weather is cold. but fishing is HOT!
Devils Lake Perch, Pike & Walleye Number Highest in 10 Years; Expect Hot Ice Fishing
With the highest perch, pike and walleye numbers in the past 10 years, Devils Lake ice fishermen are looking at an ice fishing bonanza. “It’s significant that we have the highest populations of all three favorite species at the same time,” said Northeast North Dakota District Fisheries Supervisor Randy Hiltner.
“Perch are looking up!” he said. The netting surveys show the perch catch rates (fish per net) were the highest since 2003. Anglers were successful this past summer and fall, and their results bode well for winter fishermen. The good 2006 and 2007 year classes are now 10 to 13 inches.
Hiltner, long-time area biologist said the walleye numbers in recent netting surveys are the highest since 2001. “Every year seems to produce another great hatch. Many walleyes are less than 16 inches, but the 15 to 20 inchers are at long-term averages. Summer reports of good-eaters and bigger fish were very favorable,” he said.
Northern Pike cause the biologist to smile, “We don’t know the concept of hammer-handle pike like some states. Year to year, Devils Lake pike average four pounds.” Netting surveys show adult pike are at the highest numbers since 2001. “People won’t be disappointed by Devils Lake pike,” he said.
The ice fishing season kicks off as soon as conditions permit, but officially with one of the biggest events in the area, the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department ice fishing tournament. The 29th annual event occurs Jan. 27, and averages 4,000 anglers. With $225,000 in fishing prizes including a massive 150-prize drawing, this perch, pike and walleye tournament is designed for family fun.
Fire Chief Jim Moe said the easy-to-fish contest on Six Mile Bay offers convenient parking within walking distance of the pre-drilled holes. Third prize for largest walleye wins a 2013 Ford $30,000 pick-up. Third place in the perch division wins an $8,000 ATV, and the second place pike wins a $9,000 hard-shell ice shelter. Cash prizes will also be paid to the top five places.
“This ice fishing tournament has a huge economic impact. It fills up the motels and resorts, and the money raised comes back to the community,” said Suzie Kenner, Devils Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director. Jim Moe said, “This fund-raiser has helped buy some nice fire trucks and rescue equipment over the years.” Also funded are local youth activities and scholarships. More details are at dlvfdicefishingtourney.com.
Devils Lake has some of the largest winter ice fishing guide services anywhere, with perch, walleyes and pike the main targets. These experts take the “searching for fish” to a completely new level. They make every first-time angler feel like this is home, and the thousands of anglers who return year after year to fish with the same guides, know that’s the case. For information on Devils Lake guides, winter ice conditions and roads, the Jan. 27, 2013 ice fishing tournament, activities, fish-cleaning station (open all year), lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 1-800-233-8048.