It’s no secret Devils Lake and Lake Sakakawea have been absolutely on fire all season long! Sakakawea in my 40 years of fishing it was without question the best I’ve ever seen it! So kudos to the ND Game and Fish for how those fisheries are today.
Just an fyi for some folks reading today, these reports are more like a blog sometimes. I like to keep people informed in general what is happening on our 3 major waterways here in North Dakota. Most of the time it’s a report of how and what. Today it’s gonna be a little praise and a little constructive criticism.
As I continue to put my boat into the river near Bismarck to probe around for signs of walleye life, it’s getting petty obvious the river is going to have some really dark days ahead. The few fish we are seeing are small and very skinny. Now before we all go into doom and gloom mode, the river does have a strong population of large to beast size walleyes in it. These fish are doing well and eating fresh water herring down in the southern stretches of Oahe. So as far as a trophy fishery goes, the Missouri River/Oahe is definitely still that! It should remain this for a couple years yet.
The trouble I see is the big walleyes are getting up there in age and the smaller fish do not have the food to grow. It seems Oahe has a great population of smaller fish. If they could just find some good things would turn around quickly. I’m no biologist by any means, but I’ve been told it’s worthless to stock smelt etc? My argument to this is how did the smelt get into Sakakawea and how did the herring get into Oahe?
I’m no expert, but if I was a farmer and I planted corn in the ground, I wouldn’t expect it to grow into wheat. I also would realize if I didn’t plant corn in the ground, it wouldn’t be there to harvest in the fall. This is where I and so many others in both ND and SD would love to see the powers at least try and stock some sort of food on an annual basis throughout the entire system. I think at least this way we could say they are trying.
I’ve watched our Game and Fish do an unbelievable job of creating other fisheries in our state. It’s amazing to me to see all the awesome walleye and perch lakes that were once sloughs. ND is second to none in my opinion on doing this. So I know they are good at what they do, and they definitely could step in and really take an interest in rejuvenating the river system from the top at Garrison Dam, down to the border and beyond.
The one thing I can guarantee is I’ll be out on the river all fall trying to fish, and I will report to you what I’m finding. As of right now, I’m not finding anything and that is not normal for this body of water.