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Dreaming about Devils Lake – After the Pandemic

Coronavirus has things on hold, but 'mid-summer is best time to come here.'

Dreaming about Devils Lake – After the Pandemic

Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota, covering more than 160,000 acres it has hundreds of miles of shoreline. (Photo courtesy of Devils Lake Tourism)

Devils Lake fishing is a dream-maker. It’s the reason so many out-of-area visitors plan vacations, trips, family fishing or guide trips and lodging in advance.

Those plans are temporarily on hold during the coronavirus travel and stay-at-home restrictions. But, it’s like the stock market, don’t wait. Those dreams will become realities in a few months at the famed North Dakota lake. Those who push back their mid-May and early-June trips to later in the year may also compete with many others trying to do the same.

Johnnie Candle, world walleye champion and Devils Lake guide said June and July are great months, with many days already booked. "But, take a look at August, September and October, some of the best fishing months. Even with back-to-school and hunting, this timeframe offers a great bite with all tactics in play," he said.

With his 10-man guide service, Mark Bry said he is keeping dates open. "Sure, the early open-water days are great, but mid-summer is the best time to come here," he said. Techniques include trolling crankbaits, slip-bobber fishing, casting cranks, running spinners, vertical jigging and more.

Guide Johnnie Candle, with family of anglers, after a day on the water. (Photo courtesy of Devils Lake Tourism)

The warm months provide more locations to fish, shallow to deep. The weather is pleasant. "Most importantly," Bry said. "The variety of walleye sizes, from plenty of eaters in the 15- to 20- inch range with some trophies mixed in makes every day a treat."

Another bonus to mid-summer into fall is the multiple species opportunities. Northern Pike, present in great numbers, white bass in excess of three pounds and all the walleyes necessary to fill limits and make future dreams are willing to join the fun.

Devils Lake Tourism Director Suzie Kenner said, "When America resumes business as usual after COVID-19, Devils Lake remains a perfect destination to have a great time with family and friends. The best weather here is in July and August. In addition to great fishing, visitors can relax along the shorelines, golf the Creel Bay Course, explore at White Horse Hill National Game Preserve (formerly Sullys Hill) or enjoy a play at the Fort Totten Little Theater. Book your fishing trip now and plan to take in all the activities the area offers."

Last summer, Candle guided a mom, dad, grandpa and two grandkids. "It was a family thing, and even though crowded, it turned out to be really special," he recounted. The crew cast bobbers. As a bobber went down, they took turns setting hooks and fighting fish. The youngest child landed the first fish, a pike. "He couldn’t contain his excitement," Candle said.

Guide Mark Bry and clients after a day of walleyes and pikes. (Photo courtesy of Devils Lake Tourism)

They rotated landing fish. When it was the 6-year old’s turn again, a good fight took place. An 18-inch walleye came to net. After a photo, the young boy said proudly, "Mom, this is the best day of my life." Candle added, "This is exactly why fishing guides do what we do."

A similar tale came from Bry’s boat last year. With three generations including a 91-year old grandpa in the boat, they pulled spinners. "For some reason, grandpa out-fished everybody else five to one. It was uncanny. They all had a blast and will always remember the great day – and greater day for the memories of grandpa landing walleye after walleye," he said.

Bry said about 70 percent of his clients are repeat customers. "It used to be all about the fish, now it’s all about the people," he said.

For those re-booking early trips or new customers making plans, Bry said the late summer and fall have been "lights-out" bites. This time of year, the cooler, refreshing days bring waterfowl all around. For many fishermen and hunters, the 'Cast and Blast' trips are special. Hunting occurs mornings with fishing after lunch. Bluebird days are better for fishing; cloudy days are good for ducks and geese.

"Fishing is supposed to be relaxing and fun, and that's what we make it," Bry said. "We will be open as soon as we get the word. Reserve a spot now.”"

Devils Lake guide services are featured on, along with weekly fishing reports, lake info and conditions, details about the community, lodging, restaurants, casino and so much more. Fishing is open year-round. For Devils Lake questions, call and talk with a knowledgeable local resident at 701-662-4957.

— Article by Devils Lake Tourism

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