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hanson

1st trip to DL - Anybody want to help with info??

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Hopefully I can get some good feedback here, the North Dakota forum doesn’t seem to be frequented as much as some of the other forums but this is the place to post these questions.

Heading up to Devils Lake Jan. 16-18. This will be my first trip out to DL. Looks like there will be 6-8 of us and I’m not sure where we’re staying yet, someone else in the group is handling accommodations. We’re heading out after them big perch, but if they don’t cooperate, we’ll set our sites on the walleyes. I’m also bringing the bucket of tip ups in case I have to go after them toothy critters.

Question #1 – Who makes the best Lake Map for DL and where can I pick one up? Fishing Hot Spots doesn’t look like they make any ND maps yet, and I can’t imagine there is a Reelbottom map for DL. The best I could find was a map called ProPointer on Woodland Resort’s HSOforum.

Question #2 – Tackle? What should I bring? I’m alright in the Rod & Reel Dept (No Buzz Sticks here J)and spooled up with 6lb Fireline. What should I hang on the end? Seems to me like GenzWorms, Bro Bugs, Hali’s, Jigging Raps, Kastmasters, Cicadas are the ticket from what I’ve read. Anybody have any favorite COLORS or SIZES?? Or is all that fancy tackle for the TV guys and a plain old hook and minnow or waxworms gonna do it??

Another Tackle Question? I’ve seen these pencil dropper weights (or whatever they are) to help get the bait down in a hurry, I’ve never seen one in any MN tackle shop. Where can I pick some of these up out there??

Question #3 – How big does the perch have to be to go on the wall? I never thought I’d ask the question about trophy perch but I realize Devils Lake has big ones, just like Red Lake has big crappies but I’ve yet to catch a 2 pound crappie out of that lake in the last 4 years I’ve fished there.

Sounds like the ice conditions are pretty good and with this freezing cold weather we’re having, the ice should be thickening up quite nicely. Are there any typical trouble areas on the lake as far as thin ice go or areas to avoid. I hate to be the darn pickup falling through with MN plates on it.

Anyway, any advice, tips, reports, or stories are gladly appreciated. Got a couple weeks before we come up so I’m hoping to get some good info.

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I'm going to get some heat for this but the Perch fishing on DL is way over-rated.

The lake is so full of freshwater shrimp that the Perch really don't care to take your offering like they did back in 98-2001.

I got all these "Hot Reports" from numerous resort owners about the fantastic bite for Walleye and Perch, and they told me the lake was great for driving anywhere--both were flat-out lies. When we arrived, the real truth came out that the bite was slow, etc. and my 4-wheel drive Suburban got stuck in 3ft. of snow 5 times in one morning due to my trusting the advice of one resort owner.

The perch merely bumped our offerings with their noses and we managed a few 15-17 inch Walleyes over 3-days--a wasted trip.

You don't really need a lake map, you can fish in 14 ft. on the outside edge of the flooded trees and get fish.

The droppers you have to make by hand with welding (brazing) rods and actually they were almost a necessity years back whrn the Perch lived (and actually bit) at 35ft. or more. Not the case now.

If you go the water is kind of stainied, so glo devils, flashy Gold 1/8 oz. Kastmaster Fire Tiger pattern and Perch pattern or Fire Tiger pattern Rapala or Nils Baby Shads work well.

If I were you, I'd fish Waubay, SD for great Jumbo Perch and lots of Walleye action, or just go to LOW and have a blast.

------------------
Chells

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Unfortunately I only get to fish DL about 3 times a year but I was originally from that area. People all to often just expect to get large perch and lots of them on that lake. Unfortunately the fish move around daily on that body of water and there is so much structure for them to now hide in. Each time I go I will spend most of the first day just locating schools of ACTIVE perch. Those perch that tease you by bumping the bait will just continue to do so all day long. I will keep moving to find active schools. Also, I don't fish in the trees for this reason. I can pull a few out of each area but I still do better in the 25'-40' depths around structure. Old rockpiles, shorelines, trees, railroads...etc. Each time we've gone in the last few years we've done very well. Also I never fish with the crowds or groups of other individuals. I know of enough structure around the old shorelines to keep me busy enough. 90% of my fishing is also done in the main bay.

