Talk to the guys who are on the water more than 250 days per year, and they know what to expect.
Devils Lake, ND - Talk to the guys who are on the water more than 250 days per year, and they know what to expect. Guides Jason Feldner and Mark Bry looked ahead to the upcoming ice season, and forecast another very good Devils Lake perch season.
Perch are the fabled fish that grow to giant sized trophies in this North Dakota lake. Bry said, “There is always the chance for a two pound perch.” Feldner echoed this sentiment and said, “There may not be as many toads as years ago, but they are present.”
He continues, “Last season there were lots of seven to nine inchers in the system, and this year, they should be up to 12 inches long.” He also caught more perch in open water this summer than in the past. Bry said, “Based on the solid bite last winter and this summer when we caught 15 to 20 perch while walleye fishing, I anticipate good numbers of 12-inchers this winter.”
Todd Caspers, area biologist revealed that summer net surveys averaged nine perch per net compared to 7.4 last year. Most age classes were about the same as long-term averages. Bry and Feldner shared their expert advice about catching perch.
“For me, fishing early ice is like finding new water and fresh fish. I like to start in 10 to 14 feet off the main lake points. Later in the day, I usually slide deeper with the perch,” Bry said. Later in the season, most perch remain in deep water. With so much deep water, he keeps looking for pockets of fish. Electronics are the key.
Bry and his guides fish the entire system from Stump Lake on the east to the west end, approximately 100 miles distant. Results with specific tactics make it difficult to change, and Bry favors a Northland Forage or Buck Shot spoon with a minnow head. These aggressive lures draw in and catch perch. If perch show up on the electronics, but do not attack the spoon, he drops down to a Tungsten jig with a wax worm for a finesse bite. “I prefer to keep moving and targeting the active fish. It seems there are always some active perch willing to slam the spoons,” he said.
Feldner starts his early season perch assault shallow, often in and around flooded trees. He feels the perch drop deeper as ice season progresses, but said there are always schools of perch shallow and deep. He brings in the perch with a Lindy Rattl’n Flyer spoon with a minnow head. If they are attracted but don’t hit the spoon, he switches to a tungsten jig with a wax worm. When the perch are super deep, he uses the spoon, but removes the treble hook, and attaches an eight inch dropper of 6-pound fluorocarbon line and ties on the tungsten jig. “I still have the attractor lure working with the rattles and flash, and when perch show up on the electronics, I barely flutter the spoon to get them biting on the jig,” he said.
Anglers may use four lines while ice fishing Devils Lake. The season never closes, and if perch fishing slows down, there are always northern pike, walleyes and white bass to keep fishermen active. Running pike tip-ups is just that – running. Action is often furious and lasts all day. Walleyes can be targeted with any tactic, and a limit of perch combined with limits of walleyes and pike fillets will provide many memories when back home.
For more information about Devils Lake ice fishing guide services, lake and ice conditions, motels and resorts, fish cleaning stations, fishing reports for walleye, pike, perch and white bass, community activities, tournament opportunities, dining, casino and much more, go to devilslakend.com, or call the Tourism office, 701-662-4903.