Although North Dakota has many great places to anchor down a portable ice shelter in the winter months, I have come up with a short list of the top five places in this great state to put up a shanty. My favorite winter fish is walleye, but this is a multi-species list to try accommodating fellow anglers.
- Devils Lake
This body of water being is the top destination for winter anglers from all over the U.S. No wonder it is on the top of my list. I love fishing this body of water - for the variety of fish to the variety of structure you can fish. Perch are world class, walleyes are plentiful and the northern pike are big and there are lots of them.
- Lake Oahe
This has always been known as a walleye factory and it still is, even with the recent flush in 2011. The fish are plentiful, just not quite the size class they once were. However, with the release of Gizzard shad and perfect spawning conditions for smelt and white bass, the fish are looking as healthy as ever. It may take some searching but when you find active fish, you will be in for some amazing action.
- Lake Sakakawea
Most people associate Lake Sakakawea with walleyes. However, I think about the lake's giant "Gators." Winter spearing has always been part of North Dakota's history, but if you have never tried it, I suggest you get do. It is not uncommon to come across a real trophy. Fish in the 15- to 20-pound class can be had, with most being in that 10- to 15-pound range. Landing something like that can be quite an exhilarating moment, like shooting your first North Dakota white-tail.
- Red River of the North
Most people think the Big Red is just a catfish body of water and this river gives a person the greatest chance at landing a wall mounter. There are a lot of spots a person can set up and be successful, but it takes a little time to find that “spot on the spot.” When you find that spot, it can be magical. Fishing current seams, eddies off of main current and slack water from log jams can produce some very nice bags of walleyes.
- Central Pothole Region
This region stretches from Hurdsfield to Dawson. It is a large area with a ton of great opportunities to chase most any species found in N.D. - walleye, perch, crappie, northern pike and bluegill. These small lakes can be pressured by heavy fishing. The best advice I can give is to visit the Game and Fish website and view the stocking reports from recent years. Put together a plan for locating the species of choice and make a plan of attack. The really nice thing is that there are a good number of small lakes in this area, so if one body is not producing, it is just a short trip to the next lake.
I had a hard time picking these, as there are many more than just five great fishing locations in our state. I could spend all day talking about fishing, as it is one of my most favorite things to do. So I guess I had to cap it at the top 5 or this could have become a novel of North Dakotas fishing waters. Follow me on twitter @NDwalleyeguy for some of my adventures in hunting and fishing in North Dakota.