Fishing so Good, It’s Causing Traffic Jams
“Where else can you step out of your car and catch fish?” asked Ramsey County sheriff Steve Nelson. Pro angler and guide Johnnie Candle and Devils Lake, North Dakota resident said, “Shore fishing is exceptional here, and that brings droves of people. Often times it’s better from shore than in a boat.”
People, fish, narrow roads, parking and traffic have caused the county commissioners to create a task force to look into solutions for the safety of all. “Nobody wants to eliminate fishing from all these miles of easy-to-reach fishing spots and nobody wants an accident,” said North Dakota regional game warden supervisor Paul Freeman. Also on the task force and agreeing with the warden was Lake Region Anglers fishing club official Ed Dosch, “This is some great fishing, and we want to keep it going, that’s why our club will do all it can to educate people.”
The sheriff noted that anglers from Wisconsin, Minnesota and throughout North Dakota, including many Devils Lake residents (himself included) fish from dozens of roadside shoreline areas. Candle explained why, “Many of these roads are at necked-down areas or bridges with current. These rip-rap sections are ideal habitat in spring with good fishing stretching into much of the summer. When the wind blows into these rocks, it brings the game fish. The same scenario repeats itself in fall with major walleye, pike and white bass migrations.”
Commissioner Mark Olson said, “We don’t want to close roads or stop fishing opportunities. There are not many good shore fishing places in this state, except from the many road-crossings around Devils Lake. We also don’t want accidents.”
Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Suzie Kenner said they hope to meet with the Minnesota DNR Southeast Asian specialists to raise awareness and safety concerns within the Hmong community. Devils Lake is one of their top destinations. “We want to communicate and educate every angler who comes to town, because we don’t want any accidents,” she said.
Sheriff Nelson indicated that problems have been occurring since the lake began rising in 1993. With lake levels increasing upwards of 40 feet, the lake spread out. That resulted in construction of new roads and re-building existing roads. Some of those are narrow town and county roads, barely wide enough for two cars to meet and safely pass. “Add fishermen parking, and problems occur,” he said.
Some signage restricting parking has been placed and speed limits reduced already. Future task force sessions will deal with ensuring safety and determining the best methods to educate anglers and drivers. Dosch said the Lake Region anglers will conduct an “anglers talking to anglers” program. “These safety concerns can be resolved,” he said.
Candle said that shore fishing is one of the best ways to get kids involved with fishing. “They don’t have to be skilled; just cast out a split shot and a minnow on a bobber and catch white bass every cast,” he said, “This is shore fishing at its best, and that’s what we have on Devils Lake.”
For information on Devils Lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake are open this season and fish cleaning stations are operating at Graham’s Island State Park, Lakewood access, Six Mile Bay access and Henegar Landing), activities, guides, tournaments, lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903 or toll-free 1-800-233-8048.