Discover North Dakota’s Hidden Trout Fishing Spots in 2024


North Dakota, long known for its expansive plains and agricultural background, has an unexpected secret for anglers: excellent trout fishing areas. Unlike its reputation, the Peace Garden State has several well-stocked lakes and rivers where trout thrive.

From the gorgeous waters of the Sheyenne River to the hidden gems of the western Badlands, North Dakota provides a one-of-a-kind trout fishing experience. Whether you’re a seasoned fly-fisher or a casual angler, discovering these surprising trout havens offers an entertaining trip. Dive into this guide to find the top trout fishing spots in North Dakota.

Sheyenne River

The Sheyenne River, especially the segment near Valley City, is one of North Dakota’s best trout fishing spots. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department frequently fills the river with rainbow trout, making it a popular destination for anglers. The river’s tranquil surroundings, complete with rolling hills and wooded regions, enhance the fishing experience. The Sheyenne River’s beautiful waters and abundance of insect life make it excellent for fly-fishing.

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Garrison Dam Tailrace

The Garrison Dam Tailrace, located immediately below the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, is another great place to fish for trout. The frigid waters released from the dam provide ideal habitat for trout, especially during the cooler months. This location is known for its huge rainbow and brown trout. Anglers frequently employ a combination of bait and artificial lures to attract these fish. The tailrace’s accessibility and abundance of trout make it popular among both local and visiting anglers.

Turtle River State Park

Turtle River State Park, located in the northern section of the state, provides another surprising trout fishing destination. The Turtle River, which runs through the park, is occasionally supplied with rainbow trout. The park’s picturesque splendor, combined with well-kept pathways and fishing areas, make it an ideal setting for a fishing expedition. This region is especially popular throughout the spring and early summer when trout are most active.

McDowell Dam Recreation Area

The McDowell Dam Recreation Area, located a short drive from Bismarck, contains a reservoir that is stocked with trout each year. This place is ideal for family vacations, as it provides picnic spaces and paddleboat rentals in addition to fishing. Anglers will find the stocked rainbow trout to be a decent challenge, and the reservoir’s tranquil waters are great for beginners to practice their skills.

Lake Sakakawea

Lake Sakakawea, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, offers a variety of fishing options, including trout. The lake’s broad expanse and deep waters are home to a variety of fish species, with trout a popular catch in some places. The Van Hook Arm and the waters around Garrison Dam are well-known for their trout populations. Fishing here can be done from the shore or by boat, giving you options depending on your preferences.

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Little Missouri River

The Little Missouri River, which runs through the rocky landscape of the North Dakota Badlands, is a hidden gem for trout fishing. This river provides a more remote and adventurous fishing experience than other locations. The difficult terrain and fast currents of the river necessitate more skill and effort, but the reward of capturing a native brook or brown trout in stunning setting is well worth it.

Winter Trout Fishing Opportunities

North Dakota’s winters offer unique trout fishing chances via ice fishing. Many trout-stocked lakes and reservoirs have become popular ice fishing spots. Lake Metigoshe near the Canadian border and Wood Lake in the Turtle Mountains are popular sites for anglers to set up their ice huts in search of trout during the colder months. Ice fishing for trout is a unique but equally thrilling activity that mixes the serenity of winter landscapes with the adrenaline of the catch.

Tips for Trout Fishing in North Dakota

Timing: Trout are most active in the early morning and late evening, so fishing during these cooler periods is ideal.

Gear: Lightweight rods and reels with 4-6 lb test lines work best for trout fishing. Fly fishing gear is also quite effective in rivers and streams.

Bait and Lures: Live baits like worms and minnows work well, as do artificial lures like spinners, spoons, and flies that imitate local insects.

Rules: Always check your local fishing rules, since stocking timetables and fishing limits may change.

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