DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – October 17, 2019 – When the calendar shifts from Summer to Fall, it’s time to make plans for Devils Lake ice fishing. Perch and walleye fishermen know that prime periods book quickly.
This is especially true based on the catch results over the past several months. Mark Bry, owner of Bry’s Guide Service, talked recently while heading home from Wyoming with a nice bull elk in his truck. He said, “Devils Lake ice fishing is always on my mind.” With late open water fishing and duck hunting underway, he commented on the very successful spring and summer fishing.
“The perch from 9 to 11 inches were common. An 11 inch Devils Lake perch is a really good perch. They are fat, tasty and will make up the bulk of this winter’s catch,” he said. “Of course, the 12-inchers up to 15 are there also.”
Walleyes in the “eater” size range are everywhere. Bry said, “This strong class of 13 to 15-inch fish will provide lots of opportunities and a good bite this winter. The bigger fish generally come early and late in the day.”
Devils Lake is big with thousands of places to fish. He recommended that visitors hire a guide service for their trip or for a couple days to learn tactics and locations. With Sno Bears to make travel easy, lodging, shelters, gear, fish-cleaning and food, he said, “Call early. Book now at 702-739-0161.”
Zippy Dahl not only has the coolest name for a guide, but he has been on every inch of Devils Lake ice for the past 25 years with the famous Perch Patrol. Now 11 veteran guides strong, Dahl said, “I’m proud of them.”
Each guide transports clients in Polaris crew-cab Rangers. “They go through anything,” he said. “Devils Lake presents challenges with snow and wind, and we want to get to the best fishing spots.” Some trips might be 40 miles on the big lake, although he said since 1991, the lake came up 35 feet, but recently dropped seven feet. “Experience and those old GPS waypoints make all the difference on this huge sheet of ice,” he explained.
Dahl figures that 90 percent of the Perch Patrol clients come for perch. He said being prepared for the ever-abundant walleyes is also important on those days when “perch lock-jaw” occurs under the ice. With eater-size walleyes everywhere and nicer fish mixed in, Dahl is excited to showcase this bite.
In fact, Todd Caspers, district fisheries biologist noted that the overall walleye numbers in test nets this summer averaged 26.1 per net, compared with a long-term average of 21 per net. The 10 to 15 inch size walleyes came in at 16.9 fish per net, nearly double the long-term average of 9.4 per net. He said, “Devils Lake had three good walleye year-classes in 2016, 2017 and 2018.”
Walleyes will become part of the teaching and learning curve for Perch Patrol clients this winter. “We teach clients how to use electronics, how to jig to catch fish and give them the opportunity to use the best gear. Many tell us they can’t wait to try these methods at home,” he said.
The Devilslakend.com website features quality guide services catering to outdoors folks, news about the four popular species of perch, walleyes, white bass and northern pike, fishing and hunting reports, community and family activities, lake levels, fish and game cleaning stations, area campgrounds, motels and resorts, businesses, upcoming events, dining, casino, and much more. Talk to a Devils Lake Tourism or Chamber representative at 701-662-4903.
Photo Attached: Zippy Dahl with a jumbo perch on Devils Lake from last winter.
About Devils Lake, North Dakota
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 Dakotsa 25 percent of out-of-state fishing licenses are sold in Devils Lake.
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