The following press release was sent to us from Suzie Kenner, Executive Director of Devils Lake CVB:
The perfect set of fishing conditions hit all at once making Devils Lake in central North Dakota one of the hottest walleye bites on the continent this spring. May was spectacular according to local guide Mark Bry. “It was my busiest guide month on record, with the most bookings in 12 years,” he said.
He quantified the fishing by saying an average day means catching 20 to 50 walleyes, with plenty “eaters” (under 19 inches), but many pushing 25 inches. Describing pike, Bry said, “They’re everywhere, and 50 to 60 a day are common, with some in the 10 to 12 pound range; tops so far in my boat was 17 pounds.” What about the third popular Devils Lake species, white bass? Bry said, “They’re insane, and when my clients target them (quite a few do), they easily catch 100 in a typical day.”
With one of the earliest ice outs and minimal incoming water, walleyes warmed up with the water, and Bry predicted that June will be even better. “Based on the past, with water temperatures being about 60 degrees now, the fish will only become more active in June. The shallow bite will remain consistent through June. This lake will get better and better,” he said.
That could make the 36th annual Chamber Walleye Tournament June 22 – 23, one of the best also. Spots remain in the team event, with a guaranteed $5,000 first place check. Devils Lake is a world class fishery, but the city of the same name hosts numerous family events such as a Devils Run the first weekend in June and the Spirit Lake Casino walleye classic June 9 – 10.
On the lake, all ramps are open this season, and fish cleaning stations are operating at Graham’s Island State Park, Lakewood access and Six Mile Bay access.
Bry concentrates most of his guiding on the eastern portion of the lake, but has eight guides working for him that travel the entire 200,000 acres. Currently, he has found most walleyes in long, shallow bays less than 10 feet deep. A hint is to fish where emerging reeds and cattails are growing.
Tactics for shallow walleyes make fishing fun. He explained that most fishing is casting either jigs or crankbaits. Fish will be scattered for a few more weeks, and he searches by covering water with long casts. When casting jigs, he favors 5/16 and 3/8 ounce jigs with 3-inch Gulp Alive or Berkley Ripple Shads.
He likes to keep his rod tip high and twitches the jigs just above bottom.
Crankbaits for Bry and his guides translates to number five Rapala Shad Raps with orange bellies. “Check the retrieve rhythm – pause, slow it down, make some erratic moves, but slow is usually best. Watch for following walleyes. If you see ‘em, they want it, just change-up until your cadence matches their desires,” he said.
Most of his pike are caught while chasing walleyes, and said pike anglers expect 40-plus inch fish daily. “Pike will really pick up in June,” he said. He also addressed those who might turn up their noses at white bass, “Land several dozen three pound whiteys, and tell me it’s not work. They never give up.”
Mark Bry: 701-739-0161; email@example.com
For information on Devils Lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake are open this season), activities, guides, tournaments, lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 1-800-233-8048.