Three Devils Lake full-time fishing guides were asked their opinion about walleye fishing – now and the projected season long “bite.” They were in agreement.
Nick Fautsch said, “Fantastic fishing.” 701-739-3346
Dave Randash said, “Legendary.” 701-238-1221
Cody Roswick said, “Excellent.” 701-840-5407
Fautsch said, “It’s classic springtime Devils Lake. Now. When the water’s rising, find the warmest, dingiest water 3 to 4 feet deep.” He prefers back bays or the current seams around bridges.
Casting 5/16 ounce jigs with plastic paddle tails (colors change often -- white to firetiger to blue and silver), Rapala Countdowns, and Berkley shallow divers are client favorites. He has discovered a slip bobber tactic that works, and definitely does not qualify as a finesse presentation. It just catches fish.
With the off-color water and hungry fish, he uses a 1/32nd jig at the end of a few feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. Between leader and main line, he attaches a 1/16th ounce weight with swivels on each end. His large orange bobbers with this set-up allow for easy casting in wind and it’s easy to spot the bobber in high waves. He baits with leeches. When not guiding, Fautsch takes his kids fishing.
Randash said lake temps are 58 to 62 degrees, slightly cooler in the main lake. Shore fishing by bridges means limits. “Word is out that Devils Lake does not have a closed season; seeing lots more out of area and non-residents here. Love to see them enjoying the lake,” he said.
A guide trip a few days ago bonded a new group with the guide. Throwing slip bobbers with plain hooks set only 4 inches above bottom, an 84 year old gent nailed 3 walleyes in 5 minutes. His name quickly morphed from Eddie to Fast Eddie. “Those walleyes were stuffed with freshwater shrimp and sand fly larvae. The leech hanging in their faces forced them to eat,” Randash added.
His clients enjoy casting jigs with paddle tails. The key this week was pitching where solid walls of cattails were growing on shore. “I want to pass this along in case it helps anyone,” he said.
Randash and wife Rendy won the Devils Lake Chamber Walleye Tournament in 2018. That event attracts fishing fanatics. The tournament is slated for Friday, June 23 this year. Director Johnnie Candle, also a guide said, “Devils Lake is one of those places where the lake is almost a ‘new’ lake every year.” Last year’s winners netted huge walleyes: 8.59 and 8.37 pounds and 3 at seven pounds, 7.78, 7.76 and 7.14 pounds. Entries are still being accepted. See devilslakend.com for details.
Roswick has worn many hats in his fishing industry career. His guiding career, winter and summer, is not something he considers a job. “I love being on the water (or ice in winter),” he said.
“The walleyes are very cooperative and the pike are crazy active now,” he noted. So far, casting has predominated. Specifically, his key to success is 1/4th ounce jigs with Northland paddle tail swim baits (4-inch). “They’re long and slender with subtle action,” he said. Twister tails and Berkley Ripple Shads also perform well. From the first open water fishing well into June, he targets the 3 to 8 foot depths. “This is a prairie system. When the wind blows, walleyes can be super shallow. That’s when fishing windy shorelines fills the livewell.
The Game and Fish netting surveys last summer proved what the guides know. The lake is swimming with a record number of walleyes. All sizes exist. This early spring, walleyes in the eater range of 15 to 19 inches are everywhere according to Roswick. “With water coming up maybe a foot already, this bodes well for the rest of the open water season,” he forecast. Roswick fishes the entire Devils Lake system’s 160,000 acres.
The website devilslakend.com is the best source for guides, lodging, things-to-do when not fishing, and everything visitor’s need to know about the community or lake.