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One advantage for North Dakota anglers is the fishing season for game fish is open year-round.

That said, there is a beginning and end to the fishing license period, and that occurs April 1, as it does for hunting and trapping licenses as well. So, if you want to fish starting April 1, you need to get that new 2018-19 license.

Another benchmark for April 1 this year is that a new fishing proclamation goes into effect. North Dakota’s fishing regulations cover a two-year period, so this year’s changes apply through March 31, 2020.

Here’s a few highlights from this year’s changes. 

• The season for taking of nongame fish with a bow will now be open year-round.

• The transportation of live white suckers, other than within Richland, Cass, Traill, Grand Forks, Walsh and Pembina counties, is illegal.

• The beginning of the darkhouse spearfishing season changes from Dec. 1 to whenever ice-up occurs. The closing date of March 15 will remain in place.

• Paddlefish snagging days will begin at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Also, the season length will be shortened to 21 days, from May 1 to May 21. These changes are an effort to extend the paddlefish season to more than a few days and to improve safety conditions due to snagger congestion at the confluence area.

• The statewide daily and possession limit for bluegill is reduced to 10/20 respectively from 20/40. The number of quality bluegill fisheries in North Dakota is limited. Reducing the harvest somewhat should help maintain the size of bluegill in some lakes. 

Fishing licenses for the 2018-19 season can be purchased online at the state Game and Fish Department website,, or at license vendors that are linked to the department’s online licensing system.

Licenses also may be purchased by calling the department’s instant licensing telephone number at 800-406-6409 with a service charge.


Doug Leier

ND Game & Fish

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