The Good Old Days are Back, Devils Lake

Category: fishing reports

 Mar 21st, 2019 by sworrall 

Modified Mar 21st, 2019 at 2:39 PM

March 21, 2019: “This spring will be a throwback to the good old days,” said angling educator, world walleye champion and Devils Lake guide Johnnie Candle. He was speaking of the extensive snow pack and anticipates a large influx of water for the first time in nearly four years.

He said, “What makes it so exciting is that fishing Devils Lake is really like fishing a new lake every year.” Rising water allows walleyes to move into and over newly flooded vegetation in early season and immediately after spawning where they feed heavily in the warmer water. Over the past several years the lake dropped about five feet according to Candle, and he realistically expects a two foot rise this spring.

The northwest corner of this sprawling North Dakota lake had been the place for walleye anglers to go until the lower water forced them to search elsewhere. “This year, I feel this popular section of the lake will be a favorite once again,” he said.

Mark Bry with 20 years Devils Lake guiding and a stable of 8 to 10 guides plus lodging for up to 40 anglers, also thinks the lake could come up a couple feet. “I hope it will because it gives us more places to fish,” he said. Following a busy winter with some great perch, walleye and pike bites, he said, “This will be one of the better spring bites.”

He looks for any current areas early, fishing right in the current, gradually expanding his search to the shallow back-water bays. Covering water is critical, and he primarily casts quarter ounce jigs with 3-inch white or pink plastic grubs. “The key is to listen to the fish. They will tell you exactly the retrieve motion and cadence they prefer,” Bry said. Another option is slip-bobbers in the shallow bays.

His guide service kicks into high gear about May 10. “Our guides like to be in boats when the lake is ready,” he said. That means the fish will be stacked in the back bays ready to thrill visitors. “We have openings for fishermen who want an affordable trip that’s easy to get to and is a home away from home. Check out our website, brysguideservice.com.”

For those already thinking ahead to next winter, Bry said this past snowy season produced a lot of 9 to 11 inch perch, plus some larger specimens. By next ice season they will grow substantially.

Bry expects open water by late April, and he has his fingers crossed with that prediction. Candle put his prognosticator nose on early May. He doubled down with Bry’s tackle selection, saying, “You don’t need the giant tackle box here. Just bring some quarter ounce jigs and your favorite white plastic tails.”

Since spring and cold water sometimes create fussy walleyes, Candle always has several rods rigged with slip-bobbers. “When they follow but don’t hit, hang a tasty leech below a slip. Cast it against cattails or even open water. They can’t resist.” As the water warms, he moves to Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad Raps. Depth dictates which models, but covering water is the key.

IMG_2563_webCandle MCs the annual Chamber of Commerce Walleye Tournament, this year scheduled for June 21-23, and said with higher water anglers could be back in their traditional haunts (NW corner of the lake). East Bay produced winners the past several years, but anglers will be spread out this season. Entries are now being accepted for this popular event.

“When shoreline vegetation was first flooded, it was a heyday. We will have that back all summer,” he said. From spring when open water first appears well into the summer, rising water floats all boats and all hopes.

The Devilslakend.com website is loaded with details about guide services catering to outdoorsmen and women, fish cleaning stations, ice/water conditions, fishing reports, tournaments, the area’s motels and resorts, businesses, community activities, upcoming events, dining, casino, and much more. The site is updated daily. Talk to a Devils Lake Tourism or Chamber representative at 701-662-4903.

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