Paddlefish 2011

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FargoCatMan's picture
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Paddlefish 2011

Anyone going out for paddlefish this year?  Heard it's going to be a long season with the high water.

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I 'll be out there May 7th through the 13th tenting it across the river from the cleaning station.   It does look like it will be a little more work than the previous couple years.  Just hoping for warm weather so I don't have to split all my time between the Water Hole and the Double Barrel.

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I plan on going this year for the first time. I want to camp in a tent where a small fire would be acceptable... decent fishing would help. Any tips/suggestions? Going the weekend of the 6th.

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Scenic Sports was reporting that the road to the pump house is underwater so the Confluence is going to be crowded if the road doesn't open up.  All of the pics at the Confluence has water up on the rocks on the north side so the only place to cast might be down off the ridge.

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I havent paddlefished in a few years but am starting to talk myself into starting again we'll see. I should have time to go take a look at the confluence tomorrow and will let you guys know what it looks like.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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Whitetail-master Said:
I plan on going this year for the first time. I want to camp in a tent where a small fire would be acceptable... decent fishing would help. Any tips/suggestions? Going the weekend of the 6th.

I have heard recently that the water level has dropped a bit for now, so hopefully the road into the pumphouse and the area around there will be somewhat dry....so just hope for NO MORE SNOWSTORMS!  So just keep an eye on the weather because it could get pretty frosty in a tent still in early May.

Just make sure you have a good rod and reel with good line.  Personally, i would suggest 40 lb line.  I lost a few Big Nellie's back when I started and I am now using 80 lb braided line.  Scenic Sports has some combos R & R, as does Runnings, Scheel's, WallyWorld (Wal Mart) and other fishing tackle shops.

If the Pumphouse is unuseable, this will put more pressure at the Confluence, Sundheim Park, Trenton Park area, West Hole, State Line.  Just make sure you don't fish in the closed sections of the river, so check the fishing proclamation.  And if you have never tied up a hook and weight, practice before you go up.

I hope everyone has a good time and people control their barley pop consumption so they don't become instant a$$hole. 

One last thing....don't be afraid to bring a garbage bag or two and pick up after yourself or give a bag to some fellow fisherman who may not have a bag.  Respect the area and the homeowners property, like the home just East of the Confluence area boat ramp.   A true sportsman should understand what I am trying to say.

FISH ON!  

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Paddledogger Said:

Whitetail-master Said:
I plan on going this year for the first time. I want to camp in a tent where a small fire would be acceptable... decent fishing would help. Any tips/suggestions? Going the weekend of the 6th.

I have heard recently that the water level has dropped a bit for now, so hopefully the road into the pumphouse and the area around there will be somewhat dry....so just hope for NO MORE SNOWSTORMS!  So just keep an eye on the weather because it could get pretty frosty in a tent still in early May.

Just make sure you have a good rod and reel with good line.  Personally, i would suggest 40 lb line.  I lost a few Big Nellie's back when I started and I am now using 80 lb braided line.  Scenic Sports has some combos R & R, as does Runnings, Scheel's, WallyWorld (Wal Mart) and other fishing tackle shops.

If the Pumphouse is unuseable, this will put more pressure at the Confluence, Sundheim Park, Trenton Park area, West Hole, State Line.  Just make sure you don't fish in the closed sections of the river, so check the fishing proclamation.  And if you have never tied up a hook and weight, practice before you go up.

I hope everyone has a good time and people control their barley pop consumption so they don't become instant a$$hole. 

One last thing....don't be afraid to bring a garbage bag or two and pick up after yourself or give a bag to some fellow fisherman who may not have a bag.  Respect the area and the homeowners property, like the home just East of the Confluence area boat ramp.   A true sportsman should understand what I am trying to say.

FISH ON!  

. People need to remember that the g and f could just as easily leave those gates to the pump house closed all year if they so choose.

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Can't wait to go!  Going for 5 days!  May 4th thru 8th.  Hope some good weather since we will be in a camper.  One month to go!

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I sure hope that North Star Caviar or ND G & F line up and pay  someone with a water tank and sprayer to maybe run down to a couple of the locations and wash out the bathrooms facilities, especially during and after busy weekends.  They have been really disgusting over the last couple years because the drunks have such bad aim and they even crap on the floor.  Charge an extra $1 per tag to over the expense!!!!

FISH ON!

