The status of ice conditions and fishing on popular Minnesota fisheries such as Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake has been well publicized, of late, but less information has been available about Devils Lake.
Perch have been cooperating for anglers in the Devils Lake region, according to reports from local guides. (Photo courtesy of the Devils Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau)
This morning, the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau issued the report below, which bodes well for anyone heading to one of North Dakota’s top fishing destinations. I found out first-hand a few weeks back that pike fishing was very good, but we didn’t venture to deeper water for walleyes or perch because conditions weren’t safe.
Bottom line now, though, is conditions are improving, and the bite is on.
Here’s the CVB’s Report:
- Zippy Dahl, Perch Patrol, on their main quarry: “Perch fishing has been phenomenal. Lots of limits. Fish are in 14 to 28 feet. We’re fishing by ourselves. We even landed a couple 2-pounders.”
- Mark Bry, Bry’s Guide Service: “The walleye bite is very good now. They’re weed line-related and the action in 4 to 8 feet is exceptional. A few days ago, a large group of 18 people limited out with 90 walleyes. Limits are common.”
- Clint DeVier, community ambassador and on the lake nearly every day: “Shallow walleyes in less than 10 feet are biting big-time in Lake Irvine, Lake Alice (open for the first time this year) and the north end of Pelican. Irvine has a lot of 18 to 22 inchers, while Alice has produced a number of bigger walleyes around 5 pounds.”
No surprise given the late freeze-up, the report advises anglers to proceed with caution on the ice, and the use of full-size vehicles is NOT recommended anywhere on the lake.
According to the CVB report, Devils Lake — like other lakes in the region — froze much later than normal this year, and when the bays and lakes to the north and west finally froze, they were hit with three storms and 15 inches of snow. That caused slush and travel issues. The main lake remained open during the first two storms but has finally iced over.
Travel on foot, by snowmobiles and ATVs is the norm, the report said, and DeVier said truck travel may be safe by mid-January.
That’s not far off, and the cold snap on tap for this weekend should benefit ice conditions.
Quoted in the CVB report, Dahl said his 10 guides have only been chasing perch, and they are just beginning to check their key main lake spots. “We need cold, but until then, we will remain mobile and keep searching,” he said.
Bry said the favorite walleye tactics so far have been Northland Buckshot or Slender spoons with minnow heads. With the great shallow bite, he has not been venturing very far onto the main lake.
When describing the most productive walleye lures for the anglers he’s been fishing with, DeVier said, “I really like the Lindy Flyer and Northland Buckshot spoons and the new Northland flutter spoon. Really good are Jigging Rapalas. I cut off the two end hooks so the Raps don’t get caught on the bottom of the ice when fighting a fish through the hole. I also upgrade the treble to a larger size.”
DeVier in the CVB report said he is just getting to his favorite perch spots and usually looks in 24 to 35 feet of water in early season.
He also suggests anglers give pike a try.
“Set out some tip-ups and get some exercise,” DeVier recommends. “The lake is loaded with really good-sized pike, and with four lines per person, this will keep you warm all day. The north end of Pelican and Six-Mile Bay are hot right now.”
Here’s a look at ice conditions, according to the CVB:
- Lake Irvine: 8-10 inches.
- Pelican Lake: 8-10 inches.
- Minnewaukan Flats: 8-11 inches.
- North end of Six-Mile Bay: 10 inches.
- Creel Bay: 6-11 inches.