25 2019

Ice Angler’s Bucket List – Late Ice on Devils Lake

Cody Roswick with a nice Devils Lake jumbo perch

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – February 25, 2019 – “It’s the best big-fish, fun-time of the year,” said Woodland Resort owner Kyle Blanchfield about Devils Lake late ice fishing action. With some of the most brutal storms, snow and cold “in a generation” (-35 on many days) according to local North Dakota weather forecasters, anglers are looking forward to better days ahead.

Devils Lake is a natural lake that has grown from about 40,000 acres to nearly 160,000 acres in the past three decades.  Devils Lake offers a year-round open fishing season for perch, walleyes, northern pike and white bass.

Guide Cody Roswick, owner of Fin Hunters Guide Service (finhunter.com or 701-840-5407) will be on ice as long as it’s safe.  Weather stabilizes with longer, warmer days and fish become more active.  His normal routine is perch mostly, followed by walleyes in the evening.  This winter’s perch action has been consistent with 20 to 50 a day; some catches have been 100-plus per day.


Blanchfield’s personal best trophies have all come during late ice season.  “Being more mobile and hole-hopping in nice temperatures is more fun,” he said, “Plus the perch put on the crazy feedbag.”  February storms forced the Perch Patrol 10-man guide service operating from his resort to use tracked vehicles to move anglers in portables.  The resort also has 44 permanent houses.  He will offer special angler lodging packages in late March (woodlandresort.com or 701-662-5996).

Group guided by the Perch Patrol

Roswick’s formula for success deals with “perch personality.”  They move constantly, and he uses jigs or spoons to quickly drop back down after catching a fish.  “This keeps ‘em excited and biting,” he said.  His tools are 1/16 ounce Northland Forage Minnows or Buck Shot rattle spoons.  He tips spoons with a minnow head, wax worms or perch eyes, with best colors being glow chub and orange and white.  He also uses Northland Fireball tungsten jigs in 1/16 ounce size, tipped with bait.  “Don’t forget pike!” Roswick said.  He also guides tip-up and spearing trips for the lake’s abundant toothy-critters.

Jason Feldner’s 7-man Perch Eyes guide service (percheyes.com or 701-351-1294) loves late Devils Lake ice.  Feldner said, “With the icepack, we should be fishing well into April.”  He concentrates his efforts on current areas saying, “Find current…find fish.”

As the season progresses, the main basin remains key, but fish begin to move with longer days.  When current is present, and this year he expects good run-off, the perch and walleyes gravitate “upstream.”  He feels Six Mile Bay will be especially good. For perch, gold-colored tungsten jigs are his best weapon.  Tipped with spikes/maggots, he holds his lure about 3 to 4 feet above bottom.  “It’s easier for fish to see it.  Perch are bottom-huggers, but they will rise to eat.  If not, drop down,” he said.

When searching, he uses an attractor spoon like the Lindy Rattlin’ Flyer (wide profile) or the new Lindy Glow Spoon (pink and white has been best so far).  Baited with a minnow head or spikes, he uses the spoon to bring them in then switches to tungsten jigs.  “It’s great when they’re hitting the spoons,” he said.

When current is noticeable, he fishes walleyes in 4 to 10 foot shoreline areas early and late in the day.  If close to the current (safety first!!) walleyes could be active all day.  A favorite of late ice clients is the fast pike action.  “With 4-lines, we plant three tip-ups and also jump around with a jig rod (spoon baited with a minnow). Pike are fun and great eating,” he said.

Devilslakend.com website is loaded with details about tournaments, the area’s motels and resorts, guide services (they cater to outdoorsmen and women), fish cleaning stations, ice/water conditions, fishing reports, community activities, upcoming events, dining, casino and much more.  Talk to a Devils Lake Tourism representative at 701-662-4903.

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