Dry North, Cold South May Impact Waterfowl

By Nick Simonson Early spring-like conditions have many fans of the outdoors thinking about returning flocks of snow geese, Canada geese, mallards and other waterfowl flying into the area as a sure sign that the season has come ahead of schedule.  As the limited snow recedes and things begin to warm up, some concerns about…

Our Outdoors: It’s all in the Name

By Nick Simonson When it comes to marketing, a good lure needs a good name.  No angler is going to buy lures called The Skunk, Zippo, or The Blanker.  Lures must have two essentials to catch the attention of anglers.  First they must catch fish, and second they must have a moniker to remember, that…

Inside the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order

By Doug Leier It’s hard to believe that it was more than 20 some years ago when I was working as a game warden when the first spring light goose conservation order arrived.   Time flies.   The purpose then — and remains today – is to reduce light goose (snow goose) populations during spring as the birds migrate north to their nesting grounds.   While the opening…

Early Spring Walleye Tips

By Nick Simonson In the cold of early spring, it’s not uncommon to see anglers patrolling those initial openwater areas for the first walleyes of the season.  As they stage for their spawning run, these fish provide a welcome bite for those looking to break out the long rod and shake the rust off with…

Our Outdoors: Staking Out Spring Spaces

By Nick Simonson As a weather junkie, I know that any forecast over five days out is not to be trusted.  As an angler though, especially the glass-half-full kind who relishes the thought of the season’s first cast over running water, I know that even a 16-day experimental forecast which shows a hint at extended…

Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Finds Kindred Spirits

By Doug Leier My duties as an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department are varied. For example, I help with other Game and Fish functions such as checking on fishing access sites, possible fish kills or conducting upland and small game surveys.  One of the surveys is a count of waterfowl…

Inside the Ammo Shortage

By Nick Simonson What outdoor product has a higher hold rating than Bitcoin?  What is getting pricier than a 1960s-era Mickey Mantle baseball card as collectors take stock of their youth-based memorabilia?  What is seeing a run unlike anything we’ve recently witnessed, beyond perhaps Charmin and Cottonelle last March? The answer to all three of…

Giving Big Game a Chance This Winter

By John Bradley Winter is a challenging season for North Dakota’s wildlife, with below zero temperatures, snowfall, and limited forage. People can help animals by leaving them undisturbed, so they have a better chance to survive the season. During a normal winter without extremely frigid temperatures, or unusually deep snow, about 90 percent of adult…

Hunter Ed Perseveres in Pandemic

By Doug Leier A year ago, the pandemic created a unique set of circumstances for the North Dakota hunter education program. With a goal of training safe hunters, the Game and Fish Department and hundreds of volunteer instructors were faced with a challenge – providing the necessary coursework and gun safety while adhering to safety…

Our Outdoors: First Follow

By Nick Simonson In mid-February my mind often wanders toward spring, and if allowed, into the warmth of summer and thoughts of fishing trips past under the heat of a shining sun.  One of my most formative fishing memories is that of catching bluegills off the dock on those sunny days that blur into the…

New G&F Tech Assists Anglers

By Doug Leier   When my son, dad and I went spearing, Dad had his ice saw in the back of the truck. We put it in the sled and hauled it out. But we didn’t use it. We could have, but the lithium ion auger popped the holes and within minutes the ice was clear and…

Our Outdoors: Progress Toward a Mess

By Nick Simonson By this point in the ice season, what was once a well organized ice house is now a disaster.  Okay, well, not a complete disaster, but definitely showing the signs of use to a point where it needs a mid-season clean up.  Where at the end of December the well-worn unit was…

Pheasants Sitting Pretty at Midwinter

By Nick Simonson Habitat and food.  Food and habitat.  The two biggest driving factors for the survival and propagation of pheasants in North Dakota often hang on what happens in winter, and where birds live and eat are often affected by the conditions that arrive from December to March on the northern plains.  In years…

Mild Winter Bodes Well for Most ND Fisheries

By Nick Simonson To say this winter has been unusual would be an understatement.  According to the University of Illinois’ Midwestern Regional Climate Center, this winter has tracked along the line of that season in 2011-2012 as the all-time mildest for Bismarck, and remains in the very mild category for Fargo.  While the general population…

2020 Sets Stage for New Year in ND

By Doug Leier   With the oversaturation of 2020 year in review columns and news, I elected to wait a month before the annual over-the-shoulder look North Dakota outdoors from the past year. The message wasn’t going to change, so no need to rush.  Here’s a brief review.   Record Lakes Stocked   Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel…

