On the upside, flooded Devils Lake is fishing heaven - and not just during the summer. Fishing through a six-inch hole in the ice can be enjoyable, especially on those days when the sun shines, the wind isn't blowing and the fish bite.
You'll likely find the greatest number of people ice fishing on North Dakota's largest natural lake during the annual ice fishing tourney - the state's largest gathering on ice. This winter, it's being held from 1-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30.
This is the 15th year of the tournament, sponsored by Schwan Wholesale Co. The tourney has been a sellout in recent years. 5,000 tickets are sold. Depending upon the weather, tourney organizers expect between 2,000 and 2,500 actual fishermen. Contestants must fish within a boundary laid out by officials, who also cut all the fishing holes in the ice.
According to Jim Moe, who co-chairs the tourney with Tee Kurtz, participants come from across North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana and Canada. People from Alaska have even participated in the event.
Those who brave January's weather vie for the largest fish in three categories: walleye, perch and northern. Moe says those who catch the five largest fish in each category go home with a cash prize. The tourney pays $1,000 for the largest fish in each category.
Even if you don't catch the biggest fish, you could still get lucky and win one of 30 raffle prizes. The top prize is a 1999 Ford extended cab pickup.
Devils Lake offers excellent year-round fishing for walleye and northern pike. The growing lake is nationally renowned for the quality and size of its yellow perch.
So, if you're not hardy enough to fish in January, you can wait for warmer days when the ice is out.