New Fishing Licenses Needed, Regulations Change Apr. 1

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North Dakota’s 2020-22 fishing proclamation is set, with regulations effective April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022. Anglers are reminded new fishing licenses are required April 1.

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

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:
  1. Each individual portion of the meat removed from a fish is considered a fillet (fish cheeks and pectoral girdles (wings) are not considered as fillets and are legal to transport),
  2. Two fillets are counted as one fish, and
  3. The packaging of fish must be done in a manner so that the fillets can be readily separated and counted. If fillets are frozen, they must be packaged so that the fillets are separated and thus can be easily counted without thawing.

The 2020-21 fishing licenses can be purchased online by visiting the Game and Fish website. Resident licenses are available March 15, while nonresident fishing licenses are available April 1.

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, this state law also establishes a $2 surcharge on each resident fishing license and combination license, exception for the resident 65 years of age or older license, permanently or totally disabled license, or a disabled veteran license; and 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.

Featured Photo: Smallmouth bass limits will be higher on select lakes in North Dakota. Simonson Photo.

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