Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Beautiful Glacial Lakes

The weather could not have been more terrible.  Tornadoes in Oklahoma made fishing in Kansas out of the question.  The weather stretched all the way into the Dakotas, and I could not find a two to three day stretch without easterly winds and rain.  Finally the last week of May showed a break in the glacial lakes region of South Dakota with a couple of good days and one outstanding.  It was time to head north and give it a try. 
My wife's flowers.
 The report posted weekly by Sportsman Cove in Webster, SD was not promising and I am sure the fishermen that headed up for the three day weekend had a lot of disappointment.  Friends who had fished the Missouri River Reservoirs had good luck, but not great.  Still, if you don't go and give it a try, you put nothing in the boat. 
More flowers

Arriving in Webster by 9 PM the wind was right out of the east with low clouds.  However, the forecast was for a change, and I was here for the change and to squeeze at least another day out before the change. 

People at the bait shop tried to put on a smiley face, but you could see that business had not been good.  The fishermen must not have had good luck.  Still you do not catch fish from a boat sitting in the garage. 

I headed to Kanago access on lake Waubay.  It was really rocking and rolling with waves crashing into the shore and the wind right out of the east pounding the boat ramp.   With two extra large cups of coffee, the decision was made to wait it out and see if the forecast was right.  It was.  One hour later the winds slowly went down and the boat was launched.  By the time I headed out, the shift was taking place. 
South of Kanago access is a large bay that runs east and west. Pull into the bay and fish the south side among the reefs. Smallmouth bass and walleye are at varying depths.

There is one important thing about fishing this lake.  Straight out from the dock about 150 yards is a boulder below the water.  Be on guard as this is a great place to smack a lower unit.  Beyond that about another 150 to 200 yards is a reef that is just below the surface.  To navigate this area, I stay well to the south and go around each spot.  A little extra time can save an expensive repair job.  In my lifetime, I have taken out enough lower units.

The wind was perfect at about 5-10 mph right out of the west.  The south end of the lake holds some points with rocks out into about ten to fourteen feet of water.  This was the first spot I wanted to try.  It did not take long before Wham! the fish took the bait.  It was way too small and was thrown back.  Right after that I picked up another.  Again, the size was really made for bait.  Backtrolling into the wind then drifting back across the point was producing fish, but nothing of any size to take home for dinner.  Still when you are getting hits, you hate to leave.  An old friend from northern Minnesota once told me, "If you are catching small fish on a spot, that is all the spot holds and it is time to move on."  Soon it was time to move on.  I moved deeper into a bay off the lake.
Toward the west end of the bay it gets deep then shallow again.  I had some soft hits here, but nothing swallowed the bait and kept it.

To the south along the bay there are a series of small reefs.  It was here I began to work.  Starting in five feet of water, the graphs showed nothing.  I then moved out to twelve to fifteen feet.  Ahhhh, it was here the graphs lit up and began to show a lot of fish.  The hits were on.  At first they were very soft and it took a little patience not to set the hook right away.  Small walleye again.  Then Wham! something took the lure and began to put up a battle.  It was a smallmouth and they do like to do battle.  Plus, they eat well, and I will take all I can get.  Catching smallmouth on an ultralight provides excellent enjoyment. 
Northeast of Kanago access is a series of islands.  I started to fish the right side of the picture.  Not staying in any one depth I S turned toward the trees then back out to deeper water.

South Dakota has a slot limit for these fish and you can only take fish less than 14 inches or one over eighteen inches.  With that type of slot, smallmouth fishing will become excellent in the future.  Still, it was walleye I wanted, and not having much luck.  The friends that come to dine with us really expect walleye dinners and this is now turning into work.
When I come back to Kanago access this is my aiming point to avoid the reefs.  Stay well out in the lake and aim at the erosion and A Frame on the hill.  When you get close to shore then turn north and you are right at the dock.  There is no reason to take out a lower unit when the reefs can be avoided.  South Dakota doses not mark their reefs and I am going to write to them about this.

I took a break at noon, pulled out the boat and headed to grab lunch at Perebohms in Webster.  Lunch there is like dinner for most people.   I loaded up to spend the rest of the day on the lake. 

Back on the lake by 2:30pm, I fished additional spots that had produced for me in the past, but nothing developed.  The weather began to clear and the wind slowly shifted to the south and then to the southeast.  It was time to change lakes.

Right south of Webster just a few miles is a lake called Antelope which is rarely fished except by the locals.  The boat ramp is pathetic with sand on one side and slabs of concrete on the other.  In addition, the water is really shallow off the end of the dock. It was work getting on the lake without hitting the bottom.  Still once you are there, the fishing can be outstanding.
Looking straight east out of Antelope.  The lake is not that big, but in the past has been a producer.

You do not have to go far to catch some fish.  Right off the dock is a bank on the north side of the lake where the water goes from shallow to fifteen to eighteen feet deep quickly.  I just worked along the bank back trolling with a spinner and drifting out to deeper water.  It was a Northern Pike that I first picked up, and the fight was on.  Catching pike on ultralight rods with light line is a hoot.  I picked up three nice fish in about a two hour period.  Several were lost along with a number of lures when the line was cut. 

Looking straight west for towards the dock and toward the setting sun.  This is a beautiful lake.

These are great fish to eat, and our friends that come for dinner will always accept Northern Pike.  Watch the video below on how to take out the Y bones.  You will end up with a really nice fillet. 

I had been on two different lakes for a total of about 14 hours, and it was time to fold my tent.
This is the spinner on which I caught the fish, both smallmouth and northern.  Click on the spinner blade or the link above to buy from Bass Pro. I tie my own.

 Give the Unexpected: Hammacher Schlemmer Gift Guide

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

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