With upwards of six inches of solid ice on the main Devils Lake basin and more on the “northern” lakes, Devils Lake, North Dakota is bracing for the onslaught of ice fishermen. Many regulars arrive and operate under the DIY mode. Those unfamiliar with the 240,000 acre lake hire guide services.
Guide services provide all tackle, bait, electronics, shelters, heaters and select fishing spots they know have been producing. The advantage of large guide services is that some guides are always exploring for new schools of biting perch.
Perch are the favorite species. They bite during daylight hours. The lure of Devils Lake is that walleyes traditionally bite early and late in the day. Add white bass and pike to the mix and hours slip by quickly.
Devils Lake Chamber outdoor media coordinator Tanner Cherney said, “After the great summer open-water season, this winter is shaping up to be really, really good.” He added, “Winter fishing is open to all skill levels and all economic levels. Everyone can enjoy the fresh air and catch some of the tastiest fish in North America.”
Those considering Devils Lake should book early. Repeat business and returning clients are a big part of guide operations. When the Canadian border was closed to nonessential travelers during the first year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, many anglers picked Devils Lake as ana alternative destination and now are “regulars.” Plus, the popularity of ice fishing in general is attracting even more people to take up the sport.
Daily and possession limits are generous. Each angler may keep 20 perch daily with 40 in possession. Walleyes and pike are five daily and 10 in possession. There is no closed fishing season. Three-day North Dakota non-resident licenses are $28. Season long, they are $48. Youth under age 16 do not require a fishing license.
The 38th Annual Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department tournament is set for Six Mile Bay Saturday, Jan. 29. This fund-raising (and super fun) event runs from 1 pm to 3:30 pm. Holes are pre-drilled. Nearly 30,000 raffle tickets are sold. Prizes include trucks, cars, outdoor gear, exotic vacation trips, guns, TVs, snow blowers and much more thanks to the generosity of local businesses. The tournament is noted for its Friday night chili feed and dance.
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