Anglers are venturing on the ice at Devil’s Lake State Park.
Last week’s freezing temperatures created a solid base of 5 to 6 inches of ice off the lake’s south shore, fishermen said Friday. Charlie Horton of Prairie Du Sac, who fishes Devil’s Lake regularly in the winter, said the location is known for producing brown trout.
“That’s about all you can catch out of here in the winter,” he said. “Every once in a while, you’ll catch a northern, but not very often.”
Horton hooked into an 8-inch perch just as the sun crept over the bluffs Friday morning, while other fishermen jigged for trout in their ice shanties and set tip-ups for northern.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages the 374-acre lake for brown trout. Throughout 2017, the DNR stocked more than 15,000 brown trout in Devil’s Lake. The stocked trout included more than 10,000 yearlings, about 4,500 fingerlings and about 500 mature fish, according to DNR records.
Fishermen are allowed to keep three trout that are at least 9 inches after purchasing an inland trout stamp, along with valid fishing license. In addition to trout, Devil’s Lake is also home to largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, trout, walleye and a variety of panfish.
Wally Banfi, a store manager at Wilderness Fish and Game in Prairie Du Sac, said he heard from several fishermen who caught trout at Devil’s Lake last week. He said the fish were caught using a Tingler Spoon with half of a minnow.
Banfi, who’s also a fishing guide, said his go-to method for fishing Devil’s Lake is to let a spoon descend to the bottom and jig incrementally until he finds where the fish are suspended.
“You pound the spoon into the silt on the bottom and stir it up, and that attracts the fish,” he said. “Then you lift it up and jig the water column about a foot at a time. Sometimes they’re 20 feet down, and other times they’re in 30 to 40 feet of water.”
Banfi said Devil’s Lake has potential to produce 20-inch trout and he has seen some that were even larger. He added that he plans to put a shanty on the lake this week and will offer guided fishing trips throughout the winter. To schedule a trip, Banfi can be reached at 608-393-9823.