While it’s true mother nature controls the weather… and we can’t exactly control if the fish are going to bite today or tomorrow, there are some helpful tips and tricks for those of you coming to fish for Walleye and Perch out of our fish houses this winter 🙂
All science aside, this post is a collaboration of information shared from our more experienced guys after working with our fish house operation for the last several years. Hopefully it contributes to YOU having a great time and finding success on the ice while visiting us.
Before getting into the details, you might be wondering why/how we decide where to place our fish houses. To put it simply, we only move our houses to places we actively catch fish. Although these spots vary from day-to-day, the way our ice crew works is one or two guys go out every day with the goal of finding fish. Once these guys get on fish, we shift houses to those spots. A majority of the houses end up positioned over rock piles, flooded timber, weed beds, old shorelines, roads, gravel pits, drop offs, and other structure.
Devils Lake is truly known for it’s flood history and it’s amazing just how much structure is really down there. Here’s a link to some interesting stories and the history of the lake.
If you saw one of the ice crew guys’ GPS units, you’d find hundreds of waypoints from past spots marked with success that they often utilize as starting points to check out during certain times of the year. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure they store their waypoints in a fallout bunker somewhere in a forest near the Canadian border during the off season but that’s a story for another time. Maybe one day I’ll post about the day we thought the MASTER ice crew waypoints SD card was lost and gone forever… (insert dramatic sentimental music here).
But now for the part that you have probably been waiting to read. You’re coming to here to catch some of that glorious Devils Lake gold out out of a Woodland fish house. Here’s what you need to know.
Recommended Fishing Tips Overview
-Electronics will increase your success
-Fish as a group, not as individuals
-The fish primarily feed at the bottom of the lake
-Simple lure presentations simply work
-Perch bite light, your lure and rod should also be light
-If you’re up for it… bring yer’ auger
-We primarily setup for Walleye and Perch. Let us know if you’re looking for Pike before your visit, we’ll accommodate it!
-8 foot rods and those classic clip on red and white bobbers are meant for summer fishing (serious… you’d be surprised what comes through our doors, SMH)
It’s no secret that being mobile while ice fishing contributes to success. One of the challenges that you face as an angler while fishing out of one of our fish houses is that your mobility is limited. You don’t have the opportunity to chase fish all over the lake to try to stay on top of them; I mean c’mon, who wants to do that when the weather here gets colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon anyway! Luckily for you there are several tactics you can use in order to accommodate fishing out of a nice cozy, ready to go hard-sided Woodland fish house with all your friends.
Get the fish to come to you.
If the fish aren’t down there, you need to try to call em’ in. I’m not talking about using one of those “As Seen on Shark Tank” fish calls or Busch latte belching loud enough for the fish to hear you either. Use something that’s going to grab the attention of a fish.
A good example of this would be dropping down a 1/16 oz Buckshot Rattle Spoon and aggressively jigging for a few minutes. Green, gold, red, and occasionally blue in color seem to work best. Play around with it, you might try bouncing it off the bottom to kick up some mud clouds, or jigging from the bottom up to 4-6 feet off the bottom, heck try half way up the water column in desperate times. Tip with a minnow head or wax worms. The trick here is to find the sweet spot that shows the fish you’re there and “welcomes” them to come on over.
If you’re one of those sly guys I guess another way to look at it is to think of this situation as the first time you’re trying to grab the attention of the fancy female sitting at that table across the room. You want to get her attention so she notices you but remain a little mysterious at the same time. Find the right balance and you might end up going on a little adventure with her later. Keep your mind out of the gutter though, I’m talking about going on a date.
On the flip side, you’re in a fish house with 4+ people and everyone is going crazy with Buckshots, Jigging Raps, and Shark Tank Fish Calls. More than likely you’ll end up looking like a danger zone to the fish.
Although anglers are allowed up to 4 lines each, we drill enough holes so each person in your group has two holes to fish out of. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the best option to set as many lines down as possible which I’ll explain later.
One of the best things your group can do when first arriving at your fish house is to delegate one angler as your “jigging machine” (or master baiter for you die hards). Offering a more analytical approach, below you can see a suggested diagram to follow in order to select this particular individual.
A game of left center right while sitting around in what ever lodging option you choose the night before fishing is also great for picking this person. Once you determine the leader of your pack, I recommend the rest of the group starting the day by dropping down a plain hook with a live minnow on a slip bobber rig. This is going to be a conservative option and you can adjust your presentation from there. You can put multiple lines down for each angler but there are times you might find it’s just too much pressure to get the fish to come in.
