Devil’s Lake, North Dakota – Part 1, Walleye Expectations Exceeded!

Mike Schoonveld caught our largest walleye of the day, but we hooked more than 75 fish, some nice perch too, in a half-day on the water. Imagine that.

  • Devils Lake is located in East-Central North Dakota – 1000 Shoreline Miles of Walleye Access
  • More than 100 Fishing Guides are Certified to provide Services on Devils Lake
  • Best Walleye Baits: Jigs, Crankbaits, Crawler Harnesses
Outdoor writer Dave Barus with the first walleye of the day.

By Bob Holzhei

There are 105 registered fishing guides who regularly host avid anglers to fish Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, many of them will find the fishing adventure of their lifetime. High expectations?  Not really, especially when a person considers there is steady fishing action success experienced throughout the year, including ice fishing. The 180,000 acres of Devils Lake provide more than 1,000 miles of shoreline.

Walleyes were targeted the first day of fishing on Devil’s Lake, however, there are northern pike, perch, crappie, panfish, trout and white bass among other popular angler species. 

When even I can catch walleye at the rate of 10 per hour, YOU KNOW the fishing is great at Devils Lake, ND.

The annual Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writer’s annual conference was held in September at Bismarck Mandan, North Dakota, and writers from all over the country discovered history, fishing, hunting and wonderful people. While there, an invitation was extended by Tanner Cherney, a host with the Devil’s Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to join him and others at Devil’s Lake to experience their excellent walleye fishery.

My wife Shirley and I arrived late at Devils Lake, but we were just in time to meet local guide groups and experience the walleye fishing on nationally renowned Devil’s Lake.

Mike Schoonveld caught our largest walleye of the day, but we hooked more than 75 fish, some nice perch too, in a half-day on the water. Imagine that.

Captain Al Freidig, our local guide for the afternoon put my fishing partner, Dave Barus, and myself on the walleye. A total of 28 walleye were caught, many in the 12-14-inch range that speaks well for the future fishery here, all of these were caught and released, and we kept four for the table.

Crawler harnesses with nightcrawler bits on number 2 and 4 hooks were tied-up using 14-pound Berkley Fireline, these produced the steady action. Fenwick rods paired with Abu Garcia reels provided for easy fun in catching these fish in 18 to 27 feet of water. We used white spinner blade colors on the harnesses with the hooks baited with a half-nightcrawler.  Bottom bouncing over a rocky structure near drop-offs was the fishing strategy for the day. 

A professional fishing guide for 18 years, Freidig is sponsored by Devil’s Lake Tourism and he knows his stuff. He was entered in the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame in 2015 and is still active in lake access management, as well as maintaining boat ramps and cleaning stations Tobe free of charge and open to the general public. Freidig says, “Hang on guys, you’ll enjoy my 20-foot Ranger Fisherman and 250 horsepower Merc.” He zoomed us across the open lake to reach a variety of fishing spot in record time.

The best part of every trip, making room in the freezer. Mike Schoonveld (right) and I enjoyed using this wonderful fish-cleaning station located right at the Sleep Inn Hotel in Devils Lake.

Freidig’s boat rule is a good one for future conservation promotion, as he asked us to only keep walleye over 16 inches in length, allowing the smaller eyes to grow over the next year. We sure agreed to that idea. If you haven’t been here yet, put it on your bucket list.

For additional information: Devils Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau P.O. Box 879 Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301,, 701 662-4903, or contact Tanner Cherney: e-mail –, 701-662-4957. Contact guide, Al Freidig 701-662-7171.