For most walleye fishermen, Devils Lake is a dream come true.
People from across the country travel to Devils Lake to chase walleye. The season is open year-round, there is no slot limit, and the lake produces some serious fish. In fact, it’s one of America’s most renown walleye capitals. It is also home to some of our favorite walleye guides, including the famous Jason Mitchell. The best part? There is never a bad time to fish Devils Lake.
With the summer slumber about to embark on our fishing season, I interviewed lifetime resident, fishing guide, and Devils Lake tourism expert Tanner Chernery to help you plan your ultimate walleye trip to Devils Lake.
The answers below are straight from Tanner, be sure to follow up with him on any questions!
Devi’ls Lake is a huge lake. What would you consider the BEST places to fish?
Devils Lake has grown from 40,000 acres in the early 90s to over 165,000 acres presently, creating lots of areas to fish.
Walleye Fishing: There are two main areas to target when walleye fishing, sunken structure, and weeds. With Devils Lake being so vast there are fish in the entire system. If you like bobber fishing or pitching, you can find walleyes hiding out most of the year on the weed edges finding shade. Early in the season, many people will focus on the western half of the lake which is generally shallower than most other parts of the lake (Pelican Lake, The Minnewaukan Flats, Howard’s Bay) are all good early on in the season. If you are into trolling and jigging then focus on the submerged structure in the lake, there are a lot of sunken roads like the Golden Highway that will hold fish all season long. Along with sunken roads are sunken rock piles that hold fish as well, these may be a little harder to find but with a good sonar and lake chip, you will find a lot of them.
Perch Fishing: Perch fishing is mainly a winter time bite and can be a little bit trickier. These fish do not relate to structure as much as walleyes do and are basin roamers. The best thing to do when it comes to perch fishing is to make sure you have a full tank of gas in your auger and just start drilling holes until you find a school and then stay on top of them while they are moving throughout the day.
What techniques do you recommend for each season?
Spring to Early Summer: This is the time of the year pitching jigs with plastics or pitching crank baits is the best tactic. This bite usually occurs in the shallows (2-8 feet of water) and is very water temp driven. Finding the warmer water which may only be a degree or two will help the bite dramatically. Areas to key on are in spots where you can find the emerging weed beds. Jigs in 1/4oz size are usually the most common and tip them with different colored twister and paddle tails. As far as crank baits go, Rapala Shad Raps, Salmo Hornets and Berkley Flicker Shads are the most common. Slip bobbers and leeches also work great this time of the year when you find some active fish.
Mid-Summer through Fall: This when the trolling bite takes off, bottom bouncers and spinners and trolling crank baits are the two most popular tactics. Spinner setups tipped with night crawlers or a plastic like Berkley Gulp have been working the best. When trolling, the old lake shoreline in 20-25 feet of water is a great option but you will also find fish along weed beds. As we get closer to fall jigging the bridges with a jig and minnow or a jigging rap are great options.
Devils Lake is a very diverse fishery in presentation methods throughout the open water season.
Any tips you can share that most visitors might not be aware of?
Devils Lake does not have a slot limit. Fish limits are as follows:
Daily Limits: 5 Walleye, 5 Pike, 20 Perch.
Possession Limits: 10 Walleye 10 Pike 40 Perch. One tip I would suggest is that whether you are pitching or trolling, it is a good idea to have some sort of leader like, fluorocarbon, to help with break offs from the pesky pike that are always on the prowl.
Any certain weather conditions, or time of day that is active that traditional walleye anglers wouldn’t expect?
Devils Lake is very unique during the open water season considering that you can catch walleyes pretty much any time of the day. Of course, sunrise and sunset are the times when the fish will become the most active. One thing everyone thinks of during the months of July and August is the dog days of summer and how slow walleye fishing can become. Well, up here in Devils Lake we do not have that issue, actually July and August are probably some of our better months when it comes to walleye fishing and it’s not uncommon to spend a day on the water and boat 75-100 walleyes that time of the year.
Whats the biggest fish you have caught off of Devils? Whats the best catch you’ve actually seen (in terms of number and/or size)?
The biggest walleye I have caught was back in May of 2015 and was 28” and weighed just over 8 pounds. I’ve had many days in the boat with friends and after 6 hours of fishing, our counter/clicker is topping 75-80 fish caught for the day.
Working many of the walleye tournaments on the lake I have seen numerous 9-10 pound fish come across the stage as well.
When do you recommend people come to fish?
As much as it is actually hard to believe there really isn’t a bad time to fish Devils Lake. Early in the spring (late April early May) when the walleyes are coming off their spawn there is usually a couple week window when the fish are recovering and become pretty inactive and lax, other than that any time is a great time.
Photo Credit: Tanner Cherney
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