Published April 18, 2023

Compromise Reached on Fishing Tourney Bill 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
A Senate-House conference committee works to reach an agreement on HB1538, the fishing tourney bill. (Photo: submitted)
A Senate-House conference committee works to reach an agreement on HB1538, the fishing tourney bill. (Photo: submitted)

Proposed Increase to Nonresident Licenses 

BISMARCK – The cost of holding a fishing tournament in North Dakota will go down considerably and nonresident fishermen will pay more for a license. That’s the main premise reached by a conference committee tasked with ironing out differences between the House of Representative and the Senate regarding House Bill 1538, known as the fishing tourney bill. 

The 10% conservation fee charged tournaments by North Dakota Game and Fish Department will go away; an amount that was considered far too costly by major tournaments that have quit coming to the state. In addition, should the bill become law, Game and Fish will no longer be allowed to charge non-profit and similar organizations for hosting tournaments, or require that they pay 75% of entry fees back to participants. Game and Fish can charge up to $75 for processing tournament applications. 

The 10% “conservation” fee was used for infrastructure improvements to fishing access areas, such as boat ramps, docks, and cleaning stations. However, the minimal amount raised through the conservation fee, determined the conference committee, could be replaced and substantially increased with a $5 across the board increase in nonresident fishing license fees. 

The license fee increase is expected to generate $300-350,000 per year as compared to less than $100,000 through the current conservation fee assessment. The money, the committee determined, must be used for fishing facilities improvements. 

Current nonresident fishing license fees are: 

3-day -- $28. 

10-day -- $38. 

Season -- $48. 

Married Season -- $63. 

The committee, which consisted of three members of each legislative body and chaired by Rep. Matt Ruby, R-Dis. 40, Minot, now sends the agreed upon version of HB1538 back to the House and Senate for an up or down vote. 

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