06 2014 »

‘Best Start in 19 Years’ for Devils Lake Ice Fishing

Zippy Dahl from the Perch Patrol, holding a jumbo Devils Lake Perch

“Conditions are perfect this year on Devils Lake.  We’ve never seen 24 inches of ice by January 1 before and fish are biting,” said Zippy Dahl, captain of the legendary Perch Patrol guide team.  “It’s the best start ever, and with almost no snow, it’s easy to get around the lake,” he said.

Zippy said the North Dakota fisheries survey reports of record numbers of big perch are coming true.  “Most clients are limiting out, and that means 28 people with our seven guides coming in with buckets full,” he said.

Since surveys began, populations of large perch are at record levels.  Devils Lake area biologist Todd Caspers said, “Since our surveys began in 1992, we now have a record level of 12-inch and larger perch in the system, with most of those being right at a foot long or slightly bigger.” The actual numbers show the current level of 12-inch plus perch to be three times the average.

IMG_0552Asked why the perch are showing such a dramatic spike, Zippy felt with Devils Lake holding fairly stable the past three years that heavier weed growth was contributing to sanctuaries for small perch plus providing more food sources for bigger perch.

When the huge mid-December snow storms crept across the Midwest, they seemed to go around sprawling Devils Lake.  “The storms went north and south of us, but never dumped, and what little snow fell got blown away,” he said.  Ice anglers with 4-wheel drive trucks are experiencing the best travel in years.

His ice guides have been all over the lake, east and west, on the flats and in the deep main-lake holes.  “We have had success everywhere,” Zippy said.  “We can’t wait to drill the next hole to see what’s down there.”  Perch have been biting all day, with quite a few one to two pound walleyes and some white bass mixed in.  “The perch bite has been so good that in the past month we have only chased walleyes a couple half days,” he said. The walleye limits are five per angler per day and 10 in possession.  The perch limits are 20 daily and 80 in possession.

Perch Patrol: 701-351-3474 or perchpatrol.com.

Go to devilslakend.com for a map of the nine convenient public drive-on accesses.  Visiting anglers will appreciate the fish-cleaning station located next door to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake).  The 20 x 32 station, like the Devils Lake fishing season, is open all year.  The heated 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 and ice conditions, fishing reports, lodging, activities, restaurants, tournament news and resorts, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.


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