Aggressive First Class Fighters
60 % chance of severe thunderstorms. Wind South-South East 18-24 with gusts to 31. Some storms could produce hail and heavy rain. Welcome to June in the Dakotas.
It’s not all bad news, even if this is the first day of your vacation. Ya, it’s too risky to take it out on the open water, particularly with the kids in the boat, but that don’t mean you stay cooped up moping. Take it to the extreme, go shore fishing.
That is exactly what we did. Fact is my kids would rather shore fish any day. For them the boat is too confining. No place on the planet that I’m aware of is better tailored for this than North Dakota’s Devils Lake. Miles of rip-rap with easy access. Countless bridges connecting different sections of DL. Endless feeder channels all saturated with Walleyes, Northern and White Bass.
The most challenging aspect to this style of fishing is where to start. There is simply too much opportunity to know where to begin. Let’s take it from east to west and hit just a few of the locations where we fished. It will give you a starting point.
Fish every cast is reasonable to expect with some fish going 3 pounds. White Bass are aggressive first class fighters. You can catch them everywhere in DL but my #1 location would be the Woods-Rutten road dividing East Lake and East DL. This area can get congested on weekends and particularly Memorial. Keep in mind; you can catch them everywhere in DL.
Jig and tail is what I use. Jig size depends on how windy it is. As for tails my go to color is white but today I caught them on white, chartreuse, and orange. Use what ya got. Goes without saying, fish the windy side, even if it’s like today with 20-25 winds. The “bass a cast” will more than compensate for the spray in your face. You won’t need “feel” like fishing walleyes, these guys are aggressive.
Let’s make the jump to walleyes and head west out of DL on Hwy 19. First stop is the north end of Creel Bay. I did the double take when I saw the folks from IA shore fishing from their boat. They just back’r in to the rip rap, wade out and climb aboard. Ingenious! Livewell, baitwell, cooler and comfortable seating. All while shore fishing. Boat control could not be easier and no worries about the anchor holding.
Next up is 6 mile bay and the bridge. When it’s windy, too windy for the boat, it’s just right for fishing bridges. The wind piles up the water forcing it under the bridges and creating current. Mauve Coulee bridge is just a few miles further west and another great location.
If you need a place to stay call Diane at West Bay Resort. They have very nice cabins and will treat you like family. For the next several miles it’s water on both sides and rip rap as far as you can see. My first pick is the south shore just past West Bay Resort to the junction of old 281 which is under water now. You will need boots to get to the rip-rap unless you decide to back’r in.
Jigs or lindys whichever you like best but make sure there is a leech on the end. Some even bobber fish with a leech hanging. My son Levi declared, “Dad, I got it figured out; you need to use a fresh leech.” He’s right. Slow is the key, jig or lindy. Keep your line tight. Move it an inch at a time, just enough to get the leech wiggling. There are other presentations and baits that work but these are my first picks.
Let’s end with fishing the coulees. Coulees are North Dakotan for “Crik” you know, running water. There are countless locations north of DL and often the bridges are the easiest to get to. We made a quick stop at Churchs Ferry on Hwy 2. First cast Levi hauls in a 20 incher on a lindy-n-leech. I managed a distant 2nd with an 18 on a jig and leech.
I have a friend who lives in Minot, 120 miles away. Loves to fish and in 18 years has never fished DL. Don’t know why, just never took the time. It’s just a story till ya get here. Once you’ve experienced it, tell it anyway you like. It’s your story.
Video: ND Live
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