21 2014 »

2 Words Describe Devils Lake in Fall: Ducks & Fish!


“Devils Lake is very blessed,” said Kyle Blanchfield, owner of Woodland Resort, located on the shores of this popular North Dakota lake.  “We have one of the best walleye lakes in North America combined with one of the best waterfowl spots anywhere.”  The widely acclaimed fishing (walleyes, pike, white bass and perch) continues through the fall season, when sportsmen enjoy the added bonus of duck hunting.

North Dakota Wildlife Resource Management Supervisor Brian Prince said, “Based on the last 10 years, the Devils Lake area is on the upper end of duck broods.”  Assessing the Annual Duck Brood Survey and field observations, he said, “Compared to previous years, this year is looking really very good.”  Waterfowl season opens Sept. 27 for residents, and for non-residents Oct. 4.

snowgeeseBlanchfield described a typical fall hunting day.  Resort guests stay in either motel-style rooms, lodge units, or cabins (1, 2, or 3 bedrooms) with full kitchens.  Guides spend the previous afternoon and evening scouting for the very best locations.  Hunters head out to the most active fields in three different counties in the guide’s vehicles before daylight.  Hunters usually have their limits by late morning and are back at noon for lunch.

“The best part of the experience,” he said, “Is when guests take advantage of a 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. guided fishing afternoon with the experts from Mitchell’s Guide Service.  Fall is tops for big walleyes.”

He has operated the oldest waterfowl hunting operation in North Dakota for 27 years, and also owns the Northern Flight Guide Service, with hunting venues in 30 different states.  “This year, Devils Lake duck numbers are very strong.  With all the late hatches, this season will be as good as it gets,” Blanchfield said.  “Then, about mid-October to freeze-up, the snow geese arrive.”

fallwalleyewithmitchellAnother local outfitter on the water or in the field nearly every day all year long is Jason Feldner.  He owns Perch-Eyes Guide Service and Outfitting, and has been running combined fall fishing and hunting packages for 13 years.  He has a number of lodging units including houses that sleep 10, and several cabins for five hunters.  “Here, we take care of our guests morning to night, drive them to the hunting spots, and provide lodging, morning hunts and afternoon fishing,” he said.  “This cast and blast package (4 nights and 3 days) fits budgets and time available for most groups.”

Feldner’s guides field hunt for mallards and the main lake for divers.  “We go where we can put our guests on the best possible situation, even hunting potholes,” he said.  His sense of the fall waterfowl season is that the local ducks are “all over, perhaps in higher numbers than ever.”

Feldner described the walleye fishing this summer as “phenomenal,” with 150 to 200 walleyes boated per guide trip fairly common.  “Catching more than 100 walleyes in a six-hour trip is normal,” he said.  “We keep limits of 17 to 20 inch walleyes.”  Walleyes are only part of the catch, because northern pike are caught using the same tactics.  Vertical jigging or trolling crankbaits are two favorite methods.  Perch start schooling in the fall and offer another bonus.  Daily limits are 5 walleyes, 10 in possession; 5 pike, 10 in possession; 20 perch; 80 in possession.  “This amazing action lasts until mid-November, when we take a breather and gear up for ice fishing season which usually kicks-off by Dec. 10,” he said.

Details for the latest hunting and fishing news can be found at devilslakend.com.  The website also lists information about Devils Lake fishing and hunting guides and the latest reports, lake conditions, access points, history, current events, resorts, and restaurant news plus a helpful map.  The lake has expanded to 220,000 acres today compared to about 40,000 acres 25 years ago, swallowing marshes, woodlands, ponds, shelter belts, and farmlands.  This habitat created a rich environment for the food that the lake’s popular species – walleyes, perch, northern pike and white bass eat.  It also provides ample habitat for the many local and migrating ducks and geese that either live there or stop on their way south.

A 20 x 32 heated fish-cleaning station located on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake is open to the public, with two grinders, a clean-up sink and bathrooms.  Blanchfield said, “We cater to sportsmen; make your plans now.”

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