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Tentative 2019 season openers set

To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2019, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.

Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2019 include:

• Spring Turkey: April 13

• Deer and Pronghorn Bow, Mountain Lion: Aug. 30

• Dove: Sept. 1

• Youth Deer: Sept. 13

• Grouse, Partridge, Squirrel Sept. 14

• Youth Waterfowl: Sept. 14

• Early Resident Waterfowl: Sept. 21

• Regular Waterfowl: Sept. 28

• Pronghorn Gun: Oct. 4

• Youth Pheasant: Oct. 5

• Pheasant, Fall Turkey: Oct. 12

• Mink, Muskrat, Weasel Trapping: Oct. 26

• Deer Gun: Nov. 8

• Deer Muzzleloader: Nov. 29 

Fish house regulations reviewed

Winter anglers are reminded that any fish house left unoccupied on North Dakota waters must be made out of materials that will allow it to float.

A popular question this time of year is if campers qualify as legal fish houses. The answer is the same for any structure taken on the ice — if it’s left unattended, it must be able to float; if it’s not able to float, it must be removed when the angler leaves the ice.

Other fish house regulations include:

• Fish houses do not require a license.

• Occupied structures do not require identification. However, any unoccupied fish house must have an equipment registration number issued by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, or the owner’s name, and either address or telephone number, displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high.

• Fish houses may not be placed closer than 50 feet in any direction to another house without consent of the occupant of the other fish house.

• All unoccupied fish houses must be removed from all waters after midnight, March 15.

Aquatic bait regulations delineated

Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to import minnows and other forms of live aquatic bait into North Dakota.

Anglers should buy bait from a licensed North Dakota retail bait vendor. Bait vendors can properly identify species and have taken steps to ensure all bait is clean of any aquatic nuisance species.

For more information, refer to the 2018-20 North Dakota Fishing Guide, available at license vendors or online at the state Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov

Darkhouse spearfishing stats revealed

As anglers begin another winter of darkhouse spearfishing, now is a good time to look back on last winter’s record-breaking season.

The 2017-18 North Dakota darkhouse spearfishing season set records for total participants and northern pike speared, according to statistics compiled by the state Game and Fish Department.

A total of 3,717 participants speared 28,138 pike last winter, besting the totals established during the 2015-16 season of 3,289 participants and 17,269 speared pike. Average weight of speared pike was 7 pounds.

The number of anglers who registered was 5,387, and 3,772 of those were from North Dakota. Minnesotans accounted for 1,197. The average age was 45, and 90 percent were male.

Spearers are reminded that all individuals who participate in darkhouse spearfishing must register online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. In addition, spearers age 16 and older must possess a valid fishing license.

When a hole greater than 10 inches in diameter is left in the ice when a darkhouse is moved, the area in the immediate vicinity of the hole must be adequately marked by the spearer with a natural object or a brightly painted or colored wooden lath.

-- Compiled from press releases and staff reports

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