Archive of Fishing reportsMarch2012
Devils Lake Chamber Tournament Guarantees $5,000 Top Prize and Fun
Posted: March 28, 2012
Just like the lake, the Devils Lake Chamber Walleye Tournament continues to grow. It grows in popularity every year. It grows in teams, payouts, walleyes caught and fun. First prize money, $5,000, is guaranteed. All funds raised go into the payout and conservation projects around the lake. Entry fee to participate in the tournament is $250 per team.
“This tournament has created a special bond among the anglers and the lake,” said Rich Brueckner, Chamber executive director and part of the 1995 winning team, “After so many years, the teams look forward to the third weekend in June for some friendly competition.” Dates this year are Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23.
As Devils Lake has grown from less than 40,000 acres during the inaugural 1977 Chamber tournament to upwards of 250,000 acres today, contestants will fish from the west boundary at the Highway 19 bridges to the Highway 57 and 20 bridges (east boundary). Launch and weigh-in is at Graham’s Island State Park.
Tournament rules require all boats to be cleaned, officially inspected and an aquatic nuisance species sticker displayed prior to launching the first day on the water during tournament week. You can find the tournament inspection at Ed’s Bait Shop, located on Highway 20. This is a no-cull tournament, with a maximum of six walleyes in the boat; five will be weighed.
Tournament director and emcee Johnnie Candle said, “I doubt if the 96 pound, 11 ounce winning weight caught back in 1984 will be broken, but anglers will catch lots of walleyes this season – the lake is loaded.” He feels the 10.81 pound record walleye landed in 1989 is in jeopardy, however.
Two teams have won back-to-back, including Lee Murdock and Rod Medalen from Grand Forks, ND, in 1982 and 1983; and Larry Zimmerman, Napoleon, ND and Dennis Andruski, Grand Forks, in 2005 and 2006. Last year’s winners, Dave Harmon from Omaha, NE, and Scott Busteed, Windsor, CO fished Devils Lake for only their second time. Harmon said, “We trolled in 3 to 4 feet of water every morning for most of our fish, then went deeper after 10 a.m. It will be tough to duplicate, but this is a great place to fish.”
The Chamber tournament is much more than a long-running community event. It highlights the lake’s bounty with special cash awards for the largest walleye, northern pike, white bass and perch daily. Those entering by March 31 will be entered into a drawing, and five teams will have their entries paid, compliments of local businesses.
For information on the Devils Lake Chamber tournament, lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake will be open this season), activities, guides, lodging and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.
Download Registration and Rules (PDF)
Devils Lake is Open for Business – All Ramps Open in 2012
Posted: March 27, 2012
Devils Lake fits the description “Water, Water Everywhere.” The expanding waterways have swallowed North Dakota fields, farms, villages, roads, bridges and marshes into approximately 250,000 acres of the best fishing in the Midwest.
There are more places to fish, more fish-holding structure, more young-of-the-year walleyes growing into adults, and all of it is accessible from multiple new launch ramps. “This year, all ramps will all be open. Anglers will be able to launch and motor from nine conveniently located public ramps,” said North Dakota Game and Fish Northeast District Fisheries Supervisor Randy Hiltner.
Concrete ramps are strategically located with adequate parking for trucks and trailers. Hiltner said nine public ramps surround the lake so anglers can make decisions on fishing near their resorts or motels and close to the day’s fishing spots. A complete map is featured on devilslakend.com. The public ramps are:
Pelican Lake: 15 miles west of the city of Devils Lake on Hwy. 19.
Grahams Island State Park: 10 miles west of the city; 6 miles south on paved access road.
Six Mile Bay (Schwab Ramp): 7 miles west of the city on Hwy 19.
Creel Bay (Henegar Ramp): 1 mile west of the city on Hwy 19; 1 mile south on paved access road.
Creel Bay (Lakewood Ramp): 3 miles south of the city on Hwy. 20; 2 miles west on paved access road.
Spirit Lake Casino Ramp: 6 miles south of the city on Hwy 20/57.
East Bay: 3 miles south of the city on Hwy 20.
Black Tiger Bay (Estenson Ramp): 15 miles south of the city on Hwy 20.
