'I Love Fishing Devils Lake in July'
When a guide with 23 years on-the-water experience speaks about his home water and says, "I love Devils Lake in July," fishermen listen. Aaron McQuoid also said, "All I do is fish - 12 months a year."
The young man and wife Trish own McQuoid Outdoors and Lodging in the town on the western edge of Devils Lake, North Dakota, called Minnewaukan. This is also the name of a huge portion of the lake referred to as Minnewaukan Flats. It's approximately 8 miles by 5 miles, and is where he usually fishes. He also concentrates on the "Pelican" section of the lake, which gives him another 3 x 5 miles of fishy habitat while guiding.
McQuoid matches his tactics to the skill levels of clients, and said no matter what they do, 30 to 50 fish-days are the norm in July, with 100 fish-days fairly common. Based on the June "bite" (one late June day his clients landed five walleyes weighing 33 pounds) on Northland Mimic Minnows while casting the edges of weedbeds, "July will be the best ever," he said.
"If I had only one spot to fish in July, it would be weed edges with bottom bouncers and spinners (# 2 or # 3) with crawlers-in 2-foot waves or flat calm and sunny conditions," he said. Another option is casting Lindy Shadlings or Rapala Shad Raps to the weeds.
July 4th marks a phenomenal walleye movement from the shoreline and weed edges to the humps. "They top out at about eight feet and are away from the shoreline," McQuoid said. He fishes the tops with slip bobbers baited with crawlers or leeches. He also runs spinners around the edge checking all depths, and noted, "Most humps have trees which are old shelter belts. Later in the day, walleyes retreat to these trees; expect snags, but that's where the fish are."
The long road known as the Golden Highway stretches east to west across the Minnewaukan Flats. Its blacktop with rip rap running from the road bed (18-feet below the surface) to 34 feet. Walleyes are up and down these edges and often on top. Trolling crankbaits takes these fish. "For anglers heading to Devils Lake, make sure you have the updated Navionics or other GPS mapping chips. They are really accurate," he said.
July is one of the quietest weather months of the year. McQuoid said steady conditions prevail, and for families with kids this is the best time to be in the boat. "This is one of the least windy months in North Dakota," he said. It also provides more options of when to fish the long days. "Families can fish part of a day and play in town or at other attractions to break up the fishing," he said. When on the water, they will go from bobbers to spinners to trolling to casting. "If my clients prefer a certain method, that's what we do," he said. "Some want to learn a specific tactic while they're catching fish; it gives them confidence."
Even though walleyes and pike are top choices, McQuoid said July and August are the best months for one of his favorite fish, the always-active white bass. Since many exceed three pounds and tug harder and fight longer than a same-sized walleye, people have fun with whiteys. "I call them kid-friendly fish," he said. He locates a shoreline with waves blowing in and throws anything looking like a minnow. "Rip it fast. Make sure it has lots of flash and rattles and hang on!" he said.
McQuoid has been on the western end of Devils Lake for six years. Prior to that he spent 15 years guiding on Minnesota's Mille Lacs and tournament walleye fishing. He set up his lodge with the amenities of home and everything he expected while on his extensive travels around the country. He can handle groups of 20 at McQuoid Outdoors & Lodging, 701-351-6058 (he answers questions about the lake personally), [email protected], or www.mcquoidguides.com.
For information on Devils Lake conditions, ramps (all launch ramps on Devils Lake are open this season and fish cleaning stations are operating at Graham's Island State Park, Lakewood access and Six Mile Bay access), activities, guides, tournaments, lodging, resorts and restaurants, check www.devilslakend.com, or call 701-662-4903.