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…

Our Outdoors: Giving Us Options

By Nick Simonson My grandmother and I shared a special connection with the outdoors.  She was an avid birder, having seen more than 110 species just from her dining room window throughout her nine decades on the planet, and dozens if not hundreds more in her limited travels around the country.  While she was not…

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…

Plan for Habitat Now

By Nick Simonson Despite the chill of winter settling in across the region, now is the time for making spring plans for habitat work.  Whether it’s a ranching, farming or conservation-focused operation, landowners have more technology and options at their fingers than ever before, and a host of helpers across the upper Midwest to connect…

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…

Our Outdoors: Today is Tomorrow

By Nick Simonson Shortly after purchasing my first boat, a used 1986 Grumman Sportsman found on the classified ad page of a regional fishing website that has long since gone under, I added a Humminbird 300 TX fishfinder to the console and snaked the black wire back to the transom of the craft.  With its…

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…

Our Outdoors: Just One

By Nick Simonson “I bet you can’t eat just one” was the long-time slogan of Lay’s potato chips, and really with about half a century of food science and consumer studies behind the product at the time, the tagline for the easy-to-consume junk food was right on, and still probably is.  The light and airy…

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…

Wing Samples, Surveys Provide Look at Upland Birds

By Nick Simonson While the upland bird hunting seasons have ended in North Dakota, the work for the staff of the state’s Game and Fish Department (NDG&F) is just getting underway in an effort to tally hunter hours in the field, their relative success and also the data from submitted samples to help gain 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…

Badlands Bass Bandits Kick Off Winter Tourney Trail

By Nick Simonson Despite the cold weather season descending on North Dakota in earnest this week, the Badlands Bass Bandits are looking to keep the open water action rolling with the organization’s new winter tournament series which kicked off in December and will run through March on Nelson Lake near Center, N.D.  The impoundment, formed…

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…

Walleye Fishing Likely to Expand in 2021

By Nick Simonson With a record number of lakes stocked with walleye fingerlings in 2020, the North Dakota Game & Fish Department (NDG&F) is not resting on its laurels.  According to NDG&F Director Terry Steinwand, the trend of stocking more lakes with more walleye fingerlings than ever before will likely continue in 2021, satisfying 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…