Round Lake Bay: 3 miles south of Minnewaukan on Hwy 281.
Five launch ramps also have fish cleaning facilities: Graham’s Island, Six Mile Bay, Creel Bay (both ramps), and the Casino ramp. A new year-round indoor fish-cleaning station will be constructed this spring behind Ed’s Bait shop in the city of Devils Lake. Fishermen will be able to use this facility all year; it will be heated and prove very popular in winter. The 24 x 24 foot building will be air-conditioned in summer. Hours of operation will be 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Several local experts, Jason Mitchell, Johnnie Candle and Al Freidig, were polled about spring fishing tips.
Mitchell, guide and TV host (fishdevilslake.net) said, “At ice-out, everything seems to be biting. Whether from shore or boat, walleye, pike and white bass are on the shorelines. I cast and slowly swim Mimic Minnows and paddle-tails on jigs.”
Candle, pro angler and guide (email@example.com) said spring run-off may not be as significant this season, which means many fish will hold in the shallow bays off the main lake. “Fish any shallow bay that warms fast. Pike and walleyes hold together. I prefer shallow-running lures like Husky Jerks and Rattling Rogues with lots of pauses or Berkley Ripple Shads,” he said.
Freidig, respected tournament angler and on the lake almost daily, makes his early trips to Pelican Lake (northwest section of Devils Lake), Six Mile Bay and Mauvais Coulee north of Highway 19. He casts shallow, targeting trees, rocks and old farm implements, running Shad Raps slow and steady. “On any cast it could be a pike, a white bass or a walleye,” he said. If walleyes follow or he misses a bite, he casts a bobber, usually for quick action. “Early spring on Devils Lake is some of the best fishing of the season,” Freidig said.
For information on Devils Lake tournaments, lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake will be open this season), activities, guides, lodging and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 1-800-233-8048..........................................................................................................................................................
Game and Fish Advisory Board Meetings Announced
Posted: March 26, 2012
Outdoor enthusiasts are invited to attend a North Dakota Game and Fish Department advisory board meeting in their area.
These public meetings, held each spring and fall, provide citizens with an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues and ask questions of their district advisors and agency personnel. One of the main agenda items for this round of advisory meetings is North Dakota deer management and possible deer gun license numbers for fall 2012.
The governor appoints eight Game and Fish Department advisors, each representing a multi-county section of the state, to serve as a liaison between the department and public.
Any person who requires an auxiliary aid or service must notify the contact person at least five days prior to the scheduled meeting date.
District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner
Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.
Location: Community Center, Leeds
Host: Leeds/York Wildlife Club
Contact: Rick Darling, 466-2436
Advisory board member: Tracy Gardner, Devils Lake, 662-5639
District 3 – Counties: Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner
Date: April 9 – 7 p.m.
Location: Community Center, Leeds
Host: Leeds/York Wildlife Club
Contact: Rick Darling, 466-2436
Advisory board member: Tracy Gardner, Devils Lake, 662-5639.........................................................................................................................................................
Excellent shore bites happening right now
As for the fishing there are some excellent shore bites happening right now on the coulees and some of the rivers near Devils Lake. The Warwick area has been very good and there have been some nice fish caught at Channel A and further up north. Jigs and plastics are a very good presentation to use this time of year.
We are looking forward to fishing the lake later this week and we will keep you posted with what we find. We have not been in boats on the big lake this early since I have been guiding on Devils Lake. Should be very interesting!
Also, on Saturday I will be at the boat show in Devils Lake!! Stop inn and check out some of the boats that Blake’s Marine has to offer!!
ICE IS OFF THE BAY!!!!!
Mitchell’s Guide Service and Woodland Resort on Devils Lake welcomes legendary walleye fisherman Pete Harsh to their staff. Pete Harsh is regarded as a master walleye angler with an intuition for finding big walleyes. Harsh is a five time FLW and PWT Champion, two time Angler of the Year, record holder for most big fish awards on the PWT, 13 time walleye tournament winner, Minnesota state walleye champion, PWT Rookie of the Year with over $800,000 won in walleye tournaments. Harsh will begin guiding for Mitchell’s Guide Service this spring of 2012. Mitchell’s Guide Service is Devils Lake’s largest and most respected open water guide service employing a team of over ten guides who use their combined experience, network and knowledge of Devils Lake for the benefit of anglers wanting to experience Devils Lake’s finest fishing. This elite staff of guides are noted for combining great fishing with patience and education for the ultimate day of guided fishing. Mitchell’s Guide Service can be reached by contacting their office at: 701-662-6560 or find them online at: www.fishdevilslake.net.
