Tag Archives: Devils Lake

Devils Lake say’s it’s still ice fishing

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‘Very Good’ Devils Lake Winter Ice Fishing
Set to Change Seasons: Spring is Coming

Devils Lake fishing runs 12 months of the year-the only difference being the amount of clothing a person needs. Anglers are transitioning now from one of the best winter ice fishing seasons to what experts predict as a stellar spring “bite,” on one of North Dakota’s jewels.

Todd Caspers, Devils Lake area fisheries biologist said creel surveys this winter indicate a very good season. He said,“Depending on the weather and continued good lake drive-ability, if the perch continue biting like they have been, we could approach harvest numbers of the early 2000’s.” Like so many winter-weary anglers, Caspers is looking forward to spring fishing. “We will probably be ice fishing well into April, but everybody is ready for open water.”

The biologist said last summer produced a good walleye and perch bite; the good fishing continued all winter and he anticipates another good walleye and perhaps perch spring and summer. “Walleye populations are at very good levels with lots of keeper-size fish in the lake,” he said. “Pike are under-utilized and anglers should consider taking home limits.” Research shows many pike between 20 and 30 inches with top-end pike in excess of 40 inches.

Early open water depends on Mother Nature, but predictions from the guy with his finger on the pulse of flowing water, Jeff Frith said, “Usually, ice-off is about the third week of April, but based on the ‘cool’ National Weather Service forecast plus 40-inches of ice, it will likely be later this year,” the manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resources board said. The snow level is normal to slightly below normal, and his best guess is for a nominal rise in water levels of 12 to 18 inches and a light in-flow. “But, we know how March and April can be here in North Dakota,” he said. Boaters will again be able to travel under all bridges in 2014.

Lake observer and avid Devils Lake angler Al Freidig counts the first open water as his favorite time to be on the lake. Despite the anticipation, he figures it will probably occur towards the end of April. Pike will show up first in current areas, eventually running to the ends of Six-Mile and Pelican Bays. Walleyes will not be far behind, and their movements will stretch into early May. “All about the same time, incoming water creates openings by bridges and culverts. Fishermen on foot have a bonanza there,” he said. “Pike and walleyes travel 40 miles up the coulee system to reach their  spawning destinations, creating dozens of shoreline hot spots to ambush them.”

Caspers enjoys early season in the Six-Mile Bay Channel A and along Highway 19 where the road intersects twice with the lake. “These current areas are tops, and anglers know it,” he said.




Like late ice?

There’s still time!

We are still drilling through 40 inches of ice and cold temperatures mean we will be at it for a while. Guiding services are done for the season, but the opportunity to ice fish on Devils Lake will extend well into April. If your group is planning a self-guided trip, check out the resources below and take the lake! Don’t forget your ice cleats and auger extension!


Know where to go & how to catch ’em…

[Fishing Reports]

Click here for the latest updates from local guides plus five years of archived fishing reports.

Devils Lake fishing guides target perch, walleyes, white bass and northern pike. Click herefor guide service information. Open water trips are booking now!


Click here for comfortable accommodations at Devils Lake area hotels, motels, resorts, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds.


[Public Access & Fish Cleaning] 

Click here for a map of the convenient public accesses. Visiting anglers will appreciate thefish-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 (and air conditioned) building has two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms, and is free to the public.


Click here for information on obtaining a North Dakota fishing license.

Devils Lake say’s, “go fish”

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‘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.

fishing is BIG in Devils Lake region

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“Without this lake and what it offers, this town would be dead; a very boring town,” exclaimed Jon Dircks of Ed’s Bait Shop in Devils Lake, ND.  Mayor Richard Johnson said, “The lake’s excellent fishing has a huge impact on the local economy, and it’s growing annually.”


Devils Lake, a relatively small town with about 7,200 people (less than 12,000 in the county) accounts for about one percent of North Dakota’s total population.  “But, amazingly, they sell 25 percent of the non-resident 3-day and 10-day fishing licenses,” said ND Game & Fish licensing manager Randy Meissner.  “People want to fish the lake, and historically, we’ve seen a steady increase in fishing and waterfowl non-resident license sales there.”


