spear during the winter free fishing weekend Saturday, Dec. 28, and Sunday, Dec. 29, but they still need to register to spear.

All waters open to hook and line fishing are open to darkhouse spearing except:

  • East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Lake Audubon – McLean County.

  • Heckers Lake – Sheridan County.

  • Larimore Dam – Grand Forks County.

  • McClusky Canal.

  • New Johns Lake – Burleigh County.

  • Red Willow Lake – Griggs County.

  • Wood Lake – Benson County.

Check out the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide for more information.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Grouse take up on RGS hunt

Hunters shot 112 ruffed grouse and 261 American woodcock during the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society 38th Annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, held Thursday, Oct. 10, and Friday, Oct. 11, in and around Grand Rapids, Minn.

Results this year showed increased harvest rates compared to 2018 and considerably improved grouse recruitment.

The ruffed grouse harvest was up 17% from 2018, and while fewer woodcock were shot, fewer hunters participated this year. Hunters averaged 5.8 birds each between the two species, up 41% over the 4.1 birds taken per hunter in 2018.

This year’s hunt produced an average of 1.8 ruffed grouse and 4.1 American woodcock per hunter, up from 1 grouse and 3.1 woodcock per hunter last year.

The 2019 recruitment ratio — the number of immature birds divided by the number of mature females in the harvest — was 7.67 for grouse, more than double the 2.72 recruitment ratio from last year, and a 78% increase over the previous five-year average from 2014–2018. The American woodcock recruitment ratio of 1.22 was down from 2.76 in 2018, but close to the five-year average of 1.28.

“Each year, the data collected gives us a chance to better understand these two important game birds,” Ben Jones, CEO of the Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock societies, said in a statement. “The indication of improved grouse recruitment this year is welcome news, though poor recruitment in recent years is a still a topic of concern that warrants further consideration.

“We look forward to engaging with our valued agency and university partners to ensure this is given appropriate attention.”

— Ruffed Grouse Society

Pro walleye tour coming to Sakakawea

Lake Sakakawea will be the final stop on the National Walleye Tour’s 2020 circuit, with a tournament set for Sept. 9-11 out of Garrison, N.D.

Other tournaments on the schedule are set for April 30-May 1 on Lake Francis Case, Chamberlain, S.D.; May 28-29, Lake Erie, Sandusky, Ohio; and July 23-24, Green Bay, Oconto, Wis.

With a series of consistently strong hatches starting in 2011, Sakakawea, a 368,000-acre Missouri River impoundment, possesses a record abundance of walleyes, the NWT said in a news release.

“Sakakawea will be amazing,” said walleye pro John Hoyer. “That’s the one I’m looking forward to the most. It’s technically a reservoir, but it will fish more like a big lake at that point.

“It’s full of them. The fish are healthy up and down the system. Those 2011 year-class fish will be almost 25 inches. There’s a ton of smelt in the system, and those fish grow super fast. It could take 75 pounds to win the championship. It should be a casters heaven.”

Walleye pro Gary Parsons calls Sakakawea a “totally different animal” from Francis Case, even though they both are on the Missouri River.

“Francis Case is narrow, while Sakakawea has huge wide areas,” Parsons said. “It fishes bigger than Oahe. At that time of year, the fish are mostly deep. The bite will be good, but the waves can be huge. There will be some pretty big bags. Figuring it all out is going to be a blast.”

— Herald staff report