Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hammering the Walleye

I studied the weather patterns for a week in eastern South Dakota waiting for the right time to pounce.  Then it happened.  No T storms, steady winds, clearing skies and a high pressure.  If you don't grab hold of those conditions, you have made one of life's mistakes.  That is if you are a fisherman.

Since it was during the week, motels were not full and a hungry fisherman could take his pick.  My wife decided not to go.  I told her she was missing an opportunity that does not come very often, but she had other things to do, so I was off to Webster, South Dakota for two days of fishing.

Leaving early on Wednesday, the traffic was light even through Sioux Falls and I made the trip in 5 hours.  South Dakota has now raised the speed limit on the interstate to 80 mph.  Pulling my boat, my speed was 70 mph and the cars and truck were almost blowing off my doors as they sped around me.

Arriving at Webster, my first stop was for lunch.  Then I checked into the Galley Motel.  The final stop before hitting the water was bait at Sportsman Cove and I visited with the owner.  As I walked in the door, he recognized me right away as I have been fishing this area since the store opened 15 years ago.  He does not know my name, but always recognizes my face, and that is outstanding customer service.  This is where I get the facts on where to fish and what to fish with.  My plan was to use my favorite lure, the Berkley Flicker Shad, and then  use live bait.  Spinners are my preference, and any live bait will work.  This time the recommendation was either worms or leeches.  No one was catching anything on minnows.  Also he said to fish between 8 to 15 feet of water.  The shore lines in spots had a lot of standing weed and moss and a fisherman needed to get on the edge of the weed lines and deeper to catch the eyes.

Bass Pro Shops Gold Series Folding Landing Net with Telescoping Handle

Three spots were recommended.  Out of Kanago access, take a right and head to the arm of the lake that heads southwest to the trailors.  Halfway there look for boulders along the south shoreline and start a zigzag pattern in 8 feet of water to 15 feet.  That pattern was worked for about 100 yards and there was not one strike.  Over 90 minutes of time was down the drain.

Next, the boat was moved up the south shore line to a spot where the land jutted out into the lake.  This spot was not on the recommended list, but I've had luck there before. Boulders lined the west side.  Fish had been caught here in years past and more time was invested.  I did not get one hit or even a weed.  That was really disappointing because success had happened here when other spots did not produce.  I was fishing with a chartreuse spinner and decided to switch baits.  Next was the Flicker Shad trolled from 19 feet to 8 feet, but nothing was produced.  At some point a person must remind himself that it is called fishing not catching.  The time had now come to move.

Rapala Lithium Ion Cordless Fillet Knife

The second spot was northeast of Kanago access and it was recommended to work the northwest shore line at a spot where one of the hidden boulders stuck up from the bottom. It was about 150 to 200 yards from the boat dock.  I did not like this area as it was a good location to hit something with the lower unit.   I have torn up enough props and prop shafts in my old age.  I also switched to a chartreuse jig and crawler.  I worked from the submerged boulder out at a 90 degree angle to the bank but no action developed.  I worked the area at about 100 yards out for about 90 minutes changing to a spinner, and then to a red and white jig.  No runs, no hits, no errors. 

Well, now it was time to move to spot number 3.  This was just outside of Breskey Bay on the northwest corner of the lake.  I was to look for a large tree trunk sticking up at a point along the shore line.  It was easy to find.  I was told to go on a line straight out from the tree to about 200 yards.
Walleye had been hammered there before.  The wind was northeasterly and blowing directly towards the tree trunk.

The boat moved into about 10 feet of water and then, Wham!  It felt like a big fish.  It was not, but the bite was aggressive and that was a good sign.  Still moving out at a snails pace, fish were starting to be picked up, but they were all less than 14 inches.  That is the legal size for Waubay.  It was not long before a keeper was picked up and then a 15 inch fish was boated.  The deeper I went the bigger the fish.  So, the boat was moved out to about 12 to 15 feet of water.  The hits were more sparse, but when one was landed, it was a keeper in the 15 to 16 inch range. By 7 PM I had my daily limit and headed for the barn.  The next morning, I knew where I was going.

Bass Pro Shops Stainless Steel Hook Remover
Up early the weather could not have been better.  I was really excited with the weather. There were thick low dark clouds, heavy fog, and a moderate wind just enough to put a good ripple on the water.  How lucky can anyone be.  This was walleye heaven and I was going to participate in this experience.

At the boat dock there was not one vehicle so the boat was quickly launched and headed for Breskey Bay.  This time, fishing was started at 8 feet and it was Wham! Wham! Wham!  One fish after another. All I had to do was to catch, check size and pitch.  It took some time to catch a legal limit, but who cares.  When you are catching fish after fish and throwing them back it cannot get any better than that.

The Chum Buddy

Slowly the fog lifted and the sun began to poke through the scud clouds covering the lake. It was not long before the catching began to slow, but I was done by then and was totally limited out in 1 hour.  I continued on catching and pitching just for fun for about another hour.  The sun finally began to appear and above the clouds was a clear blue sky.  The wind slowly went down and the lake was like glass.  Time to go.

If you have read past blog posts, you know I don't always catch fish, but this was not one of them. Periodically you hit that moment when you just hammer the walleye and catch them by the bushel basket. This was one of those times.  I can only hope it will happen again this year.  I am waiting for the next near perfect weather pattern to make another trip to Webster, SD.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank 

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