The drive to Devils Lake, North Dakota is fairly long, but the roads aren’t bad for January, so we make good time and arrive at Ackerman Acres, a resort on the east side, around 8:00 p.m.
While some may not have had the opportunity to fish Devil’s Lake, few ardent ice anglers haven’t heard of it. These waters are recognized as a prime ice destination supporting a world class yellow perch fishery complimented by a nearly equal healthy population of walleyes. Pike aren’t necessarily commonly sought, but are certainly available–and those willing to work for them will find some nice white bass and crappies, too.
Problem is, it’s late January, and the folks I spoke with prior to making the trip have been quite candid, advising the current mid-winter bite has been rather challenging. This is a concern, yes, yet situations like these always pique my interest, because they provide ample opportunity for something to be learned!
TGO videographer Sean Casper and I step from the dark into the brightly lit lodge at Ackerman Acres, where a group has gathered. It’s here we meet resort owner Neil Ackerman and Bob Kinkaid, one of two guides Neil has hired to ensure safe and productive trips for his guests, seated among the crowd.
After introductions, I pull up a chair and ask if the action has shown any improvement. Neil winces, Bob shakes his head.
“We’re catching fish, but you’ve really got to work for them. My Sno-Bear is rigged with sonar and underwater camera systems displaying on two 22” Samsung flat screens, so I know we’re on fish. Making them bite, however, has been an entirely different matter.”
Both these gentlemen have earned my respect through their no-nonsense integrity. They simply tell it as it is, and I appreciate that.
We visit for a while before Sean and I decide we better head back to our cabin, unload, sort and prep gear before calling it a night. As we walk out the door, Bob suggests we be ready to go at 7:30 the following morning. I nod.
DEVILS LAKE, NORTH DAKOTA
The recent history of this lake is fascinating: With no natural outlet and a decade of much higher than normal precipitation, Devils Lake has risen more than fifty feet since 1993, causing it to triple in size, inundating homes, businesses and farms.
Yet fishing opportunities have boomed.