Breaking it Down by Species
Devils Lake North Dakota is at the top of many ice anglers’ winter destinations checklists. Ice fishing on this prairie lake can make for a great multi-species trip. Most anglers coming to North Dakota and Devils Lake are always chasing the jumbo perch and the fan favorite walleye and often forget what else this lake has to offer. The northern pike population is exploding and can provide some nonstop action throughout the day and the crappie bite on Devils Lake is becoming a little more well-known over the last few ice seasons. With a little homework and understanding of each specific pattern for the particular species of fish, one can have a trip of a lifetime on this central North Dakota lake.
Many people often ask the question… how does one tackle Devils Lake and the 160,000 acres of water that cover this glacial formed lake? Let’s begin by breaking the lake down by the targeted species.
Jumbo perch pushing 2 plus pounds is what every ice angler dreams of when planning a trip up here. Traditionally perch fishing on Devils Lake is going to be a run and gun style. It won’t be uncommon to drill 50 or even upwards of 100 holes a day to stay on active schools of perch. The vast majority of the perch that live in Devils Lake tend to roam the basin of the lake as they are gorging themselves on the brine shrimp that call this lake home. Occasionally you will find schools of perch up shallow in the submerged timber that many people have come to know Devils Lake for. Fishing for these perch up shallow in the trees can be a lot of fun but one must be dialed into their electronics to be able to pick apart the fish from the branches lurking below the ice 10 feet. A key factor when looking for schools of perch is to find a hole you drill that will be full of shrimp when you pull your auger out. If there is shrimp where you are at, odds are there is a school of fish nearby. Tungsten jigs and small rattling spoons are a couple great lures to have on hand when targeting these perch that often present a finesse bite.
Walleyes up here tend to be a little easier to target as you will find them hugging the bottom foot of the lake near any of our famous structure (rock piles, sunken roads, old lake shorelines, house foundations, and flooded timber). Look to target the walleyes during low light conditions, sunrise and sunset times are usually best but walleye can be found active all day long when overcast conditions present themselves. Rattling spoons with minnow heads is a staple for walleye fishing up here. If the bite is a little tougher try utilizing a full minnow and dead stick in a second hole nearby your jiggin’ hole.
Looking for a way to keep the kids busy or finish off your day after you have caught a morning limit of walleyes? Try your hand at running tip-ups in the many shallow bays of the lake where northern pike claim their hunting grounds. Pike in Devils Lake are often overlooked and are doing extremely well. If tip-ups aren’t your thing bring a heavier jigging rod and be prepared to hold on while these strong pike give your reels drag a true test of its ability.
Access onto Devils Lake has been made easier by the Lake Access Committee which clears snow at 5 boat ramps for easier access onto the lake. Grahams Island State Park clears their boat ramp throughout the winter and Woodland Resort has a few miles of plowed roads you can pay a small fee to get onto.
There are not a lot of places wherein an 8 hour day of ice fishing you can land a perch, walleye, pike, white bass and crappie. The beauty of Devils Lake is that once the hook is set you just never know what you may be pulling in until you get the fish topside.