For the last two weeks, I studied weather patterns in eastern South Dakota waiting for the right time to head north to Webster, SD and pound the lakes there for walleye and whatever else was swimming by our lures. The windy conditions just kept prevailing and would follow with storms and torrential rains. None of this is good for fishing. There is one thing a person fishing the glacial lakes can depend on; the wind will always be blowing. The velocity and the direction are the next two variables.
My wife, Pam, and I found a three day window where it looked really good. Forecast winds were not in access of 15 mph and the skies were generally clear or partly cloudy. High pressure was in the forecast. With all this in mind, we called up to the motels and to my amazement two of the three were full. The Circle Pines in Waubay was available and it is a good place to stay. We just have to do some extra driving which is a minor inconvenience. The good news is it is walking distance to the Purple Cow Ice Cream Parlor.
As we drove up, we had northwesterly flow and our fuel consumption was not the best pulling a boat. In South Dakota the speed limit goes up to 80 mph on the interstate. I drive 70 mph for fuel economy as the faster I go with the truck and boat, my fuel consumption goes way down. The natives paid no attention to the 80 mph as they flew by me.
Eastern SD has had a lot of rain. The corn was way up with a dark green color. Even from the interstate as we sped along, we could tell the plants were really healthy. Barring any unforeseen weather that would spoil it, this area should have bumper crops. Now if the price was only decent.
Arriving in the little town of Waubay by noon, we checked in at the Circle Pine Motel and headed to Webster 11 miles away. After a quick bite at the local A&W, we headed over to Sportsman’s Cove to pick up some bait and get the latest news on where to go. The first recommendation was Bitter Lake south of the town of Waubay, but there were a lot of boats fishing the lake and the water level was way down. I do not know the lake well and with low water that made me nervous about smacking a submerged rock or reef. The state of South Dakota on these lakes do not mark the shallow spots with buoys and every time I go up there I plan to write to the DNR and complain. The out of state people spend a lot of money there.
Anyway, our plan was to fish Lake Waubay. We put in at Kanago access. Wind was out of the northwest so we launched there. Putting the boat back on the trailer will be no problem with wind. There is a good parking lot with good ramps and dock. Plus there is a modern no flush toilet compliments by the state of South Dakota for your convenience.
We boated around the reefs toward Breski Bay and stopped on the northerly side of one of the islands. At this location we drifted with the wind pulling spinners. Pam had a minnow, and I put on a crawler. We had a multitude of light hits and picked up some 13-14 inch walleye. We threw them back even though you can now keep a 14 inch fish on Waubay. It was just too small so we kept 15 inch or bigger which is still small, but we could get a decent fillet out of it. Fifteen inches two years ago was the minimum length you could take and now the state has lowered it. What does that tell you about the glacial lakes?
Working the bay produced nothing. The fish had definitely gone deep. We never got one hit in the 10 to 15 foot range even with all the cool air the area had enjoyed. Moving out to the 15 to 20 foot range was where we picked up the hits. The breeze produced just the right amount of drift to turn the spinner blade. I changed to leeches just to see if I would pick up some hits. After graphing fish, Pam would pick up a hit or a small walleye on a minnow or crawler. I would get nothing, so after an hour of this lack of action, I went back to the crawler.
We were finally able to pick up one limit of fish, but not two, and this was a big disappointment. The sky had gone totally void of clouds, and with the nice breeze we wanted to try out another location. Straight south of the boat access was a series of points along the south shore. In past years, fishing had at times been fast and furious. We moved to this location and started working the points out to 20 feet of water.
We got the same action. The hits were light and it was not a good indication of feeding fish. Still we continued to work the areas, but it was not productive. I have always been amazed how one day you can be on a hot spot and the next day it is like there were never any fish there to begin with. It is called fishing, not catching.
Still, we had a really successful day and caught a lot of small fish with one limit of fish with a 15 inch minimum. The people at Sportsman Cove said we would have to do a lot of culling. The water on the lake was the clearest I have ever seen it and with the high sun, may have driven the fish to a deeper part of the lake. That is probably the reason we were in 20 feet of water to catch fish. It was a good day.