Devils Lake Ice Mean Hot Perch, Walleye & Pike Action
Good ice fishing is a given on Devils Lake. According to the top guides, all with decades of experience on the lake, they expect some of the best perch, walleye and pike action ever during the early months of 2012.
Traditionally a world-class perch factory, the numbers of perch have rebounded and are now providing great sport. Travel was extremely restricted last season which saved tens of thousands of fish. Jason Feldner of Perch Eyes guide service said, “I feel the deep bite will be there for perch as it has been in the past. There’s just more water to search now, and our four guides work together on the ice.”
Hiring Jason or the guides featured in this article means they will have all the portable fish houses, augers, flashers, rods and reels, tackle, bait and in most cases tracked ATV vehicles to get to the hotspots.
Guide Jason Mitchell is one of eight guides with the Perch Patrol. He said, “We saw lots of summer and fall perch. When we have good fall fishing, it typically means a good ice bite.” The Perch Patrol works as a team to find and stay on fish. “People want to hire local guides to learn to navigate this large lake, plus they can understand and learn the methods and equipment to catch more fish on their own.”
Mark Bry of Bry’s Guide Service with eight guides said, “Perch populations are solid, and with walleye and perch our specialties, the key to consistent fishing is mobility. We go to the fish.” Moving on Devils Lake 150,000 acres is also the key for Ross Sensiba of Rush Valley Guide Service. His guides target perch at mid-day, while devoting morning to pike, and afternoons to walleyes. He said, “Good ice conditions will mean good fishing this year, because there hasn’t been much pressure for three winters. Once we find them, we still keep looking.”
When asked to list some Devils Lake perch lures, the guides said: Lindy Rattl’n Flyer and Frostee spoons, Slick jigs, Northland Forage and Buckshot Rattle spoons, Fat Boys, Genz worms, Hali spoons and Rattle Snakie spoons.
Winter on Devils Lake offers three options. Perch are the Number One choice, but with so many walleyes and pike in the lake, they are moving up the popularity chart quickly. Walleye action starts early and provides tremendous action until ice-out. Jason Mitchell said the Perch Patrol is really a multi-species service, with walleyes and pike on the menu when customers ask. “It’s amazing how many walleyes are in the lake, and pike in the teens and over 20-pounds are not uncommon,” he said.
Ross said his group targets walleyes by fishing high-percentage spots and developing patterns that produce. “And, we move,” he added. Mark Bry said his guys will take anglers to the best spots and provide all the gear, but urges anglers to bring some of their favorite lures. “If they’re confident with a special walleye lure, I bet it’ll work on Devils Lake,” he said. Jason Feldner spends 300 days a year on Devils Lake, as do most of his guides. He said, “We move with the walleyes winter and summer, and after the bite this past fall, I expect walleye fishing to be red-hot this winter.”
Devils Lake favorite walleye “guide” lures: Lindy Rattl’n spoons, Northland Forage and Buckshot spoons and Puppet minnows, Salmo Chubby and Lindy darters, jigging Rapalas and plain minnows.
Pike may be an after-thought for some anglers when heading to this ice fishing destination where the entire community caters to fishermen. Northern pike of amazing length and girth can hardly be squeezed out ice holes, but when they finally flop on the ice, they cause the biggest grins. Every year, pike pushing 30 pounds are caught on Devils Lake.
Mark Bry offers a unique pike specialty, which really gets the heart pumping. He provides “sight-fishing” pike adventure trips. In a dark house, with a 24 x 36 inch hole, mostly along weed lines or in flooded timber (lots of this on the lake), he uses aggressive lures live the Five of Diamonds spoon jigged viciously in four to 12 feet of water. He coaches novices through several pike attacks. “The keys are the rods, FireLine, lures, location and jigging style. Oh, and HOLD-ON,” he said.
Best Devils Lake ice fishing tip: Bring a camera!!
Mark Bry, Bry’s Guide Service, brysguideservice.com, 701-739-0161.
Jason Feldner, Perch Eyes, percheyes.com, 701-351-1294 (also has 3 cabins and 3 houses for lodging.)
Jason Mitchell, Perch Patrol, perchpatrol.com, 701-351-3474.
Ross Sensiba, Rush Valley Guides, rushvalleyguideservice.com, 701-740-3868.
For more information on Devils Lake ice conditions, activities, a complete guide
listing, lodging and restaurant options go to www.devilslakend.com or call the Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau at 701-662-4903.