North Dakota is rapidly becoming the go-to source in North America for avid anglers looking for many different fish species. Ice fishing is a popular activity during winter that presents the perfect way to connect with nature, spend time outdoors, and learn how to fish in the cold months. The aggressive state stocking programs and high water levels in recent years presented new opportunities for anglers searching for northern pike, walleye, and a wide variety of panfish, including crappie and jumbo yellow perch. Fishing North Dakota gives you the chance to explore various fishing lakes and rivers dotting the entire state. With hundreds of rolling hills, impressive buttes, and 5,100 miles of streams and rivers, the Peace Garden State offers a peaceful environment to throw your line for some big catches. Before you grab your rod and head out fishing North Dakota, ensure that you purchase your fishing license.
Fishing Spots in North Dakota
The Upper Missouri River
Located in Riverdale, west of Williston, the Missouri River is among the top North Dakota fly-fishing rivers. It’s well-known for premier dry fly-fishing, producing great hatches, and world-class carp fishing. While fishing and camping in North Dakota, you can’t afford to miss visiting the upper Missouri River, especially in June and July, for some incredible walleye action. From its origin at Three Forks, the river becomes a trophy trout fishery during fall when rainbows and monster browns run out of the Canyon Ferry Lake.
Situated in Ramsey County, Devils Lake lies on 122,000 acres of land boasting plenty of creek channels and over 300 miles of shoreline. The Devil’s Lake land is full of scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and a wide variety of native wildlife. The lake maintains a steady population of white bass, walleye, crappie, perch, and pike year-round. Although you can easily access much of the shoreline for fishing from the bank, it’s best to consider boat fishing. Devils Lake features numerous boat launch ramps and marinas, camping spots, and shops that are also easily accessible.
Created on the Missouri River by the Garrison Dam, Lake Sakakawea is famous for top-rated walleye and smallie fishing. This giant lake is situated in the west-central section of North Dakota, stretching from Garrison to Williston. In addition to walleye, salmon, and pike, this 368,000-acre lake boasts healthy populations of Sauger and catfish. If you’re into fishing the shallows, the lake has over 1,300 miles of shoreline waiting to be explored. Trolling or structure fishing is also possible as the lake comes with about 180 miles of river channels, humps, and ledges.
If you didn’t know where to fish in North Dakota for walleyes, you might want to consider heading to Lake Oahe. It extends into south-central North Dakota from South Dakota. Located behind the Oahe Dam, this lake extends as far north as Bismarck. Bottom bouncers with spinners and crankbaits are the best lures to cover this massive body of water that is home to northern pike and world-class crappies. The best way to try your luck fishing here is by boat, but you can still fish from the bank.
Besides being eye-catching, this gorgeous lake features some of the cleanest water in North Dakota and plenty of opportunities to catch perch, bluegills, walleye, and pike. Nestled in Bottineau County, within the scenic Turtle Mountains, this 1,500-acre lake features 27 miles of shoreline. When snow covers the lake it makes ice fishing a bit hard but fun. Four major boat launch ramps are centrally located for boating access. Home to a state park, Lake Metigoshe is one of the good fishing spots to take your boat and explore new areas.
Created by the Pipestem Dam, Jamestown Reservoir boasts seven boat launches. In addition, it features stocked fishing ponds and is famous for pike, crappie, and walleye fishing. Tucked in Stutsman County, the lake is about 38 feet deep and 2,037 acres in size. Aside from fishing, you can soak in some sunshine at the sandy beach. This winding waterway features 45 miles of shoreline that can help you fulfill your watersport fantasies.
Where to Fish in North Dakota
With nearly a million acres of reservoirs and lakes, North Dakota boasts many attractive fishing destinations for every avid angler. Thousands of fish are stocked into streams, rivers, and lakes across the state each year. Devils Lake is an ideal fishing ground to be in May when pikes and walleyes are biting. Further to the southwest lies the Garrison tailrace. It’s good during late spring, when the waters muddy up, making it perfect for fly-fishing. When fishing in North Dakota, you can also stop by the Cross Ranch State Park, which is centrally located in the state. The waters here hold a variety of fish species, enough to enhance your angling experience. The Red River of the north is also a viable choice as it hosts over 70 fish species, including northern pike and huge channel catfish.
Camping and Fishing in North Dakota
Being over-prepared is better than casting your rod only to find you’re missing something essential. When it comes to clothing essentials, consider packing pants instead of shorts as they offer better protection. If you’re fish camping in a warmer destination, carry water shoes, a sunhat, and a lightweight shirt. Also, remember to take other protective items such as sunglasses and safety goggles.
If you don’t have your rod and reel, you could rent from the campsite where you’re staying, borrow someone else’s, or purchase new ones. If the journey from your home to the destination is a long one, don’t bring along raw bait that might go bad on the way.
Remember to pack enough food and water, depending on the length of the camping trip. Some of the snacks to consider include energy bars, sunflower seeds, jerky, and chips. Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about fishing
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