Here’s a press release for Devil’s Lake. This year it will be the location of the National Walleye Tour championships from September 19-21. Readers from years past know that it’s traditionally been an insanely hot event with temperatures regularly in the upper 90’s but this year will likely be different due to the change in date. Regardless, increasingly larger fish have always been produced.
Devils Lake, the North Dakota lake that has grown more than six times as large in the past 20 years, continues to amaze anglers. They show up from all corners of the walleye world, and quickly learn they can fish their “hometown” methods and catch fish.
“The fishing is out of this world with tactics more diverse and unique than most walleye factories,” said pro walleye fisherman Tommy Skarlis. Anglers that fish slip-bobbers and live bait will be right at home on Devils Lake. So will crankbait trollers. Those who love to cast cranks, spoons and spinners will be able to target hundreds of shoreline miles plus humps, bumps and roadbeds under 200,000-plus acres of water. Jig fishermen will be in heaven when vertical jigging around the many bridges – especially when the wind blows, setting up current – or casting and retrieving jigs with live bait or plastics. Live bait riggers will be doing the same technique that led Bruce “Doc” Samson to two PWT wins on the lake.
Anglers may fish like they’re at home, or they can experiment with new tactics and be in the fish zone almost immediately. Catching fish builds confidence. From ice-out in spring to late fall, walleyes are the number one target. Of course, white bass, northern pike and perch rank pretty high as well. North Dakota fisheries biologist Todd Caspers said, “Our July walleye sampling shows the overall catch rate well above long-term averages.”
Placing it in perspective, he said last year there were record high numbers of 10 to 15 inch walleyes. “The number of 15 to 20 inch keeper walleyes increased this year over last,” he said. “I’m looking for good numbers of eater walleyes this fall and winter.”
The recent fisheries surveys will make perch anglers smile. The overall survey catch rate is above last year, and five to eight inchers he said, “Are way up over the long-term average.” Caspers also noted, “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.”
Two other species, white bass and pike are also targeted by many anglers. White bass numbers are higher than last year, but below long-term averages. “The big white bass from 15 to 18 inches are significantly above long-term averages,” Caspers said. Pike are well above long-term averages, with loads of 21 to 27 inch fish biting everything. “Those 28 to 34 inch pike are at numbers higher than last year and the big pike, over 34 inches, are present in good numbers,” he said. “There’s no shortage of fish in Devils Lake!”
What the experts are saying: Johnnie Candle, Devils Lake guide and promoter, “Walleyes remain relatively shallow all spring, summer and fall, making crankbaits and jigs dressed with plastic deadly. Snap-jigging, spinners behind bottom bouncers rigged with artificial crawlers, swimbaits and trolling crankbaits all work.”
Jason Feldner, Devils Lake guide, “Pitching crankbaits on wind-blown shorelines is a main-stay out here, but jigs and plastic work just as well.” Mike Gofron, tournament pro angler, “It’s amazing how aggressive the walleyes really are. I use Northland Mimic Minnows or Johnson Beetle spins over and through the weeds.” Ben Mack, 2013 Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce walleye tournament winner, “I fish walleyes on Devils Lake like the bass guys do – casting and flipping to trees and weeds.”
Ross Sensiba, Devils Lake guide, “When casting cranks shallow (4 to 6 feet of water), my standby is the Rapala Countdown. They cast a mile in the wind and I reel them slow or twitch them.” Mark Bry, Devils Lake guide, “Casting is preferred, but when we have to slow down, the number one method is slip bobbers. We stay in the strike zone and don’t snag like we might with a jig.” Guide Johnnie Candle, “It’s coming to my favorite time of year when the current around bridges really sucks in the fish.”
Nine convenient public concrete ramps are open with plenty of parking. A map is featured on devilslakend.com. The entire community is proud of the modern, air-conditioned fish-cleaning station, a 20 x 32 building, located south of Ed’s Bait Shop on Hwy 20 (south of the City of Devils Lake). It’s free-of-charge to anglers, and features two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms. It can handle 15 anglers at once, and is open 12 months of the year – just like the Devils Lake fishing season. Several outdoor fish-cleaning stations are situated at ramps.
Devils Lake fishing guides target walleyes, white bass, perch and pike. To contact guides and find the latest lake conditions, fishing reports, lodging, activities, restaurants, tournament news and resorts, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.