Heating up on the Ice
North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries chief Greg Powers says fishing in North Dakota is "record-setting." Fall surveys indicated great fishing should continue through the winter. Click here for the encouraging report from the Game and Fish Department. In addition, anglers can visit the Game and Fish website for an extensive list of fishing questions and answers, and winter fishing tips from North Dakota Outdoors magazine.
Winter fishing regulations
• A maximum of four poles is legal for ice fishing. However, when fishing a water body where both open water and ice occur at the same time, an angler is allowed a maximum of four poles, of which no more than two poles can be used in open water.
• Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
• There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. When a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is left in the ice, the area in the immediate vicinity must be marked with a natural object. See regulations for more information.
• It is only legal to release fish back into the water immediately after they are caught. Once a fish is held in a bucket or on a stringer, they can no longer be legally released in any water.
• It is illegal to catch fish and transport them in water.
• It is illegal to leave fish, including bait, behind on the ice.
• Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
• Any dressed fish to be transported, if frozen, must be packaged individually. Anglers are not allowed to freeze fillets together in one large block. Two fillets count as one fish.
• The daily limit is a limit of fish taken from midnight to midnight, and no person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while actively engaged in fishing. The possession limit is the maximum number of fish that an angler may have in his or her possession during a fishing trip of more than one day.
Lake Sakakawea ice fishing access policy
• Licensed, Motorized Vehicles must use existing authorized public roads for entering and leaving ice fishing access areas. Some public roads often drift closed with snow and will not be plowed open. In these instances, operating a motor vehicle off-road to obtain access is not allowed.
• This policy shall be re-evaluated on an annual basis to implement changes based upon fluctuating reservoir elevations.
• This policy targets that period of the calendar year in which Lake Sakakawea freezes over and until April 1 of each calendar year or thaw, whichever occurs first.
• Any winter activity performed on the ice, on any lake, is always hazardous and requires extreme caution. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not encourage nor recommend driving on ice at any time. Thin ice or open water may exist anywhere throughout the entire reservoir area, especially near springs and pressure ridges throughout the winter.
• All Title 36 Regulations apply to Ice Fishing Access Sites. N.D. Game & Fish WMA Regulations apply within all Wildlife Management Areas located on USACE lands around the reservoir. Additionally, N.D. Game & Fish have specific regulations pertaining to the use of ice/fish/spearing houses within the State of North Dakota.
• All ice fishing access areas (listed below) shall be enforced in accordance with Title 36 rules and regulations.
• This policy shall remain in effect unless rescinded by the Operations Project Manager.
Lake Sakakawea access areas
• The following boat ramps: Beaver Bay, Beulah Bay, Camp of the Cross, Charging Eagle Bay, Dakota Waters Resort, Deepwater Creek (Low water ramp), Deepwater Creek WMA (Game and Fish ramp), Douglas Creek, Douglas Creek WMA (Ziegler’s), Fort Stevenson State Park, Four Bears Park, Garrison Creek Cabin Site, Government Bay, Hazen Bay, Indian Hills, Lewis & Clark Bridge Ramp, Lewis & Clark State Park, Little Beaver Bay, Little Field Bay, Little Missouri, Lund’s Landing (Whitetail Bay), McKenzie Bay, Parshall Bay, Pouch Point, Reunion Bay, Sanish Bay (Aftem), Skunk Creek, Sportsmen’s Centennial Park, Steinke Bay, Tobacco Garden, Van Hook, White Earth Bay, West Totten Trail, Wolf Creek Recreation Area and Wolf Creek WMA (east ramp near old U.S. Highway 83), Spring Creek Cabin Site.
• All open shoreline access sites: Beaver Bay, Deadman’s Bay (West Wolf Creek), Deepwater Creek (Fish 'n Camp Court), Pebble Beach, Renner Bay.
• Other access areas: Antelope Creek WMA, Hofflund Bay WMA (East), Lewis & Clark WMA (Magnum Point), Red Mike Cabin Site, Reunion Bay (east access), Long Creek Cabin Site, Sakakawea State Park (East access road adjacent Sakakawea Estates Cabin Area), Sakakawea State Park (Fishing Point) and North Side of Little Knife Cabin Site.
• Access areas open after January 6: DeTrobriand Bay (south of Garrison Golf Course).
Other areas in close proximity to Lake Sakakawea
• Little Muddy: Little Muddy (Thompson Landing) (boat ramp).
• Other areas: Lewis & Clark (WMA) West River Access (River Mile 1563.75), Lewis & Clark (WMA) Pump house, Trenton Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (Big Timber).
• Lake Audubon areas: Four accesses along the auto tour route on the south side of Lake Audubon, one access just north of the McClusky Canal, one access in the northeast corner of the refuge.
• N.D. Game and Fish Audubon WMA: 3-Mile Corner boat ramp, Snake Creek boat ramp, Lane boat ramp, Turtle Lake boat ramp
• Corps managed areas: East Totten boat ramp. Spillway Pond - No vehicle access this year.