Published April 13, 2009, 10:21 PM

Stump Lake ups pike limits

A Nelson County lake that has become part of the ever-expanding Devils Lake is seeing its fishery blossom, not only with stocked fish but with species swimming there on their own, across what once was dry land.

By: Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

BISMARCK — A Nelson County lake that has become part of the ever-expanding Devils Lake is seeing its fishery blossom, not only with stocked fish but with species swimming there on their own, across what once was dry land.

“For many years, Stump Lake didn’t have fish in it because it was saltier than the ocean,” said Randy Hiltner, a district fisheries supervisor in Devils Lake for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “Having a fishery in Stump Lake is definitely relatively recent, with the high water levels.”

Devils Lake and Stump Lake have been rising since a series of wet years began in the early 1990s. Devils Lake more than doubled in size and began flowing east into Stump Lake, and in September 2007 the two lakes shared the same level for the first time in nearly two centuries.

The flooding has helped freshen Stump Lake. It also means northern pike have been swimming freely between the linked bodies of water.

“We have never stocked northern pike in Stump Lake. They’re essentially just migrating over there from Devils Lake,” Hiltner said.

The Game and Fish Department this year has increased the northern pike limits on Stump Lake. The daily limit had been three and the possession limit six. Those limits are now five and 10, to match the limits on Devils Lake.

“Essentially, Stump Lake is getting to be a large bay of Devils Lake,” Hiltner said.

Northern pike right now are “not necessarily abundant in Stump Lake, but common and seeming to increase in numbers,” he said.

White bass, a less sought-after species among sport anglers, also have migrated from Devils Lake into Stump Lake.

The Game and Fish Department began stocking yellow perch in Stump Lake in 1997, with the goal of turning the lake into a jumbo perch fishery, Hiltner said. Officials in 2002 began stocking walleye, “to get ahead of the northern pike before they moved in,” he said.

Northerns “eat everything from baby ducks to snakes to yellow perch,” Hiltner said. “They’re not real fussy (and) they’re very opportunistic.”

Hiltner said having northerns in Stump Lake might put a dent in the perch and walleye fisheries. But Devils Lake has had northern pike for years and still offers good walleye fishing, he said.

Devils Lake generally is considered one of the best walleye fisheries in the Upper Midwest, if not the country. Stump Lake’s reputation is much less widespread.

“It’s going to be a local secret until word of mouth gets out,” said Dwight Elfman, who manages Stump Lake Park.

Elfman said it was common to see dozens of trucks in the parking lot last summer. He said many anglers are coming from the east and stopping at Stump Lake rather than traveling another 30 miles to Devils Lake.

Eventually, two boat ramps on Stump Lake may not be enough, Elfman and Hiltner said.

“We’ve had real good luck with both walleyes and northerns,” Elfman said. “You could use the same bait and didn’t know what you were going to get.

“It’s not going to take long for the word to get out,” he said.

On the Net:

- N.D. Game and Fish: www.gf.nd.gov/

-Stump Lake Park: www.stumplakepark.com/

contact.html

Tags: