By Doug Leier, NDG&F Department
Few people better understand the quality of life aspect that fishing provides in North Dakota than longtime State Game and Fish Department fisheries division chief Greg Power.
He recently shared some insights in the March-April 2020 North Dakota OUTDOORS magazine. Here’s a condensed version of Power’s essay.
“While ‘quality of life’ lacks a clear definition, most people have their own interpretation of what it means. Regardless of what measurement is used, North Dakotans tend to be happy and outdoorsy.
“I’ve long been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful family and good friends. In addition, I’m one of only a couple dozen people in the state who are fortunate to wear two hats – one as a fisheries biologist working in North Dakota and the other as an avid North Dakota angler.
“Given the magnitude of differing fishing waters across North Dakota, coupled with the dynamic nature of managing our state’s fisheries, both the everyday challenges and rewards are many. And teaming with staff and the fishing public to address these challenges has resulted in a long list of successes.
“Perhaps most important to successfully managing these fisheries is to have a strong starting point. Since I lived/worked through the drought conditions of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I’ve witnessed the dramatic changes in North Dakota’s land and waterscape beginning in 1993.
“During the past 20-plus years, we have lived through a time when moisture has been excessive, resulting in more than 400 fishable water bodies.
“Fortunately, we live in a state where landowners are friendly to fishing. Public access agreements with these landowners have allowed us to fully develop the potential of many fishing lakes. We have numerous landowners across the state who provide up to a couple acres of land at no charge so that boat ramps and other conveniences can be developed.
“I’ve visited most of the 400 lakes across the state, traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on North Dakota’s graveled backroads, and even tagged along over the years with our fisheries crews, touching on every one of the 2,000-plus miles of Missouri River System shoreline.
“In the course of a fishing year, I not only fish for, but routinely catch what I’m seeking – generally walleye, yellow perch and northern pike. And I know quality opportunities abound for other species, including smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill and trout. I typically fish about a dozen different waters in a year, and I can almost always find solitude while catching fish if that’s what I’m after.
“I appreciate the fact that I can fish in most every water in the state no matter the season. And the cost of my fishing license that provides this privilege is less than $20.
“Many quality of life (or similar) indices have been developed using varying statistics, but one constant included in most is some measurement of the natural environment we inhabit. In my case, access to fishing opportunities is central to my quality of life and I’m forever thankful for what North Dakota has to offer.”
Featured Photo: Fisheries Chief Greg Power of the NDG&F suggests the great fishing opportunities in North Dakota are part of the state’s draw to residents. NDG&F Photo.