COVID-19 has brought a new interest in North Dakota’s great outdoors.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has sold 125,000 fishing licenses to date — that’s 30,000 more than in a normal year.

“I’ve checked people who’ve never fished before,” said Jackie Lundstrom, Game Warden Supervisor. “An 18-year-old that’s out fishing, they brought their friend who has never fished before. We’ve had people who’ve only fished maybe once or twice in their lifetime.”

She says the waters are busy as a direct result of the coronavirus.

“COVID-19 has brought a new interest in fishing, whether it’s on the shore or by boat,” Lundstrom said.

 With 30,000 more licenses sold, you might think there are 30,000 more people on North Dakota waters.

And Lundstrom notes, last weekend, the Missouri River was busier than ever.

In order to save time and help ease congestion at the boat docks, it’s a good idea to be packed and ready to go before you get there.

“Once you get to the boat ramp, there are staging areas for you to finish your loading, unstrapping, putting your plug back in after you’ve taken it out for that ANS trip back home,” Lundstrom explained. “And then make sure that if somebody at the dock is having trouble you can go out and help them load.”

With more fishermen and more boats in general, Lundstrom says be patient and be mindful. There have been two fishing boat accidents already this summer.

Until COVID-19 lets up, we can only assume traffic on the water won’t either.

Lundstrom also reminds boaters that registrations expired in December, so make sure your boat stickers are up to date.