By Mike Peluso
You definitely have to love what you do to be able to endure the pure punishment ice fishing can throw at you. Cold weather, heavy winds, and finicky fish are just part of the equation. Mix in some green clients, high expectations of magazine cover pictures and you have a recipe for disaster…or at least frustration.
Either way, I always try to take everything in stride and if you know me, I’m extremely laid back; if you know me really well, you know I have a pretty long fuse and it takes a lot to rattle me or get me off my path. This winter has definitely tried to do all of the above! Sorry winter, you ran into the wrong guide.
Anyway, as tough as it has been at times on Devils Lake recently, it has actually made me work even harder. I don’t play or coach hockey anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still competitive. Now, my opponents are the elements and the fish.
So, what are we finding right now on Devils Lake as far as the bite is concerned? If you keep grinding and working you will catch some fish. It’s not easy and it’s definitely what I call a guided bite; a spot on a spot type of deal and small windows when you need to be there. I’ve talked at length with some of my guide buddies and we all agree there is plenty to eat in the lake for these fish.
Walleyes are still for the most part shallow in the early mornings and later evenings. A mix of buckshot rattle spoons, tungsten jigs with a full minnow, and the old school plain hook and minnow is working. Make sure you are set up before the sun starts to poke over the skyline. That feeding window is small!
Perch, well, they are shallow, they are in between, and they are deep. Why? Because freshwater shrimp know no boundaries and they are everywhere and that’s what these perch are feeding on. When you stumble on a pod they are either biters or not. It doesn’t take long for you to know if they are on or not. Small tungsten lures tipped with spikes seem to be doing well.
Again, I still have a few weeks left of ice fishing for the season, but for me it is winding down. I’ve really shifted my attention to booking these early spring river trips on the Missouri River near Bismarck. I’m also booking my trips on Lake Sakakawea for this summer. If you are thinking of a trip, get ahold of me so we can get you in!
Mike Peluso is a Dakota Edge Outdoors contributing writer and licensed ND fishing guide specializing in walleyes on the state’s premier waters.
Featured Photo: Here, There, Everywhere! Anglers are finding perch shallow, deep and in the mid-ranges of Devils Lake as they chase after the water’s abundant freshwater shrimp populations. DEO Photo by Mike Peluso.