I have a little more time on Devils Lake yet this winter, but the open water season is upon us here already in Bismarck-Mandan! I usually have to start the season up on the Tailrace region, but with our early spring, the river in town is open for business.
What can we expect this spring on the Missouri River? Well, if it’s any indication of what I saw yesterday in two hours, it’s gonna be a great spring! The fish were abundant and healthy! Now, I wasn’t fortunate enough to hook into a big girl in my abbreviated first open water trip, but I did have a couple buddies that caught some big girls, and one of those is going in the wall. My hat goes off to them also for releasing the bigger ones to hopefully do their duty this spring.
Now, I’m not trying to lecture, or trying to tell anyone what they can and can’t keep. I will however make a suggestion, if your catching female walleyes between 22 and 28 inches, I’d probably say throw it back. Anything bigger, keep it for the wall or throw it back so maybe another lucky angler can experience a catch of a lifetime. Our river system has plenty of fish from 13 inches to 20 inches that are absolutely perfect to keep and eat. In my opinion, the bigger fish don’t compare in the table fare war, and they at least give us all an opportunity to see our fishery thrive.
I’ve honestly fished this river hard for 40 years now, and I have seen it go through so many different phases. Many of the phases I’ve seen it go through were before many of the new diehard river rats were even born. I personally have seen it better, and I’ve also seen it worse. I just don’t want to see it worse because of human interference. It’s good right now, and you honestly have a chance at a fish of a lifetime, or even a state record fish every time your jig hits the bottom.
With that said, I’ll be starting up my open water adventures March 15th. If your looking to catch some, keep some, and throw a few back for seed get ahold of me at mikepelusooutdoors@gmail.com