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If anyone needs anything for paddlefishing or has questions on anything feel free to stop in and ask for Steve at Scenic Sports and I'll hook you up!  I'll be bear hunting for the first couple days but after that swing in and I'll do my best to get you going!  Always a great time and high water means the cats are biting!  Gonna be fun!

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Water was lower than I expected at the confluence today, much lower than a week and a half ago. From the looks of it most of the missouri still has ice on it. Rain today should move things along nicely and should be a good season for everyone coming out.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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 doublebarrel, do you think people will be able to fish on the rocks on both sides of the ramp at the confluence.   frozen stiff said that it is all under now. but what do you think. when you went by today did it look fishable?

Game_Pig

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Game_Pig Said:
 doublebarrel, do you think people will be able to fish on the rocks on both sides of the ramp at the confluence.   frozen stiff said that it is all under now. but what do you think. when you went by today did it look fishable?

Still has a lot of time yet plus the missouri up from the confluence isnt fully open yet. The rocks now are covered in water but mostly ice laying on top of them, by the opener my guess is that rocks will be fine to fish from east of the ramp. West of the ramp there arent many rocks left that arent covered by silt but still fishable with a good pair of boots. The weather can do anything between now and then though but as long as things stay average(or begin to be average I should say) I think there should be room to fish there.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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doublebarrelsaloon Said:

Game_Pig Said:
 doublebarrel, do you think people will be able to fish on the rocks on both sides of the ramp at the confluence.   frozen stiff said that it is all under now. but what do you think. when you went by today did it look fishable?

Still has a lot of time yet plus the missouri up from the confluence isnt fully open yet. The rocks now are covered in water but mostly ice laying on top of them, by the opener my guess is that rocks will be fine to fish from east of the ramp. West of the ramp there arent many rocks left that arent covered by silt but still fishable with a good pair of boots. The weather can do anything between now and then though but as long as things stay average(or begin to be average I should say) I think there should be room to fish there.

It will probably be ready to go. G and F will be out there netting in a couple weeks I'm sure.

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doublebarrelsaloon Said:
Still has a lot of time yet plus the missouri up from the confluence isnt fully open yet. The rocks now are covered in water but mostly ice laying on top of them, by the opener my guess is that rocks will be fine to fish from east of the ramp. West of the ramp there arent many rocks left that arent covered by silt but still fishable with a good pair of boots. The weather can do anything between now and then though but as long as things stay average(or begin to be average I should say) I think there should be room to fish there.

What's the river looking like near the Hwy 85 bridge?  Is there like a lot of water over the road going into the Pumphouse?

FISH ON!

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Paddledogger Said:

doublebarrelsaloon Said:
Still has a lot of time yet plus the missouri up from the confluence isnt fully open yet. The rocks now are covered in water but mostly ice laying on top of them, by the opener my guess is that rocks will be fine to fish from east of the ramp. West of the ramp there arent many rocks left that arent covered by silt but still fishable with a good pair of boots. The weather can do anything between now and then though but as long as things stay average(or begin to be average I should say) I think there should be room to fish there.

What's the river looking like near the Hwy 85 bridge?  Is there like a lot of water over the road going into the Pumphouse?

FISH ON!

I'm not sure I havent been that direction, I would bet it should dry up by then, anyone else been down that way?

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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Paddledogger Said:

Whitetail-master Said:
I plan on going this year for the first time. I want to camp in a tent where a small fire would be acceptable... decent fishing would help. Any tips/suggestions? Going the weekend of the 6th.

I have heard recently that the water level has dropped a bit for now, so hopefully the road into the pumphouse and the area around there will be somewhat dry....so just hope for NO MORE SNOWSTORMS!  So just keep an eye on the weather because it could get pretty frosty in a tent still in early May.

Just make sure you have a good rod and reel with good line.  Personally, i would suggest 40 lb line.  I lost a few Big Nellie's back when I started and I am now using 80 lb braided line.  Scenic Sports has some combos R & R, as does Runnings, Scheel's, WallyWorld (Wal Mart) and other fishing tackle shops.

If the Pumphouse is unuseable, this will put more pressure at the Confluence, Sundheim Park, Trenton Park area, West Hole, State Line.  Just make sure you don't fish in the closed sections of the river, so check the fishing proclamation.  And if you have never tied up a hook and weight, practice before you go up.

I hope everyone has a good time and people control their barley pop consumption so they don't become instant a$$hole. 

