Published April 26, 2009, 06:00 PM

Outdoors Notebook: Becoming an Outdoors Woman sturgeon fishing event, N.D. paddlefish season to open etc.

The Department of Natural Resources still has five openings for its Becoming an Outdoors Woman sturgeon fishing event set for Saturday and May 3 on the Rainy River near Baudette, Minn.

By: Compiled by Brad Dokken,

Women’s sturgeon event: The Department of Natural Resources still has five openings for its Becoming an Outdoors Woman sturgeon fishing event set for Saturday and May 3 on the Rainy River near Baudette, Minn.

According to Linda Bylander, BOW coordinator, the event can accommodate as many as 14 women, with two participants and one guide per boat. Personnel from the DNR’s area fisheries office in Baudette have assembled a group of volunteer guides to host the BOW participants.

All bait and equipment will be provided, Bylander said.

“Guides will take them out, and they’ll fish as much as they want and learn about the management and history of sturgeon,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity.”

The event is open to women age 14 and older and starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with breakfast at Sportsman’s lodge. Cost is $150, which includes meals and equipment. Lodging is extra.

For more information, contact Bylander at (218) 833-8628 or by e-mail at linda.bylander@dnr.state.mn.us.

— Brad Dokken

Pike run near goal: The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has just about wrapped up its annual collection of northern pike eggs, and the spring walleye campaign isn’t far behind.

According to Greg Power, fisheries chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, crews as of Friday had collected about 350 quarts of pike eggs from Beaver Bay on Lake Oahe, Spirit Lake near Jamestown and Lake Irvine near Churchs Ferry, N.D.

The goal is 390 quarts, Power said, and crews will get that this coming week when they collect eggs on Six-Mile Bay of Devils Lake.

Power said the goal for walleye eggs this year is 250 quarts, which shouldn’t be a problem. As in previous years, fish from Devils Lake will provide a significant portion of that allotment.

Game and Fish collects the pike and walleye eggs to supply stocking efforts across the state.

Severe flooding on the Sheyenne River has affected operations at the hatchery in Valley City, Power said, so all of the eggs this year are being sent to the hatchery in Garrison, N.D. Once the eggs hatch, water levels in Valley City should have subsided, Power said, and the fry will be transported to the facility’s rearing ponds before being stocked as fingerlings across the state later this summer.

— Brad Dokken

Paddlefish opener: North Dakota’s paddlefish snagging season opens Friday and is scheduled to continue through the end of May or until a harvest cap of 1,000 fish is reached. Depending on the harvest, the Game and Fish Department may close the season early with a 36-hour notice.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said high flows on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers could make snagging more difficult this year, improving the odds of a longer season. In recent years, low flows have concentrated the paddlefish, and Game and Fish has closed the season early.

Legal snagging hours are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. One tag per snagger will be issued. Snagging is legal in all areas of the Yellowstone River in North Dakota and in the area of the Missouri River west of the U.S. Highway 85 bridge to the Montana border, excluding that portion from the pipeline crossing (river mile 1,577) downstream to the upper end of the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Management Area (river mile 1,565).

The use or possession of a gaff hook within one-half mile in either direction of the Highway 200 bridge on the Yellowstone River is illegal at any time during the snagging season.

Harvest is mandatory for all paddlefish snagged Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Snag-and-release of all paddlefish will be required Mondays and Tuesdays. Those planning to participate during snag-and-release-only days still must possess a current unused paddlefish snagging tag.

If the season closes early, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to seven days after the early closure, not to extend beyond May 31.

A paddlefish tag costs $3 for residents and $7.50 for nonresidents.

For more information, check out the fishing regulations booklet or access the Game and Fish Web site at gf.nd.gov.

— N.D. Game and Fish Department

Fed lands ease flooding: The record flooding that threatened residents in the northern Great Plains this spring and caused millions of dollars in damage could have been more disastrous had it not been for the many acres preserved as wetlands and waterfowl production areas by the National Wildlife Refuge System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

“It would have unquestionably been worse,” said Rex Johnson, project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Habitat and Population Evaluation Team, which provides support to refuge lands east of the Red River, including those in flood-stricken Minnesota. “The 20,000 acres of protected floodplain wetlands kept the unprecedented 41-foot river crest (in Fargo-Moorhead) from reaching even higher.”

On the North Dakota side of the river, Johnson’s counterpart, Ron Reynolds, was even more emphatic. The National Wildlife Refuge System in North Dakota manages nearly 100 times more land — 1.8 million acres of ancient lakebed preserved as wetlands.

“You’re looking at 4 million acre-feet of water being held back on the land,” Reynolds said, most of which otherwise would have fed the swollen Red or Missouri rivers. “That easily accounts for 4 or 5 feet of additional river crest that didn’t happen because we have those wetlands protected.”

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land 1 foot deep, or about 325,851 gallons.

“The problem is that drainage is still occurring,” Reynolds said. “We haven’t learned our lessons. When wetlands are drained, the water they would have captured instead ends up in backyards in Fargo or Grand Forks.”

— U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Did you know?

- The Forks Rifle Club is organizing its summer leagues for F-Class high-power and M1 Grand Rifle matches. Leagues will begin sometime in early May and be held Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons throughout the summer. Participation fee is $35. For more information, contact Gordy Linnell at (218) 779-1784.

- Mitch Sivertson, Minot, won the spring light rifle match, held recently at the Forks Rifle Club range. Sivertson also won the winter match in January. Lee Widdel, Minot, was first in the master class; Michael Weisz, Underwood, N.D., was first in the expert class; Colin Tofteland, Minot, won the sharpshooter class; and Pete Thingelstad, Grand Forks, placed first in the marksman class.

- The Red Lake Band of Chippewa has received a $197,393 Tribal Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide continued funding for a sturgeon recovery program on Red Lake. Lake sturgeon were extirpated from the entire Red River watershed in the 1950s, but efforts now are underway throughout the watershed to restore the species. The federal grant announced last week will enable the band to participate in the recovery through stocking and management activities. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the grant as part of a $7 million package to 41 American Indian tribes in 16 states.

- North Dakota’s nonresident any-deer archery licenses, good for either whitetail or mule deer, all have been issued for the 2009 bow season. The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year’s mule deer gun license allocation. Game and Fish issued 8,600 mule deer licenses in the 2008 deer gun lottery.

- Minnesota is the common loon’s favorite home among the continental 48 states. Minnesota has about 12,000 adult common loons each summer. And despite threats ranging from dwindling habitat to pollution, that population appears stable from monitoring done during the last 15 years by DNR volunteers. The loon is Minnesota’s state bird.

- Friday is the deadline to apply for Minnesota’s moose and black bear seasons. Info: www.dnr.state.mn.us.

- The DNR is mailing postcards to nearly 90,000 Minnesotans this spring encouraging them to buy new fishing licenses. The marketing effort is the third year of a nationwide campaign to encourage people with lapsed fishing licenses to buy new ones. More than 30 states are participating in the campaign, which is organized by the RBFF based in Alexandria, Va. Info: www.mndnr.gov/takemefishing.

- May is Arbor Month in Minnesota.

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