Our Outdoors: Getting Set for Spring

By Nick Simonson Advertisements for boat shows, the arrival of 2021 tackle catalogs, and a pileup of daily email blasts highlighting new rods and reels are all signs that we’re turning the corner toward spring.  While it’s still January and there’s plenty of on-ice action left, the promise of spring and openwater fishing keeps anglers…

Slab Specifics on ice

By Nick Simonson Crappies through the ice remain one of my favorite winter angling pastimes.  While slightly more mysterious in their ways than other panfish, when found they can provide fast action and teach anglers a lot about timing, tackle choices and tactics.  What follows are some tips to turn the attention of winter slabs…

The Woolly Worm

The woolly worm is a fly pattern steeped in the history of fly angling itself, and many branches and regions of that history claim it as their own.  From trout in Europe to bass in the American southeast to panfish in the upper Midwest, the pattern has many origin stories for its popularity and resurgence,…

Post-Frontal Pointers

By Nick Simonson Winter is already the slow time for fish.  Due to their cold-blooded nature, they’re generally less energetic and aggressive than they are in summer when water is warmer.  That doesn’t mean they’re not biting, and fast action can often be found during stable weather and at peak times, such as dawn and…

Collar Studies Provide Info on Mountain Lions

By Doug Leier Wildlife management and biology – science as a discipline – is a function of learning through time, research and analysis. Really not much different than life where we better understand, with a little more time and learning, the past to help plant the future.  Years back when discussions were being held on…

Tips for Bull Bluegills

By Nick Simonson With a bump and a full pull of my spring bobber signaling a none-too-subtle bite, I set the hook on a whirling fish that took my line around the ice hole in a 720-degree spin, clicking and pulling off the slightly uneven edge of the cylinder. With sunlight still filtering through the…

Our Outdoors: Takeaways from 2020

By Nick Simonson The ball had dropped, the calendar had turned.  2020 was officially in the rear-view mirror.  As I made my way through the field-side tree rows and up the winding draws, however, the year did not seem over until I returned to the truck on the final day of the upland hunting season….

A New Year of Angling

By Nick Simonson The main aspect which has always drawn me to fishing, no matter where I am, is the wide variety of species available to angle for.  From season to season, from week to week, and even hour to hour, we are blessed to reside in an area of the world where one can…

Our Outdoors: Go with the Flow

By Nick Simonson Here and there the frozen trickle of the creek bed shown through in the little draw. The last remnants of a dry summer and fall, it was fueled in places by tiny hillside seeps which were almost invisible, save for the change in density and variety of vegetation growing around them.  The…

Winter Tying Plans

By Nick Simonson The depths of winter and the long dark nights can often trigger a lot of indoor time.  Whether it’s a weekend outing cancelled by a blizzard, or just the hum-drum routine of not seeing the sun after five o’clock for a few weeks, time spent inside is a frequent occurrence in the…

Our Outdoors: Let There Be Light

By Nick Simonson The season of light is upon us, and along with countless homes twinkling in holiday colors as the sun goes down each night, so too does another area of darkness light up – the newly frozen water. Like so many other outdoor activities, ice fishing offers up some incredible opportunities at dawn…

Ice Fishing Q&A with Greg Power

By Doug Leier Here’s some ice fishing insight for North Dakota this winter from Greg Power, fisheries division chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Q: In terms of fishing activity, how much participation in overall effort is winter ice fishing? Power: It can be substantial. In an open winter, at least in…

2021 Focus Shifts to Post-Pandemic Retention of Anglers, Hunters

By Nick Simonson Even into the colder months of winter, the outdoors remains a place for people to seek relief from pandemic-related stress and to reconnect with hunting, fishing, and enjoying time away from the confines of four walls.  The physical and psychological benefits of wild places, public lands and open waters have served as…

10 Reasons to Take Up Hunting

By John Bradley From an early age, my family could tell I would be a hunter. When I learned to read, I poured over my grandpa’s old Fur Fish and Game magazines. When I was able to tag along with my dad and relatives, I was hooked for life. Your spouse, a friend, family member…

Our Outdoors: By Comparison

By Nick Simonson It isn’t fair to compare hunting dogs, not among friends or fellow hunters, or even among the different ones owned throughout a person’s lifetime. It isn’t fair, but we do it anyway.   I was spoiled with my first lab, Gunnar, who lived for 15 and a half years and hunted for 13…