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…

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…

An Interview with New Enforcement Chief, Scott Winkelman

By Doug Leier Robert Timian, enforcement division chief, retired after 35 years with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. October 1, Scott Winkelman assumed his new role as head of enforcement. Winkelmann’s career began as a conservation officer in South Dakota in 2002. He then moved to North Dakota in 2003 and was the…

The Ten Greatest Ice Fishing Innovations: Part 2

By Nick Simonson In the first installment of this two-part series celebrating the start of the ice season, it was pointed out that the last half century has been an amazing ice age for hardwater anglers.  From tackle to tech and the advanced tactics both allow for on the ice, these options have opened a…

Dakota Uplander: Removing Roosters Won’t Hinder Rebound

By Nick Simonson It might seem like pheasant numbers are down in certain areas as the season approaches its end, and people may be inclined to assume that by not hunting roosters in these final weeks that they are helping preserve populations for next season.  That’s likely not the case, however, and to the contrary,…

Our Outdoors: Late Season Pheasant Haunts

By Nick Simonson While much of pheasant country remains free and clear of snow cover at the moment, it’s likely that at some point in the back stretch of the season we’ll be looking at a white Christmas and a frosty finish to the upland hunting calendar.  Even when there isn’t snow on the ground,…

The Ten Greatest Ice Fishing Innovations: Part 1

By Nick Simonson In the blink of an eye which has been human existence, we’ve gone from living in caves to designing skyscrapers that touch the heavens.  Where travel by horse and carriage brought messages from east to west over a period of weeks, electronic impulses now carry them in seconds.  In the fraction of…

Devils Lake Ice Fishing Preview

By Nick Simonson Even as one of the last waters in the state to totally freeze up, Devils Lake remains one of the first places people think of when it comes to ice fishing in North Dakota.  With abundant walleye, perch and pike populations, even in off years, mni wakan or “spirit water” as it…

Our Outdoors: Doe Fever

By Nick Simonson The first morning of muzzleloader season arrived clear, cold, and calm.  With just the faintest bit of dawn edging over the eastern hills, I ventured down to the southernmost stretch of a favorite piece of public access land and followed the flags along the hillside break to the final mark on my…

Be Ice Safety Aware All Winter

By Doug Leier It’s not written in any expert ice safety advice column, but I’ll always remind hard-water anglers how valuable experience can be. If you’ve never tried ice fishing before this pandemic impacted year, with all the cancellations of activities and events, now might be the time to pick up a new hobby or…

NDWF Receives MTN DEW Grant

NDWF Release Bismarck, ND – MTN DEW is awarding the North Dakota Wildlife Federation (NDWF) a $5,000 grant in support of the organization’s ongoing commitment to R3 (Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation of hunters and anglers). NDWF is one of twenty nonprofits in the country to receive a grant through MTN DEW Outdoor Grants program. To receive…

Our Outdoors: Call it Memorable

By Nick Simonson There was nothing subtle about the way the buck came into the cut bean field where the growing herd of does and fawns were working diligently, heads down, to scrape up the remnants of a harvest from two months ago.  He charged the nearest one like the intoxicated BMOC hitting on a…