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Category Archives: wildlife

Forget the bait, catch a prehistoric monster!

Paddlefish

North Dakota is good at extremes: extreme weather, extreme landscape and of course extreme fishing! Wintertime is often a time where our anglers focus on ice fishing, tiny rod over a stationary hole waiting to catch loads of panfish in below freezing temperatures. The exact opposite of that would be paddlefishing! Hunting a single 100+ pound fish with a rod as thick as a pool cue and twice as long in gorgeous May weather.

May 1st anglers will line the shores of the Missouri Yellowstone confluence area in search of the prehistoric-monster-hundred-pound paddlefish, sometimes called spoonbill. And forget the bait, snaggers tie huge treble hooks to heavy test line trying to get their hook into the mouth of a fish as it happens to swim by.

The season opens May 1st and a paddlefish tag is required, this can be bought at the same time and places fishing licenses are bought and are required in addition to the regular fishing license. They are $7.50 for nonresidents and $3 for residents. The season is is open until May 31st and is subject to an in-season closure. If the season closes early because the harvest quota is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to seven days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 31. Sunday-Tuesday are catch and release only days and Wednesday-Saturday are mandatory harvest days, all snagged paddlefish must immediately be tagged and kept.

Hooking a paddlefish is like hooking the bumper of a car, you’re in for one heck of a ride until it runs out of gas.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Fishing, Outdoor Adventure, Sports, wildlife

 

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Celebrate Prairie Dog’s Day!

Black-tailed prairie dog, photo by Greg Forcey

Okay, okay.  So we all know it’s actually a relative of the prairie dog that gets all the fame and glory right about now.  Still we thought the holiday was a good reason to call Theodore Roosevelt National Park and check on the prairie dog colonies there and, more importantly, if they’re paying attention to their shadows.

Rangers at TR National Park say the mild temperatures this winter have meant our prairie dogs have been very active, especially on sunny days.  Unlike the groundhog, prairie dogs do not hibernate.  They go into what’s called a “winter sleep” allowing them to continue to burrow and eat during the winter and also scamper on those sunny days.

In the South Unit, the scenic drive loop passes through three large prairie dog towns.  In the North Unit, no dog towns can be seen from the road but there is a one-mile hike from the Caprock-Coulee parking area toward a town.  There are an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities in the Park and information about prairie dogs and other watchable wildlife is shared online.

Prairie dog town in TRNP, photo by QT Luong

In addition to not hibernating, prairie dogs differ from their larger cousins in another way: groundhogs prefer to live on their own while prairie dogs connect their burrows to huge colonies.  The colonies in Theodore Roosevelt National Park collectively span 11,000 acres! 

Another great place to see the rare black-tailed prairie dog is at Fort Stevenson State Park, on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea.  There is signage directing visitors to the prairie dog colony and explaining a bit about them.  Sully Creek State Park near Medora, has a colony right outside the park.  Colonies can also be found on private land, mostly in south central and western North Dakota.

So that one question remains – do prairie dogs pay attention to their shadows and predict the length of winter?  We invite you to visit North Dakota and see for yourself!

 

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Devils Lake – worth every moment

Last week, some co-workers and I had the opportunity to spend two days in Devils Lake and in short: those two days went far too fast.  We had an exclusive aerial tour of the lake, visited Sullys Hill, the Fort Totten State Historic Site, Spirit Lake Casino and the Lake Region Heritage Center.  We ate well (thank you Woodland Resort), slept well (thank you Fireside Inn) did a bit of shopping and got to go FISHING.

Our fabulous guides, Suzie and Katie from the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, asked each person in our group what their favorite thing was on the trip and they heard all experiences echoed back.  Devils Lake has a reputation for being one of the best walleye, pike and perch fisheries in the U.S.  It has a mystique, being one of the largest natural lakes in the nation that in the last 20 years has risen nearly 30-feet and is now a 3,810 square-mile basin.  Although known for fish and water – Devils Lake has many cool visitor experiences.

We did not have the time to get everywhere, nor did we have a lot of time to spend at each location.  But what we got to do was fun!  Here’s a glimpse at our experiences:

  1. Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is a birders paradise with numerous viewing stations and opportunity for photography.  Portions of the auto tour are currently closed due to the high water, but trails are open including a 2,000-foot wheelchair accessible trail.  The new visitors center is currently open by appointment.  Just call ahead to make arrangements.
  2. Fort Totten State Historic Site was a military post, a boarding school, a Native American health care facility and a reservation school and visitors can explore the grounds and all of those unique stories.  A beautiful new exhibit in the visitors center has recently opened.
  3. The Lake Region Heritage Center is a gem – there’s a perfectly preserved federal courtroom, a U.S. marshall’s office complete with “holding cell,” a reassembled rural church, a barbershop, a dentist office, displays of Native American culture and much more.  When visiting “Lil’s room” be sure to ask about the ghost story!!
  4. The fishing!!!  Seven of us split up between two boats and two top-secret locations.  In our 3 hours on the water we caught two limits of walleyes and caught-released countless northern pike.  Our guide, Jason Mitchell, had to practically force us off the water.  Check out these “smiles”!

There is road construction on several routes in and around Devils Lake.  Visitors should be prepared for delays and are welcome to check road reports with the Dept. of TransportationGrahams Island State Park is open for camping, but the road to Grahams Island may be subject to closing.  Visitors are reminded just to plan ahead as to not let anything disrupt an awesome experience.

 

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How are your duck calling skills?

Find out at the 7th Annual Midwest Waterfowl Fest at Scheels in Fargo this weekend (August 13-14)! Events include a free youth education seminar on waterfowl, youth duck and Canadian goose calling contests, adult open duck and Canadian goose calling contest and the North Dakota State Duck Calling Championships (national qualifier). There will also be a K-9 “Super Air” and “Super Launch” Challenge. So loosin up those pipes and head to Scheels this weekend for some great family fun!

http://www.scheels.com/fargoevents

 

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Package of the Year

The 2010 North Dakota Tourism Conference included recognizing some of the best and brightest in North Dakota’s tourism industry – including the Package of the Year.

Becoming An Outdoors Woman – is a workshop primarily aimed at women, but is open to all participants 18 years and older, wanting to learn outdoor skills.  The three-day workshop offers programs in archery, canoeing, field dressing big game, an introduction to firearms, fly-fishing, kayaking, GPS use, Dutch-oven cooking, plant identification, tracking, trapping and more.

The 2010 summer workshop takes place August 13-15 at Lake Metigoshe State Park near Bottineau.

Congratulations to Nancy Boldt and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department on a wonderful program and a 2010 award!

 

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It’s a free weekend at TRNP

Bully PulpitVisitors can tour, ride, hike and explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park for FREE this weekend!  It’s part of a National Park Service effort to bring more visitors into the parks.  Entrance fees will be waived June 20 and 21.

There are numerous activities at TRNP, including mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, canoeing/kayaking, wildlife viewing and even fishing!  Don’t forget to visit Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin located next to the visitor center of the South Unit.

Nearby Park towns of Medora and Watford City have amazing hospitality and activities all their own!  And the Maah Daah Hey Trail is recognized for being one of the nation’s best backcountry hiking/biking/riding trails.

Legendary Bully Pulpit Golf Course has a special going on now as well:  Play a round, then replay 18-holes the same day or following for only $39.50.