It doesn’t hurt that Devils Lake fish populations are at high levels and the season is open year-round.  Game and Fish northeast district fisheries supervisor Randy Hiltner said fall test netting placed perch catch rates at the highest since 2003; walleye and northern pike numbers are the highest since 2001.


Devils Lake has some of the most accomplished fishing and waterfowl guides anywhere.  Estimates are that the fishing guides escort more than 15,000 clients on the lake’s 250,000 acres each open-water season.  With the huge number of ice-fishing rental houses and large, skilled guide services, the ice season could equal that number for the three to four month winter period.  Waterfowl guides hunt the lake and its many bays, but also set-up in the surrounding marshes and fields for thousands more guide days.


The mayor quantified fishing and hunting as the Number Two contributor to the local economy, right behind a strong agricultural industry.  He said, “It’s phenomenal; they’re towing boats into town from all over; they’re coming by plane and Amtrak.  They contribute significantly to the restaurant and lodging taxes which have been increasing annually.  More fishermen and more hunters mean good things for this community.”  City manager Terry Johnston also owns the Dairy Queen.  “They come in with their summer sunburns and in the fall with mud on their boots.  Tournaments really boost traffic.  Outdoor recreation has a big impact on Devils Lake,” he said.


Dircks and his mother Donna run Ed’s Bait Shop.  He said, “Devils Lake and the outdoor opportunities mean a lot to most businesses in town.”  Donna said, “We’re here because of the lake.  The good fishing keeps our doors open.  There’s not a person in town who doesn’t know the positive economic impact the lake has on all of us.”


Local motel manager Teresa Nelson at the Davis Motel said, “80 percent of our business comes from fishermen and hunters – year-round.  This is one of the most popular walleye lakes anywhere, and people come.”  The motel, like most Devils Lake resorts and lodging facilities, caters to outdoorsmen, and Nelson said, “The guys who stayed with us years ago are now bringing their sons and grandkids.”


There are 679 motel rooms in town and around the lake, 18 resorts with cabins, 300 overnight camping sites, 900 seasonal camping sites and three marinas (Ackerman Acres, Woodland Resort, Spirit Lake Casino) with a fourth marina, Eastbay Campground, being built. The Devils Lake state park on Graham’s Island is one of the most-visited North Dakota state parks.


Devils Lake has one of the highest-tech fish-cleaning stations in North America.  It’s located just south of Ed’s Bait Shop on Hwy 20 (south of the city of Devils Lake), and free to the public.  The 20 x 32 building can handle 15 anglers at one time.  It has two grinders, a separate clean-up sink, a  handicapped accessible bathroom, is heated (A/C for summer), has plenty of parking for trucks and trailers and is well-lit.


Devils Lake ice fishing guides target perch, walleyes and pike.  They make every first-time angler feel like this is home, and the thousands of anglers who return year after year to fish with the same guides know that’s the case.  For information on Devils Lake guides, fishing reports to go out on your own, winter ice conditions and roads, the Jan. 26, 2013 ice fishing tournament, activities, fish-cleaning station (open all year), lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.

fall fishing heating up

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Fall is Trophy Walleye Time for Devils Lake Walleyes


“Walleye dreams become a reality every fall here on Devils Lake,” said North Dakota guide and professional angler Johnnie Candle.  “All my biggest fish have come in the fall; it’s what I call trophy walleye time.”


Open water fishing usually runs until mid-November, with all areas of the lake becoming very productive.  “The many year-classes of fish are equally distributed, but the 26 to 30 inchers show up now,” the world champion said.  Devils Lake has expanded in the past 30 years to some 200,000 acres, consisting of many “lakes within lakes.”  He urged anglers to select an area and stick to it, “Launch and fish that piece of Devils Lake. The fish will be there.”


When compared to the heydays of summer, Candle said the typical 100-fish days might drop to 35 walleyes in a day, with most measuring more than 20 inches.  “The fish profile changes in fall,” he emphasized.  That’s why he breaks ice many mid- to late-November mornings to pound away at the fish.


