Devils Lake Walleyes on the Prowl Early

Suzie Kenner

Mother Nature has created a bonus “season” for Devils Lake open-water walleye fishermen.  The thick ice cover that attracts thousands of visitors every winter disappeared weeks earlier than normal.  Instead of driving trucks on the lake in late April, walleye chasers were in their boats. 

Devils Lake Walleyes on the Prowl Early.

And, the walleyes were cooperating.  Of course, Mother Nature played her part with very little snow (strange for this region of North Dakota), which means minimal to no run-off.  Walleyes mostly spawned in the main lake instead of their traditional migrations to the upper, connected lakes.

And, with warmer weather, the “bite” began right away and has shown no let-up.  “The usual mid-May hot bite is right now,” said Devils Lake outdoor media coordinator Tanner Cherney.  “We’re way ahead of schedule.  This is why so many people head this direction to catch walleyes from dozens of easily accessible shorelines…and in their boats.”  A Twin Cities family recently landed several 28 to 29 inch walleyes from shore.  There is no closed fishing season.  “Opening day is when you get here,” he said.

Devils Lake may offer more shoreline fishing and catching opportunities than any North American lake.  The water is down about a foot or two from last spring, but by mid-April, local officials had installed docks at all the public ramps around the lake.    

A week ago Cherney fished with a Wisconsin outdoor TV show crew.  “We caught fish from the boat and from shore.  Most were 17 and 18 inch males with some really nice 25 to 26 inch females caught and released,” he said.  Typical spring Devils Lake patterns include one-quarter ounce jigs with minnows.  When water temps inch up later in the day, jigs with paddletails and twister-type tails produce.  Soon, slip bobbers with leeches will be the ticket. 

His tip for the day is to keep the boat in deeper water and cast shallow.  Cherney said, “I saw a big walleye hit my jig about 15 yards from the boat.  Cool to see that in the unusually clear water.”  Casting crankbaits shallow is another popular tactic.

UNIQUE FISHING SEMINAR SERIES

Noted fishing educator, Devils Lake guide and world walleye champion Johnnie Candle will conduct live Facebook seminars monthly.  He said, “I will talk what’s hot right at the moment.  Visitors will get a jump on their fishing vacations with locations, depths, lure choices, tactics, tips and more.”

Walleyes, pike and white bass will be subjects of these live seminar broadcasts.  “There will be a person on camera and another reading questions from viewers.  After a 15 to 20 minute seminar, I will answer questions for about an hour,” he said.

The initial seminar is slated for 7 pm CDT, Monday, May 25. Seminars will be on facebook.com/devilslake. Subsequent seminars will occur at the same time June 15, July 6, August 10, Sept. 2 and Oct. 5.

Information about the Devils Lake Chamber walleye tournament set for June 25-26, car shows, fairs, parades, shopping, resorts, camping, birding, hiking, casino and more is featured at devilslakend.com. Also, details about public and free-to-use launch sites with fish cleaning stations, trusted guide services, and fishing reports are updated often.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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