DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – January 3, 2020 - Most fishermen have heard the phrase, “Shoulda been here yesterday.”   Right now, the Devils Lake ice fishing experts say, “Be here tomorrow.”

The ice conditions are excellent to start the New Year with 18 inches of ice on Alice, Irving and Dry Lakes.  The main basin has 15-18 inches. There is some snow on the lake but warm temperatures have melted the snow down enough so anglers have been able to get around fine with 4WD.

As anglers know, the North Dakota wind may not always be your friend, but it blows snow off.  Currently, about six inches of snow covers the ice in places.  Tanner Cherney, owner of the video and photo firm Peak Productions and the outdoor media coordinator for Devils Lake Tourism said, “No matter what you think, the wind does help by getting snow off the ice.”

Equally important for this fishing community is that tourism, city, county and parks fund a Lake Access group that keeps all lake accesses open.  They also maintain the all-season, heated fish cleaning station on Highway 20 adjacent to Ed’s Bait Shop.  In open-water season, they keep fish cleaning stations running at four popular launch ramps. 

ice fishing

For visiting anglers, four area motels also have inside fish-cleaning facilities. They are the Sleep Inn & Suites, the Fireside Inn & Suites, the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites and the Sunlac Inn.  Devils Lake prides itself with some of the best guide services in North America.  Most process fish for their clients.

Fishing Report: “The walleye bite is strong; perch are active because we can reach the deeper water; pike are always going,” Tanner said.  The average perch are running 10 to 11 inches with a few 13 to 14-inchers mixed in.  The 30 to 40-foot depths are best.  He said, “Gold seems to be the new hot color for perch.  Bring plenty with you or pick them up in the local shops.  Tipped with wax worms or maggots (we call ‘em spikes) standby for action.”

Walleyes are most active for 90 minutes in the morning and again for 90 minutes in the evening.  Tanner said fish from 5 to 7 feet on the upper lakes and 15 to 20 feet on the old main lake shorelines.  He recommended either red, orange or pink rattling spoons tipped with a minnow head.  “Chase walleyes early and late and fill in the day with perch,” he advised.  Or, if the family wants to keep kids busy, bring tip-ups for all-day pike action.  “They are feeding now and anglers can fish just 100 yards from shore.  Pick an old cattail or weed line and set-up.  This is really fun for all,” he said.

And for the anglers that want to bring your own ice houses over to Devils Lake, Woodland Resort has added a new option. For $30, customers will have access to their landing, the shower house and the fish cleaning station. This is per day, for 2 people and one icehouse. If you have more than 2 people in your party, it is $10 per person. This also includes towels.

Approximately 25 percent of the North Dakota out-of-state fishing licenses are sold in Devils Lake because it’s one of the friendliest fishing towns around.  That, plus the fishing is so good. 

Devils Lake guide services are featured on, along with weekly fishing reports, lake info, ice conditions, details about the community, lodging, restaurants, casino and so much more.  Fishing is open year-round.  Devils Lake questions will gladly be answered by a knowledgeable local resident at 701-662-4903.

ice fishing

Photo credits:
Tyler Chisholm from Wisconsin with a nice Walleye from Devils Lake
Tanner Cherney with a jumbo yellow perch