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THINGS ARE Good ON THE BIG LAKE By Gary Howey

  Lake Oahe, with its 370,000 acres is the fourth largest reservoir in the U.S., is located on the Missouri River north of Pierre, S.D.

  Oahe has long been considered a great walleye fishing lake and that’s why Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, and I were headed that way.

  We’d be teamed up with a good friend, Missouri River guide and Watertown native Chuck Krause who knows these waters as he has been guiding out of the Gettysburg area since 1980.

  When we arrived, Chuck was just coming in from guiding and his boat had done well, bringing in with some nice walleyes.

  We’d stash our gear in Chuck’s modular home and then meet up with him at his South Whitlock Supper Club to make a plan for the next day’s excursion

  It was early as we worked our down the road that meandered through the Missouri River bluffs leading to the Sutton Bay boat ramp. It looked as if the word was out about that the bite was on as several boats were making their way out of the bay with several other rigs in line to launch.

  As the boat dock cleared, Chuck quickly backed his Stratos boat into the water, parked his truck and we were headed out into the main river.

  We’d be heading for the same area Chuck had fished the previous day, Willow Creek Bay. We weren’t the first to arrive there as another boat was already working the point.  It wouldn’t be long before a half dozen or more boats would be fishing the bay that day.

  It didn’t take Chuck long to locate the fish as his locator lit up with the big arches that anglers love to see, indicating  several fish up off the bottom.

  On this trip, we’d be fishing deep, twenty to thirty feet along a point heading out into the bay, the active fish were holding along the edge where the point dropped into the deeper water.

  Armed with six-foot snells, dressed with a red bead, a red hook and half a crawler tethered to two-ounce ounce bottom bouncers, we probed the point looking for active fish.

  My bait hit the bottom, I bounced it twice and feeling added weight, set the hook on the first walleye of the day, a healthy sixteen inch fish, it looked as if it was going to be a good day. [Read more…]

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Walleyes/Sauger Throughout the Spawn By Gary Howey

 This week’s column, will deal with one of the upper Midwest most popular gamefish, the walleye and their smaller cousin found in the Missouri River, the sauger.

  In the spring, walleye and sauger will be located near where they spawn. The males made their migration up river during the late fall to the dams, where are congregated in the deeper slack water. 

  During the pre-spawn on a reservoir or lake, look for them in the deeper water that lies adjacent to gravel and rocky areas.

  Fish in both the lakes and rivers will locate very close to the areas that warm up the quickest, where they will spawn.

  In most bodies of water, these warmer water will be located on the north or west shorelines.  These areas receive more sunshine during this time of year and because of this, they’ll warm up quickly.  Look for them in the shallow water areas near the rock rip rap shoreline as these areas as the rocks will retain the heat longer.

  The males are always the first to arrive and these large schools of smaller aggressive fish are prowling the area waiting for the larger females to arrive. They would have moved up earlier, when the water temperatures were just a few degrees above freezing.

  The females will come into the area as the water temperatures near 40 degrees. Since there are not as many females located in the area and are not as aggressive as the males, you are going to catch more of those smaller males than the larger females.

 Females don’t have to move around as much as the males, so they’re using less energy, needing to feed less often. The females will be located deep throughout the pre-spawn, occasionally moving shallow to feed and then moving back into the deeper holes or other slack water areas to rest.

  You’ll find them resting behind sandbars and islands, out of the main current.  A week or two prior to the spawn, when water temperatures warm, they’ll begin to move shallower and start to feed more aggressively, preparing for the spawn.

  During the pre-spawn, both male and female will roam around the shallows during low light periods, moving back deep as the sun appears.

  In most of the areas we fish, spawning will occur when the water temperatures reach 40 to 48 degrees, when the females move shallow, to six foot of water or less to spawn. 

These spawning areas are located where the gravel or a rock bottom is about the size of your fist. [Read more…]

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Late Season Walleye By Gary Howey

Late season, just before freeze up is the time you should be on the water fishing for walleyes as they have started making their way upstream in preparation of next spring’s spawn. In the Missouri River System, this migration is halted by the Missouri River dam systems.

Because the fish are stacked up below the dams, you will find them in the same general area you found them in early fall, perhaps a little deeper as they are in that transition period where they will soon be moving into their wintering areas.

Since water temperatures have dropped, so has the fish’s metabolism, so a slow presentation is what is needed to catch them. Many of the fish will have worked into the deeper water, just off the drop offs, moving very little.

The preferred bait during the late season would be jigs worked vertically, just verily raising the jig off the bottom, holding it there for a second and then following it back to the bottom. Live-bait rigs such as Northland Roach rigs also produce well during cold weather and fished in the same manner as a jig.

Since water temperatures are cooling, you might have to play with the fish a bit. [Read more…]