01 2015 »

“Right Time; Right Place!” That’s What the Experts Say about Devils Lake Fishing


In fishing, timing is everything. That’s why those who know Devils Lake best – long-time fishing guides – say late June is the best time to catch the lake’s favorite species, walleyes.

“It’s the right time and the right place to be,” said Johnnie Candle, world walleye champion, fishing educator and Devils Lake guide. He also emcees the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce walleye tournament set for June 26-28. “Late June is considered THE time to be on Devils Lake,” he continued.

TV host and head of one of the largest guide services on this north-central North Dakota lake, Jason Mitchell, coined a word for fishing the 39th annual Devils Lake tournament, saying, “This is really one of the ‘funnest’ times to fish Devils Lake.” His guides and their clients locate numbers and quality walleyes over deep rocks, flooded timber, shallow weeds and a variety of locations during this period.

Half of the winning team last year, Rick Darling said, “This is the one we most look forward to fishing. The camaraderie, meeting old friends and making new friends is what it’s all about,” he said. With $61,000 in cash and prizes, and a host of special prizes including big fish for walleye, pike, perch and white bass, plus a northern pike optional shootout on day two, many anglers of all ages and all skill levels have been making plans.

“There is still time and space for teams to enter, and this year’s event is special with the highest Chamber tournament payout in history,” said Suzie Kenner, tournament coordinator. Entry information is at devilslakend.com, at many businesses and the chamber office, or call 701-662-4903.

Mitchell said, “What is really cool is that no matter how you like to fish, you can find a good pattern that fits what you like to do.” He is so busy guiding that he cannot break away to compete, but offered this advice, “If I were to fish it, I would target shallow weed beds or possibly flooded timber in less than six feet of water.” He would cast Berkley Ripple shads, Impulse paddle tails or Kalin’s Sizmic shads (all plastic on jigs) or Salmo 8F crankbaits in perch pattern and shallow Shad Raps in sizes seven and eight.

Candle echoed the shallow water target area, and said, “Walleyes will still be in shallow water, and casting for these fish is the rule.” His favorite presentations are Flicker Shads in sizes five and seven. He also mixes up casting crankbaits or jigs tipped with Berkley Ripple Shads. Way down his list for late-June is live bait below slip bobbers. With a knowing touch of humor, he said, “If the wind blows, fish the gravel shorelines where the waves are rolling in.”

A Devils Lake guide who always seems to be on the move to locate walleyes, Jason Feldner said, “Be mobile. Keep rotating through spots until the big walleyes show themselves. I would fish shallow weeds with slip bobbers and cast jigs and cranks all day.”

Candle, who has hundreds of walleye tournaments under his belt, including the World Walleye Championship title, said, “The only way you can win is by entering.” He also knows that one of the best ways to learn a lake and test your skills is in a tournament. The Devils Lake event runs Friday and Saturday, June 26-27 (with the option of fishing Sunday in case of bad weather), with a special dinner at the Thursday rules meeting.

The launch and weigh-in take place at Graham’s Island State Park, with a youth fishing program after Saturday’s weigh-in where 50 rods and reels will be given away. The downtown business community also participates with their Reel Fun Days and a Saturday street dance.

The tournament stage-show each day will be live-streamed at www.lrradioworks.com. Fans and families not at Graham’s Island will be able to tune in and listen to the fun from anywhere in the world.

Devils Lake is the place fishermen go to catch fish. When they can claim bragging rights by doing well in the Chamber Walleye Tournament only adds to the excitement of the fishing trip. Tournament entry and updates can be found at devilslakend.com, or by calling 701-662-4903. This is also the website for resort, motel and casino accommodations, fishing reports, ramp locations, a lake map, plus regional activities for all ages and all interests.

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