Devils Lake Perch and Walleye Baits of Choice on the Ice
Aaron McQuoid has been guiding for 26 years on Devil’s Lake and over that time he’s experienced fishing where even a greenhorn could limit out to angling is so tough that even a seasoned vet struggles to get bit. Often times, whether on ice or open water, he’ll have a jigging spoon tied on as the bait is versatile and just plain catches fish.
“I am one of those guys that has 10 rods rigged up on my boat,” he said. “I usually have a few baits that offer a variety of subtle differences.”
McQuoid’s go to bait is an ACME Kastmaster for a variety of fish on Devils Lake including perch and walleye, but sometimes even his ol’ standby has to be put down in favor of something different.
“Lately, adding a rattle seems to make a lot of difference” he said. “I’ve used a variety of rattle spoons before but the Rattle Master has a steel ball in it that bounces around in the brass cap on the back of the already proven kastmaster. Maybe it’s brass omits a different sound. Whether you are walleye fishing or jerking perch, keep changing colors as you move around we have found many areas of the lake like different colors.”
Changing color has made a bad day a good one, too. While silvers and golds work great day-in-day out, sometimes out of the box colors can be difference makers.
“Some of the baits with a UV/Glow finish like a Little Cleo can get the fish biting again,” he said. “It’s not that I would say I have to see the bait at least four feet down in the water column or I’ll switch to a Glow model… It’s not that technical. It’s just giving them something that they want to eat that day. Sure, maybe they can see Glow type of baits better, but maybe it’s just that they want something other than silver.”
There are a lot of fish in Devils Lake and McQuoid has so much confidence in some spots that he will fish them even if the locator says the bottom is fishless.
“I’ve been out ice fishing with guys before and they think I’m crazy because I keep fishing a spot when we don’t show fish on the graph. What I have to explain to them is that sonar cone only covers a few feet below the transducer. What I tell them is that there are fish down there and we just have to draw them in.”
Drawing them in can be a matter of the noise factor like that found in a Rattle Master to a sight factor like using a glow bait. Further, it can be the action the anglers are giving the lure itself.
“Cadence can play a huge role,” he said. “Over the 26 years of guiding I have been fishing next to my clients and having great success and they aren’t catching anything and I try to teach them about cadence. It can all come down to cadence and the speed, pause rate, or other variables that triggers a bite. Maybe you’re not kicking up enough mud off the bottom to get noticed? Maybe you’re kicking up too much? You have to keep experimenting.”
McQuoid said that while he likes using flashers when ice fishing that other anglers might be better off using a sonar- like his Humminbird Helix 5 system.
“The difference is that you can show a history on the Helix so you can see how you were jigging when the fish bit,” he said. “You can’t really do that with a flasher. Also, with that unit, you can use it in the open water and mark your key GPS spots an then put the head unit on an ice fishing portable model and have all your spots ready to go.”
One new lure that he is excited to use is the new ACME Hyper-Glide. The bait is like no other in that a person can jig it, and on the downfall, small wings extend and help the lure glide up to 40 percent further than similar baits.
“I can see that being very useful,” he said. “Like I said, I believe sometimes you have to call them in. When you have a bait that can glide out and find fish that could be a game changer.”
Fishing Devils Lake can be a somewhat intimidating task because there is so much water to cover. Be creative, switch baits a lot, and cover as much water as possible.
For more information on McQuoid’s Guide Service, go to www.mcquoidguides.com.