DAKOTA REPORT: North Dakota’s fisheries grow and a South Dakota Missouri River fishing report.

There may not be 10,000 lakes in North Dakota, but there are a lot more than there used to be.
*scroll down for South Dakota Missouri River Fishing Report

62013 - ND GF boat ramp

By Doug Leier

30 years ago there were 143 fishing waters in the state. Today, the number  is about 400.

Recently a friend asked me how I see fishing in the future.

Since my approach to fishing probably fits more in 1983 than 2013, and for sure what fishing may be like in 2033, I really struggled to envision the way fishing would look years from now.

What I can do is look back on how I’ve seen fishing change over the course of more than three decades in North Dakota, and look for more positive improvements to come.

I don’t know that anyone could have predicted 30 years ago that fishing as a whole could be substantially better in 2013 than in 1983. But it is.

While technological advances in rods, reels, line, artificial baits, boats and motors and fish-finding electronics might serve to improve fish-catching success on any given day, there are a number of other factors involved.

First off, in 1983 the State Game and Fish Department’s magazine, North Dakota OUTDOORS, listed 143 fishing waters in the state. Today, the number of managed fishing waters is about 400.

We can thank Mother Nature for that. A wet cycle that began in 1993, and is still with us, is responsible for providing all that extra water on the landscape capable of supporting fish life.

Another significant factor is the Wallop-Breaux Amendment, passed by Congress in 1984, which expanded the list of items included under the federal excise tax on fishing equipment. Wallop-Breaux also providedfor additional funds to states from federal gasoline excise taxes attributable to motorboats, and mandated that states spend at least 10 percent of the apportionment on boat access.

In North Dakota, this new money available to states allowed for the Game and Fish Department to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on expanding the fish production capabilities at Garrison Dam and Valley City national fish hatcheries. Today, that means the state can distribute 9 million walleye fingerlings later in June, as well as several other fish species, to supplement all those new waters in the state.

In 1986, with additional dollars for boat access, Game and Fish poured its first concrete boat ramp. Today North Dakota has several hundred quality ramps, and in addition has many waters that have accessible fishing piers and popular fish cleaning stations.

Technology has also given us web-based contour maps and stocking reports available for planning at the “old” desktop computer or modern smartphone 24 hours a day.

Better access over the past few decades has led to an increasingly mobile boating community, and that, unfortunately has increased the potential for the spread of aquatic nuisance species.

When I started my career in the natural resources field, I’d never heard a reference to aquatic nuisance species. Sure, carp have been around for decades, but now we have more problems with invasive species such as Eurasian water milfoil and Asian carp that have arrived in North Dakota, with zebra mussels likely on the way as the latest threat to waterways and fisheries.

It’s a safe bet these concerns are with us for the foreseeable future. How the people who fish and boat in North Dakota – both residents and nonresidents – embrace new laws designed to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species will have a major influence on what the fishing scene will look like 20 years from now.

As for the future of fishing, if the next 20 years are like the last 20 years as far as precipitation, we could have even more viable fisheries than we do today. If the opposite occurs, we’ll have fewer lakes.

And some days the fish will bite, and some days they won’t.

Doug Leier is an outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. 


FROM SOUTH DAKOTA: Missouri River Fishing Report


Provided by: Great Lakes of SD Tourism Association                                                               


Fishing/Hunting Update for

 the Missouri River in South Dakota


Weather in the high 70s and 80s for the week – should be a perfect time to get to the Missouri River for some good fishing – and we’re hearing it’s good all over!

You will see some of the greenest countryside you’ve seen in years when you come to South Dakota – emerald green in fact.


The fishing report that we do weekly is simply a snap shot in time of what went on over the weekend. You need to know that when a front comes through, when we have  high winds, temperature changes or cloudy weather everything can change quickly and we suggest you call one of our members listed at the end of the report, to see what is happening the day you are venturing up here. That way you’ll be assured of a great trip!

Like us on Facebook – for up-to-date reports from our businesses and the area.

Lake Oahe

In the Pollock area fishing is going excellent with limits coming in. Again, the fronts coming through can change things in a hurry. Crankbaits and spinners seem to work the best in 14-18 feet of water. Actually all bait is still working. The tournament this past weekend went really well with two young kids as the winners!

At Mobridge, fishing is also very, very good using jigs or Lindy rigs and minnows. Anglers are catching fish almost everywhere around the Mobridge area. Again, in the 15-20 foot depths. A lot of small fish being caught, but there is no problem catching them.

