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Fly Fishing Location in the United States

Fly Fishing North Dakota | The best Trout Fly Fishing in North Dakota

by Justin Vandergrift 22 Feb 2023

North Dakota is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country, making it a prime destination for outdoor enthusiasts, including fly fishers. Although not as well-known as some other states, North Dakota has plenty of hidden gems for fly fishing enthusiasts to discover.

Contents

 

Missouri River

Missouri River Fly Fishing

One of the most popular places to fly fish in North Dakota is the Missouri River. This iconic river stretches for 2,341 miles from Montana to Missouri, and North Dakota is home to some of the best fishing spots along its banks. In North Dakota alone there are more than 400 miles of this beautiful river to fish.

The Missouri River in North Dakota is famous for its abundant populations of brown trout, rainbow trout, and northern pike. The river is also known for its excellent hatches of caddis, mayflies, and midges, which can make for some exciting dry fly fishing.

The best section of the river runs from the trailrace to the North/South Dakota state line.  This section offers trout and walleye with an abundance of walleye.

Missouri River North Dakota
 (Google Map of the Missouri River through North Dakota)

Red River

Another great spot for fly fishing in North Dakota is the Red River. The Red River is located in the eastern part of the state, and it forms the border between North Dakota and Minnesota. The river is known for its smallmouth bass and catfish populations, but it also has a healthy population of walleye, which are a popular target for fly fishers.  The North Dakota Game and Fish Department report there are a staggering 70 species of fish in the river with some Channel Catfish weighing more than 30 pounds and walleye as large as 13 pounds.  Reports of northern pike as long as 45 inches are common.

Convenient access to the river is Interstate 29 which runs north south along the river, not most cases not more than 5 - 10 miles to the west of the river.  Landmark cities for navigating to the river are Pittsburgh and Grand Forks.

Black Bead Head Woolly Bugger

The most popular flies for Walleyes are the Woolly Bugger and Clouser minnows.  It is suggested to have a variety of sizes and colors of each.  Popular colors for the Woolly Bugger are White, Brown, Black, Purple and Olive.

Red River Fly Fishing
(Google Map of the Red River along the North Dakota/Minnesota Border)

 

Devil's Lake

Devils Lake Fishing

Devils Lake is another great spot for fly fishing in North Dakota. This lake is the largest natural body of water in the state and is home to a variety of fish species, including walleye, northern pike, and white bass.  The lake covers a staggering 300 square miles

In recent years, the lake has become a popular destination for fly fishing for carp, which can be found in shallow water near the shore.

The best time to fish is Mid-May to June.  During the late spring to early summer the fish are typically located close to shore and sitting in 5 - 20 feet of water, great for streamer fishing.  Casting a woolly bugger for pike along the shallows near vegetation is a popular during the spring months.  Cast along the weed line and strip the fly back to you.  Two quick strips followed by a short pause is often an effective technique.

It is nearly impossible to fly fish the lake during the winter.  From November through mid-March the lake is inaccessible for a fly rod.

The Lake is in nearly in the middle of the state.  Navigating to the lake is easy.    From Grand Forks travel west on Highway 2 to the town of Devil's Lake.  From Fargo take Interstate 94 west to Jamestown and then take highway 52/281 north to the south end of the lake.

Devils Lake North Dakota Fly Fishing
(Google Map of Devils Lake in the middle of North Dakota)

 

Fly fishing in North Dakota is not limited to these three spots, however. There are many smaller lakes, streams, and rivers throughout the state that offer excellent fly fishing opportunities. For example, Lake Sakakawea, which is located in the western part of the state, is known for its populations of walleye, sauger, and northern pike. The Sheyenne River, which is located in eastern North Dakota, is known for its brown and rainbow trout populations.

North Dakota Game and Fish Resources

North Dakota Game and Fish offers some very amazing resources for anglers.  One of my favorite ones is their fishing map.  This map shows an image of the state with fishing spots highlighted.  When you click on one of the spots a pop up appears with additional information on the area, including species, directions, stocking reports and more.

They also offer a great selection of maps for your smartphone.  One impressive feature is they offer apps which have offline data - so your cell reception will not get in the way of using the app.

North Dakota Fishing Spots

Fishing licenses can be bought online with resident fees starting at $18 for residents and $48 for non-residents.

 

 

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