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Ice fishing kicking into high gear on Devils Lake, and another busy winter is expected

Those considering Devils Lake should book early. Repeat business and returning clients are a big part of guide operations.

Devils Lake Tourism perch photo.jpg
Perch are the go-to species for wintertime anglers on Devils Lake.
Contributed / Devils Lake Chamber

DEVILS LAKE – With more than 6 inches of solid ice on Devils Lake and even more on the smaller lakes farther north in the basin, the community of Devils Lake is bracing for the onslaught of ice fishing enthusiasts. Many regulars arrive and operate under the DIY mode. Those unfamiliar with the big lake hire guide services.

Guide services provide all tackle, bait, electronics, shelters, heaters and select fishing spots they know have been producing. The advantage of large guide services is that some guides are always exploring for new schools of biting perch.

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Perch are the favorite winter species and bite during daylight hours, while walleyes under the ice traditionally are most active early and late in the day. Add white bass and pike to the mix, and the hours slip by quickly.

“After the great summer open-water season, this winter is shaping up to be really, really good,” said Tanner Cherney, outdoor media coordinator for the Devils Lake Chamber. “Winter fishing is open to all skill levels and all economic levels. Everyone can enjoy the fresh air and catch some of the tastiest fish in North America.”

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Those considering Devils Lake should book early. Repeat business and returning clients are a big part of guide operations. When the Canadian border was closed to nonessential travelers during the first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many anglers picked Devils Lake as an alternative destination and now are “regulars.” Plus, the popularity of ice fishing in general is attracting even more people to take up the sport.

Daily and possession limits are generous. Anglers can keep 20 perch daily, with 40 in possession, while the walleye and pike limits are five daily and 10 in possession. There is no closed fishing season. Three-day North Dakota nonresident licenses cost $28, and annual nonresident licenses cost $48. Anglers under age 16 do not require a fishing license.

Upcoming, the 38th annual Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department ice fishing tournament is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, on Six-Mile Bay of Devils Lake. The big event features more than $325,000 in fishing and raffle prizes, including trucks, cars, outdoor gear, vacation trips, guns, TVs, snow blowers and more. Pre-tournament events are on tap Thursday, Jan. 27, and Friday, Jan. 28, in the Devils Lake Memorial Building. Info: dlvfdicefishingtourney.com .

For up-to-date fishing reports, guide service listings, ice conditions, lodging, casino, community activities and more, check out the Devils Lake Chamber website at DEVILSLAKEND.COM .

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