Candle’s fall walleye fishing has been narrowed down to a few simple points:


** Fish the steepest drops nearest deep water;

** Many of these are flooded road beds;

** 14 to 22 feet of water are good depths;

** Where the steep break meets the mud basin, expect walleyes;

** Roadbeds and main-lake points with rocks can be the best;

** Use a GPS map to locate roads (or watch the shoreline);

** Troll crankbaits – Salmo Hornets, Rapala Shad Raps and Berkley Flicker Shads are tops.

Candle trolls straight behind the boat, trying to keep lures in the exact zone where the steep break transitions to the bottom.  “Walleyes love to eat ‘em, and we cover water,” he said.  Some of the roadbeds and “spots” run for miles.  Watching sonar units helps anglers concentrate and circle back on active schools of trophy walleyes.


Candle also fishes the many bridges, especially when any breeze creates a current flow.  He works the downstream side of bridges, vertical jigging with Gulp! or minnows, much like he would in a river.  Deep-water jigging and rigging major points and mid-lake rock humps and transitions (rock to mud) are also popular.  “Fall is trophy time,” he said.  While fishing for walleyes, he expects to contact numerous pike, with many of the “teeners” eating everything in sight in late October and November.


Al Freidig, past president of the Lake Region Anglers fishing club agreed with Candle and said most of his biggest walleyes come every fall.  He favors trolling leadcore with crankbaits on rock piles and ridges of roadbeds.  He was instrumental in a community wide effort to create one of the few 4-seasons fish cleaning stations in the country.  “This effort involved many organizations, with anglers benefiting tremendously,” he said.


The fish-cleaning station will be open by Christmas, in time for the famous Devils Lake perch ice fishing season.  “Hey, walleye and pike anglers flock to Devils Lake when it’s hard, also,” Freidig said.  Located just south of Ed’s Bait Shop on Hwy 20 (south of the city of Devils Lake), the 20 x 32 building will be able to handle 15 anglers at one time.  It has two grinders, a separate clean-up sink, a handicapped bathroom, will be heated (A/C for summer), plenty of parking for trucks and trailers, will be well-lit, and be accessed with a coded entry.


The code will be available at Ed’s Bait Shop between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.  “Best aspect of the new cleaning facility is that it’s free for all to use!” he said.  The Lake Region anglers donated 25 percent of the cost; the North Dakota Game and Fish department added the remainder of the money.  The Greater Ramsey Water District did the sewer and water connections.  Assistance also came from the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce, the City of Devils Lake, Ramsey County and the Park Board.


For information on Devils Lake conditions, ramps and/or winter ice conditions and roads, the Jan. 27, 2013 ice fishing tournament, activities, guides, lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.

Devils Lake access udpate via Suzie Kenner

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With a big thank you to the Lake Region Anglers, the docks are in at the following public boat landings on Devils Lake: Pelican Lake, Six Mile Bay, Lakewood, East Bay, and Black Tiger Bay.
Click here for the following information:
Call the Devils Lake CVB for a free fishing packet at 1-800-233-8048
Please call Suzie Kenner at 701-662-4903 or email at suzie@devilslakend.com with any questions.

fall fishing…Devils Lake? why not?

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Open water fall fishing ranks as a peak time to catch numbers of Devils Lake walleyes and pike, along with those famous perch.  Bring a big net, because this is also “trophy” time.


Everybody in this North Dakota community is outdoors-oriented.  They will wave, smile and offer timely advice about where to launch a boat (dozens of access points are well maintained all around the lake).  The bait shops have current info about what’s biting and even GPS coordinates to take anglers to the best spots.


This 200,000 acre lake actually fishes “small,” because anglers can fish many bays and smaller connected lakes.  Launch ramps permit anglers to drive near the action. Thousands of duck and goose hunters plan mid-day fishing as part of their annual trips.  The anglers that make Devils Lake a fall destination keep coming back.  Here’s why!


Devils Lake Fall Walleyes


Summer tactics still work.  Pelican Bay is the hottest walleye bite on the entire lake right now.  Trollers pulling crank baits or bottom bouncers with spinners and crawlers catch fish along rocky shorelines, on old roadbeds and on the edges of weeds.  Key depths have been 17 to 25 feet on former exposed shorelines that are now that far under the surface.  Weed edges are 10 to 14 feet.