The guides in the area have [PoorWordUsage]ed a number of people off(each for their own reasons). I figure if you have the money go right ahead and get a guide but perch fishing on Devils Lake is always a challenge, which makes it all that much more fun. This holds true even for seasoned veterans of the lake. When you finally find active schools you will have a ton of fun.

The main access points to the lake are normally kept very well until near ice out. 3 foot snowbanks are the norm in ND so you do NEED good snow and ice tires. There's been a few years on the lake where it has become extremely difficult to get off the plowed paths so four wheel drive, good tires, good ground clearance, extremely helpful friends, and extra snow shovels are a plus.

Each day it seems like a need a different lure to get fish on the end of the line. I dead stick two lines on tipups, 1 swedish pimple, and another smaller jig with waxies. I change things up to get try and get them biting. If not, move on. Last year I brought two friends up with me and they thought I was kidding when I, on average, drill 100 holes a day. But if you want to catch perch in North Dakota you really need to work for them.

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Some really good responses. I find it funny that fishing on DL is "always good"! Well if I were a resort owner I would say the same thing. The deal is that the fish are always bitting somewhere, you just have to find them. They don't have to bite 2 days in the same spot either, if they don't want too. The pro-pointers map is the best one you'll find. As for contour maps of the lake bottom, good luck. The lake rises and falls so much, accurate maps are nearly impossible. I have fished many lakes in the Midwest, and DL is my favorite. People with high expectations will nearly always be let down, it is that one time you slaughter them that makes it all worth while. If perch is your quarry bring freshwater shrimp and waxies, minnows are a great backup also. I have heard that fishing is taming off a little, but like I said they're always biting somewhere!! Post a report when you return home. Good luck

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I used to live in SD a number of years ago and DL used to be the place you could go and assure yourself some awesome fishing. I've longed to get back to DL since relocating back to MN from AZ about 5 mos ago.
I've called some of my old fishing pals about DL and they all told me to forget the "old days" and plan on a much different experience...which I understand. They have told me that they would be much more inclined to spend a few days in the Waubay area and have, what they claim as a, "much better chance of finding action and keeper perch than DL. It isn't as if they said they have anything against DL, its just that NE SD has been pretty solid and consistent. I've put my DL trip on hold and will hit the Glacial Lakes of SD until DL (if ever) gets to be consistent. I'm also interested in hearing your report from DL and look forward to going up there again.

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Hey Chells, thanks for the reply. 1st person to post something in 3 days on this forum besides my original question.

I think you pretty much confirmed my thoughts. I friend of mine and a bunch of his coworkers went up to DL on the Perch Express package from Minneapolis last winter. Of course this is the Amtrack train ride that drops you off right at the lake and then you fish with the Perch Patrol guides when you are up there. He said it was pretty disappointing. The train ride was long and tiring and they hardly wanted to fish the next day. The fishing was really bad for them too, the guides couldn’t even find them the fish. They ended up tip-up fishing northerns and caught a few but the perch & walleyes weren’t biting.

I’m originally from Crookston, MN. My parents still live there so I end up splitting most of my fishing time between Lake of the Woods and Red Lake in the winter since both lakes are a short drive from there. Lake of the Woods has been pretty good the couple times we’ve been up there but we just weren’t getting into the larger fish yet. But its hard to complain when you can only manage to fish 1 rod at times, even though the walleyes aren’t big enough to reach the sides of your bucket.

I’m typically willing to work hard to find the fish as long as it isn’t cold & windy out so we’ll see how I do.

Anybody else have words of encouragement… or discouragemen??

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hanson,
Pro Pointer Maps are the best on the market right now. You should be able to pick one up at Eds Bait Shop. As far as lures go you should have a variety of colors of Halis in your tackle box. Its the best lure I've found for the variety of colors and most of all it gets back down to the fish fast. Also genz worms,rocker minnows,rapalas and light tackle such as ratsos and rat finkys have been producing a lot of fish. A lot of the bigger jumbos have been still coming on the old plain hook and minnow. If the perch do get finicky pack up and go pike fishing, you'll have some incredible action. This is the best perch bite we have had in years so if your willing to do the work to find them youll get the rewards. If you have any other questions feel free to drop me an e-mail. hope to see you on the ice.

