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It’s Never Over Till It’s Over

 

We needed one more fishing trip up to Lake Francis Case before calling it quits, and this day was day two.  The month of June was a beautiful month and the severe heat was coming that we all experience during July and up into August.  The fish keep feeding, it is just that they go deep and seem to be more spread out.  Anyway this is the feeling of the guide we have fished with for several years.  He was born, raised, and worked in the area all his life.  He is no stranger to Lake Francis Case. 

This was day one of the trip. Continue reading

Walleye Fishing at Its Finest

My wife said she would make the trip with me to Platte, SD to fish on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River system of dams and lakes that provide some of the finest walleye fishing in America.  Her only requirement is for good weather and she will even tolerate windy days.  Cold and wet is a no go situation. 

Just as you enter the town of Platte, you are greeted with this antique sign in outstanding condition.  Plus, there is the original gas station.  I showed that pic to some friends and they said the sign if in good condition is worth some change.

The lodge put us up at the new pheasant lodge they had just purchased.  Pam had never seen this before and was astounded this first class hunting lodge was on the prairie of South Dakota and no one knew about it.  Great rooms and we had the entire run of the lodge.  There was another couple there and we visited with them about the fantastic setting of the lodge.  We did supply our own meals, and our local grocery store deli has pre made meals that supplied us with all we needed. A micro wave was available so we are set with meals.Continue reading

How Sweet It Is

Here it is.  The chariot that will carry us to glory and lots of walleye.

This is South Dakota.  Weather in this state is chaotic.  The blow out period moved the low pressure out, and this is generally not good for fishing.  We still had a high overcast, but the wind came up and began to blow.  This is where an experienced guide shows why we pay them for this service.  We went fishing in the big Lund as it made its way up the lake.  The guide had been in this type of weather before and knew where to go.  Twenty minutes after launching we moved into about 4 to 6 feet of water and started to fish.  It did not take long and we picked up a couple of keepers. Continue reading

 

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Pam and I after a gator harvest.

