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Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery downstream of Garrison Dam, Riverdale, once again hosts its Hatchery Fun Day May 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge hosts Special Needs Fishing Day a week later, June 4, at the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam northwest of Minot. [Photo: Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery]
Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery downstream of Garrison Dam, Riverdale, once again hosts its Hatchery Fun Day May 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge hosts Special Needs Fishing Day a week later, June 4, at the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam northwest of Minot. [Photo: Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery]

Northern Celebrations: They’re back – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service welcomes visitors with two special upcoming events

Patricia Stockdill
 May 21, 2022
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Only a 2011 historic flood and two-year pandemic kept Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) from hosting Special Needs Fishing Day each June.

While that same pandemic halted Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery’s annual Memorial Day weekend Hatchery Fun Day for two years, both activities are back and hosts are welcoming people once again.

Hatchery Fun Day takes place May 28 with the refuge’s Special Needs Fishing Day June 4.

Special Needs Fishing Day at the refuge’s Outlet Fishing Area began in 1992, according to spokesperson Patty Bloms. Its humble beginnings started with the N.D. Game and Fish Department loaning fishing rods and providing courtesy fishing licenses. In its infancy the state didn’t have a Free Fishing Weekend which is the event’s traditional date.

About 80 participants and volunteers made that first event a reality with anglers from Minot Vocational Adjustment Workshop and Souris Valley Special Services enjoying an opportunity to land a fish and soak up the outdoors.

Over the years Bloms said the event has nearly doubled with about 150 participants anticipated in 2022.

The Special Needs Fishing Day is geared towards people of all ages facing physical or mental challenges. The last event in 2019 provided fishing opportunities for people involved with REM North Dakota, Kalix, Independence Inc., Minot Public Special Services, Souris Valley Special Services, and Prairie Grit Sports.

Sponsors for the 2022 Special Needs Fishing Day include Kenmare Veteran’s Club, Kenmare Goosefest Committee, and National Wild Turkey Federation Souris River Basin Longbeards chapter members, along with refuge staff.

It’s traditional to blow an air horn whenever anyone catches a fish, which is also celebrated with a photo of the elated anglers and their catch. From there, the prize goes to a long-time volunteer fish cleaner, Bloms described, who stores the filets on ice for anglers to keep. “While this is done, the photo is printed and given to the individual, as well,” she continued, courtesy of a nearby van equipped with a generator powering the printer.

Down at Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery below Garrison Dam, its Hatchery Fun Day is now in its fifth year, according to Administrative Assistant Toni Ganje.

It’s geared towards families and children of all ages with volunteers enjoying the fun parents and grandparents have as youngsters squeal with excitement of touching a turtle or trout, along with other fun activities.

A Junior Ranger Class, “Let’s Go Fishing”, earns young participants a Ranger badge, Ganje continued, and, yes, little tykes really can touch trout and turtles.

North Country Trail Central Flyway Chapter volunteer members host guided trail hikes on the Hatchery Loop and River Loop trails, each about 1 ½ miles long.

In addition, guided hatchery tours are available allowing participants a first-hand opportunity to experience the vital work hatchery biologists perform to help make North Dakota’s fishing opportunities available – as well as its endangered species efforts.

Hatchery Fun Day began with about 450 participants, Ganje said, with about 1,200 people when the event was last held in 2019. “We’re hoping to get a good crowd,” she added, and the nearly 30 volunteer hatchery staff and Central Flyway Chapter members are excited to be back.

It’s also a special opportunity to raise money supporting the Riverdale Ambulance District serving free will hotdogs throughout the day. Organizers are honored to be able help support and promote its local volunteer ambulance district, Ganje continued, and the event plays an important role in generating funds for the organization.

Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery’s Hatchery Fun Day:

  • Located at the hatchery downstream of Garrison Dam on the dam’s east side, near Riverdale.
  • May 28, 2022, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Free.
  • Guided trail hikes at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
  • Riverdale Ambulance District serving free will donation hot dogs.
  • Activities: Face painting, Little Tykes Trout Pond, Turtle Touch Tank, rock painting, science experiments, and Junior Ranger Class.
  • Guided hatchery tours.
  • Contact the hatchery, (701) 654-7541, for more information.

Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge’s Special Needs Fishing Day:

  • Located on the refuge’s the Outlet Fishing Area below Lake Darling Dam 25 miles northwest of Minot.
  • June 4, 2022, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. *RSVP via email, uppersouris@fws.gov, or telephone, (701) 468-6467, extension 110.
  • The Outlet Fishing Area is closed to the public during the event.
  • Free tackle, fishing rods, and bait are provided with a picnic lunch served at noon.

Reprinted courtesy of The Northern Sentry.

patricia.stockdill@stage.mydakotan.com

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