FROM THE DAKOTAS
Devils Lake Hot Ice Fishing is Happening Right Now!
By: Devils Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau
Devils Lake - “It’s a great year so far,” said Perch Patrol founder Zippy Dahl about the Devils Lake fishing. In early January with three swings from 30 degrees below zero to 30 above, the perch slowed slightly, but action picked up within a day. “Perch are really going good now,” he said.
All his guides are busy. They are on the main lake targeting perch in the 28 to 34 foot depths. The Perch Patrol finds the fish and so far this season they are into big schools of eight to nine inch perch, but always with a mixed bag that includes a number of 10 to 13 inchers. “We’ve had a couple of 14 and 15 inch perch. A 15-inch perch equates to two pounds on the scale,” he said.
Zippy said, “The Tungsten jig craze has hit us hard, and that’s what we’re using mostly right now.” His crew has found the Chartreuse with orange and plain gold Tungsten jigs best when adorned with two wax worms. His clients come for perch, and when they have their 40 perch possession limit in the freezer, they chase walleyes. “But, almost everybody wants perch, perch, perch!” he said.
Reporting on the walleye action, Tanner Cherney with Devils Lake Tourism said, “Walleye fishing’s been good, with the majority 14 to 17 inches, with some 20’s in the mix, but a 9 ½ pounder was caught in Creel Bay last week.” He said if the 10-inch year class walleyes are biting, the chance of a 20 inch walleye being with that school is rare. As is usual on Devils Lake, the first hour of daylight and the final hour of twilight are best times to target walleyes.
Tanner prefers Northland Buck Shot rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads. “You can never go wrong with this presentation,” he said. Keep changing colors. He feels for Devils Lake, the top spoon colors are orange, red, pink and gold. When fishing in a shelter, he hangs a live minnow on a dead rod. “The spoon attracts them, and they often hit the minnow when they see it,” he said.
For perch Tanner knows the Devils Lake rule: Drill and keep drilling. “Perch cruise the entire main lake basin, which is 25 to 40 feet in most spots. They are usually within 12 inches of the bottom.” He downsizes to the 1/16th ounce Buck Shot spoon with a wax worm. Or, this year, the smaller gold Tungsten jigs with a couple maggots (called spikes in some areas) are producing. “With quite a few 10 to 13 inch perch being caught, people are headed to Devils Lake from all over,” he said.
The main lake has 14 to 20 inches of ice and Lake Irving and the northern lakes and most bays have 20 inches or more of ice. Travel with four-wheel drive vehicles is relatively easy. “Avoid the three to four foot snow drifts; follow other truck tracks; keep exploring,” he said.
Woodland Resort has plowed roads to many of the general fishing areas, and maintains an access for those towing permanent wheeled fish houses to drive onto the lake. The Devils Lake Access Committee (city, county, tourism and other funding) keeps public ramps open at East Bay, Lakewood, Henegar, Six Mile Bay and where the gravel road behind Pop’s Bar dead-ends in the lake. The public heated fish-cleaning station is open, as are indoor cleaning stations at several resorts and motels.
For more information about Devils Lake guide services, ice conditions, motels, resorts, fish cleaning stations, fishing reports for walleye, pike, perch and white bass, community activities, tournament opportunities, dining, casino, pike fillet tactics and much more, go to devilslakend.com, or call the Tourism office, 701-662-4903.
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Spring Light Goose Conservation Order
North Dakota’s spring light goose conservation order opens Feb. 17 and continues through May 13.
For more information on regulations refer to the 2018 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2017 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.
Residents must have a valid current season 2017-18 (valid through March 31) or 2018-19 (required April 1) combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license. The 2018-19 license is available for purchase beginning March 15.
Nonresidents need a 2018 spring light goose conservation order license. The cost is $50 and is valid statewide. Nonresidents who hunt in the spring remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring license does not count against the 14-day fall waterfowl hunting season regulation.
In addition, nonresident youth under age 16 can purchase a license at the resident fee if their state has youth reciprocity licensing with North Dakota.
A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.
Resident and nonresident licenses are available online at the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, by calling 800-406-6409, and at license vendors.
Hunters must register annually with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting in each state. The HIP number can be obtained online, or by calling 888-634-4798. The HIP number obtained for North Dakota’s spring conservation order is also valid for North Dakota’s fall hunting season.
The Game and Fish Department will provide hunters with migration updates once geese have entered the state. Hunters can access the department’s website, or call 701-328-3697, to receive generalized locations of bird sightings in North Dakota until the season ends or geese have left the state. Migration reports will be updated periodically during the week.
The spring conservation order is only open to light geese – snows, blues, and Ross’s. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The conservation order is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.
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Nonresident Any-Deer Bow Licenses
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will have 502 any-deer bow licenses available to nonresidents in 2018.
Applicants must apply online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov. Paper applications are not available. The deadline for applying is March 1.
Up to five applicants can apply together as a party. A lottery will be held if more applications are received than licenses available. Any remaining licenses after March 1 will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
The number of nonresident any-deer bow licenses available is 15 percent of the previous year’s mule deer gun license allocation. The Game and Fish Department issued 3,350 mule deer licenses in the 2017 deer gun license lottery.
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Tentative 2018 Season Opening Dates
To help North Dakota hunters prepare for hunting seasons in 2018, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department annually provides its best estimate for opening dates for the coming year.
Dates become official when approved by governor’s proclamation. Tentative opening dates for 2018.
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Winter Fishing Regulations
North Dakota anglers are encouraged to refer to the 2016-18 North Dakota Fishing Guide or the state Game and Fish Department’s website for winter fishing regulations.
In addition, anglers can visit the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, for an extensive list of fishing questions and answers.
Some winter fishing regulations include:
· A maximum of four poles is legal for ice fishing. However, when fishing a water body where both open water and ice occur at the same time, an angler is allowed a maximum of four poles, of which no more than two poles can be used in open water.
· Tip-ups are legal, and each tip-up is considered a single pole.
· Mechanical devices that set the hook are legal; however, the use of any device that automatically retrieves the fish is illegal.
· There is no restriction on the size of the hole in the ice while fishing. Materials used to mark holes must be in possession of anglers and spearers as soon as a hole larger than 10 inches in diameter is made in the ice.
· It is only legal to release fish back into the water immediately after they are caught. Once a fish is held in a bucket or on a stringer, they can no longer be legally released in any water.
· It is illegal to catch fish and transport them in water.
· It is illegal to leave fish, including bait, behind on the ice.
· Depositing or leaving any litter or other waste material on the ice or shore is illegal.
· The packaging of fish (including parts thereof) away from one’s permanent residence must be done in such a manner that the number of fish in each package may be easily determined.
· The daily limit is a limit of fish taken from midnight to midnight. No person may possess more than one day’s limit of fish while on the ice or actively engaged in fishing. If a situation occurs when an angler engages in fishing overnight, the first daily limit must be removed from the ice by midnight prior to continuing to fish.
· The possession limit is the maximum number of fish that an angler may have in his or her possession during a fishing trip of more than one day.
· Licensing of fish houses is not required in North Dakota. However, any unoccupied fish house must have displayed on its outside in readily distinguishable characters at least three inches high, either a registration number issued by the department, or the owner’s name and address or name and telephone number.
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