By Nick Simonson
In an effort to provide anglers with more to fish for in North Dakota and encourage the use of expanding and varied fisheries resources, the North Dakota Game & Fish Department (NDG&F) has launched its 2022 Fish Challenge and is also in the annual process of stocking trout into various lakes and impoundments throughout the state. These two efforts – the former encouraging anglers to target underutilized species including northern pike, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and channel catfish, and the latter providing easier-to-catch stocked trout – look to bring new anglers into the fold and provide fun fishing activities at waters close to home, according NDG&F R3 Coordinator Cayla Bendel.
Take the Challenge
“It’s increasingly popular to do these challenges whether it be something in the outdoors…or just a way to ‘gameify’ a little bit and getting people to fish for some different species,” Bendel explains of the online reporting component, “it’s just a challenge where you have to catch a northern pike, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and channel catfish in North Dakota. The event began on May 1 and you have until August 15 to complete the challenge,” she concludes.
Details on the 2022 Fish Challenge can be found on the program’s landing page at: gf.nd.gov/fishing/fish-challenge. There anglers can enter their email address and submit their catches throughout the two-and-a-half-month timeline and find out more information on the four target species and get links to resources at the agency’s website to help them get started angling for them. Among those resources is the recently updated NDG&F Where to Fish page, which allows anglers to sort mapped water bodies containing those species of fish and plot them based on distance and available facilities, such as fishing piers and other access points.
“Over the winter a lot of folks worked hard to put together a new Where to Fish app; that’s all accessible from our website. You can search by species, by distance from where you’re at. You can select different features you want to search for and then it will output a list of lakes that meet those criteria. It’s great for the Fish Challenge if you’re looking for lakes near you,” Bendel states.
Throughout the spring and summer, Bendel hopes to share user photos and stories from the 2022 Fish Challenge showcasing the fun and excitement of pursuing these species. Anglers are encouraged to compete with their friends and family and the agency will likely have similar Fish Challenges in the years to come to support the use of all the state’s fisheries and to introduce fishing to new anglers.
Out & About for Trout
Additionally, the stocking of smaller water bodies with rainbow and brown trout each spring near communities provides a unique opportunity for anglers to target the coldwater species which are generally readily-biting and an exciting catch that isn’t naturally available on the prairie landscape. Often placed in smaller lakes, impoundments and ponds, the NDG&F spring trout stocking efforts open angling up further, and in many cases targets those waters nearer to larger communities in the state.
“Our fisheries biologists do a great job of getting those [rainbow and brown trout] out in our community fisheries. A lot of the time they are small lakes that are part of a put-and-take system,” Bendel outlines, “a lot of growing communities have these community fisheries as we call them, and they’re stocked with already catchable sized trout. It’s a unique opportunity to go catch a fish. They’re usually pretty hungry and eager to bite, so they can be a lot of fun and easy to access for people living in urban areas or our rural communities too,” Bendel adds.
Lakes and community waters that are stocked with trout each year can also be identified on the NDG&F Where to Fish page.
Featured Photo: Smallmouth bass are one of four species in the North Dakota 2022 Fish Challenge. Simonson Photo.