Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lake Oahe, Part 1.

Good Looking Crew from Missouri!
Our much anticipated fishing trip to Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River began early Wednesday morning.  After picking up Mark at his house around 6:45AM we headed back to the pole shed to hook up the boat, load everything up and wait for my brother Steve to arrive.  Lucky for us he was also early and by 7:15 we were heading west.  It's been a scramble getting ready for the trip as I finally got the boat dialed in but felt because of the standing trees that still remain after the dam was built I should have a spare propeller so Monday night I ran back up to Frankie's to buy an aluminum prop.  There were some concerns that the right hub was not available however I paid for the prop and decided to look around on Tuesday morning.  After being on hold for about 40 minutes I finally got someone to answer and 15 minutes later they confirmed, no hub for the E-tec G2 aluminum props, dang.  I looked for aftermarket because I don't believe Evinrude makes their own props but works with one of the major aftermarket companies like Michigan or Solas to design a prop for their specific requirements.  Solas claimed to have one but there was no time left. Arriving at around 2:00 in the afternoon we unpacked our stuff and headed for the landing 10 miles from our cabin.  It's really different country and the drive to the river is very nice.  After paying our $6.00 daily pass we got on the river and headed south to a few known spots that produced in years past.  The problem was that the water levels were up almost 15 feet from 2 years ago and the whole dynamics had changed.  Really it meant fishing closer to shore for the most part.  About the only thing we caught of any significance was a small walleye and I nailed a nice 29 inch channel cat (unfortunately I took my boat to the dealer and left the camera in it) which I will have to post next week.  Anyway on the way out of the landing/camping area there was a couple of trucks parked by a tent sight so I drove over to introduce ourselves and to say hi.  The were 5 guys from Columbia Missouri, had been there a few days, and were getting fish!  Interestingly they were not shy about where they were catching walleyes as well as their presentation, trolling crankbaits in 8 - 12 feet of water.  We really didn't have much of a crankbait strategy, especially without a kicker motor but it was worth filing away about where the fish were.  The next morning we headed to the lake but had to stop on the road so my brother Steve could take care of some critical business over his cell phone while we still had service.  The guy in the nice blue fishing shirt was driving back to town and was kind enough to stop and see if we needed help.  Naw, Steve forgot he was on vacation was our answer however I noticed he had a bunk missing on his trailer, that wasn't good.  Agreeing to pick it up off the road if we see it sure enough it was about 4 miles further so we grabbed it and put it on the picnic table by their tent.  These guys certainly knew how to camp as they had 2 freezers plugged into the electric outlets as well the tents had 2 air conditioners on one end, that was amazing.  I gave them a Fishin' With Dave card and hopefully they check it out as I would like them to know how much we appreciated their help with our success.

Thursday's catch
So what was that success?  On Thursday we drove the 14 miles or so up the Moreau River and starting scoping out the activity.  It's easy to see the guide boats out there because for the most part they are all big pontoons with 150 - 250 hp outboards and 4 - 6 guys. Their strategy is quite simple, rig the lines with relatively heavy bottom bouncers, a 3 foot leader with a spinner and a night crawler, or better yet use the newer "slo death crawler hooks"with a crawler threader. I had an interesting conversation with a guide named Rick at the bait shop/tavern in town as we discussed the nuances of guiding in Minnesota vs Lake Oahe.  There it is simply about how many guys in the boat as they get paid by the person.  He was gracious enough to give me a ride back to the cabin but not before we stopped at his garage and checked out the boat, a 27 foot custom 3 tubed pontoon made in Poskin, Wisconsin with a 150 hp Honda 4 stroke and seating fit for a king with full captain chairs that recline.  There must have been 12 -14 rod holders on the rails as they basically drop the weights down and back troll with the big motor.  Those pontoon ends really will slow a 150 hp down enough to control the trolling speed to around 1.5 mph.  Fast enough to attract walleyes but too fast for catfish and sheepshead, which we soon discovered was a correct statement.  His rigs were pretty slick and he showed me his enormous collection of Slo Death rigs which were quite impressive.  My friend Bill Lundeen sold me the stuff needed to rig these a few weeks ago but I had forgot about it so the next day I dug it all out. Although Rick never let in to his secret spots, as I said before it's pretty easy to spot the guides and where they fish.  We left his garage as he gave me a ride back to the cabin to check out my new E-tec G2.  I'm not sure he would trade in his Honda but he was impressed.  We had ended the day with 9 walleyes, 1 nice crappie that Mark had caught and a smaller sheepshead that because fried fish was on the menu for the night, we decided to keep one and try.  Admittedly it was pretty good!  With a day and a half of fishing behind us, the next two days would be interesting.  Up to this point we used mostly jig heads with a half a night crawler dragged along the bottom and caught at least 10 catfish for every walleye we kept.  Up to this point my opinion was that the fishing was pretty slow but admittedly Lake Oahe is a very interesting waters to fish as the shorelines are completely undeveloped as you have the sense of being somewhere very special.

Monday morning I brought my boat back up to the dealer to have my 9.8 hp kicker motor installed as it came in while I was fishing.  We sure could have used it for trolling but we got by ok.  Along with the kicker installation there is a recall on my power steering on the main motor, a possible new GPS board in the Motorguide i5 electric motor, and a few odds and ends that need to be taken care of.  I am not sure what the weekend will bring but with a solid time in South Dakota and a planned trip with my friend Charlie next week on Mille Lacs, it will not slow down.

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