DL ice fishing tourney set for Saturday

All systems are go for Saturday’s 30th annual Devils Lake Volunteer fire Department Ice Fishing Tournament. The fishing portion of the big event will be from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Six-Mile Bay.

The ice fishing tournament is the largest event of its kind in North Dakota, and if you don’t have a ticket, better luck next year. According to Alvin Schroeder, a member of the Fire Department and one of the tourney’s organizers, the 18,000 tickets that were available for the event are gone.

Ice conditions are good, Schroeder said, and crews will be on the lake bright and early Saturday morning to drill some 5,000 holes. Fishing on Devils Lake has been excellent this winter, and that could tighten the competition for the top five prizes in the perch, walleye and pike categories.

Rising water that flooded the old parking area forced organizers to move the tournament farther east in Six-Mile Bay last winter, Schroeder said, and the holes tournament anglers will be fishing Saturday will be in depths ranging from 9 feet to 35 feet of water.

First prize is $2,000 for largest perch, walleye and pike, and prizes will be awarded for the five largest fish in each category. To make things interesting, it’s not always about the biggest fish, and this year’s tournament features a 2014 Dodge Ram truck for the third-largest perch, an ATV for the third-largest walleye and a hard shell fish house for the second-largest pike.

The forecast for the tournament isn’t bad, either. According to the National Weather Service, there’s a 30 percent chance of snow Saturday in Devils Lake with a high of 16 degrees.

The drawing for raffle prizes will be held after the tournament, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Devils Lake Memorial Building. This year’s tournament features more than $225,000 in prizes, including the grand prize of a 2014 Ford F-15 Super Crew XLT four-door pickup. Ticket holders don’t have to be present to win.

On the Web:

A link to a live broadcast of the tournament will be on the event’s website here. Photos from the tournament should be online by 5:30 p.m. Saturday and results from the raffle will be available online shortly after the drawing.

 

Winter fishing update

The early December snowstorm delayed things a bit, but at least three of the most popular lakes in the region are beginning to open their ice roads to larger vehicles.

Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, sent out a report this morning saying ice roads along the south shore of the big lake are plowed, and resorts are letting mid-sized vehicles onto the ice. As always, check with resorts for the latest conditions and specific restrictions and stay on marked trails. There’s up to 16 inches of ice, Henry said, but cold weather has caused a few cracks and pressure ridges.

Resorts on Upper Red Lake also are beginning to allow pickups and wheel houses onto the ice. Jerry Barthel of Rogers on Red, on the south shore of Upper Red, said on his Facebook page that he’d prefer vehicles be half-ton or smaller, but larger pickups are being allowed, too. The key is to go slow. West Wind Resort along the east shore of Upper Red in Waskish, Minn., also is allowing smaller vehicles of a half-ton or less. Ice is now pushing 14 inches thick, though areas with heavy snow cover could have less.

Brad Durick of Grand Forks shows off a couple of the perch he caught Saturday on Devils Lake while fishing with John Adams of Big John’s Guide Service. Despite the bone chilling cold made even worse by a blustery northwest wind, Durick’s new Frabill side-entry fish house stayed toasty warm inside. (Brad Dokken photo)

I had a chance to fish Devils Lake on Saturday with Brad Durick of Grand Forks and John Adams of Big John’s Guide Service in Devils Lake. There aren’t any plowed roads — not that I saw, at least — but pickups are running all over the lake right now. Just a guess, but I’d say the ice in the area we fished — out of courtesy, I won’t give specifics on the location — was pushing 20 inches, and Creel Bay looked like a small city as pickups and portable shelters converged to try their luck on the perch and walleyes.

There is enough snow — and, in places, slush pockets — on Devils Lake that anyone who doesn’t have four-wheel drive could end up doing some shoveling. Adams has four-wheel drive, and his truck got a good workout in a couple of spots as we bounced our way across the ice.

Despite the subzero temperatures and brisk northwest wind, the perch fishing lived up to the reports I’d heard, and I watched several fish literally race up from the bottom and pound the gold tungsten jig I had tipped with Eurolarvae. Durick has one of Frabill’s new side entry portable houses, and I must say I liked what I saw. I especially liked not having to stumble over the heater, the electronics and other gear to get in and out of the house.

The shelter also has quilted fabric, which proved to be a godsend Saturday and kept the inside of the house from frosting up and raining on us.

We had our best fishing from mid-morning until early afternoon, when the bite slowed, and we were off the ice shortly before 3 p.m. Besides half a bucket of football-sized perch, we landed four or five bonus walleyes.

Good to excellent reports also are coming from both Upper Red and Lake of the Woods.

I’m working ahead a bit for the holidays, and I’ll have a story on our Devils Lake excursion the Sunday after New Year’s. Stay tuned.

 

Not enough ice for larger vehicles – yet

Despite the cold weather, it looks like it’s going to be at least a few more days before larger lakes in the region have enough ice to safely support larger vehicles.

On Upper Red Lake, Rogers’ on Red on the south shore reported this morning on its Facebook page that it won’t be allowing anything heavier than snowmobiles and ATVs onto the lake yet this weekend. West Wind Resort on the east side of the lake near Waskish, Minn., posted a similar report Tuesday. The ice depth is averaging 9 to 10 inches, according to West Wind, which isn’t considered enough to support larger vehicles.

No doubt last week’s heavy snow has slowed the ice making process.

Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods sent an email update this afternoon, reporting that Adrian’s Resort, which maintains the ice road out of Four-Mile Bay, was finding 7¾ to 9 inches of ice on the bay and 10 to 12½ inches on the lake north of Pine Island. Only ATVs and snowmobiles are being allowed for now, and it will probably be another week or so before roads are opened to trucks, Sportsman’s reported.

Woodland Resort on Devils Lake reported Tuesday that it was finding “quite a bit” of 12-inch ice on Creel Bay and was starting to put rental houses onto the ice. Mark Bry of Bry’s Guide Service, who mainly fishes the East Bay and East Devils Lake areas, said he was finding many areas with 8 to 10 inches of ice, with less in places.

As for the fishing, the report from all three lakes is pretty much the same: Good.