One last thing....don't be afraid to bring a garbage bag or two and pick up after yourself or give a bag to some fellow fisherman who may not have a bag.  Respect the area and the homeowners property, like the home just East of the Confluence area boat ramp.   A true sportsman should understand what I am trying to say.

FISH ON!  

Agreed Paddledogger... I hope everyone can help keep the "sportsmans" name respectable. The GNF do a lot for us and could easily take this away from us.

Im getting a paddlefish tattoo before opener, any ideas for design/placement??

Look for the big blue bus at the confluence this year! Come sign the bus and share a beer!!

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I'll have to stop by and sign the bus.  Of course gotta see the tat to!  That would be a sweet tat.

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 where is the west hole?

Game_Pig

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ironhd5 Said:

Paddledogger Said:

Whitetail-master Said:
I plan on going this year for the first time. I want to camp in a tent where a small fire would be acceptable... decent fishing would help. Any tips/suggestions? Going the weekend of the 6th.

I have heard recently that the water level has dropped a bit for now, so hopefully the road into the pumphouse and the area around there will be somewhat dry....so just hope for NO MORE SNOWSTORMS!  So just keep an eye on the weather because it could get pretty frosty in a tent still in early May.

Just make sure you have a good rod and reel with good line.  Personally, i would suggest 40 lb line.  I lost a few Big Nellie's back when I started and I am now using 80 lb braided line.  Scenic Sports has some combos R & R, as does Runnings, Scheel's, WallyWorld (Wal Mart) and other fishing tackle shops.

If the Pumphouse is unuseable, this will put more pressure at the Confluence, Sundheim Park, Trenton Park area, West Hole, State Line.  Just make sure you don't fish in the closed sections of the river, so check the fishing proclamation.  And if you have never tied up a hook and weight, practice before you go up.

I hope everyone has a good time and people control their barley pop consumption so they don't become instant a$$hole. 

One last thing....don't be afraid to bring a garbage bag or two and pick up after yourself or give a bag to some fellow fisherman who may not have a bag.  Respect the area and the homeowners property, like the home just East of the Confluence area boat ramp.   A true sportsman should understand what I am trying to say.

FISH ON!  

Agreed Paddledogger... I hope everyone can help keep the "sportsmans" name respectable. The GNF do a lot for us and could easily take this away from us.

Im getting a paddlefish tattoo before opener, any ideas for design/placement??

Look for the big blue bus at the confluence this year! Come sign the bus and share a beer!!

Fishing or not I better come check that out. +1 on the acting like sportsman, have fun, party, but be positive about it. Treat each other and the land with respect please.

I dont go around guessing cup sizes either I just know a nice rack when I see one.

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ironhd5 Said:
Im getting a paddlefish tattoo before opener, any ideas for design/placement??

Get a treble embedded in your neck with the barb sticking out, blood dripping, and the line running down your neck to your back with the sinker hanging.

You can't aim a duck to death.

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People are fishing at the pumphouse right now soo it should be a go!  I'll keep you guys updated best I can!

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Game Pig the west hole is west of the bridge on 85. Just look to the west when your going over the bridge it is where the river turns south.

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just got home from williston and the 85 bridge is good. someone fishing down by the access at about 430 today. river looked high but fishable. now when i got home the red is a different story. cant wait to paddlefish again. ill be there thurs-sun first week5-8th. look for the guy in the camo cowboy hat....thats me. will be tenting west of the house @ confluence.

cant drink all day unless you start in the morning.
Im only one man
GET SOME!!!!!

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From the April 7th, Bismarck Tribune:

Paddlefish snagging season is just a few weeks away, with the opener slated for May 1.

If you've never been paddlefish snagging on the upper reaches of Lake Sakakawea at the confluence area of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, it can be a wild ride. The key words to know are "fish on," the signal to reel in and clear the shoreline.

Regulation-wise, there is nothing new for this year's paddlefish season. The season will run through the month of May or until 1,000 fish have been caught.

Mondays and Tuesdays are mandatory snag-and-release days and the season could run an extra week after the 1,000th fish has been caught if there happens to be a week of May left.

The state record for paddlefish fell last spring when Rapid City, S.D., teenager Alex Mergen landed a 130-pounder. That broke the previous record of 120 pounds established in 1993 by Brian Johnson.

And there are bigger paddlefish in the river, according to Fred Ryckman, North Dakota Game and Fish Department northwest district fisheries supervisor. Ryckman said, last spring, biologists netted a couple of paddlefish that likely would have topped the new record.

