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No Slot Limits

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North Dakota has the opposite approach of managing there lakes than Minnesota. I feel strongly about slots and how they work on some of the lakes in Minnesota, Lake of the woods for example. If the lake is healthy in the Game and fishes view then maybe no regulations is needed. I personally think Devils Lake could benefit from slots but I don't fish it enough to have a accurate opinion. i'm sure others on here could give a better opinion on that. Its good to hear that most fisherman have strong selective harvest ethics that keeps the big females in the lake.

I know this will never fly in North Dakota but I wouldn't mind seeing a slot on pike in some key lakes that can grow them big. I don't believe north Dakota has any special slots on select lakes with certain fish. I could be wrong.

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Another benefit of the oil boom. Nodak residents are not going hungry anymore; over here we need to feed starving families. Wish we would not need slots/limits/seasons but that would be the equivalent of leaving my 5 year old unadulterated access to the cookie jar...... less then 2 hours later they would all be gone, he would be sick to his stomach, and then the next day would have no clue why all the cookies are gone.

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You know, slots are a funny thing. Everybody has a different idea of what they consider a healthy fishery. Some say whats the point of slots if you can't ever keep anything and who am I to argue that. Its there opinion. I'm more of the go after the big one and feel the need to release those fish to keep that going for the future.

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Every year about this time, the Game and Fish Department gets input from anglers who are concerned about harvest of large walleye and northern pike before spawning has taken place.

The general theme is that North Dakota should have a closed season, at least in certain waters, or we should have some type of fish length limit that would prevent anglers from keeping more than one large pike or walleye.

Back in 1993 when I was fisheries division chief, Game and Fish made the decision to have a year-round fishing season statewide. At the time, the Missouri River System was already open to walleye and pike harvest year-round, but the “game fish” season was closed in the rest of the state from mid-March to early May, a regulation that dated back at least into the 1930s.

Before implementing a year-round season, we thoroughly evaluated the pros and cons. Frankly, our biggest concern at the time wasn’t whether anglers would over-harvest prespawn fish, but whether eliminating a traditional fishing opener would dampen fishing enthusiasm.

In nearly two decades since then, the year-round season has been mostly well received. Anglers like the extra opportunity, and biologically, any additional harvest of prespawn fish has not shown to be a detriment to any of our fishing waters.

However, every spring, and maybe this spring more than most because we have open water statewide so early, we hear concerns from anglers who witness or see pictures of people keeping some big, heavy, egg-bearing female pike or walleye caught from lakeshores or below dams, or in constricted rivers or channels.

While these fish are potential producers, we all know that there are more out there that are not being caught; and each having tens of thousands of eggs. It’s basically a numbers game for fish.

As Game and Fish director, I want the state’s anglers, hunters and trappers to question our actions, regulations and policies. Such interest and concern holds us accountable to thoroughly research issues and gather input from various user groups before making decisions that will affect everyone choosing to go out fishing.

Even when that happens, not everyone may agree with the decision, but that comes with the territory.

Plus, periodic questions allow biologists to explain how current regulations are working.

Game and Fish biologists spent a great deal of effort two years ago researching length limits, to determine if any type of special regulation - specifically for walleyes – was warranted on the Missouri River System or elsewhere. Given the Missouri River walleye population and well-documented fishing pressure, we felt then, and feel the same way now, that no fish size restrictions are necessary.

For the most part, a stringer full of big walleyes or pike taken before the spawning run may make the anglers look like game hogs in the eyes of some, but it doesn’t hurt the fishery any more than catching and keeping those same fish over Memorial Day weekend.

At times it may be necessary to implement an experimental regulation if it appears there is a need and it can be fairly evaluated. But it needs to be performed in a manner where reliable results can be obtained to ensure that it’s the right thing to do for the fi shery in the long term.

In the long run, a year-round fishing season provides at least six more weeks of fishing opportunity every year, and gives anglers a chance to pursue trophy fish. This has been especially beneficial for the shore anglers and especially those who target large pike. And in the end, many anglers who catch such fish in spring release them anyway.

Fisheries biologists annually assess adult fish populations and reproduction on major waters, and we monitor fishing success through creel surveys as well. These findings are paramount in determining if and when regulations changes are needed.

We are fortunate to have fishing resources in North Dakota that allow us in most cases to manage for angler opportunity. We are also fortunate to have individuals who aren’t afraid to ask for more restrictions when they feel those resources may be threatened.

Whether you choose to keep big fish or release them, it’s going to be a great year for fishing, and we devote a good part of this magazine to help anglers discover good fishing waters in every corner of the state.

And again, get out and enjoy what North Dakota has to offer.

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