Those who visit and fish return time and time again. For those who haven’t yet experienced Devils Lake magnum perch or plentiful walleyes, make winter vacation plans now. Go!
This north-central North Dakota city and lake of the same name won’t disappoint. Most visitors hire guides to go to the best spots in warm all-terrain tracked vehicles. Guides provide the electronics, tackle, bait and expertise. They teach how to be successful.
The DIY crowds new to Devils Lake often hire guides for a day or two to figure out the depths, lure sizes and colors and tactics that produce. They then venture out on their own. With 165,000 acres of fishable water, crowding is never an issue.
With a 95 percent return rate, guide Mike Anderson was forced to increase from two to 12 guides over the past eight years. All drive SnoBears to take their clients on the ice. Clients fish while inside the vehicle’s expansive cab.
Known as A & H Guides, he said the quality of clients is top-notch. Last winter clients hailed from nearby Midwestern states and from New York, Texas, Kansas, Idaho, North Carolina, Washington, Tennessee, Oregon and Arkansas.
Why fish Devils Lake? Anderson answered, “The way the walleye population has been the past couple years as well as this spring, summer and fall, this winter should be even better. Perch was phenomenal last year and this summer. I anticipate an excellent perch season.”
The North Dakota Game and Fish department summer test nets were heavy with walleyes, again. Todd Caspers, fisheries biologist said, “Walleyes were well above the long-term average of 22 walleyes per net.” This past summer, surveys revealed 32.4 walleyes per net. The 15 to 20 inch eater size walleyes were double the long-term average (12.4 vs 6.2). Both 20 to 25 inch and 25 to 30 inch walleyes were also above long-term averages.
He looks forward every season to the return of the “Her Wilderness” women. With about a dozen gals, the group immediately re-booked after their first trip and are now booked through 2026. “Last year two participants from Tennessee and Arkansas who had never been on ice made reservations and brought their families to Devils Lake.”
Typical with Devils Lake guide services, Anderson equips each SnoBear with TV, cooking options and Live Scope electronics. His tactics have swerved from the traditional finesse methods to training clients to fish aggressively. For instance when targeting walleyes, he fishes Number 5 Rippin’ Raps and Number 7 Jigging Raps. When fish are located, guides may stay longer, but if nothing happens in 10 to 15 minutes, Anderson’s guys move their clients, making as many as 20 stops a day. “My guides love to chase walleyes, sort of like how others chase schools of perch,” he said.
Most scheduled 2-day trips start with walleyes in the morning for a couple hours, switching to perch the remainder of the day. “Depending on the bite, we sometimes stick with walleyes all day…or with perch. The clients indicate what they love to catch,” he continued.
Anderson showcases perch tactics from jigs to spoons to small Jigging Raps. Baited with either maggots, wax worms or minnow heads, the perch decide the daily menu. He fishes Denali rods that he helps design and test. “It always surprises the perch guys and gals how they can land a big walleye or pike on a tiny perch rod. It just takes patience,” he smiled.
He also caters to a few groups that only target northern pike. They have fun running for tip-ups or jigging for gators. A number of clients fish for nothing other than white bass. “They tell me the surging toughness of a 3 or 4 pound white bass on the line is as good as it gets,” he said. The white bass are schooling fish. Catch one. Drop the lure for the next. Non-stop action is the rule when clients land on a school. Those who keep white bass fillet them, remove the lateral line and any red meat along the skin. The flakey and tasty bass are prized table-fare when cleaned appropriately.
With so much water in the main lake and bays plus the northern (and connected) feeder lakes, A & H takes clients to Pelican, Irving, and other hot lakes where it seems walleyes tend to bite all day. “In water less than 5 feet deep, it takes a little convincing for clients to jig from the bottom to the ice and let lures glide back to the bottom, but it works,” Anderson assured.
Devils Lake guide services like A & H keep in touch with their other guides. “Success equals team work,” Anderson pointed out. With all these acres and varied fishing locations, covering a vast area is essential. It’s what guides do and why they provide such a valuable service.
Book early. email@example.com or 701-381-8118 for Anderson. Many other excellent guide services, lodging, restaurants, casino, bait shops, and much more are featured at devilslakend.com.