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Steering The Red River

Inside the Energy and Environmental Resource Center on the campus of the University of North Dakota, 10 natural resource officials from Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota gathered recently as the Red River Steering Committee. In a quick six-hour meeting a common theme arose: these biologists have a vested interest in the Red River and its intriguing fishery.

The meeting provided a wheelhouse of information and Lynn Schlueter, North Dakota Game and Fish Department special projects biologist, was the moderator. Committee members discussed past studies and activities reviewed monitoring methods such as trap netting and creel surveys, and evaluated findings with expert confidence.

Items of interest

Carl Wall of Manitoba informed members that Red River fishing in Canada is evolving rapidly. The number of recreational anglers in Manitoba is increasing, Wall said, while license sales in other provinces are decreasing. Manitoba has made a concerted effort to increase angler participation, with programs such as Take an Adult Fishing, Catfish Hunter and Little Angler generating “an amazing response,” he noted. Working with corporate sponsors such as the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team is a great way to promote fishing, Wall added.

Trophy walleye fishing on Lake Winnipeg, the final destination for Red River water, is attracting more and more interest. Fifteen pound walleye are becoming quite common, Wall said, and he wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a 20-pound walleye sometime soon.

Threats to the fishery

The threat of aquatic nuisance species generated considerable discussion. Stories of anglers who use a boat in the Great Lakes region, then don’t drain their bilge or live well before fishing back home, drew looks of disgust from panel members. Aquatic nuisance species are difficult to control, and anglers must take proper steps to ensure they do not bring in harmful biota.

Wall related an interesting story: “At one of our ports of entry, illegal bait was dumped on site. After a short time we were notified of an exotic plant growing at the dumpsite. An infestation of purple loosestrife was found to have manifested, another example of threats exhibited by interstate transportation.”

North Dakota now has strict regulations regarding importation of live bait Plain and simple, it’s illegal to import live bait into North Dakota. Tournament anglers are taking the lead in controlling the spread of aquatic nuisance species by having their boats inspected before launching in new waters, Schlueter said. Minnesota and Manitoba each have similar regulations.

Sturgeon recovery

Lake Sturgeon stocking by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources remains a popular effort. Plans call for continued stocking of this once prominent fish. Four years ago Minnesota DNR personnel stocked 378 adult fish, and angler reports continue to come in.

Walleye fishing is top notch

Dennis Topp of the Minnesota DNR continues to be impressed by the Red River’s walleye population. “In reviewing data, the Red River walleye fishery is impressive even compared to Lake of the Woods,” he said. “While the overall population of walleye is not as strong, the quality of fish exceeds Lake of the Woods.”

We must continue to stress the importance of maintaining the integrity of Red River tributaries, Topp said. “With a waterway such as the Red and its frequent flooding, fish move into tributaries during these events. Our data shows the species diversity in tributaries which have been dredged or ‘improved’ declines significantly.”

Future Red River fisheries management lies squarely on the shoulders of Minnesota, North Dakota, Canada and South Dakota. The Red River Steering Committee is a good example of biologists from diverse agencies focusing their efforts on what’s best for the resource.

Doug Leier is a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo.

By Doug Leier

He can be reached via email: [email protected] or office phone 277.0719.

Keep up the good work Doug!

Backwater Eddy.......><,,>

Backwater Eddy..><,sUMo,>

Backwater Guiding
"Ed on the RED"
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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   Ice fishing continues strong and it is still winter on the border.    Overnight temps in the teens and twenties are maintaining ice nicely.  Fishing continues to be excellent.  It has been an incredible year for walleyes and saugers with both numbers and size.     Resort fish houses and sleeper fish houses are available.  Some ice roads are allowing pickup trucks pulling wheelhouses as well.  Check with each individual ice road for specific limits.   As always, and certainly this year, it is important to stay on the resort ice roads.  It is tempting to go off on your own as there isn't much snow, but that is a risky move any time of the year.  Resorts and outfitters keep their roads on the best ice and monitor it numerous times per day.   Lake of the Woods enjoys an extended ice fishing season each year.  Fish houses are allowed on the ice through March 31st, the walleye / sauger season goes through April 14th and the pike season never ends.   The majority of ice fishing for walleyes and saugers is taking place in 24 - 34 feet of water.  Jigging one line and using a live minnow on the second line is the way to go.   Pike anglers fishing shallower shoreline breaks and reporting good activity and big fish.  Pike activity will only increase as we approach the month of March.  Arming your spread with a mixture of live and dead baits will allow you to quickly figure out what the pike wants that day. Alewife, smelt, herring, numerous sizes of live suckers, or even large shiners work well. On the Rainy River...  Most ice fishing is taking place on the lake.  There are a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River.  Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety.    The river is open east of Birchdale.  Those who enjoy the spring open water season on the river are optimistic the river will open early.  Is your boat and fishing gear ready when it does? Up at the NW Angle...   Another very good week of ice fishing up at the Angle.  Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix.   Water conditions are clearer this winter compared to most.  For that reason, the morning and evening bites have been stronger than midday overall. Jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go.  Electronics help in determining what the fish want that given day and will up your catch of fish.   Ice fishing has been excellent, come on up.  It's still winter on the border! 
    • Kettle
      There's only one Waterfowl guide in the country that I went to. He runs about 20 trips a year. So he harvests about 185,000 less teal a year than some of the individual southern states. In MN, lots of the teal are gone before the early teal season 
    • leech~~
      Wow, don't want to be one of those guys.  But, you don't think such liberal limits down there, hurts the northern population next spring?  
    • smurfy
      Kettle..........we really didnt have a winter.......even up in your neck of the woods!!!!!👍🤣
    • Kettle
      I only duck hunted this trip. Definitely going back next year. Winter gets too long for me. I met some amazing people and might help with guiding for them in the future. Would love to escape a month or two every winter
    • Mike89
      just seen a show about duck and dove hunting down that way, Scoot Lyseth and the Dead Meat show!!  
    • Kettle
      Some teal from central America 
    • JerkinLips
      I think it was opened so I don't think I would trust it.  I will find use for the wooden blocks however.
    • SkunkedAgain
      Some morons just shouldn't be allowed out on the ice. Thanks for pitching in to clean it up.   On the bonus side, is it a quart of oil that you can use?
    • SkunkedAgain
      Some morons just shouldn't be allowed out on the ice. Thanks for pitching in to clean it up.   On the bonus side, is it a quart of oil that you can use?
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