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.

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.
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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 were still fishing at 50 feet and using the same method at the previous location.  The location fished was along the edge of the river channel.  At times, there was a brief tangle with timber that is still standing after all these years.  The lake was formed after completion of the Fort Randall Dam in 1954, and we were amazed that timber would still be standing after all these years.   If we could go down 50 feet, we would probably be standing on the bank of the Missouri River where Lewis and Clark would have come up the river.

Then it happened.  We started catching keeper walleye, and they were in the 16 to 18 inch class which is ideal for filleting  to make a great meal of fresh walleye.  We still kept catching a few shorts, but the fish we caught were of decent size and they were nice and plump.  These were really healthy fish. 

Pam scored a nice Walleye.  Our guide is really pleased whenever a nice fish is caught.

After two hours we gave it up.  We had been on the lake for a total of three hours and had our eight fish,  The limit is four per day in South Dakota at this location.  We were going to stay out and see if we could catch another limit for the guide, but the lake went calm, the sky cleared, and the clouds disappeared.  It got hot on the water and at our age, we could only take so much.  Getting the fish cleaned and taking a nap was now on the agenda. 

Life is really good when you can catch a daily limit of walleye.

Click on my book to buy.  It makes a great gift for your hunting and fishing friends too.


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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