It’s January and we are in the heart of ice fishing season here in Devils Lake. With over 24” of ice on most of the lake now, we are settling in for another great ice season ahead of us.
Many people ask on how to make the most of their time on Devils Lake when it comes to ice fishing. This can be taken a few different ways depending on how you look at it. Some people want to narrow down lure selections and bait presentations while sitting on a great spot and others would prefer to cover water and find the most active fish.
Covering water requires proper equipment, especially this year with the snow on the ice, like snowmobiles, tracked rigs or SnoBears. In addition to needing some sort of transportation like listed above, one will also need lots of energy to start popping holes all over the lake.
Personally, I prefer to hone in one spot and dial into the bite of the day. This can be accomplished by doing a couple different things.
First off I will find a good walleye spot, this will consist of a couple different things:
- Structure (sunken roads, rock piles, old fence lines, submerged stock dams)
- Old Lake Shoreline (currently in that 18-25 foot depth)
- Inside Turns & Pinch Points (spots on a lake map that I believe a walleye will hunker in and ambush its pray)
Once I have my spot picked out and my ice house setup I will then get my presentations ready. For a morning or evening walleye bite I always drill two holes in my shack and two outside. Having four lines can be the difference between catching 2 walleyes or getting your limit.
I always setup my first rod with a more aggressive bait, usually some sort of a 1/4oz jigging spoon like a Northland Buckshot or Clam Blade Spoon. Colors can vary depending on the day, cloud cover and sun. I always tip this with a minnow head (Devils Lake walleyes are notorious for being short biters).
My second rod will be tied up with a small jig and full minnow (this is the stereotypical “Dead Stick” setup). Having this rod next to the jigging spoon is crucial to capitalize on gun-shy walleyes that might be coaxed by the aggressive lure but leery on taking the bait!
Lastly, I utilize the last two holes outside my shack with tip-ups. This may seem like a pain at first, but trust me you won’t regret it at the end of the morning/night. I setup my tip-ups just like I would my dead stick, small jig with a full minnow about a foot to eighteen inches off bottom.
In the past four years I have leaned on tip-ups to help make the most of a fast and furious walleye bite in low light conditions. There have been more times than not that my tip-ups out fish me jigging.
Give this tactic a try the next time you are sitting on a good walleye spot and I think you’ll be pleased with the results at the end of the day!