He said conditions should be right this year for a good run. The warmer temperatures this week should put a pretty good dent in what is left of the prairie snowpack and flows in the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers are starting to stabilize. Ryckman said right now the river stages are high and the paddlefish are responding to current flows. "But it's what happens between May 1 and May 15 that is of concern to anglers," he said.

During times of high flows, Ryckman said, the fish tend to move upstream farther into the Montana reach of the rivers. During lower flows, they tend to favor the confluence area.

Ryckman said a "quick and dirty" estimate puts the paddlefish population in Lake Sakakawea in the neighborhood of 250,000. It wasn't always that way. Ryckman said the population in the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers is thought to have been much lower before the Garrison Dam was built and filled in the 1960s.

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18 days and counting!  I sure hope that we don't get a whole lot of rain over the next couple weweks, so I can pull the camper out and make sure everything works befor the "river excursion".

I just can't imagine camping in a tent up there.  I've seen it pretty cold up there and plenty of snow.  I like it up there when its 70-75 degrees for highs and mid to upper 40's for lows. 

FISH ON!

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 we tented up there last year on the second weekend. by far the worst tenting experience of my life. the only thing i didnt have on while sleeping was my boots. it was cold

Game_Pig

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 We tented the second weekend as well. We had a tempur pedic mattress and 8 blankets between 2 people. It was nice and warm!

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 summer tent and a sleeping bag with every piece of clothing i could find

Game_Pig

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Last year wasn't too bad.  About 5 years ago we were out there tenting for 6 days.  On the last day it finally made it up to 40 degrees.  The lows were in the mid 20's.  Thank goodness we decided to start inviting girls with.

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So what is your favorite Paddlefish recipe?  What I like to do is cube it up into bit size chunks and roll it around in "Cajun Shorelunch" and deep fry it, then a little salt and dip into a ketcup/mayo mix.  We use to use a web beer batter, but it tends to stick to the fry basket, so the dry breading is much cleaner and pretty darn tasty.  I have found that it is best if you eat the fish within 2 months after you catch it.  The longer in the freezer, the fillets tend to get "freezer burned".

As a paddlefisherman, I fully support efforts to a sustained population.  Part of this process also includes that this resource does not go to waste.  So if you fish these fish and not take or eat the meat, then don't fish on catch and keep days.  Don't do it just for the picture at the weigh station.  If that's the case....sit there and wait until I catch my fish and you have have all the pictures you want with it or fish on the 2 catch and release days.  Just have your buddies take some pictures down by the river with your fish and get it back in the water.  Try not to grab it through the gills!

So let's hear of some recipes.

FISH ON!

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I have mine smoked at John's Meat Market in Bismarck every year.  When I get home, I hit the fillets with a high pressure hose to get as much of the oil out that I can and then run it down to the meat market.  I have tried to smoke it myself and the reults made my mother-in-law gag (maybe that wasn't a bad thing) and shes an old norwegian. 

Counting the days until my group leaves as well.  Been having a gentlemans tourney the past 5 years and it is always a blast.  Teams Perfect Pull, Gaff & Chug, Sure Snag and Paddlefish Elimination will be back at it again the second weekend of the season.

We have tented the past 3 years and as long as a guy has a buddy heater in the tent life is good.

Good luck to everyone and be smart & safe!

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I had a buddy smoke mine last year and it turned out great.  In prior years I have boiled it, added a little lemon pepper and it tasted OK.  I have never had any luck frying it.

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I smoked part of it last year. A tip is to not let it soak too long paddle fish is pretty dense and doesn't give up salt much when smoked. My first batch was good but salty.

The kids love it deep fried.  I like cut it 1/4 inch or less thick and dip it in a egg & beer wash then coat it with Shore Lunch cajun style in one of the fish shakers.

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frozen_stiff Said:
The kids love it deep fried.  I like cut it 1/4 inch or less thick and dip it in a egg & beer wash then coat it with Shore Lunch cajun style in one of the fish shakers.

Frozen_stiff,  Is this 1/4" chunks or strips off the fillet?  When you deep fry it, does it tend to stick to your fry basket?  I am thinking that I would cut it up in pieces, soak it in beer for a couple hours in the fridge, then shake on some Shore Lunch then fry it.  Man, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

FISH ON! 

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Normally I cut the in 2-3 inch long strips so I can cook more at once.  I drop the fish into the oil with the basket down then give it a couple of minutes and raise the basket and take off any that stick.

I usually save some paddle fish for lent but I don't feel like frying in the snow.