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My wife said she would make the trip with me to Platte, SD to fish on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River system of dams and lakes that provide some of the finest walleye fishing in America.  Her only requirement is for good weather and she will even tolerate windy days.  Cold and wet is a no go situation.  Just as you enter the town of Platte, you are greeted with this antique sign in outstanding condition.  Plus, there is the original gas station.  I showed that pic to some friends and they said the sign if in good condition is worth some change. The lodge put us up at the new pheasant lodge they had just purchased.  Pam had never seen this before and was astounded this first class hunting lodge was on the prairie of South Dakota and no one knew about it.  Great rooms and we had the entire run of the lodge.  There was another couple there and we visited with them about the fantastic setting of the lodge.  We did supply our own meals, and our local grocery store deli has pre made meals that supplied us with all we needed. A micro wave was available so we are set with meals. Totally vacant, but Tom and Nova have purchased a pheasant lodge ready to go.  First class lodging and Tom and Nova will provide an outstanding pheasant hunting experience. We teamed up early with our guide and his boat and off to the lake we went. The weather was perfect with a light SW wind and ripple on the water.  I prefer total dark overcast and a heavy wind of at least of 15-20 mph.   We were fishing in 50 feet of water trolling lead core line with counting reels.  Two rods per person is allowed in South Dakota and on the outside rods that were really long, we let out 130 feet of line.  The two inside rods we let out the line to 85 feet, but 20 feet up the line we added a 5 ounce weight.  The plug was my favorite for walleye and that is the Berkley Flicker Shad.  The guide seemed to like the darker colors best in chartreuse and similar.  He also liked smaller lures in the two inch category.  Studies have shown that walleye will single out small shad even when they have other forage available to them. To buy click on the following link (https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/berkley-flicker-shad-crankbait)         The big Lund used the electric trolling motor in the front to steer and the kicker on the rear to push us forward.  The guide wanted the boat in a certain depth and the trolling motor kept the boat in the depth.  Around his neck was a small control device where he could change the depth the boat was running.  This is gentleman's fishing and totally hands off.  All you have to do is sit back and wait for a hit on the rod.  The speed of the boat was around 1-2 mph.  How sweet it is.  I should have felt guilty about how easy it was catching fish, but I didn't because as a former owner of three different boats spread out over 36 years, I can remember when I got skunked. Sold my boat two years ago before the Pandemic.  Crestliner 18 ft with a Yamaha 90 and an 8 on the back. Then I went and gave all my fishing equipment to the Boy Scouts.  Still have the truck. Besides the equipment the most important item was our guide.  He is a native of the area and has spent his life fishing on Francis Case and knows where to go on this enormous reservoir.  People frequently call him up on the phone to find out where to go searching for free advice.  Always courteous but somewhat vague, we pay for his expertise and they are not.  At first all we caught were shorts.  A short is a fish less than 15 inches and Francis Case is a really fertile lake as we caught a lot of them during the first hour of fishing.  An old walleye fisherman once told me, "When all you are catching is small fish, that is all you will catch in that area".  It was time to move.  When you have to manage two rods with lead core line out to 130 feet, you have a lot a hauling in to do.  I used to fish primarily with ultra lights pulling bottom bouncers, and you could tell immediately what you were pulling in, but with the length of line out you did not have that feel until the fish was closer to the boat.  After an hour we moved. At a new location we
Here it is.  The chariot that will carry us to glory and lots of walleye. This is South Dakota.  Weather in this state is chaotic.  The blow out period moved the low pressure out, and this is generally not good for fishing.  We still had a high overcast, but the wind came up and began to blow.  This is where an experienced guide shows why we pay them for this service.  We went fishing in the big Lund as it made its way up the lake.  The guide had been in this type of weather before and knew where to go.  Twenty minutes after launching we moved into about 4 to 6 feet of water and started to fish.  It did not take long and we picked up a couple of keepers. We fished two rods on each side of the boat and with the rocking and rolling, it was work to stand up.  I sat down in a chair behind the windscreen and kept my eye on the two rods I was responsible for.  We fished with Berkley Flicker Shads in dark colors about two inches in length.  We let out 30 feet of line on the inboard rods and 5o feet of line on the outboard rods.  Anyway, this was what the line counters said.  Boom, boom, shorts were all we were catching and on the rough ride it was tough to land one and get rid of it.  We moved. A location that was out of the wind turned into a magic spot.  Wham! The walleye hit with ferocity and we started hauling them in.  We fished for 30 minutes.  After a location switch out of the howling wind and in a sheltered area, the fish gods smiled on us.  We were hammering walleye, and they were keepers.   It did not take long and I had one more fish to pick up to make the limit. We did this in less than three hours. Now comes the proverbial old question.  How many times have you had to fish and fish to catch that last fish to fill out the limit?  I love South Dakota, and as I sat and stared  at the hills and prairies that surround this magnificent reservoir, it happened.  The outboard rod bent way over and the pull was on.  There was no wiggle or fight, and it was like I was dragging a concrete block to the boat.  I said to the guide, " I have got something."  He grabbed the net and moved between me and the fish and then yelled "Good grief, it is huge.  Keep your rod tip up."  Suddenly the fish let loose and began to fight.  I moved over to my left so I could take a look and "Moby Dick" threw the lure.  Well, it happens to all of us.  It took an hour to finish and catch the last fish to complete our limit.   Good Walleye water with just a little ripple. Rather than stay at the main lodge, the owners put me up at River Hills Lodge.  Built years ago, this is a 5 star pheasant resort is for gentlemen hunting.  Here is where I want to hunt pheasants.  The lodge can only be described as one of a kind from the unique atmosphere designed to mimic an 1890's western town, to the spectacular views of some of the most stunning pheasant habitat in the world.  In the middle is the hotel and on the right is the saloon. The owner who built and owned the lodge passed away and the estate continued to keep the lodge totally maintained and preserved.  All the new owners had to do was open the doors officially.  What is most interesting is the new owners were the managers of the lodge for years until the owner died and the estate closed it.  These people know how to run a resort for hunters. As you enter the resort area this magnificent statue is there Not only will I be fishing South Dakota, I will be hunting Pheasants at this lodge when it is officially open.   Click on the book and buy from Amazon.  Makes a great gift, and I need the money Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank                                
Here it is, boys and girls, the Berkley Flicker Shad that we caught the majority of the Walleye.  Just click on the picture and go to Bass Pro and buy several in case you lose a couple.  The reservation was made in February of this year to fish our favorite lake on the Missouri River.  Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles.  With all that shoreline, this reservoir is a regular walleye factory. My wife, Pam, likes to fish and was looking forward to this trip.  We generally go up mid June, but talking with friends, they had always gone in early May.  The weather that time of the year in South Dakota can be a little iffy, but we scheduled a trip anyway, but made it later in the month.  That way we believed would avoid the inclement weather.  Ah, my friends, the best laid plans of mice and men never work out, and this was the case the third week of May.  The weather went from gorgeous to down right hideous.  Cold temperatures moved in right above freezing, the wind blew out of the east, and with all that came rain and fog.  It was the low pressure of low pressures and as the old saying goes, wind from the east, fishing is least, wind from the west, fishing is best.  I don't care, but Pam said, "There is no way I am going up and fish in that kind of weather.  You are on your own." I will never give up and with that kind of weather. The lake will be all to ourselves.  I checked with the guide and he said, "Come up.  We don't let a little blow get in the way of catching walleye."  That is the attitude I like to hear.  I was on my way, weather and all.  When I got to Platte Creek Lodge in Platte, SD.  they had a really nice surprise for me.  The owners had bought a pheasant operation the first of May and would be open in the fall.  The interesting part was they put me over at this new facility instead of at the lodge.  There is a lot more to tell about this great experience, but later.  Fishing was the name of the game. Pam and I always stay at Platte Creek Lodge (https://www.plattecreek.com/) but the owners have now purchased this property that has been vacant for over 10 years.  It has been totally maintained and all the equipment, fixtures, and equipment were ready to start using.  More later about this pheasant hunting lodge. The guide called me and gave me the time to be at the lodge in the morning to hit the lake, weather or not.  It was tough. The wind blew all night and the rain pounded the roof of the lodge.  In the morning the temperature was about 34, with visibility about one mile.  Low fog, drizzle, and wind made for a great morning.    It doesn't look too bad at the boat dock.  Note my finger at the bottom of the picture.  I was trying to keep it warm near the battery. We plowed through the lake with wind and rain stinging our faces.  My glasses dripped rain down my face and neck into the inside of the rain suit. This was fun.  We fished initially in 4 to 8 feet of water.  This has been the depth where the walleye were hanging out but it produced nothing.  Wave action in the area along the bank had churned up the bottom and the lake in this location had a muddy appearance.  The graph did not show any fish and after 45 minutes we moved.  The guide got on the two way radio with one of the other guides from the lodge and checked their location and results.  He said they were fishing the channel of the river and had picked a couple of fish.  We move then out to almost the center of the lake.  Rock n Roll, here we go.  We fished in 25 feet of water and weighted down the line to get the lures close to the bottom.  In South Dakota, you can fish two rods per individual, so, we had four lines out, trolled against the wind, and slowly moved up the channel into the wind.  When this picture was taken it does not look too bad.  At least it wasn't raining. It did not take long.  Bang, the walleye hit hard and this was not what was expected.  The fish were