“This spring will be a throwback to the good old days,” said angling educator, world walleye champion and Devils Lake guide Johnnie Candle. He was speaking of the extensive snow pack and anticipates a large influx of water for the first time in nearly four years.
He said, “What makes it so exciting is that fishing Devils Lake is really like fishing a new lake every year.” Rising water allows walleyes to move into and over newly flooded vegetation in early season and immediately after spawning where they feed heavily in the warmer water. Over the past several years the lake dropped about five feet according to Candle, and he realistically expects a two foot rise this spring.
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. Resorts and guide services cater to outdoorsmen and women. In North Dakota 25 percent of out-of-state fishing licenses are sold in Devils Lake, and is a fishing phenomenon for those that travel here from all over the Midwest.
Candle looks for any current areas early, fishing right in the current, gradually expanding his search to the shallow back-water bays. Covering water is critical, and he primarily casts quarter ounce jigs with 3-inch white or pink plastic grubs. “The key is to listen to the fish. They will tell you exactly the retrieve motion and cadence they prefer,” he said. Another option is slip-bobbers in the shallow bays.
For those already thinking ahead to next winter, this past snowy season produced a lot of 9 to 11 inch perch, plus some larger specimens. By next ice season they will grow substantially.
“When shoreline vegetation was first flooded, it was a heyday. We will have that back all summer,” Candle said. From spring when open water first appears well into the summer, rising water floats all boats and all hopes.
About Devils Lake, North Dakota
The Devilslakend.com website is loaded with details about guide services catering to outdoorsmen and women, fish cleaning stations, ice/water conditions, fishing reports, tournaments, the area’s motels and resorts, businesses, community activities, upcoming events, dining, casino, and much more. The site is updated daily.
Last modified: July 25, 2019