08 2013 »

Devils Lake Walleyes Love Artificial Lures

Johnnie Candle holding a walleye on Devils Lake

Devils Lake sprawls across nearly a quarter million acres in central North Dakota.  The overall size may seem huge, but it fishes “small,” with so many bays with nearby launch ramps, that anglers can fish all day, every day.  What fishermen, guides and tournament gurus really like is that they can use any tactic they want to catch walleyes.  In recent years, the number of anglers fishing Devils Lake walleyes with artificial lures has skyrocketed.

“This trend will continue,” said Johnnie Candle, local guide, tournament champion and expert at catching walleyes on artificial lures.  He said many of the lake’s walleyes remain relatively shallow all spring, summer and fall, making crankbaits and jigs dressed with plastic deadly.  Anglers pulling spinners behind bottom bouncers are adding PowerBait, Impulse, Trigger X or Gulp! scent-enhanced fake nightcrawlers.

Guide Jason Feldner won the last Professional Walleye Trail tournament on Devils Lake.  He will be fishing an upcoming MWC team tournament where only artificial lures will be allowed.  He said, “Pitching cranks on wind-blown shorelines is a main-stay out here, but jigs and plastic work just as well.  You can catch fish at all depths using almost anything, but leave the leeches, nightcrawlers and minnows home like many of us guides do  daily.  Artificials work!”

Ted Takasaki, a regular top-10 finisher on Devils Lake and tournament championship winner said he felt his method would be trolling.  “I would pull cranks down the many submerged roads and over the flats, starting at 10 to 12 feet deep; then I’d look at 14 to 16 feet, and finally 18 to 20.  Move up and down these depths until locating the preferred depth and crank that will trigger them,” he said.

Johnnie Candle likes Power Pogy, Shaky Shad, and Ripple Shads by Berkley.  “I can cover four times the water, faster than with a jig and live bait.  My recommendation is to reel so the swimbait rides just off the bottom.  White, smelt, shad, fire tiger and perch patterns are all good here,” he said.

Snap-jigging with Berkley, Rapala or Northland minnow-style plastics is the newest wave to hit walleyes on Devils Lake.  The key is to use 1/4th ounce jigs with long shanks and wide gaps, and once the jigs touch bottom or near bottom in four to 10 feet, snap the rod tip so the lure jumps three to four feet.  Keep it moving, only touching bottom for a second between snaps.

Tournament winner Perry Good said tackle companies are creating new plastics for walleyes all the time, and experimentation is key.  He said, “I like 4-inch ribbed worms on 1/16th or 1/8th ounce jigs, and pitch to the weeds with short casts.  I lift-drop-shake-lift-drop-shake and retrieve slower than most guys.  It works for me.”  Like most walleye experts, Good prefers FireLine with a fluorocarbon leader.

A regular fisherman and hunter on Devils Lake, Mike Gofron has accumulated the most top 10-place tournament finishes of any walleye angler.  He casts Northland Mimic Minnows or Johnson Beetle Spins and retrieves as close to the bases of weeds as possible.  He said, “It’s amazing how aggressive walleyes really are.”

Best crankbaits for Devils Lake seem to be Rapala Shad Raps, Countdowns, Salmo Hornets, Rattle-Traps, Husky Jerks, Lindy Shadlings and Flicker Shads.  New models and colors pop up every season, and the MWC artificals-only walleye tournament Aug. 2-3 (masterswalleyecircuit.com) may create a new favorite.   At the recent Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce walleye tournament, most of the top teams and the winners used artificials, and it took a 4-pound average to crack the top 10.

Anglers can launch at nine convenient Devils Lake public concrete ramps.  A map is featured on devilslakend.com.  A modern, air-conditioned fish-cleaning station, a 20 x 32 building, is located south of Ed’s Bait Shop on Hwy 20 (south of the City of Devils Lake).  It offers plenty of parking and is free-of-charge to anglers.  With two grinders, a clean-up sink, regular and handicapped bathrooms, it can handle 15 anglers at once.

Devils Lake fishing guides target walleyes, white bass, perch and pike.  For Devils Lake guides, conditions, fishing reports, lodging, activities, restaurants, tournament news and resorts, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.


Casting Crankbaits with Johnnie Candle

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