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Fishing Tournaments Mean Business for Devils Lake!

Devils Lake Tourism

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – September 19, 2019 - Anglers flock to Devils Lake to check out the extraordinary walleye, perch, northern pike and white bass fishing.  Many follow walleye tournament trails there.  It’s so popular that 25 percent of North Dakota’s non-resident fishing licenses are sold in Devils Lake.  

Chasing walleyes via tournament competition brought 174 anglers to town the second week of September.  They were competing in the most prestigious North American walleye circuit, the National Walleye Tour.  Many came for the first time; others had been visiting for decades.  They spent money.  A Devils Lake Tourism survey showed exactly how much contestants spent. ​

The average expenditure per angler was $1,375, based on the survey.  Those dollars totaled nearly $250,000, and they revolved throughout the community many times. Additionally, the fishery and the area receive positive news coverage in social media, magazines, websites, television and media throughout the country.   ​

The survey also asked, “Would you return to fish again?”  Of all contestants, 88 percent answered with a resounding “YES!!”  A similar number, 88 percent, also rated the fishing as good, very good or excellent.  Specifically, 49 percent said “Good;” 28 percent said, “Very Good;” and 11 percent said “Excellent.”​

John Hoyer from Orono, Minnesota, was elated to have been crowned Champion.  He achieved unparalleled first-second-first place finishes in the final three NWT tournaments pocketing $207,050 in the process.  At Devils Lake, his prize package totaled $97,320.  ​

His contributions to the local economy were significant.  He lost at least 300 lures due to his style of fishing.  He replaced 100 of those locally.  He also used about 20 gallons of boat gas daily for all 13 days on the water (10 during the pre-tournament period; 3 tournament days), for about $800.  He traveled 800 miles from home and back.  He spent three nights at the Holiday Inn and 10 nights at Haybale Heights resort.  Since he was splitting lodging, add another $700.  He ate out almost every night at the Ranch, Proz at Woodland and a Mexican restaurant for about $700.  He also splurged in celebrating his victory by treating friends to dinner, a $900 bill.  He also purchased four spools of lead core line and a 

Graham’s Island State Park pass.  ​

Hoyer said, “Devils Lake is my favorite lake for what I love to do – casting for walleyes.”  During all three days on the water, he concentrated on 2 to 10 feet of water in East Devils Lake.  His tactics involved casting, casting and casting.  He also had two slip bobbers in the water with leeches, but most of his fish were caught casting.​

His arsenal included Moonshine Shiver Minnows, Jigging Raps and Berkley Johnny Darters.  He also interspersed this bottom thumping technique with shallow-running jerk baits.  Perch and fire-tiger colors were best.  “With all the wood, rocks and pike, I lost at least 300 lures.”  The survey showed that most anglers purchased $50 worth of tackle, with five anglers spending $400; three at $500; five at $1,000; and one angler swiping his credit card for $2,000. ​

Hoyer also credited the community.  “Everyone talks fishing, loves us fishermen, and wants to know what we know.  Where fishing is such a big part of their economy, I love to be in Devils Lake,” he said.  The survey also pointed to the pride of the community with 15 percent citing the “local feel of the area and the people.”  The remainder, 83 percent of respondents said what they most liked about the lake was the healthy fishery, the diversity of the lake, the hundreds of places to fish and that all tactics were in play.

The average angler spent seven nights in the area.  Of those, 36 percent stayed at resorts; 32 percent at motels; 16 percent at campgrounds and 11 percent with friends. The average angler traveled 575 miles round trip to fish Devils Lake, and 14 percent drove more than 1,000 miles.

The website is updated daily with fishing and hunting reports, quality guide services catering to outdoorsmen and women, community and family activities, lake levels, fish-cleaning stations (more per capita than anywhere else), tournaments, area campgrounds, motels and resorts, businesses, upcoming events, dining, casino, and much more.   Talk to a Devils Lake Tourism or Chamber representative at 701-662-4903.  ​

Photo Attached: Photo credit the National Walleye Tour. John Hoyer holding his winning check.


About Devils Lake, North Dakota

Devils Lake is a natural lake that has grown from about 40,000 acres to nearly 160,000 acres in the past three decades.  Devils Lake offers a year-round open fishing season for perch, walleyes, northern pike and white bass.  Resorts and guide services cater to outdoorsmen and women.  In North Dakota 25 percent of out-of-state fishing licenses are sold in Devils Lake.