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Article on March fishing from the Grand Forks Herald

(This article published in the Grand Forks Herald March 20, 2011)

By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald

Late March traditionally ushers in good fishing on Devils Lake

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“When it’s 35 and nice, it’s just so much easier for the average person to be more mobile,” said Kyle Blanchfield, owner of Woodland Resort on Creel Bay. “It’s just so much more conducive to fish on the go, and everybody’s opportunity to catch fish improves dramatically.”

Whether March offers the best ice fishing of the season depends on who you ask — at least when it comes to Devils Lake.

“Everybody says March is the best time,” said Jason Feldner, Minnewaukan, N.D., who operates Perch-Eyes Guide Service. But conditions that allow anglers to be more mobile might be the biggest reason for the better fishing.

“Don’t get me wrong, the fish do get excited and warmer weather does help,” Feldner said. “But if it was 25-30 degrees all winter, the odds of catching more fish would be greater than when it’s 20 below.”

“When it’s 35 and nice, it’s just so much easier for the average person to be more mobile,” said Kyle Blanchfield, owner of Woodland Resort on Creel Bay. “It’s just so much more conducive to fish on the go, and everybody’s opportunity to catch fish improves dramatically.”

Feldner said current areas near bridges and culverts tend to attract fish of all species late in the winter, but anglers also need to use caution and be sure ice conditions are safe. He said shallow, gravelly areas with 3 to 4 feet of water can be good places to key on pre-spawn walleyes.

“It seems like fish will hit those shorelines and follow them to their spawning grounds,” Feldner said. “Roadbeds can be very good, too.”

Blanchfield said walleye anglers should target structure such as flooded timber, rock piles and humps. A good GPS with a Devils Lake map, he said, is a useful tool for locating likely spots.

“The best fishing is going to be right away in the morning and at sunset,” Blanchfield said. “And then target pike and perch during the daytime.”

North Dakota’s continuous fishing season means the fun doesn’t have to end at ice-out, either. Given the amount of snow in the Devils Lake basin, Blanchfield said upstream ditches and coulees will have lots of current this spring.

And current, of course, tends to attract fish. Last year, anglers were finding pike and walleyes in ditches and coulees far upstream from Devils Lake.

“Anywhere you find moving water, you’re going to find fish, and that’s real trophy time,” Blanchfield said. “There are going to be some unbelievable opportunities fishing from shore.”

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to bdokken@gfherald.com.

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