North Dakota is a land dotted by lakes, yielding access to good fishing all across the state. Within its many lakes, smaller ponds, and various rivers, swim walleye, pike, bass, and more. With a low population density North Dakota not only has phenomenal scenic fishing, but more fish than people!
Walleye are one of North Dakota’s most favored species. The Missouri is an excellent walleye habitat, especially the central section. Lake Oahe, which is shared by the Dakotas, is great for not only trophy walleye but bass, salmon, and catfish, too. Annually there is a walleye run that occurs outside of Bismarck, which is not to be missed by any true walleye enthusiast.
Lake Sakakawea is the largest lake in North Dakota. It features walleye, bass, northern pike, trout, and salmon. Lake Sakakawea holds many state records from years ago, but the fishing is still excellent to this day. The most recent record was in smallmouth bass with a fish weighing just under seven pounds. For reliable chinook salmon at the right time of year, Lake Sakakawea is the place to go.
North Dakota prizes its northern pike. Lake Oahe is excellent pike country, where fish can exceed twenty pounds. Oahe is good for ice fishing for pike once winter hits. Lake Sakakawea gave up a record pike that has not been broken over four decades later, but it still has big ones in its waters, so maybe you can catch the next state record!
Devils Lake is known for its healthy population of pike. Devils Lake is a popular fishing lake within North Dakota, especially for northern pike and walleye. It is also one of few spots within North Dakota where you can angle for a striped bass. Devils Lake recently beat the state white bass record, too. This lake is known for good winter fishing opportunities and has ample space for ice fishing shacks.
The best trout fishing within North Dakota comes from the tailwaters of Garrison Dam. The rainbow, brown, and lake trout state records have all been caught in the tailwaters of the Garrison Dam. So has the chinook record! For trophies in North Dakota you need to come to Garrison Dam.
Paddlefish make for fun fishing in North Dakota. These large, ancient fish can surpass a hundred pounds easily. Yellowstone River and Lake Sakakawea are some of the best bets for paddlefish. The state record comes from the Upper Missouri River and weighed a hundred and thirty pounds. Paddlefish require an extra permit.
North Dakota requires all fisherpersons over the age of sixteen to have proper recreational licenses. Almost all licenses are annual, but non-residents also have the option for three or ten day fishing. Both residents and non-residents can opt for a married couples’ fishing license. Fees are less for residents who are seniors or disabled, and military personnel need no licensure while on leave. To qualify for residency you must have lived in North Dakota for at least six months. The first weekend of June is a free fishing weekend, but only for residents.
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.