‘Very Good’ Devils Lake Winter Ice Fishing Set to Change Seasons: Spring is Coming
Devils Lake fishing runs 12 months of the year – the only difference being the amount of clothing a person needs. Anglers are transitioning now from one of the best winter ice fishing seasons to what experts predict as a stellar spring “bite,” on one of North Dakota’s jewels.
Todd Caspers, Devils Lake area fisheries biologist said creel surveys this winter indicate a very good season. He said, “Depending on the March weather and continued good lake drive-ability, if the perch continue biting like they have been, we could approach harvest numbers of the early 2000’s.” Like so many winter-weary anglers, Caspers is looking forward to spring fishing. “We will probably be ice fishing well into April, but everybody is ready for open water.”
The biologist said last summer produced a good walleye and perch bite; the good fishing continued all winter and he anticipates another good walleye and perhaps perch spring and summer. “Walleye populations are at very good levels with lots of keeper-size fish in the lake,” he said. “Pike are under-utilized and anglers should consider taking home limits.” Research shows many pike between 20 and 30 inches with top-end pike in excess of 40 inches.
Early open water depends on Mother Nature, but predictions from the guy with his finger on the pulse of flowing water, Jeff Frith said, “Usually, ice-off is about the third week of April, but based on the ‘cool’ National Weather Service forecast plus 40-inches of ice, it will likely be later this year,” the manager of the Devils Lake Basin Joint Water Resources board said. The snow level is normal to slightly below normal, and his best guess is for a nominal rise in water levels of 12 to 18 inches and a light in-flow. “But, we know how March and April can be here in North Dakota,” he said. Boaters will again be able to travel under all bridges in 2014.
Lake observer and avid Devils Lake angler Al Freidig counts the first open water as his favorite time to be on the lake. Despite the anticipation, he figures it will probably occur towards the end of April. Pike will show up first in current areas, eventually running to the ends of Six-Mile and Pelican Bays. Walleyes will not be far behind, and their movements will stretch into early May. “All about the same time, incoming water creates openings by bridges and culverts. Fishermen on foot have a bonanza there,” he said. “Pike and walleyes travel 40 miles up the coulee system to reach their spawning destinations, creating dozens of shoreline hot spots to ambush them.”
Caspers enjoys early season in the Six-Mile Bay Channel A and along Highway 19 where the road intersects twice with the lake. “These current areas are tops, and anglers know it,” he said.
Go to www.devilslakend.com for a map of the nine convenient public accesses. The 20 x 32 fish-cleaning station located next door to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake), like the Devils Lake fishing season, is open all year. The heated (and A/C) building has two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms, and is free to the public.
Devils Lake fishing guides target perch, walleyes, white bass and pike. To contact guides and for the latest lake, ramp and ice conditions, fishing reports, lodging, activities, restaurants, tournament news and resorts, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903. The 38th Devils Lake Chamber Fishing Tournament is June 27-28, with cash awards for walleyes, pike, white bass and perch.