With above-average fish populations and loosening state regulations, ice fishing on many of North Dakota’s 430+ fishable lakes has quickly become a choice winter sport for those living in North Dakota and those across the ice belt.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department stated recently that the focus of North Dakota ice anglers is typically on walleye, yellow perch, and northern pike and that lower lake levels this summer were a concern, yet thankfully this ended up not having an effect on the fish population for this ice fishing season. Aside from the hundreds of walleye-filled prairie lakes, ranging from a couple of acres to hundreds of acres, there are several larger choice fishing lakes throughout North Dakota that bring in anglers from all over the ice belt every season.
Here’s a list of popular ice fishing lakes in North Dakota:
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- Devils Lake – Famous for ice fishing and great services. The state’s largest natural body of water boasts abundant populations of varied species of fish. Devils Lake is famous for abundant jumbo yellow perch, quality northern pike, walleye and white bass in the winter.
- Lake Metigoshe – In the densely forested Turtle Mountains of North Dakota, straddling the U.S.-Canadian border, Lake Metigoshe is one of the cleanest natural freshwater lakes in North Dakota. Lake Metigoshe and its many surrounding small bodies of water are perfect for catching pike and walleye. But the real reasons to add Metigoshe to your list are monster bluegills and quality crappie.
- Lake Sakakawea – Anglers will find excellent numbers of 15- to 20-inch walleye and exceptional pike fishing that is only expected to get better because of a maturing population with a good average size. Pike exceeding 15 pounds are likely to be more common in 2021 and beyond. Lake Sakakawea is a great place for dark house spearfishing because of its healthy pike.
- Lake Darling – Just northwest of Minot, Lake Darling rests along the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Darling is home to strong northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch populations.
- Lake Audubon – Good numbers of walleye and an excellent smallmouth bass fishery. Anglers should see good numbers of 14- to 20-inch walleye. Some large pike is present. Audubon has easy access being adjacent to Highway 83.
- Robinson Area – Upper Kidder County lakes like Jasper near Robinson and Josephine by Tuttle, have abundant walleye with the occasional fish over 25 inches. Woodhouse Lake northeast of Wing has abundant large walleye, with some topping 28 inches. Helen Lake north of Tuttle is an excellent pike fishery.
- Valley City Area – Lake Ashtabula has been fairly consistent with good numbers of walleye and pike. A hidden gem maybe some of the smaller lakes around Valley City in Barnes County. Moon and St. Mary’s lakes have abundant walleye and perch populations.
- Lehr Area – Logan/McIntosh county near Lehr is home to dozens of glacial lakes that are fantastic for ice fishing. Some lakes boast healthy perch populations (Erickson Lake, Dollinger-Schnabel Lake) while others have abundant large pike (Beaver Lake, Clear Lake) and walleye (Dry Lake, Green Lake, Marvin Miller Lake).
Check out the video below, where Greg Power, Fisheries Division Chief and Mike Anderson with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department chat about the prospects of the upcoming 2021-22 ice fishing season:
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