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 what the biggest paddlefish you have caught,  what is the average size you guys see caught.

Game_Pig

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My biggest is #105 about 10 years ago.  Over the years, here's what I have caught:  #22 (Montana), #24, #27, #31, #45, #51, #54, #58, #60, #61, #68 and #105.  Been skunked three times!  The size depends on the water level.  Low water early, the male ration can be as high as 5:1, but as the females get on the move later, it can drop to 2:1 male to female.  I believe the larger or oldest males can reach the #40-#45 range, and the females obviously much larger.

FISH ON!

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 where is big timber?  do many people fish it?

Game_Pig

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How many of you are going up for the opening Sunday of the season?  I know that it is still 11 days out, but just curious.  The forecast sounds like it might be pretty wet the next couple of weeks.  Sure hope this weather pattern changes and we start drying out.  AND NO MORE SNOW!!!

Just a reminder that there is an area on the Fishing Reports for those of you who may want to post your experience and catch there!

FISH ON! 

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93# is the biggest for myself, and the group of guys I go with. It has allowed me to wear the golden paddlefish pin ever since the catch (a little competition b/t us). I will relinquish it to the one who catches a bigger fish, but I think it's pretty safe for now. We will set up camp on the 30th, and fish opening day. Hope to bring the boat to get to the "honey hole"

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I always thought they fish from shore, never knew they snagged from a boat too.

thats almost cheating isn't it haha


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 you dont snag from a boat. a assume they are taking their boat to where they camp

Game_Pig

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that's right GP

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swanson Said:
I always thought they fish from shore, never knew they snagged from a boat too.

thats almost cheating isn't it haha

Game Pig is right on....it is illegal to fish for Paddlefish from a boat.  It also is illegal to have more than one treble hook  on your line.   A couple years ago I saw a guy fishing with two hooks.  His license plate was from Montana...not sure if it's legal there or not.  The couple years we fished in Montana, their Game Wardens would at least walk around and check licenses, etc....!  Sure don't see much of that in North Dakota. 

However I did see where a guy came in from across the river at the Confluence where the barb of the hook was impeded in his forearm all the way up to the hook post......it looked like it would hurt after the booze wore off.

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Never been Paddle fishing. wanted to go this year, but to busy and that cash to go out for one or 2 days is kinda of ridiculous. My buddy are gonna go. they are gonna take off friday night fish all day Saturday and drive back Sat night the way it sounds.  Thats a craqzy long day driving all that way from Fargo


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Never been paddle fishing. so I didn't know.

My buddys are taking off friday nigth before opener though and will eb fishing all day Saturday and driving back. to me its too much driving for not enough fishing.


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Paddledogger Said:
The couple years we fished in Montana, their Game Wardens would at least walk around and check licenses, etc....!  Sure don't see much of that in North Dakota. 

Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. A couple of years ago a game warden came down and caught a guy who got his fish the day before but was still casting. I am not sure if someone turned him in but I have heard of them using spotting scopes to keep tabs on fisherman.

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frozen_stiff Said:

Paddledogger Said:
The couple years we fished in Montana, their Game Wardens would at least walk around and check licenses, etc....!  Sure don't see much of that in North Dakota. 

Just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. A couple of years ago a game warden came down and caught a guy who got his fish the day before but was still casting. I am not sure if someone turned him in but I have heard of them using spotting scopes to keep tabs on fisherman.

I realize that.....but in the past 14-15 years I've been Paddlefishing, I have only seen a Warden a couple of times actually checking people and just keeping an eye on things.  Otherwise they just stop by the cleaning station for a quick visit. 

I heard of a very similar incident that you mentioned that occurred last year.  Can't remember if that happened while we were there or from the weekend before.

FISH ON!

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Paddledogger
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Joined: Monday, April 17, 2006 - 11:59am

I sure wish the Buford Bar would come back instead of that little "trinket" gift shop.  I remember when that place was just a little bar with about 4-5 bar stools and 5-6 booths and a pool table.  Then they added on made it a lot nicer.  They even had the mechanical bull.  Boy was that fun!!!  But I am thinking that the owners drank up their profits. 

Those were some GREAT memories.....

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archer109
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Joined: Sunday, December 16, 2001 - 12:00am

There are many plain clothes game wardens around keeping in contact with the other wardens.  The wardens have an eye on most of the areas pretty good.  Have seen alot of people do stuff and think they got away until later after they are at there vehicles. 

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