Bridges are walleye magnets.  Fish the current edges with jigs and minnows, and don’t miss the noon-time bite.  White bass will also surprise anglers this time of year.  When the wind blows, cast cranks or jigs towards rocky areas, right up to shore.  Northland Mimic Minnows work great on Devils Lake.


Northern Pike


Pike from 28 to 30 pounds come to the scales every year, and Devils Lake is loaded with pike from 10 pounds and up.   Locating green weeds in October and early November and casting spinner baits thru and over them WILL produce the hottest big pike action of the year.  Local experts suggest shallow water early in the day against the rip rap around bridges.  The old shorelines and roads that are under about 17 feet of water are perfect areas to troll jointed Shad Raps or Flicker Shads.  Pike bite all day long and right up to ice-up.  Of course, they’re active under the ice all winter, also.




Most anglers are familiar with winter perch.  Well, right now, the perch are in their wintering holes in 24 to 45 feet of water.  The best pattern is to fish vertically, sort of like fishing thru an ice hole.  Anchor the boat, use slip bobbers and typical perch ice-fishing lures baited with wax worms.  Or, run bottom bouncers and spinners with crawlers in deeper water, where walleyes and perch will gobble them up.


Tip of the Day:  Hunters, carry a rod with you to the remote lakes that are connected to Devils Lake.  After shooting a limit of ducks, catch a limit of walleyes in the same lake.


Devils Lake guides can help point the way.  So can the many outdoor-friendly merchants and bait shops.  Ask, and you will receive the best information possible.  Check out the Devils Lake Tourism guide list, or call the CVB with lodging, fishing or any questions.  Send your fishing photos to the Devils Lake Tourism email address, with details about the catch and the persons in the photos (name and city).


For more information, log onto www.devilslakend.com or call the Devils Lake CVB at 701-662-4903 for more information.

keeping carp out of Devils Lake

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is funding a small project in Cavalier County to keep carp in the Pembina River drainage from entering the Devils Lake basin.

For the past few years the Game and Fish Department has been working with landowners and water boards in Cavalier and Ramsey counties in developing a plan that will keep carp out of Devils Lake. If carp were to enter Devils Lake, the carrying capacity of game fish populations would suffer dramatically and the nationally-renowned walleye and northern pike fishery would decline.

This fall, an existing road grade near Loma will be raised to serve as a permanent barrier. In addition, water flow through the area will be enhanced. All permits and approvals have been procured, and construction should be completed prior to next spring’s runoff.

your backyard

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For some reason it seems like we’re supposed to evacuate (West) Fargo ==readyourhometown==every weekend and head to Wishek for the Tri-County Fair, Adrian for the 125th, LaMoure for the Red Hot Fire Day’s…and so on and so. Not saying those are bad events. Not at all. In fact I’d love to go to everyone of them. I have friends around everycorner and enjoy meeting new people. But it’s like fishing. We’re supposed to go to Devils Lake, Lake Sak etc…but I’ve got the Red, Sheyenne, Casselton Reservoir in my backyard. What’s wrong with sticking around here for the Red River Valley Fair, Fargo Street Fair, Hjemkost Viking Festival? 

walleye tagging

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The final year of a three-year project is underway at Devils Lake as North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel recently tagged 1,000 walleye.

A total of 3,000 walleye were tagged for the project, which allows biologists to gather information on walleye movements, total fish mortality between years, angling mortality rates and differences in mortality rates between sexes.

This year’s tags are blue – while last year’s were yellow and in 2007 orange – and are attached by wire to the top of the fish. The tag does not need to be sent in, just the information: tag number, kept or released, date caught, length, location and angler’s name and address.

Anglers catching a tagged fish are encouraged to report it online at the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov. Also, tag return cards can be filled out at bait shops around the lake, or anglers can bring in the information or call the Devils Lake Game and Fish office at 662-3617.

A follow-up letter will be sent to the angler with information such as when and where the fish was tagged, and fish length at the time it was tagged.


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