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 on the feed, and we should have good and quick luck. It did not take long and we picked up another. The equipment on the boat kept us along the edge of the channel where the fish were close to the bottom with some suspended. We continued to fish upstream against the wind and along the channel and picked up a total of 4 walleye. Then it shut off. The graph showed nothing and we continued along the edge of the channel for about 30 minutes. That was enough, so we turned around and went back to the original area and started the process again. This is where it is worth it to have a top notch guide that not only knows the lake, but the right strategy to put fish in the live well. The electronics on the boat showed right where we had made the first run and it was repeated again. In 15 minutes we picked up 4 more fish, and it was all over for the day. Total time on the water was 2 hours. Not bad in all this stinking weather, and this is only day 1. We fish tomorrow.
Day 1 and we have another one to go.
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Good hunting, good fishing and good luck. Hank