The James River (also known as the Jim River or the Dakota River) is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 710 mi (1,143 km) long, in the U.S. states of North Dakota and South Dakota. The river provides the main drainage of the flat lowland area of the Dakotas between the two plateau regions known as the Coteau du Missouri and the Coteau des Prairies.
This narrow area was formed by the lobe of a glacier during the last ice age, and as a consequence the watershed of the river is slender and it has few major tributaries for a river of its length. The James River has the somewhat dubious distinction of being the longest unnavigable river in the world. The river rises in Wells County, North Dakota, approximately 10 mi (16 km) northwest of Fessenden. It flows briefly east towards New Rockford, then generally SSE through eastern North Dakota, past Jamestown, where it is first impounded by a large reservoir (the Jamestown Dam), and then joined by the Pipestem River. It enters northeastern South Dakota in Brown County, where it is impounded to form two reservoirs northeast of Aberdeen.
River conditions during normal years include still water on both the James and its tributaries as well as flooding. Floods occur after snowmelt or heavy rains, as water easily breaches the James' low banks, and such floods tend to cover a significant portion of the floodplain. When the river is still, water quality drops. Major Flooding last occured in 2009, a year North Dakota saw the most wide spread flooding during a single spring since statehood. Flooding in North Dakota, started in March by winter storms, and lasted untill late spring.
Fishermen in the James River will find a variety of fish including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, rock bass, northern pike, yellow bullhead, crappie and carp here. Whether you're baitcasting, fly fishing or spinning your chances of getting a bite here are good. So grab your favorite fly fishing rod and reel, and head out to James River.
One of the key reasons most people paddle is to experience the beauty of the outdoors. The rivers and lakes in North Dakota provide canoeists and kayakers with excellent opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, breathe fresh air, and enjoy nature. The James River, a typical prairie stream, has been noted as the longest unnavigable river in the world. Fortunately, this distinction doesn't apply to paddlers who travel the river in spring and early summer. The 28-mile segment from Fisher Grove State Park to the James River Lakeside Use Area near the Diversion Dam in Beadle County is a popular trip. Several roads cross this meandering segment as it flows through a timbered area dotted with marshes and farmland. A popular canoe run has been the James River, starting in Grand Rapids and canoeing down to the James River Dam site in LaMoure. Bring your own canoe. Fort Ransom State Park offers canoeing within the park and also has rentals available.