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Fishing from a pier

Fishing in North Dakota can be enjoyed by all ages in a multitude of ways just about anywhere in the state.

I took a call from an angler the other day asking about a place to take his grandkids fishing. Nothing unusual about the call or my response. Sipping coffee early in the morning and talking about fishing is about as close to enjoying fishing without wetting a line as it gets.

We talked about a small reservoir nearby. It has a fishing pier, a pretty good panfish population and even a few bullheads. Before he would complain about the yellow bellies and his disdain, I cut him off and made the point at some ages a worm on a hook with a bobber creates memories for little anglers.

Often, it’s the adults who think the only good fishing memories include walleye or pike. After discussing the pros and cons of a stocked trout pond, the conversation advanced to maybe a little further trip to one of the larger reservoirs within a couple hours of home.

As the water bodies grow in size and depth, the options become a little further away but I started to smile and my conversation took a few more turns. I mentioned a couple of times that the same tools I’m using to “virtually” explore potential fishing destinations are available to anyone through the Game and Fish Department website.

Years ago, there was a little more emphasis put on a chance meeting of a fisheries biologist stocking or checking an area lake. It was kind of inside information.

The stocking reports are available online, but the little tidbits about a professional assessment of predator/prey balance, etc., is still part of the personal contact. I mentioned how past years' stocking reports might provide a little incentive to give a lake a try and see what you find. While he related he’d rather not spend time online, his grandkids might find it interesting on the drive to check out the contour maps and look for some holes or transition zones to target.

We talked about how fishing has evolved and both acknowledged fisheries, access and amenities, such as fish cleaning stations, boat landings, piers and docks, have changed since 30 years ago.

He explained some of the places they’ve tried in the past and how maybe shore fishing isn’t a bad option with a few extra grandkids vs. trying to keep everyone untangled in the boat.

In the same breath, he related the grandkids love a little trip with Grandpa and he has a little boat that he could use.

The bottom line in the conversation was fishing in North Dakota can be enjoyed by all ages in a multitude of ways just about anywhere in the state. For those wondering where to go and what is available, the Game and Fish Department website,, is a one-stop shop for all ages, interests and abilities.

Doug Leier is a biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.