Devils Lake Fishing Guide – By the Season
I get asked nearly every day, when is the best time to fish Devils Lake. My answer is always, “Today!”
In reality there is never a bad time to fish Devils Lake. It all depends what you want from your day on the water. I personally do not fish much in the winter, so let me walk you through the open water season month by month and species by species.
Most years the water opens in May. During that month there can be some great fishing action. The easiest fish to catch right away are the pike. They will move shallow right away and are suckers for crankbaits and big plastics on jigs. My favorite for pike in the spring is a 4-inch Berkley Ripple Shad on a ¼ oz. jig head. Cast, reel and hang on.
The walleye are catch able right away in May, but usually a bit deeper than most look. It takes a while for the water to warm and bring the fish shallow, but by the middle of the month it’s game on. When the fish do move shallow, they are aggressive. Casting Berkley Flicker Shads and other smaller to medium sized diving lures is a great way to go after them. Look for the warmest water and you will find the walleye. This is also one of the better times for larger than average fish.
By the end of May, the white bass are usually spawning and that acting gets to be crazy at times. Shallow, moving water is the key. A three inch white twister tail is about all you need for these veracious feeders.
June is fun as it puts just about all the fish in the same water. Not warm enough to move pike deeper, just right for the walleye to stay shallow, and the white bass are eating everything they can find. Casting jigs and cranks is still the rule for most of the month. The average size is still good now, too.
July brings warmer water and things start to change. There are still fish shallow, but many start to move to cooler climes. Spinners and bouncers become the standard. Flooded roads hold plenty of pike and walleye to keep you busy. Slip bobbers and jigs with leeches on deeper rock humps also hold plenty of fish. Again, the white bass are looking for food. Shallow, windswept rocks are the ticket there.
Once August comes it’s a time for extremes. I find the walleye and pike to be deep on structure or shallow near green weeds. They need to combination of comfort and food. Deeper fish can be caught vertical jigging with very aggressive lures that many would reserve for ice fishing as well as trolling your favorite lures behind lead-core line. For the shallow weed fish, I go right back to that Ripple Shad I mentioned earlier right along the weed edges.
When summer turns to fall in September, things get really exciting. From the first frost of the fall through ice up is my favorite time of year to be on the water. The big fish get hungry and once the weeds start to die, get really easy to find. Look for the steepest and deepest drop off and that is where you will have the best fishing of the year. These fish love large crankbaits like the #9 Flicker Shad trolled right past them. If it looks anything like a perch or a white bass you will have no trouble catching some of the biggest pike and walleye in the lake.
If you prefer to jig, break out the ice fishing lures for sure. Park near a bridge, find the current edge, and hold on tight. Some of my biggest Devils Lake walleye have come jigging a bridge just before Thanksgiving.
The fall also seems to provide a few bonus jumbo perch. One day I will figure those things out when the lake is not frozen. Until then, I will take the few I get by mistake.
So, there you have it. Now you know why my answer is short and sweet. There really is no bad time to fish Devils Lake, ND.