At Akaska  fishing is awesome with many anglers catching their limit of walleye. Some bigger fish are coming in also. Anglers are using spinners with minnows and crawlers in around 15-25 feet. Lots of 15-16 inch fish are being caught. Crappies are hitting in this area also.

At Gettysburg anglers are doing very well with all baits working here also. Anglers are fishing around 18 feet. They are seeing both small and big fish. Anglers are using minnows, crawlers and leeches. Actually, the report is that all bait is working!

Around Spring Creek / Cow Creek  from the Oahe Dam to the Cheyenne River to Bush’s Landing the fishing is excellent and as good as it can possibly be! It doesn’t seem to matter where you go in this area. Anglers are using jigs and minnows or Lindys and shiners or a spinner and crawler in around 5-35 feet. They are pulling some very good looking fish. If you’re on the big water be sure and watch the weather and wind conditions!

Lake Sharpe

Fishing on Lake Sharpe is absolutely great from the Oahe Dam to Pierre and Fort Pierre  and down to West Bend. Good areas include the stilling basin and around the bridges. Lots of fishing seem to be holding there. Anglers are using jigs and minnows and some spinners and crawlers in 9-20 feet. Also, anglers are using Lindy rigs with a crawler or shiner. For anglers interested in shore fishing, good places to go are Fort George, the stilling basin by the Oahe Dam and the causeway in Pierre by LaFramboise Island. Also, white bass are going well really in the Hipple Lake, Fort George and stilling basin areas.  Lots of good looking fish being caught. Suggestion might be to come out during the week when it’s less crowded!

Francis Case

 Around Chamberlain , on Francis Case the bite is good, with lots of small fish being caught. Anglers are using jigs with minnows or crawlers and some are starting to use leeches – other anglers are using bottom bouncers and spinners, with some pulling plugs. Most anglers are fishing in the 5-20 foot depths. Above Chamberlain fishing is good by the Big Bend Dam also. The area around Crow Creek is also doing well with the channel being better than right at the mouth of the Creek. Crappies are starting to bite along with small mouth bass.

In the Platte area the bite is strong. Anglers need to sort fish a bit more than they did before and the fishing seems to be progressing south on the reservoir. Anglers are pulling plugs and using live bait in around 12-15 feet. The bigger fish are starting to go deeper and in the 25-30 feet.

At the Pickstown – Wagner – Lake Andes area boats are coming in with limits and the fishing has been awesome. Areas depend on the wind and clouds with the points and mud lines being good. Anglers are fishing in 8-25 feet of water using minnows and crawlers, with some starting to use leeches. Long leaders seem to be working well too. Also some anglers are pulling plugs, depending on the wind. . The walleye coming in are fat and looking good. Perch, crappie, bass and northern are also being caught here. The bite is on! Below the Fort Randall Dam anglers are catching some fish, but it depends on the release of water. Again, watch for the elk on the west shore – you might see them!

In the Yankton area on the Missouri River walleye are still being caught on jigs and minnows near the fast water. Shore fishing is best by the wall, bubble area and by the handicapped fishing dock. These areas are also producing catfish, white bass and drum. These are being caught on crawlers, prepared bait and crawfish. Northern are being caught on crankbaits from shore also.

Lewis & Clark Lake – During May and June the walleye are biting best while trolling the flats in 8-12 feet of water. Key locations are by the Colonies, Miller Creek and Weigand.  Anglers are pulling crank baits or using spinners with crawlers or minnows. Other species being caught are crappies, white bass, small and large mouth bass – in the bays, the marinas or structural areas.

Lake Yankton – Bass are being caught on minnows or by throwing crankbaits. Panfish are also being caught with crappie rigs tipped with minnows or crawlers.

*Please remember that the fishing conditions on the Missouri River change constantly and this report is simply a guideline – a snapshot in time.*

For more information and up-to-the-minute reports on fishing Lake Oahe, please call West Pollock Resort, 605-889-2448; Kemnitz MoRest Motel in Mobridge at 605-845-3668. At Akaska call Akaska Bait Shop at 605-649-7847. Call Bob’s Resort at 605-765-2500 or South Whitlock Resort at 605-765-9762 in Gettysburg. On the lower end of Lake Oahe, Outpost Lodge at 605-264-5450 and Lake Oahe/Lake Sharpe call Carl’s Bait Shop at 605-223-9453. On Lake Francis Case, contact Cedar Shore Resort at 605-734-6376 or Platte Chamber of Commerce at 888-297-8175 and Circle H Motel in Lake Andes at 605-487-7652.

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