Fish Still Using Traditional Locations
Posted: March 22, 2012
Spring is here. The sky is full of geese and the spring walleye bite is on. Just had a really nice 11.45 walleye come in and by many reports the pike and walleye are on the run. Now is the time to check out our upper basin coulees and streams. Not much current flowing with little snow melt, but it looks like the fish are still using these traditional locations. Get out there and enjoy the pre-spawn bite. Trophy time!
Pitching Crank Baits for Walleyes
By Jason Mitchell
Pitching or casting crank baits into shallow water is one of the most enjoyable ways to fish for walleyes early in the season. Some lakes like Devils Lake in north central North Dakota are notorious for producing shallow patterns where anglers routinely cast crank baits but these patterns can be effective well beyond Devils Lake. Casting crank baits into shallow water not only allows you to cover massive amounts of water, shallow fish are often utilizing some of the warmest water available in a system and are typically aggressive so shallow fish typically respond well to crank baits. Not to say that fish deeper wont respond to crank baits because they will but in my mind, fish that are percolating in that warm water tucked in close to shore when the water temperature across the lake is just starting to climb, that fish is primed for eating whatever comes in front of its nose. Walleyes will hit jigs right now, they hit swim baits, you can debate bait versus soft plastic and there are days where these options work better than crank baits but for finding fish, triggering aggressive strikes and just covering water to dial in the locations or sweet spots, nothing beats a crank. Not only are you typically reeling faster but you can also move the boat along the shoreline faster as you cover water.
Obviously, finding the right spot to key on is paramount and location is the starting point. You can’t catch fish that are not present. So often, the location of active fish is dictated by water temperature. Most sonar systems have a water temperature gauge. If you didn’t hook up the sensor when you rigged your boat…. Big mistake. I often like to just patrol through areas watching where warmer water is getting stacked along a particular shoreline. A degree or less can focus fish activity. Wind will often blow warm water into a particular area or some areas may warm up because they are protected from larger and colder pools of water but a temp gauge can give you the lay of the land and help you look at the big picture. Also, I strongly believe that the afternoon hours and early evening hours are the prime window for this kind of bite as the water warms up during the day.
Once the location is narrowed down, the presentation itself can also be adjusted. Finding the right lure or lures along with the right retrieve can be a frustrating process. Usually, how the lure hits the profile of a shoreline and retrieve speed or action is most important. When we talk about the profile of the shoreline, imagine what the bottom does under water between the boat and shore and imagine where the walleyes are laying or moving on that profile. On tough days, the fish are going to be tucked tighter to a particular lip on that profile and wont chase for very far. On easy days, the fish are suspended a touch off the lip and will chase what comes in front of them until they eat it. Some days, you have to get close to the fish with a lure, sometimes you have to get closer yet and that is typically determined by the dive curve. Thus experiment with shallow running lures that will go over the tops of grass and weeds but also clip the shoreline with lures that have a deep diving bill. Now obviously each shoreline will have different characteristics and change as you move along the shoreline so it really does pay to have different anglers in the boat throwing different lures and to switch up between a handful of lures until you dial in the pattern of the day. Go to crank baits for me include classic number five Shad Raps, number four and five Salmo Hornets, number five and seven Rapala Countdowns, the size 8 floating Salmo Perch and assorted Husky Jerks and Salmo Suspending Stings. Sometimes I might mix in a few Flicker Shads, Wally Divers and Rogues. What I do believe a crank bait does however that appeals to aggressive fish that want to chase is cranks put out extra flash and vibration that can be felt and seen further than jigs and soft plastics. With that being said, I often like to pop or snap the lure to get extra flash and vibration as I work it back to the boat. Snaps and stops often attract and trigger fish. Besides experimenting with lures that hit the profile correctly to get in a position in front of fish, how you cast towards shore can also be experimented with. You can cast right at the shore for example and reel directly back to the boat or you can cast ahead of the boat or behind the boat to keep the lure along a particular depth zone for longer periods of time. Speed or cadence is also a make or break variable. As a guide, I always kept all of the reels and rods the exact same so the gear ratios, spool diameters and line was exact so that I can have people in the boat match up when something started working.
