GRAND FORKS -- Changes in fish-packaging regulations and a darkhouse spearing ban on Lake Ashtabula and Whitman Dam northeast of Michigan, N.D., are among the changes in North Dakota’s 2022 fishing proclamation, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said Monday.

The changes go into effect Wednesday, April 1, and are in effect through March 31, 2022. Anglers also need new fishing licenses April 1, Game and Fish said.

Noteworthy regulation changes include:

  • Lake Ashtabula and Whitman Dam are added to the list of waters where darkhouse spearfishing is not allowed.

  • The smallmouth bass daily limit is increased from 3 to 5 in the Missouri River and lakes Sakakawea, Oahe, Audubon, Darling, Ashtabula and Heart Butte.

  • Area and time for paddlefish extended snag-and-release days is expanded.

Fish may be filleted for transport, unless size limits apply, under the following conditions:

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  • Each individual portion of the meat removed from a fish is considered a fillet (fish cheeks and pectoral girdles -- also known as “wings” or “rabbit ears” -- are not considered as fillets and are legal to transport).

  • Two fillets are counted as one fish.

  • Fish must be packaged in a manner so the fillets can be readily separated and counted. If fillets are frozen, they must be packaged so the fillets are separated and can be easily counted without thawing.

In addition, Senate Bill 2293, passed by the 2019 state Legislature, created an aquatic nuisance species program fund in the state treasury. Along with an ANS fee on motorized watercraft that went into effect Jan. 1, the new state law establishes a $2 surcharge on each resident fishing license and combination license, except for the resident 65 years of age or older license, permanently or totally disabled license or a disabled veteran license. The legislation also establishes a $3 surcharge on each nonresident fishing and each nonresident waterfowl license. The ANS surcharge on licenses is in effect with the 2020-21 license.

The 2020-22 North Dakota Fishing Guide has a new look. The 52-page document offers the same information but in a format that’s more user-friendly. Anglers can find the guide on the Game and Fish Department website at or in mid-March at Game and Fish Department offices and license vendors throughout the state.

Anglers can buy their 2020-21 fishing licenses online by visiting the Game and Fish website. Resident licenses are available Sunday, March 15, while nonresident fishing licenses will be available Wednesday, April 1.