------------------
Dosch Guide Service
DoschGuides.com
Phone: 701-662-4659
[email protected]
Devils Lake ND

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I too would have to agree with Chells about being dissappointed with the experience. I've been up there 2 out of the last 3 years and didn't have a good trip either time. We did see a few fish caught and caught a few in our group, but it surely wasn't worth the drive to get them. I know for sure I could have done better in northern MN and had a lot shorter drive.
The few fish we did catch were nice and were all caught on a drop rig. Get gold or gold/red Kastmaster or Buckshot spoon, take off the hook and tie about a 10-12" piece of line and a plain hook underneath. Use either a waxie, euro larvae, or a perch eye if you can get one. That seemed to be the only rig we could catch fish on. Most of our fishing was done in Black Tiger Bay, East Bay, and Haybale Bay. Good luck!

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I'm sure our opinions on the fishing at DL aren't sitting too well with some folks.

We are capable and experienced fisherman who know that not every lake we fish is going to be "Slam-Dunk".

My beef is that we're told by the resort owner's that it's going to be an easy, fun experience before we get there, then they hum and ha when you arrive and the truth comes out--that's not real cool in my book.

By all means, go fish DL, but like the other posts say--you will WORK HARD for your fish and you'll probably need 3-4 days to get your return on the investment of time and expense...

------------------
Chells

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I will toss in my trip to Devils Lake also. We went 2 years ago and got a few perch, 12lb pike, and some eyes. Way to far to drive to catch too few fish. I think you can get the same catch out of Mille Lacs or Winnie. Does anyone else think that Red Lake is turning out the same way?

[This message has been edited by Granny (edited 01-14-2004).]

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Granny--Yes, I do.

I can easily find the same size Crappies and a lot fewer people on tons of other lakes.

I fish RL on my way to or from LOW--it's not a "destination" lake for me any longer...

------------------
Chells

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Well everybody, thanks for all the feedback, both positive & negative. We’re heading up to Devils Lake tomorrow now to give it a shot. Looks like there will be 7 of us total, possibly 8. While I don’t consider myself to be an expert fisherman, I manage my own quite well on most lakes. I think we’re all fishing out of Otter Houses so we’ll be able to get around rather easily and at least half of us have Vexilars so we’ll at least know whats going on down there. Sounds like it actually might be a nice weekend too as far as the weather is concerned.

I guess I can’t form an opinion on the lake yet but I’d agree its probably riding the hype from a few years ago. My expectations aren’t sky high by any means. If we can catch a bunch to eat, fine with me. If the big perch eludes me, oh well, that’s fishing.

About Red Lake, it might be going downhill. There are lots of fish in that lake but also lots of fisherman. By the sound of the Upper Red Lake forum, sounds like there is more action in the WestWind bar than out on the lake. I hate to even post messages in that forum because you’ll either get ripped a new A hole or you’ll get a bunch of talk.

My experiences with Upper Red started 4 years ago. My very first time on the lake I think I caught 2 crappies. But those 2 crappies were NICE crappies and that got me hooked. They weren’t jumping through the ice that day either. It took a number of trips up to the lake before it finally produced a bucket full of crappies for us. I would say a typical trip up there is averaging 2-3 crappies for me. But every now & then, it’s a feeding frenzy. Last winter, 3 of us ended up with 45 crappies in a little under an hour of fishing and we were probably leaving the ice by 4pm. Chances are we’ll never see action like that again. Too many hands in the cookie jar I guess. Hope the same thing doesn’t happen with the walleyes.

Anyway, just my 2 cents on a few things. I’ll let you all know how we do.

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Hanson,(Mike or Todd??) maybe I missed it, but you mentioned your from Crookston, did you go to school in TRF? I came to the ND site to find out the exact same info on DL. After reading this stuff, don't think its worth the trip. We used to live in TRF (taught at the TecH) and now live in the Cities, so thought about the perch express, but will pass.

Agree about RL, last trip up in 2000, 21 guys (not all fishing together) caught 300+ crappies in less than 3 hrs. Kept enough for a dinner and they all were at least 1 1/2 pounders, but since then, btwn the eyes and the pressure, don't think it will ever be the same. Maybe they need to open up the eye fishing sooner!

