‘Best Start in 19 Years’ for Devils Lake Ice Fishing
By: Devils Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau
“Conditions are perfect this year on Devils Lake. We’ve never seen 24
inches of ice by January 1 before and fish are biting,” said Zippy Dahl,
captain of the legendary Perch Patrol guide team. “It’s the best start
ever, and with almost no snow, it’s easy to get around the lake,” he said.
Zippy said the North Dakota fisheries survey reports of record numbers of
big perch are coming true. “Most clients are limiting out, and that means
28 people with our seven guides coming in with buckets full,” he said.
Since surveys began, populations of large perch are at record levels.
Devils Lake area biologist Todd Caspers said, “Since our surveys began in
1992, we now have a record level of 12-inch and larger perch in the system,
with most of those being right at a foot long or slightly bigger.” The
actual numbers show the current level of 12-inch plus perch to be three
times the average.
Asked why the perch are showing such a dramatic spike, Zippy felt with
Devils Lake holding fairly stable the past three years that heavier weed
growth was contributing to sanctuaries for small perch plus providing more
food sources for bigger perch.
When the huge mid-December snow storms crept across the Midwest, they seemed
to go around sprawling Devils Lake. “The storms went north and south of us,
but never dumped, and what little snow fell got blown away,” he said. Ice
anglers with 4-wheel drive trucks are experiencing the best travel in years.
His ice guides have been all over the lake, east and west, on the flats and
in the deep main-lake holes. “We have had success everywhere,” Zippy said.
“We can’t wait to drill the next hole to see what’s down there.” Perch have
been biting all day, with quite a few one to two pound walleyes and some
white bass mixed in. “The perch bite has been so good that in the past
month we have only chased walleyes a couple half days,” he said. The walleye
limits are five per angler per day and 10 in possession. The perch limits
are 20 daily and 80 in possession.
Perch Patrol: 701-351-3474 or perchpatrol.com.
Go to devilslakend.com for a map of the nine convenient public drive-on
accesses. Visiting anglers will appreciate the fish-cleaning station
located next door to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils
Lake). The 20 x 32 station, like the Devils Lake fishing season, is open
all year. The heated building has two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular
and handicapped bathrooms, and is free to the public.
Devils Lake fishing guides target perch, walleyes, white bass and pike. To
contact guides and for the latest lake and ice conditions, fishing reports,
lodging, activities, restaurants, tournament news and resorts, check
www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.