|Six on Sak ~ day 6|
Saturday July 18 pm
Today was the last of a six day stretch on Sakakawea. We have encountered the worst weather in recent history with winds over 30 for days on end and cold fronts following cold fronts. Thursday a guy called into KEYZ radio Williston with a report of ice on his windshield! Today was our first tee shirt day as jackets and hooded sweatshirts have been the norm. We began the day with no wind and thousands of the annoying lake bugs but by mid-day it was as perfect as a day can get. It is so good to see family enjoying a day on the beach and boats out doing the same on the water.
Don, Drew and myself launch out of Parshall Bay at 8:30 and make for the first stop. I’m determined not to spend to much time in one location hoping for what ain’t gonna happen. 20 minutes and we are off to the south for a pull in 22-25 on the east shore line. Next stop is Shell Village east where 3 boats are working the ideal structure on the point.
During cold fronts walleyes seem to sink like sediment and mix right into the bottom. I have hardly marked a fish all week but today is the exact opposite. Fish after fish in 22-30 feet and they are up off the bottom. To put the icing on the cake I even mark bait with walleyes under it. Something I don’t see much of anymore. There are a lot of trees in the water due to rising lake levels and they can be confused with bait as some are out as far as 25 feet. The best way to separate the two is bait generally is not connected to the bottom.
Back to the fishing on Shell. After a trip over with the electronics I pick a depth of 24 and put in Reef Runners and Bombers. First pass slow at 1.8 followed by a 2.8 mph pass. One small sauger. In the past when I mark fish like this and they won’t go on fireline and cranks, out comes the lead, so that is exactly what we did. The leadcore got Drew first fish of the day followed by several 12 inch sauger and walleyes but nothing more. Even tried the fishing tip of a piece of crawler on the treble, nothing doing. Frustrated with the unwilling fish we make another move to Independence.
I check the deep water with the electronics but nothing shows so we move south for a pull on the flat. Plenty of bait with an occasional walleye hook but not a single fish to be had. Rather than try another run we make the next move to Shell Village west. Back to fireline and big lures for a pull in 28 feet. The heavy pull on the crank turned into a cottonwood branch still green with leaves.
I’m not giving up yet so we make a long run to the NW corner of Van Hook for a look around in a big flat basin. In minutes we realize fish here have a totally different attitude. Numerous Skip Jacks, Gold Eyes, Shiners, whatever you want to call ‘em make for exciting action but after 5 or so become a nuisance. Walleyes and Sauger are dead even in both size and numbers. Most are the foot long variety but we did get one smaller at around 5 ¾. He may be small but he has the genetics I like to see in a walleye as most of the crank is swallowed by a fish not that much bigger. We switch the lead out for fireline in hopes of getting better results with bigger cranks. NOT!
Off to the pumphouse shoreline next to Parshall Bay for a pull to the north over the old low water boat ramps and parking lot. Off to the west shore for a pull over some sunken humps and a long rock point. Off to the north for a quick pull in shallow water with fast action cranks. Same story, you’re going home way short of limits. Don and Drew could not be better guys to have in the boat when we are not catching and others are. Not a single complaint, in fact they are better about our fishless situation than I am. We take time to shoot a picture of our two walleye total and call it good at 4:30.
I must be looking forlorn as several folks stop to offer advice and pass on a tip. “Mid lake humps 28-30 feet, live bait.” At the ramp advice was “Blue jointed Shad Rap, best lure of the year, just picked up two, one 18 one 19.” Next was lindys, crawlers, leeches, and patience which got ‘em 6 fish. Best advice came as I was leaving Parshall Bay campground. A delighted fisherman pulls up to my driver side, stops and freely lets me have it. “30-32 feet, crawlers on an 8 foot snell, two limits and let several go.” This is buffet so take as much of what you like.
My goal in writing Six on Sak was to give a good picture of what you could expect when you come here fishing. In reflection, I think the six days were anything but average or representative of what Sakakawea has to offer. Perhaps a better picture of reality would be the 2009 reports, as by the end of the season they will represent spring to early fall. In either case thanks for wading through the muck for what I hope was an occasional helpful tip or insightful look into fishing as a guide or as a customer. It’s a privilege for me to fish and enjoy the gift of North Dakota. I hope your experience is the same.Greg Schoneck for www.ndlive.com