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Winter access policy set for Lakes Sakakawea, Audubon

Published Dec. 5, 2023
Ice fishing photo

Ice fishing at Lake Sakakawea. (Photo courtesy of 241Inc)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District Garrison Project has announced the 2023-2024 winter access policy for Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon.

This year, there will be 108 areas and points of entry to Lake Sakakawea and 20 areas and points of entry to Lake Audubon. These locations are a combination of boat ramps, shoreline access sites and freeways located in limited development areas. Two of the points will be by foot traffic only due to terrain. Entry points, defined in the policy, are available for the period of the calendar year in which Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon freeze over and until the lakes become free of ice.

The Corps of Engineers maintains an interactive web application that displays all approved ice access locations and their status. There are two ways users can access the data. Users can use the free ArcGIS Explorer application by visiting https://arcg.is/0aGSrq from any computer or smart phone, or they can download the ESRI application on an iPhone or Android. Search "Lake Sakakawea Ice Access" to locate ice access with the ESRI application.

Important information to note:

  • Lewis and Clark Magnum Point (Will open after muzzle loader season closes on Dec 17, 2023)
  • Hofflund Bay Wildlife Management Area (Will open after muzzle loader season closes on Dec 17, 2023)

The Corps of Engineers does not recommend driving on the ice at any time. For those that do recreate on the ice, the Omaha District urges extreme caution as any winter activity performed on the ice can be hazardous. For instance, thin ice or open water may exist near springs and pressure ridges throughout the winter.

Anglers are required to use only licensed, motorized vehicles and existing authorized public roads for entering and leaving ice fishing access areas. Some public roads may be closed by snow drifting and will not be plowed open. In these instances, operating a motor vehicle off-road to obtain access is not allowed. Additionally, the public is reminded that lake access is for ice fishing purposes only. Restrictions are in place to preclude the public from using the ice to cross the reservoir.

All Title 36 regulations apply to ice fishing access sites. North Dakota Game and Fish Wildlife Management Area regulations apply within all WMAs located on Corps lands around the reservoir. Additionally, North Dakota Game and Fish has specific regulations pertaining to the use of ice fishing spear houses within the State of North Dakota and the spread of aquatic nuisance species.

The Corps of Engineers encourages anglers to have fun, but also follow the "Always, know before you go" motto. Before accessing the body of water, check in with nearby bait shops, outfitters, game wardens or public land managers who may be valuable sources for ice condition updates.

Please visit the Omaha District website at https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/ or Facebook page as well as Lake Sakakawea’s website and Facebook page for future updates pertaining to ice access. This includes, but is not limited to, closures and openings of access areas.

For additional information, contact the Corps of Engineers offices in Riverdale (701-654-7761) or Williston (701-572-6494), or North Dakota Game & Fish offices in Riverdale (701-654-7475) or Williston (701-774-4320).

Release no. 23-041