I followed eastern South Dakota weather and it never seemed like good fishing weather. Wind, warm to hot temps and frontal activity. Then it hit. Down came a cold front from Canada bringing cold weather, rain, and storms. I should have been there before the front hit, but it was not possible. The plan was made to head up after the frontal passage and hit the lakes for a couple of days as the forecast looked great.
The night before leaving, the temp in Webster, South Dakota was 45 degrees and this was after July 4th. It was down right cold with light northerly wind. The sky was a typical bright blue as it usually is in the Dakotas and after frontal passage. They have low humidity and that makes it really comfortable. Whether it is hot or cold plus the beauty of the prairie meeting the blue sky, it is absolutely picturesque.
I checked in at the Galley Motel and then went down to Sportsman Cove for bait and advice. The weather had not warmed up much. Leeches and crawlers were the live bait of choice according to the owner of the bait store. I would be fishing Waubay Lake. What disappointed me was that no one he knew was catching fish pulling plugs. My favorite has always been the Berkley Flicker Shad and it has been really successful for walleye when nothing else was working. We did not discuss depths much, but the feeling was that 10 to 15 feet was probably in order since the cool weather and cool water temps would bring them closer to the shore and in more shallow water.
After launching the boat, the light breeze was just perfect for walleye. My plan was that if I could nail a quick limit, I would go after white bass which had become plentiful in the shallow waters. White Bass are excellent table fare and with a good coating of your favorite fish batter, it is excellent. The plus to the White Bass is the limit was high and there was not a worry about going over the limit. I had also picked up some Small Mouth Bass on the previous trip, but there was a slot that would be hard to fill. Small Mouth Bass eat really well. I will take all I can legally catch. I had caught all three at Breskey Bay.
The big front had gone through yesterday evening and figuring that the blow out period was already over, the fish would start to feed heavily again. An old fisherman told me that after frontal passage, 12 to 24 hours is the blowout period where the fish have gone deep and quit feeding. In the past that has proven to be somewhat true if it is a cold front and really severe. This was a tough front. After the wait of time they will start feeding and move to the shallows. I believed this was what was taking place. I started at the 10 foot level and moved out to the 15 foot depth pulling a chartreuse
After moving back to the 8 foot depth, a 3/8 red and white jig was fastened to the line. A leech was added for flavor and the process was started. The jig was allowed to fall, strike the bottom and then lifted up about two feet and dropped again to the bottom. This process was repeated over and over again. From 8 feet out to 15 feet not one hit was felt on the jig. If the walleye were soft biters I was not feeling them. Rods were then changed from a light weight rod to an ultra light rod. From the 15 foot depth, I back trolled to 8 feet jigging off the bottom as I went. I should add, the graph was showing fish, but not a lot. The old saying is, “Let your graph be your eyes.” Fish have been caught when not showing a thing on the graph.
By this time frustration had risen. A couple of weeks ago a limit was reached in the same amount of time invested at this spot. That does not include the fish that were thrown back. It was time to move on.
Along the north shore of Waubay Lake before you come to the old school bus point, there are a couple of islands. It was in this area that the staff at Sportsman Cove told me to work in at least 15 feet of water. A little more breeze had come up, and there was a better ripple on the water than before. This might have been the past problem. Going back to the spinner and crawler, the islands were trolled staying within the 15 foot areas. Going between the islands was some deeper water, but it produced nothing. I tried changing rods to an ultra light but kept the spinner and crawler on. The theory was that walleye will mouth the bait, not smack it, when they are not actively feeding. When you feel the weight, you release the line and feed them several feet of line. Slowly tighten it up until it is tight again, and then set the hook. This has worked for me in the past. That is the good news. The bad, was that not one light biter took the crawler. A point of caution; there have been times when the hook was set on a snag and a rod was broken. It was time to move on.
To the east end of the lake there is a bay that on the south side is a wild life refuge. It is well marked, and over the decades the lake has been fished. The urge was to cross the barrier and fish the wildlife refuge. It was not going to take place today as visions of a big fine surfaced, and my boat being confiscated.
The plan was to work parallel to the marker line and start off with a Flicker Shad. The plug will go down about 8 to 10 feet and it has a nice rattle to it. For me, I have found that the plug will trigger fish to strike. The fisherman that tipped me off on the plug said to pull it around 2 to 3 miles per hour. The plug was worked for about one hour from 8 feet out to 15 feet trolling in a straight line then in an s curve fashion going from shallow to deep. I was getting hungry by then and it was past my dinner time.
It is called fishing, not catching, and it was time to throw in the towel. Tomorrow is another day, and I intend to fish a new lake.