Monday, June 29, 2015

The Walleye Bite is On

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From Lewis and Clark Lake in southern South Dakota north to the North Dakota border, the Missouri River system is alive with boats.  Fishermen are all after one of the best eating fresh water fish on the planet.  That is the walleye.  Filleted out, dipped in the batter of your choice, and then fried, provides outstanding fare.  If you select a reservoir or fish below one of the many dams along the Missouri River, you will never go wrong.

Fried Walleye Recipe

2-4 walleye fillets
2-4 cups of Italian bread crumbs
½ to 1 tablespoonful of Italian seasonings
½ to 1 tablespoonful of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
Sprinkle a little pepper
Add a little garlic (this is optional and not in Ted’s recipe)
1 cup of flour
2 eggs whipped and set aside
Cooking pan with vegetable oil or the oil of your choice

1.  Toss the walleye fillets into the flour and coat both sides
2.  Dip the fillets in the whipped egg
3.  Add bread crumb mixture in a gallon zip lock bag with the seasonings and shake until coated
4.  Cook in well heated oil about 3 minutes to a side and the coating lightly browned
5.  Serve with a lemon wedge and sauce of your choice
6. The fish goes well with a Piesporter wine or a chilled Tusker beer if you can find it. 

South Dakota has one thing that you have to keep an eye out for and that is weather.  Big T storms can roll across the prairie with high winds, blinding rain storms and hail.  It is imperative to keep track of what is going on with the weather in this beautiful state.

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May has been a wet month this year,  not only at home but across South Dakota in the areas that I wanted to fish.  My wife and I finally picked a four day stretch where the weather looked great with high pressure and westerly flow.  We would drive up late Sunday getting into Pierre, fish for 2.5 days and leave on Wednesday afternoon after a cold front had passed.  The weather was forecast as balmy with temps in the 70s, cooling down to the 60s at night.  We would fish the lake prior to the cold front passage.  If we were striking out, it always turns hot before frontal passage.

We decided to fish Farm Island Lake below the dam south of Pierre and an arm of the Missouri River.  It has an excellent boat ramp and other facilities.  If you are a camper, this is a good location to park your camper or pitch a tent.  You do need a South Dakota Park Permit.  We buy an annual permit because we will fish in several parks in the state. 

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The lure of choice was the Flicker Shad by Berkley and we moved into about eight feet of water and started the pulling of the plug process.  There was great ripple on the water, but there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was getting hot.  And then, Wham! Pam nailed a really nice seventeen inch walleye.  It was quickly brought into the boat, and one of my jobs is to remove the lure from the fish.  If you have fished with Flicker Shad you are aware of the series of small treble hooks on the belly of the lure.  The fish gave a wiggle and a hook went right into my index finger just to the left of the nail.  It buried itself with part of the hook sticking out the under neath side of my finger.  The barb was well buried.

No problem, I have had hooks in my fingers before and you squeeze the digit real hard and back the hook out of the entry point and the barb comes along.  It did not work.  There was only one thing left to do.  Push the hook on through my finger until it comes out the other side and then clip off the shaft of the hook at the entry point.  No problem.  No pain no gain.
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Then the problem started.  I could not find my wire cutters to cut of the hook.  Fortunately there was another boat on the lake.  We motored over to see if they had a wire cutter.  To get their attention, I yelled and then held up my hand with the lure hanging off my finger.  I could hear the gentleman's wife say, "Oh good grief, he has that lure in his hand."  Fortunately he had a wire cutter and we cut off the hook at the entry point and pulled the rest of the hook through my finger.

The couple had their grandchildren with them in their boat and they were white as a sheet seeing all this.  They will remember this experience for along time.

The hook was gone and after a quick coating of triple antibiotic ointment and a band aid we were off and fishing.

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We kept up the same pattern, but bites were beginning to slow.  Pam started to mention how much hotter it had become and were were still not totally limited out.  A fish a piece would put us at possession limit for the day.  It was noon and it had gotten hot.

We took a bathroom break and stopped and talked to the DNR who was checking licenses, fish, and other permits.  The temp was above 90 degrees and the new forecast was to be mid 90s by 2 PM.

We quit for the day and headed to the room after we had cleaned up the fish.  Both of us were slaked with sweat and we could not drink enough water.  If there had been some clouds to keep the sun hidden we might have been able to finish out the day, but it was way too hot.

The plan was to come back in the evening and see if we could pick up two more fish.  It was not to be.  The wind went down, and the lake went flat and we were beat.

The new plan was to check weather for the next day and really pound the daylights out of the lake and haul in the fish.  We were up before light.  We grabbed a breakfast sandwich at a quick shop and a pint of coffee and were back on the lake.  The forecast was not good.  It was going to get hot again and by noon they were predicting 90 degrees and then climbing on upward.

We fished hard changing from Flicker Shad to spinners with minnows to jigs off the bottom, but it was not to be.  We picked up two more fish, and now it was decision time.  Do we stay another night or take the 8 really nice walleye and call it a day?  The next day was forecast to be more of the same and we called it a day.  This was a good trip even though I drove a hook into my index finger and the heat was oppressive.

When I got home, I tore the boat apart and there was my wire cutters.  They have now been moved to the console.

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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Hank

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