31 2014 »

Pro Ice Anglers Love Fishing Devils Lake


Thousands of out-of-state fishermen flock to Devils Lake to chase fish under the ice. Many professional anglers also return year after year, and they explained why with so much ice available, they prefer this special North Dakota lake.

When Dave Genz speaks ice fishing, people listen. In fact, the entire ice fishing fraternity of anglers, plus tackle, auger, electronics and shelter manufacturers take notice. From his first visit to Devils Lake in the 1970’s to this week, Genz said, “I go there and so do thousands of visitors to catch the biggest perch of their lives. And, the walleye fishery is amazing.”

genz_perch_webGenz is widely respected as the Godfather of ice fishing. He may be the single person most responsible for dragging ice fishing from the “stone age” to the “modern, technological age.” Much of the early lessons occurred on Devils Lake. He has visited Devils Lake each of the last 30-plus years due to the quality of the perch. Many of the everyday ice fishing tactics and gear most anglers use today were developed by Genz during those trips to central North Dakota.

“I remember when there was no limit on perch. People loaded coolers. Today, with 20 daily and 80 in possession, and with the tremendous size, anglers can still take home what I think are extra-tasty perch fillets,” he said.   Some of his ice innovations from Devils Lake include:

  • Small presentations with heavy weights to rapidly get down 40 to 50 feet. Perch move, and Genz capitalizes on the school when below him.
  • The Genz worm (a fishing lure) with sinkers on a lure, but with a small hook.
  • The use of maggots and Euro Larvae on tiny jigs.
  • Small diameter line.
  • The use of Vexilar sonar technology to locate fish. “My electronics showed me what the fish wanted and how they reacted to my presentations. By small-sizing, my catches improved dramatically” he said.
  • Portable shelters. “On a lake that has grown and absorbed so much of the countryside, and with the North Dakota winds, it was mandatory to be protected. That’s why I built a portable shelter – crude at first, but now in every tackle shop – and used by almost every ice fisherman.
  • Snowmobile accessories to carry an auger, pull a shelter and gear and allow mobility.
  • Sharing his lessons with the media, bait shops, resorts, chambers of commerce in person and at fishing seminars.

Genz is the Godfather of ice fishing, and Brian “Bro” Brosdahl is the Heavyweight Champion. Bro contacts an average of 20,000 people directly each winter (seminars, appearances, in stores, on the ice, etc.), and loves fishing Devils Lake. “We film TV show segments and shoot photos for ads on Devils Lake because something is always biting,” he said. “This is one place I know where a number of species of true trophies can be caught in a day – monster perch, walleyes no matter where you go, big pike and white bass.”

bro_perch_webBro lives in northern Minnesota surrounded by several fabled perch lakes. “Anywhere in the Midwest, it’s rare to find a 2-pound perch. The panfisherman in me is attracted to perch, and every year at Devils Lake, the bar is raised,” Bro said. Last year, on a calibrated scale, the largest perch weighed was 2.62 pounds during a filming session. “I keep going back because my quest is a 17-inch Devils Lake perch that will tip the scales at 2.75 pounds. I know that fish is swimming there,” he said.

Fishing wherever water freezes has taken Bro to lakes in dozens of states and provinces. He said, “The friendly atmosphere in this small town exists because most people are sportsmen. Everybody wants you to catch fish and they go out of their way to make it happen.” He feels it is one place where folks never having fished before can be successful.

Pat Kalmerton is also an “on-the-road” fisherman wearing many hats. He hails from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where his Wolf Pack Adventures company is busy guiding ice anglers. He guides for muskies and walleyes on soft-water, runs a fleet of three salmon boats, hosts TV shows, travels for Plano, shoots video and still photos, blogs, and is a pro-staffer for several companies.

kalmerton_walleye_web“There’s something about Devils Lake that gets me fired up,” he said. He fishes there at least three times each winter and chases whatever bites. “Perch are incredible, but the size of the walleyes and pike is amazing. I fish for the most active fish all day and concentrate on walleyes as evening approaches,” he said.

He likes the change of pace by setting tip-ups for big walleyes and pike. “Each person can fish four lines, and the entire group keeps warm running for flags,” he said. “I love to fish away from crowds, and Devils Lake has the space for that. I can elect to fish flooded timber, around flooded barns, weedbeds, deep water, or flats, and enjoy the scenery. It’s a real experience being on Devils Lake.”

Good early ice has allowed fishermen to enjoy nature’s bounty. Most visiting anglers hire a guide service (operated via most of the lake’s 18 resorts and Spirit Lake Casino) for the first couple of days. Many independent guides also provide full service with tackle, bait, shelters, knowledge and transportation. Fishing details at devilslakend.com include a comprehensive list of fishing guides plus the latest lake conditions, events, resorts and restaurant news plus a helpful map.

A 20 x 32 heated fish-cleaning station adjacent to Ed’s Bait Shop (on Hwy 20 south of the City of Devils Lake) is open to the public with two grinders, a clean-up sink and bathrooms.

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