DEVILS LAKE-Shoreline fishing in the Devils Lake area is heating up, and anglers are reporting good action for walleyes and northern pike in current areas near and under bridges and along coulees that flow into the lake.

In a news release from Devils Lake Tourism, John Bouvette of Lake Country Guide Service said he's been fishing every day, and the first two walleyes he landed were 5- and 8-pound females that were quickly released.

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Fishing activity has increased each day, said fishing guide Ross Sensiba of Rush Valley Guide Service.

"Aggressive some days," he said, especially with the flow picking up steam.

Both guides say jigs and soft plastics are their go-to presentations. Bouvette prefers ⅛- to ¼- ounce jigs-heavier as current picks up-with white or yellow Mister Twister curly tails. He also uses Walleye Assassin tails. Sensiba tosses Northland Mimic Minnows or jigs with white or purple paddle-tail plastics.

The guides said they feel the normal springtime run of fish is slightly behind schedule, which means fishing will improve through April into early May.

The current areas under bridges include:

• Six-Mile Bay bridge on state Highway 19.

• The Mauvais Coulee bridge farther west on Highway 19.

• The Channel A bridge on U.S. Highway 2.

• Churchs Ferry bridge, also on Highway 2.

• State Highway 20 bridge.

• State Highway 57 bridge.

• Woods Rutten bridge south of rest area (east of Devils Lake).

• Garske Coulee bridge on state Highway 17, north of Devils Lake.

• Old U.S. Highway 281 bridge.

• Ramsey County 4 bridge.

As current flows increase and temperatures warm, anglers find walleyes and pike all along the shorelines on both sides of these bridge areas. Devils Lake has approximately 26 miles of shoreline fishing "spots." The areas produce fish early and all season long. One such open water area is the lengthy rip rap roadway leading to Grahams Island State Park.

Accessible piers

Devils Lake community leaders have consistently recognized outdoor recreation as a vital activity for all. With financial support from local, state and federal groups, Devils Lake has three Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant fishing piers that will accommodate handicapped anglers by early May.

An 8x36-foot pier on Channel A is now open and in use. To reach the pier, go 8 miles west of Devils Lake on U.S. Highway 2, then turn north on 75th Avenue Northeast and go 1 mile to 54th Street Northeast; turn east for 2 miles.

Two 8x40-foot ADA-compliant piers at East Ditch Rec Area and Henegar Landing still were mostly "iced in" as of midweek. To reach East Ditch, turn on Elks Drive just east of Walmart for one-quarter mile. Take the first left toward the pump station and dike. A playground also is available onsite. The Henegar Landing pier is 2 miles west on state Highway 19 to Walleye Drive; take Walleye Drive 1 mile to the pier.

Pike aplenty

The northern pike population is something to behold, and anglers catch fish exceeding 20 pounds every season. Early season pike seem to eat everything, and Sensiba said shallow running crankbaits (with a wire leader) are very effective.

"Pike up to 34 inches represent the lion's share of the lake's pike," said Todd Caspers, Devils Lake fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. In addition, Caspers said, last year's test netting showed walleye numbers slightly above the average, at 22.2 fish per net.

As of midweek, ice on the main lake was pulling back, with open water 4 to 10 feet from shore. When the ice goes off the lake depends on Mother Nature.

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