Published March 25, 2012, 12:00 AM

New regulation tightens license requirements for Red River shoreline anglers

Here’s the rub: If you’re fishing from shore on the North Dakota side of either river, you’d better have a North Dakota license. If you’re on the Minnesota shore, you need a Minnesota license. It hasn’t always been that way.

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

A poorly publicized fishing regulation in effect this spring in Minnesota and North Dakota could sneak up on shore anglers fishing along the Red and Bois de Sioux rivers.

Here’s the rub: If you’re fishing from shore on the North Dakota side of either river, you’d better have a North Dakota license. If you’re on the Minnesota shore, you need a Minnesota license.

It hasn’t always been that way.

Previously, North Dakota nonresidents could fish the North Dakota shore with a Minnesota license, and Minnesota nonresidents could fish the Minnesota shore with a North Dakota license.

Resident anglers, meanwhile, only needed a valid license from their respective state.

That’s still the case for anglers fishing in a boat or on the ice.

North Dakota’s version of the rule change is outlined on Page 29 of the 2012-2014 North Dakota Fishing Guide and says shoreline anglers on the North Dakota side of the Red must have a valid license “from the state in which they are fishing.”

Scott Gangl, fisheries management section leader for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, said the state for more than 20 years had a memorandum of understanding with Minnesota that a license from either state would be good anywhere on the Red or its banks.

“We had been working under the impression we could do that, but we actually didn’t” have the authority, Gangl said. “Unfortunately, if you dig deep into state statutes on both sides of the border, the statutes say if you’re fishing in North Dakota, you need a North Dakota fishing license.

“Our (fishing) proclamation doesn’t trump state statute.”

Despite the change, anglers fishing in a boat or on the ice of the Red still can get by with either a North Dakota or Minnesota license. The reason, Gangl said, is because the water is considered a “shared” resource.

Not so the shorelines.

“It’s kind of a mixed message out there as to what we had the authority to do,” Gangl said. “In following the letter of the law and clearing that up, we had to make that change. We didn’t have the choice.”

North Dakota’s regulation change, while not prominent in the rules guide, at least is clear; Minnesota’s, not so much.

As published on Page 55 of Minnesota’s 2012 Fishing Regulations Guide, “Residents of Minnesota or a bordering state may fish throughout the waters bordering the two states only if they possess a valid resident license from their resident state. Nonresident anglers who have a nonresident license from either Minnesota or the bordering state may also fish throughout the border waters between the two states.”

No mention is made of requirements specific to anglers fishing from shore in Minnesota.

Pat Znajda, District 1 enforcement supervisor for the DNR in northwest Minnesota, said Friday he wasn’t aware of any changes in Minnesota’s licensing requirements for shoreline anglers. Upon further checking, though, he learned the rule change does indeed apply to Minnesota.

“If you’re fishing the Minnesota bank, you’ll need a Minnesota license,” Znajda said. “You’d be surprised how many people we end up checking on the banks who have North Dakota licenses.”

Given the regulation is so new — and not prominently featured — it’s likely enforcement officers on both sides of the river will use discretion and cut anglers some slack, at least the first year.

Hopefully, that’s the case.

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or email bdokken@gfherald.com.

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