One mistake I see many anglers make especially when things get difficult is they position the boat too close to the spot or shore and pound the area with short casts. When things get tough and you have to grind out fish, I think you can be much more effective by backing the boat off the spot and making longer casts even if part of the retrieve is over deeper water. On off days, I believe these walleyes will follow a lure and just get more temperamental but long casts give these followers more chances to nip until they get hooks in the jaw. If you are rolling fish at the boat at the end of your retrieve or can physically see following fish or just getting short bites, try backing off the spot and making longer casts. Ironically, larger or heavier lures that can be cast further often shine on tough days versus smaller lures because long casts often get bit on the tougher days.
Editors Note: The author Jason Mitchell earned a reputation as a top walleye guide on Devils Lake, North Dakota before hosting the television show, Jason Mitchell Outdoors which airs on Fox Sports North at 9:00 am Sunday mornings and Fox Sports Midwest at 8:30 am Saturday mornings. Show listings and schedule can be found at www.jasonmitchelloutdoors.com.
Shore fishermen are getting nice pike and some prespawn walleyes…
Posted: March 19, 2012
Well it was a great ice fishing season. Ice is now really unsafe and we are not advising any travel on it including walking. Good news is we should see a really early ice out. Anglers are fishing northern coulees and creeks that feed Devils Lake. Shore fishermen are getting nice pike and some prespawn walleyes. With little snow we do not expect a real strong run off or current in these places, but fish are still there. Time will tell if our fish will work into these locations to spawn. This can be some of the best fishing of the year. Strange spring! Keep tuned in for more info!
Perch numbers are definitely up!
Posted: March 18, 2012
Turn out the lights the party’s over…The 2012 ice fishing season came to an abrupt end this past week and put an end to one of the best ice fishing seasons in the history of Perch Patrol Guide Service. Record high temperatures all week long, wind and the lack of freezing at night, were all contributing factors that made for unsafe ice conditions on Devils Lake. We have never seen our ice go so fast as it did this past week. We went from driving our vehicles on Monday, to ATV’s on Tuesday, to quitting on Thursday. I talked to a few local diehards last night that were walking out yesterday (Saturday) and they said by the end of the day they could feel the ice flexing as they walked and they were all very happy to get back on shore yesterday afternoon. It is time to be done!!! No fish is worth a potential tragedy.
We want to Thank all of our guests that made the trip to Devils Lake to fish with us this season. We had a phenomenal season. Not every group hammered them but a large majority of you had some pretty incredible fishing. The perch numbers are definitely up from what they have been in the past and of course our walleye fishing and northern pike fishing is still some of the best on the planet.
We also want to encourage those of you that we had to cancel this past week. It was one of the tougher phone calls to make because we know how much the people in your party looked forward to coming up here and fishing. We hope you will strongly consider rescheduling for next season.
We also want to encourage all of our guests to come and fish with us this summer. All of the guides on the Perch Patrol guide for Mitchell’s Guide Service based out of Woodland Resort. All of us run 20 foot boats and can handle groups of 2 or 3 people in our boats. We mainly target walleyes, northern pike, and white bass. The perch for the most part, get the summers off!
This is our last fishing report for this ice fishing season. If you would like to continue reading fishing reports all summer long we would like to invite you to visit the Mitchell’s Guide Service web site at www.fishdevilslake.net
Again, we would like to Thank all of you for coming and fishing with us this season and we hope to see you again very soon!!!
Courtesy of Perch Patrol Guide Service.
Cancelled the rest of the ice fishing season…
Well we have cancelled the rest of the ice fishing season due to our warm weather. I thought I would show some of our last catch’s for the season. I will post some reports in may when we get the boats out.