As stated before, more lines doesn’t equate to more success. The nice thing about a simple setup such as a live minnow on a plain hook is that with a few of them down they sort of act like a mini school of bait fish instead of some of the scenes found in this video.
It might sound less than intriguing but countless times we’ve seen better results on slip bobbers with a plain hook and live minnow versus other presentations. This is partially due to the fact that Perch bite really light and using an ice buster (slip bobber) is much easier to see when a fish is on.
So I may have gone a little overboard with the whole process of allowing one person to jig. The point is, when you learn to fish as a group instead of individually, you’re going to get better results.
Use a Vexilar
For those of you that don’t “do” electronics, you may be wondering how do you know if there’s even fish down there? Electronics are your best friend. Seriously. Don’t have any electronics? Rent a vexilar from us while you’re here and we can show you how to use it. It’s well worth the 30 dollars if you want to catch fish. Not only can you use it to know for sure that fish are under you, but you will also be able to decide when it’s time to try a different lure.
The fish are down there, how will you get them?
So… you called the fish in and you know they’re under you but you can’t seem to get your lure to land a date with big Bertha down there! Now what?
Modify your lure.
If you’re hanging out in Woodland’s on-site restaurant and bar, Proz Lakeside, and Travis puts a house salad loaded up with tomatoes in front of you, it’s possible you’ll pass if you don’t like tomatoes. Maybe if you’re starving you’d indulge, or if it didn’t have the tomatoes. Fishing is no different. There are periods of time when fish are more active and aggressive eaters- but if you know the fish are under you and they will not bite, it’s best to start by modifying your presentation without changing it completely. Example- if you’re using a Buckshot tipped with a minnow head… try swapping your minnow head out for a couple of wax worms. Still not working? Try a different color Buckshot.
Keep your bait 4 to 6 inches off the bottom for best results. When the bite is really tough, try down-sizing lures.
Finicky fish will often respond to smaller lures like tungsten’s or slip bobber rigs. You’ll want to use heavier split shot weights in deeper water to get your bait down but overdo it and you might have trouble gauging if there’s a fish on. With the slip bobber technique- be sure to adjust your bobber so it’s a good match for the weight you have on.
Our Top 5 Tackle Choices
- Slip bobber rig with plain, gold, or red hook
- 1/16 oz Buckshot
- 1/16 oz gold tungsten jig
- Small Jigging Rap in the Morning and Evening (for Walleye’s)
All of these are available in our store. We stock what works best on Devils Lake.
Have you ever had this happen? Here’s a Secret, “Bring yer’ Auger”
You and your fishing buddy are out in the boat. He’s casting to one spot and hammering fish, meanwhile you’re casting in the same general area, using the same lure but not getting anything. Or maybe you’ve been out ice fishing and your friend has the hot hole while you can’t seem to get a bite when you’re in the same house.
The truth is, even a distance of a few feet can make a big difference in targeting fish. It’s completely optional and our ice crew will certainly pop some holes outside of your house for you as requested, but if you bring your own auger you have the convenience of venturing out more and drilling holes just outside of where your house is located. There’s been numerous times this has proved very beneficial to groups in the past.
An Etiquette Tip from the Inside
Cleaning up after yourself as you leave your fish house for the day goes a long way with our ice crew guys. On the rare occasion we have to clean a dirty thirty of beer cans, cigarettes, tobacco, and Frank the Tank’s vomit out of the holes– these groups become “well-known” among our staff out on the ice each day and our guys become less motivated to help these groups during their stay. We’re all about you having a good time and your respect is MUCH appreciated!
Beginners are Welcome
If you’re a first time ice angler and are just beginning to get your feet dry on the hardwater we look forward to helping you out. Just be sure to leave your 8 foot rods and red/white bobbers at home 🙂 All joking aside, we’re here to answer any questions you have and want to make sure you’re comfortable your first time on the ice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Maybe Ice Fishing isn’t for You
Hopefully our Woodland mom Karin doesn’t read this but if you’re not interested in visiting us for the ice fishing, come and visit us to freeze your pecker off! We’d love to host you!
P.S. She banned us from selling this shirt… I think we should bring it back, thoughts?
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#operationbringthepeckershirtback #allingoodfun #thispostisnotrated
Hopefully there’s a few tips in this post you can use to make your stay with us a successful one. We’re looking forward to a great year on the ice!
Reserve your Woodland ice fishing trip by giving us a call at 701-662-5996 extension 1.