Devils Lake, North Dakota, is a fishing destination unlike anywhere else. I recently had a chance to go ice fishing on the lake and here are five reasons I think ice anglers need to add Devils Lake to their bucket list:
- You will catch fish! There’s no guarantee you will leave town with a four-day limit of jumbo perch and walleye, but you always have a chance of limiting out on Devils Lake. When the bite slows down with walleye or perch, there are plenty of big pike that always give a good fight. Fish populations have kept up with the size of the lake over recent decades, and the lake is six times larger than it was 25 years ago!
- Devils Lake is huge! The wide-open lake can get you away from the crowds with sweet fishing spots all over the place. Don’t let the 180,000 acres intimidate you, there are numerous bait shops and maps available. Anyone can find great spots to fish without any experience on the lake. At the Sleep Inn, staff at the front desk and even the host of the breakfast area offered to point out some places that have been producing fish. It only takes about a day for non-residents to start talking like locals, dropping terms like the "towers," "stump," "golden highway," "black tiger," "pelican" or "Grahams" to describe where they were fishing. There are also plenty of terrific guides that would be happy to take you out on Devils Lake.
- Big healthy fish! Devils Lake is great for catching trophy perch, walleye and pike, all in the same trip. One thing you notice after you’ve gotten a few fish on Devils Lake is how healthy and fat the fish are. Large populations of fresh water shrimp accelerate the growth of perch and provide trickle-down forage for larger game fish. Big perch = huge Pike. Every once in a while you can get into some nice white bass.
- Awesome places to stay and eat! Accommodations keep getting better around Devils Lake. You can stay in town at numerous hotels that accommodate anglers with on-site fish-cleaning stations. I stayed at the Sleep Inn with great rooms, service and pool, as well as a very nice fish-cleaning station. If a hotel isn’t your style, you could head out of town to a lodge like Woodland Resort with on-site guide services, a restaurant, bait shop and fish-cleaning station. There is an option for any group, size and budget around the lake.
- Long seasons! Devils Lake normally adds ice early and the ice goes off late. This mild winter is definitely not normal and safe ice across the lake didn’t form until January and probably won’t make it to late March. At the beginning of March 2014, we were talking about 60 inches of ice and auger extensions. This year, we are talking about 15 to 20 inches and removing permanent houses early. The average is in the middle of those extremes and you can usually count on safe ice mid-December to late March. A season-long non-resident fishing license in North Dakota is only $45 and the gamefish season never closes (April 1-March 31). Short-term three- and 10-day licenses are also available. Anglers get more time to explore early and late seasons when fishing is hot! And U.S. residents don’t need a passport to go to Devils Lake!
There are so many reasons Devils Lake is a great fishing destination, summer or winter. Now is a good time to start planning and make reservations for next season. Call the Devils Lake CVB at 800-233-8048 or head to http://www.devilslakend.com/ for more information about fishing trips that will be Legendary for years to come.