Wet 2019 provides 2020 ice fishing opportunity
If road construction is considered an honorary fifth season in North Dakota, ice fishing might be the sixth. Opportunities for ice anglers abound here, where the N.D. Game and Fish Department manages more than 400 fishing waters year-round.
In the November 2018 issue of North Dakota Outdoors, the monthly magazine published by N.D. Game and Fish, fisheries chief Greg Power reported that 2019 precipitations helped curb a declining lake level trend in the state.
“If you compare today to last year at this time, the difference is night and day,” he said. “In many of our new lakes, we lost 1-3 feet of water per year for the past three or four years. So, some of the lakes were down 6-8 feet from their highs.”
A decent spring runoff and wet summer and fall helped waters rebound.
“A lot of those lakes got a decent drink, then we had an exceptionally wet summer, a record wet September in many of the counties, and maybe the wettest fall on record,” Power said. “That translates to most our lakes being at, or very near, their all-time highs, which is incredible compared to a year ago.”
Generally, Power said the perch population won’t be as good as it was a decade ago, but with some investigating, fishers can find some solid northern pike opportunities. Many lakes have healthy walleye populations, including 60 newer walleye lakes on approximately 63,000 acres of water.
The following is a condensed version of N.D. Game and Fish district fishing reports. Find the full report in North Dakota Outdoors, at www.gf.nd.gov.
• Heart Butte Reservoir (Grant County) – An abundance of mostly small walleye, with some fish up to 6 pounds, catfish up to 10 pounds, pike up to 17 pounds, white bass up to 2 pounds, crappie up to 1 pound and smallmouth bass up to 3 pounds. Good number of perch up to 1 pound and some bluegill up to a half-pound.
• Larson Lake (Hettinger County) – Adult perch stocked in spring 2019. Good number of perch up to three-quarters of a pound.
• North Lemmon Lake (Adams County) – Rainbow trout stocked annually. Some brown trout up to 2 pounds, abundant small perch, fair number of bluegill, with some up to three-quarters of a pound, fair number of largemouth bass, mostly 1-4 pounds, and a good number of walleye, mostly 3-10 pounds.
• Northgate Dam (Adams County) – Good populations of walleye, bluegill and crappie. Stocked annually with rainbow trout, with some nice-sized, carry-over trout. Decent largemouth bass population.
• Trenton Lake (Williams County) – Good crappie population. Decent number of walleye, pike and catfish.
NORTH CENTRAL DISTRICT
• Antelope Lake (Pierce County) – Nice-sized perch abundant. Good number of walleye ranging from 16-26 inches.
• Makoti Lake (Ward County) – Abundant 24- to 34-inch pike.
• Scooby Lake (McLean County) – Newer fishery, with a good number of 14- to 18-inch walleye and some good-sized perch.
SOUTH CENTRAL DISTRICT
• Alkaline Lake (Kidder County) – Walleye abundant. Fair pike numbers, with fish occasionally over 10 pounds. Large perch in low numbers.
• Dry Lake (McIntosh County) – Excellent walleye and pike fishery, with a low number of large perch.
• Harmon Lake (Morton County) – Largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie abundant. Rainbow trout and northern pike in lower numbers.
• Marvin Miller Lake (Logan County) – Excellent walleye fishery, with fish occasionally over 25 inches. Fair number of perch and a low number of northern pike.
• Carpenter Lake (Rolette County) – Consistent pike producer, with lots of fish over 25 inches. Recent walleye stockings have been successful, with fish now up to 15 inches.
• Homme Dam (Walsh County) – Perch and crappie common and should provide some action for winter anglers.
• Elm Lake (Richland County) – Walleye population continues to expand, with many sizes available. Sampling efforts in 2019 yielded the highest walleye catch-rate in the lake’s history, with walleye averaging 17 inches. Pike and crappie also present.
• Kee Lake (Barnes County) – Great opportunity for anglers who like a diversity of fish species. Contains a healthy population of walleye, pike and perch. While pike tend to run less than 28 inches, the average length of walleye sampled in 2019 was 20 inches, with some decent perch available.
• Twin Lake (LaMoure County) – Excellent walleye population, with fish of all sizes including some trophies. Good pike numbers, with fish over 10 pounds.