By Steve Carney
It had been at least 20 years since I’d fished North Dakota’s Devils Lake, and I was astounded by how large it had become, with years of heavy rains making this once fairly-small lake into a gigantic water. This is now considered big water, and my recent trip there offered mixed results.
I launched my boat on Devils and immediately saw people on their docks. They were pointing skyward – to two funnel clouds heading toward my group on Six Mile Bay.
Needless to say, I trailered the boat immediately and spent the first day watching thunderstorms and hail. The second day was calm and perfect for getting around and trying to reacquaint myself with the lake. My group found walleyes in exactly 15 feet most everywhere we went, with lots of 13- and 14-inchers. We boated our share of 19-inchers but came up a bit short in limits.
We spent the majority of our time switching presentations, from trolling crankbaits to dragging bottom bouncers and spinners, with the best fishing coming on spinner rigs.
My best recollection of this wonderful lake is that May and June are prime times to be there, because the water tends to get green in July. But it doesn’t seem to bother the fish as much as you might think.
When I’m pulling spinners, I prefer to put a half crawler on instead of the whole thing. With two people in the boat, I pinch off the crawler in the middle and hook the half crawler head-first, which allows the crawler entrails to leak behind the rig, offering fish a great scent trail. The bottom half of the crawler I hook through the fat tail. Once again, this crawler is trailing entrails behind the spinner. In dark water, this bleeding crawler makes a huge difference.
Devils Lake has some incredible northern pike action as well. And yes, Devils Lake pike love crawlers! The average northern was 6 to 11 pounds, and they came regularly on both crawlers and leeches.
No doubt, Devils Lake is probably the best walleye fishery this side of Lake of the Woods, and it’s amazing how many walleyes are in so many different locations.
They feed exclusively on freshwater shrimp, making the fillets pink and delicious.