NANFA-- High waters in North Dakota creating unusual conditions

Mark Otnes (
Sun, 28 Jan 2001 13:13:30 -0600

I'd like to share the NANFA people some of the unusual things that are
happening in the eastern Dakotas because of the high water levels we've had
the last few years.

Starting in the early 90's we've dramatically changed from drought to very
wet conditions. Many of the roads in rural eastern North Dakota are now
under water in places because excessive rains have caused the potholes and
sloughs to overflow, connect, and turn into lakes.

Last Friday a friend (John) from work invited my go to fishing in Hobart
Lake just west of Valley City. Normally this is a large shallow slough with
extensive mudflats and no fish. Now however, its become a winter fishing
hotspot. The flooding has let Yellow Perch into the lake and they've grown
to be very large, some over 2 pounds. We got to the lake around noon at it
looked like a small town with trucks and fish houses parked all over the
place. We drove out onto the lake, drilled four holes through two feet of
ice, and set up a portable fish house. John turned his fish locator on,
and sure enough below the fish house there was constant fish activity.
Unfortunately, there weren't too hungry and we only caught 5 fish in 4
hours, but it was still a fun experience.

The local newspapers and fishing shows are full of stories of large Northern
Pike being caught in ditches and sloughs where there was rarely even water
let alone fish. One local fishing guide is suggesting going out to any
slough that appears to have a lot of water and dropping a line to see if
there are perch or northerns.

Up in northern North Dakota, Devils lake has probably doubled in size and at
least one some town isn't even on the map anymore. Our representatives had
been begging congress send federal relief and funds to cut a ditch to drain
some of the lake. Complicating matters is that the Canadians don't want the
lake to be drained, because they don't want all of the introduced fish in
the lake to enter the Cheyenne River and then eventually end up in the Red
River of the North. The Red River of the North hooks up with the Nelson
River system and the Great Lakes of Manitoba and apparently they're afraid
of what might invade the watershed. So, for now nothing has been done and
the lake continues to grow. Another few feet higher and it's going to hook
up with the Cheyenne River anyway.

I guess that's about all of the fish news I have. If anyone of you folks in
the northern part of the country are interested there is a huge invasions of
northern raptors into the country. Northern Minnesota is full of Great
Gray, Hawk, and Snowy Owls. Boreal Owls and Gyrfalcons have also been
reported. There are also large numbers of northern finches present.

That's all. I hope everyone is having a good winter.

Mark Otnes
Fargo ND

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