Good luck at DL, post a report when you get back, maybe I will change my mind.

Bitz

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Hey bitz,

Yeah I'm originally from Crookston but now work in the cities. My name is Chris, I do have a younger brother named Mike, he still lives there.

Anyway, I'll let you know how we do.

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Hanson,

I'm watching a real big cold-front come in by Sunday and I'm re-scheduling my run to Alexandria, MN till next weekend.

THe last time I went to DL it was clear but the wind was fierce--tie your otters to a bumper and good luck to your group!

------------------
Chells

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Sounds like a few people have had bad experiences fishing Devils Lake. The best advice I can give is to do your home work and be ready to move around a lot. I know a guide service isn't the way to go for everybody but you have to remember that your dealing with 120,000 acres. What happens to a lot of fishermen is that they get overwhelmed with the size and find themselves fishing in a pack of people all having the same luck. What you have to remember is that most of the time where there is a pack of people the best bite happened days ago. We very seldom fish in the large packs because of the traffic and most of the aggressive fish are already gone.
If your not looking to use a guide service my best advice is to get reports from several bait shops,get a good lake map,find out what lures have been working best and what times of day have been producing the most fish. If you do a little research you can minimize the number of areas you have to check and cover more ground faster.
Fishing has slowed down the last week or so, for the simple reason that we have had cold front after cold front move in and out. Devils Lake had the best early ice perch bite we have had in 10 years. The numbers of fresh water shrimp are way down and once the weather straightens out the perch will be back on the bite. Dont forget that if you do come up and the weather has turned the perch off, Devils Lake has some of the best northern pike fishing in the midwest.
If your planning a trip and need some info call Eds Bait Shop or send me an E-Mail and we'll see if we can help you get in on some great action.

------------------
Dosch Guide Service
DoschGuides.com
Phone: 701-662-4659
[email protected]
Devils Lake ND

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hanson,
Its good to hear that your trip wasn't a let down. I think that when we went, our expectations where way too high. We had the 30+ mph winds while we were there also.

I see I am not the only one who thinks the URL forum needs a slight "tune up".

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Thanks hanson, you restored my faith in Ron S.

Wish you had had better luck, but we had the same winds down here and almost went ice sailing Sat nite at clear lake. (and the fishing wasn't any good either)

I to have checked the URL site several times and find the info is anything but fishing. My own opinion is the moderators need to step in and focus the conversations or start another forum (1 for booze/etc and 1 for fishing)

Just my 2 cents

Bitz

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Fishing Report – My first time to Devils Lake, ND.

I want to start out by saying the weather proved to be the biggest challenge of the weekend. Before we left, it sounded like the weather was going to be decent and I was pretty excited. Upon arriving in Devils Lake, an Alberta Clipper is rolling through which basically means miserable weather conditions. We managed to fish all day Saturday in the 30mph winds and left the lake to find out the temperature was –4. Weather forecast was predicting –16 for Sunday morning with it not warming up much at all. We decided to not even go out fishing Sunday morning, it was COLD. So Chells, you were right on with your weather report.

As for the fishing, SLOW would pretty much sum it up. The perch were very tight lipped. Plenty of fish on the locators but they just didn’t seem to be interested in anything we showed them. The Marcum camera verified this. There were perch & walleye down there but just didn’t seem to be too interested. There is no question in my mind that the weather was affecting the fishing. The weather was definitely affecting the fisherman. Trying to move around was almost impossible so once we found a place where we caught a few fish, we pretty much settled in there.

To sum it up, COLD weather, COLD fisherman, and SLOW biting fish. We managed 13 perch with half of them being nice jumbos, and 2 walleyes. The one walleye was a nice 20 plus inches, probably 3-4 pounds. Anyway with what we learned on Saturday, I think we could have done alright Sunday but we decided to just give up on it because of the temperature.

Was this my first & last trip to Devils Lake? NO. I like a challenge and if it wasn’t for the darn weather, we’d have probably been pretty successful. I think we’ll probably head back up in March sometime and hope it isn’t 20 below zero again.

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