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It’s starting … Devils Lake walleye fishing underway

Jason Feldner of Perch Eyes Guide Service with a nice walleye. (Photo courtesy of Devils Lake Tourism)

Open water today means the Devils Lake winter is in the rear-view mirror. With a year-round walleye, pike, perch and white bass season, anglers welcome the late April and early May period.

Walleyes are the main quarry, but anglers also can expect pike and white bass. The guides are already on the water or preparing for the start of their guide seasons within the week. Several offered their early prognostications.

Aaron McQuoid, owner of McQuoid’s Outdoors, and his three full-time guides are preparing their new Ranger and Nitro boats, gear and assembling rods, reels and lures. “The fish are hitting, with a number of 22-inch walleyes and quite a few 25 to 27 inchers netted,” McQuoid said. “It looks like another good year.”

Most walleyes are being caught from shore or from boats where casting to shorelines is the best presentation. “Shore fishing runs through June,” he said. Best tactics are slip-bobbers and leeches, with evenings to dark best.

As of May 14, McQuoid said anglers were catching quite a few female walleyes with eggs, but water temps in the 46-plus degree range indicate the spawn is about over. His tip: “The Highway 19 bridges are the hot-spots right now.”

John Adams, owner of Big John’s Guide Service, anticipates great things as the water temp quickly rises to his magic time of 60 degrees. With the forecast for 60s and 70s over the next week, Adams will be on Devils Lake searching for shallow walleyes.

“There were some good catches from the smaller lakes in the chain, but the main lake was inconsistent over Mother’s Day weekend,” he said.

Early in the season, Adams says his clients will be pitching jigs and Northern Impulse or Moxxies to the shorelines. A slow retrieve generates strikes. As water warms, Adams also casts No. 5 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps or Rapala Countdowns.

“I keep moving along until locating walleyes,” he said. “Sometimes, with a cold front or finicky fish, I stop and fish with leeches below slip-bobbers,” Adams said.

Professional angler and tournament winner Jason Feldner, owner of Perch-Eyes Guide Service, has been checking spots. His guide business kicks into high gear immediately.

“The fish cleaning stations are in; the docks are in; the water is about the same as last year. We’re ready for business,” he said.

Currently, mornings are mainly bobbers with leeches. As the water warms with afternoon sunshine, Feldner speeds things up by swimming jigs and plastics. Moxxies are one of his favorites. No. 7 Countdown Rapalas in perch color are also popular during early spring.

“Mud bottoms heat up quicker and get the leeches going,” he said. Starting each day in 4 to 6 feet of water with slip bobbers, Feldner moves shallower as the sun slides across the sky.

“I’m fishing live bait now, but waiting for the good casting action that is right around the corner,” said Cody Roswick, owner of Fin-Hunters Guide Service. When the water reaches the mid-50 degree mark, he ties on a one-quarter ounce Northland RZ jig with Impulse paddle minnows or Mimic Minnows. The trick is to reel them steady 6 to 12 inches off bottom. Occasionally, he drops them to bottom, and then resumes the retrieve.

With the clear, cold main lake water, Roswick knows the walleyes are skittish. But fishing improves after wind stirs and clouds the water, and the upper lakes and back bays also produce fish.

“Right now, the current areas are tops, with some of the deeper water by bridges holding walleyes” Roswick said. “Evenings are best.”

Fishing pier sites

With financial support from local, state and federal levels, Devils Lake installed three ADA-compliant fishing piers that will accommodate handicapped anglers.

Located on Channel A, an 8-by-36-foot pier is 8 miles west of town on U.S. Highway 2 to 75th Avenue Northeast. Turn north for a mile. At 54th Street Northeast, turn east for two miles.

The two 8-by-40-foot accessible piers are at East Ditch Rec Area and Henegar Landing. To 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 is also located here.

The Henegar Landing pier is one mile west on state Highway 19 to Walleye Drive. Take Walleye Drive one mile to the pier.

More info: www.devilslakend.com or (701) 662-4903.