When it comes to outdoor pursuits, North Dakota Game and Fish Department R3 coordinator Cayla Bendel has always been a generalist.
She said it started early, spending afternoons in Dad’s boat fishing for simply whatever was biting. She was just happy to catch something. She believes that even today avid anglers can relate to still feeling a little giddy the moment they hook into a fish, for a brief second, they can feel what it’s like to be a kid again.
As the R3 coordinator, Bendel is tasked with the responsibility of recruiting, retaining and reactivating hunters, anglers and recreational shooters in state. While license sales are certainly a component of that, it’s her hope to ensure a future where everyone has an opportunity to experience giddy moments like that if they wish. Yet, it’s her fear that in today’s seemingly infinitely busy and competitive world, there’s less and less of it.
“People who have never fished don’t think they have time to learn a whole new hobby, don’t have the ability or desire to own a boat and think they need one, and sometimes just simply don’t know what they’re missing,” Bendel said. “And some may become so laser-focused on a certain species or expectations of success they have forgotten how cool it is to just catch a fish.”
Cue the Game and Fish Department’s 2022 North Dakota Fish Challenge, an initiative designed to get more people fishing, trying to catch a new species, exploring new waters, and learning (or remembering) how much fun just fishing can be.
“I can see myself now on a dock somewhere this summer begging for a 4-inch perch to bite my hook to help complete the challenge and the excitement I’ll feel when a fish bites,” Bendel said.
So, what’s the challenge? Catch a channel catfish, northern pike, yellow perch and smallmouth bass of any size in North Dakota from May 1 through August 15. Submit each or all of your catches on the “offishial” landing page and once you’ve completed the challenge, you’ll receive a sticker, certificate, and be listed on the page as a challenge winner.
Not sure where to catch these? Check out the Department’s Where to Fish page to locate a lake or river with these species near you.
Too easy? Consider forming a friendly competition with fellow anglers for catching the largest of each species or limit the challenge to a certain weekend or lake. Make it your own and have fun fishing.
For contest rules, to take the challenge, or submit a catch visit gf.nd.gov/fish-challenge.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will conduct an angler survey on the Red River this summer.
The survey is important because the information collected is used to estimate the time anglers spend fishing as well as the number of the various fish species caught and harvested.
Two survey clerks, one based in Grand Forks and the other in Fargo, will survey the entire Red River from its origin in Wahpeton to the Canadian border near Pembina. The Fargo clerk will also survey a site on the Ottertail River downstream of Orwell Dam.
The survey will run from the beginning of May until the end of September. Clerks will travel to various access sites and count anglers and conduct in-person interviews about their fishing trips.
A new twist to the survey is the use of an electronic survey in combination with the in-person interviews. Clerks will distribute cards to shore anglers and leave cards on the vehicles of boat anglers. Anglers can then either scan the QR code on the card or visit the website listed to access an online survey. These online surveys should only take a few minutes to complete and will help provide more information than the clerks would typically collect during their normal work activities.
The cards and electronic survey will allow shore anglers to complete the interview started by the clerk, since shore anglers generally are not done fishing when initially interviewed. Boat angler interviews are hard to get on the river since the clerks can’t spend a lot of time waiting at any one site for boats to come in, so the cards will allow these anglers to participate without being interviewed by a clerk.
Anglers who receive multiple cards from clerks over the course of the survey are encouraged to complete the survey each time as each day’s fishing provides unique and useful information.
Volunteer instructors for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department were recognized at the annual event in Bismarck.
Wayne Stanley, Minot, was recognized as Hunter Education Instructor of the Year and William Bahm, Almont, received the International Hunter Education Association 50 for 50 award.
Thirty-year service awards were presented to Douglas Bolte, Regent; Neil Dockter, Horace; Gerard Goldade, Hague; Alan Klatt, Grand Forks; Bruce Messmer, Dickinson; Glenn Lemier, Oakes; Daryl Simmons, Garrison; Rodney Stark, Kennedy, Minn.
Recognized for 25 years of service were Wayne Andersen, Bismarck; Clint Baxter, Minot; Scott Fasteen, Lincoln; Glen Fuhrman, Bismarck; Tony Aman, Center; Mark Hunt, Minot; Marty Liesener, Ray; Larry Nagel, Shields; Brad Olson, West Fargo; Dale Patrick, Bismarck.
Honored for 20 years of service were Adnan Aldayel, New Rockford; Lee Bratlie, Drayton; Harry Capaci, Minot; Corinne Engen, Anamoose; Jeremy Haugen, Minot; Darrell Kersting, Kindred; Randel Sand, Tuttle; Grant Johnson, Almont; Wayne Stanley, Minot.
Fifteen-year service awards were presented to Paul Goldade, Wishek; Ruth Johnson, Belfield; Nadine Kassian, Wilton; Suzanne Kersting, Kindred; Calvin Leyendecker, Marion; Levi Reese, Hillsboro; Roger Norton, Kindred; Dennis Schlenker, Bismarck; Sam Theurer, Mandan; Rick Tischaefer, Butte; Justin Hughes, Minot; Charles Wilkinson, Garrison.
Ten-year active instructors recognized were Scott Norton, Mandan; Jordan Woroniecki, Bismarck; Melanie Nelson, Harvey.
Recognized for five years of service were Cathryn Hanson, Hettinger; Lisa Goldade, Wishek.
Two-year active instructors recognized were Bryton Allard, Williston; Derek Bratlie, Drayton; Julie Eidemiller, Burlington; Cory Geiszler, Rugby; Jesse Gladue, Fargo; Johanna Kassian, Wilton; Kellen Latendresse, Minot; David Randall, Minot; John Reimche, Bottineau; Kirk Sather, Minot.