Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fishing Opportunities in the Glacial Lakes

Friends invite me to fish the Missouri River System in South Dakota, but my preference is not to fish big reservoirs.  Besides the the lakes in Kansas, the Glacial Lakes of northeast South Dakota provide a variety of waters to fish and a wide variety of available game fish.  Here is my favorite place to go. 
The town of Webster provides lodging from a variety of motels that cater to fishermen.  To the east is the town of Waubay with an excellent motel that also provides service to fishermen.  The best business in the town of Waubay is the Purple Cow Ice Cream Parlor.  Their motto is "A world without ice cream is a world in chaos and darkness."  If you are traveling up or down I-29, it is only a few miles off the interstate to the west and it is a great place to stop for a break.
It can't get any better than this.
There are more lakes than is shown on the map.  Out of those shown, I have fished on nine of them over the years.  Waubay is the lake to take on first in the early spring.  Here the walleye abound along with crappie and small mouth bass.  Fishing can be brisk, but a person needs to recognize the fact that the weather changes in eastern South Dakota compared to the forecast, and it can get windy.  The locals call it breezy. 

 My next favorite lake is Pickerel.  The deepest of the Glacial Lakes, the water is crystal clear and the crappie fishing has been excellent.  Fishing it midsummer will still produce nice catches of crappie, blue gill, some northern, small mouth bass, and small walleye.  The lake has a 15 inch minimum length on walleye, and you will catch a lot of small fish before you get to fish over the minimum.  At the north end of the lake picking up some nice size northern is highly possible. 

Swan to the south has been an excellent producer.  The walleye are quality fish, but a little on the small size.  You will have to catch a few to get to the minimum length, but the water is crystal clear.  Along the east bank is a weed bed and just off the weed bed, you will pick up some nice northern.  A little farther out into 14 to 16 feet of water lay the walleye.  Swan has a lot of boat traffic and there is plenty of competition for the good spots.

Periodically, I go to Antelope.  It is located just south of Webster and to the east right before the airport.  It is a small lake but an excellent producer of nice size northern and walleye. 

Bitter Lake, just south of Waubay, is a big body of water covering over 20,000 acres of open water.  For me wind is a factor and it does get breezy in South Dakota.  Quality walleye in the 16 to 20 inch range are common, but you really have to know the lake to be successful.  On the north end are stands of timber that provide good fishing.  The dairy farm taken over by the lake is another good spot in the northwest of the lake.  Straight west from the boat ramp and across the lake are a series of sunken islands and some old road beds.  Here is where the majority of the fisherman head.  This location seems to produce the majority of the fish.  At the fish cleaning house, some of the more experienced fishermen have displayed some really nice catches of both walleye and really big northern pike.  As of this writing, the lake has conquered me. My experience with success is nothing to brag about, but I have caught fish there.

For free advice, supplies and bait, I recommend Sportsmans Cove in Webster and Fisherman's Village just south of the town of Waubay.  At each location there will be an adequate supply of both.

One very important fact is the quality of the people.  Everyone I have met in either town, would make good neighbors.  The people in this area are the salt of the earth.  Friendly, courteous, kind, and without pretense. This is America at its finest.

My wife and I are off to Kenya and Tanzania on a Camera Safari.  Stay tuned.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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