Nelson Lake in Oliver County is distinct. It has long been labeled the best largemouth bass lake in a state where walleye rule and northern pike have, since 1969, unknowingly shouldered the renown of being the state fish.
Nelson’s unique stature is a byproduct of the Milton R. Young Station, a coal-fired power plant in Oliver County that has produced electricity for a half-century. Even during the leanest months here on the Northern Plains, warm water released from the facility creates a year-round open water environment, which allows largemouth bass a longer growing season than anywhere else in the state.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department manages the fishery, which means on an annual basis from about mid- to late May, fisheries biologists conduct an electrofishing survey to determine, among other things, the predator/prey balance in the lake.
The photographs that follow document the nighttime electrofishing operation that has long played a significant role in managing this popular largemouth bass fishery.
Ron Wilson is editor of North Dakota OUTDOORS. Story and photos reprinted with permission from North Dakota OUTDOORS.