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Missouri River, central SD report

  • Andy Fiolka
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts: 541

    First, I hope all of you that fished Minnesota opener had a great time. Even though I sometimes poke fun of “walleye season” (hey, I’m from SD), it’s a tradition that runs deep for many, something I can totally respect. I’m guessing it’s something like we experience for out pheasant opener every fall. Good stuff that I wouldn’t miss. The hunting is just a small part anyway.

    It’s been some time since I’ve updated you on the bite on the Missouri River in central South Dakota. To sum things up quickly, it’s pretty solid. Fish are moving out of the spawn and starting to set up on typical summertime patterns and locations. We’re finding active walleyes roaming expansive flats. As many of you know, one of my favorite ways to target walleyes all year is by trolling Rapala crankbaits on leadcore. These flat walleyes tend to be very nomadic, constantly on the move in search of their next meal. This same behavior can make them difficult to stay on top of using slower, more methodical live bait and jig/rig techniques. This isn’t to say you can blindly troll cranks across the center of any flat and find success, you still have to keep your eyes glued to your electronics, using side image, down image, and interactive GPS mapping to understand where the more active fish are traveling. Key areas to look for are the edges of the flat, especially ones that sharply fall off into the main river channel.

    Trolling these contours and keeping your baits in the money require precision boat control. Too shallow and you’ll often find your cranks digging bottom and/or snagged up. Too deep and you’ll be well and above active fish. I’m using the iPilot function of my MinnKota Terrova in conjunction with my kicker motor to precisely maneuver my boat at the right depth along the contour I’m following. The bow mounted MinnKota steers the boat where I need to to go much crisper than a steering wheel or tiller handle from the rear. I set my kicker at the desired speed, (right now 2.0-2.6 mph) and lock it straight forward. I use the iPilot remote (speed set on 3 ish) to command the steering. Another advantage to this is the autopilot mode. If you run into multiple fish OR need both hands to re-tie, untangle, or even to grab a bite to eat, the auto pilot function will keep you moving in the desired direction without making circles.

    Rapala Shad Raps, Glass Shad Raps, and Minnow Raps, remain my staple crankbaits all over the system. Sizes 5 and 6 are my favorite in the Shad Rap Series as well as size 7 in the Minnow Rap. Colors like UV Pink, Green, Purpledescent, Storm Smash Shads in Wonderbread and UV Ghost Wonderbread are all fantastic colors to try. Filter through different colors until a desired presentation comes together. It seems like I’m constantly changing it up to keep those fish on the chew. Adding a VMC snap on your leader remains the easiest way to change it up without having to retie each time.

    Here are a few pics from the weekend. Can’t wait to do it all over again next weekend waytogo

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    Posts: 4941

    Hi Andy,
    I have a lot of fond memories of fishing the Great Missouri River, We have not been out there for many years,there was a time when the river dried up so much we were unable to fish our go to area in Pollack SD. Our first year there the water was so high the tops of the timber were maybe 3-5 out of the water.As a person who had never been there before,just the ride rom the boat launch to the main river chain was inspiring. Someday soon I hope to make it back.
    Just to piggy back on your report,one of the patterns we developed while trolling as you have stated, was to move shallow when we found fish on the outside of the flooded timber areas. We fished the Pollack-Mobridge area of Lake Oahe for several seasons,our tried and true pattern after a few years of trial and error was to find break lines in slack water among the flooded timber. At times those break lines were in as shallow as 5 fow. When you could find a trolling run on the inside break of those tree lines it was common to double and triple up in areas. Trolling SSR-5 Blue and white raps and bang them off the timber,it was like ringing a dinner bell.
    I can honestly say that I have never found another place where we have caught so many fish in a day that your hands were so chaffed from handling that many quality Walleyes.We quit using landing nets so we did not have handle the fish.We all know what a angry walleye with a crank bait in it’s mouth can do when in in a net.
    It sure is good to hear and see the Missouri River is back in the news.

    THANKS ANDY! waytogo

    James Holst
    SE Minnesota
    Posts: 18805

    Andy – great info. I got to see your trolling prowess at work earlier this season when we filmed episode 15. For those that might want to see Andy’s system in action, here’s that episode.

    Your Missouri River eyes behave a lot like the Mississippi River eyes I’m used to catching on pool 4. They don’t nip at baits, they gobble them whole! Thanks for the update. Let me know when I can get out to fish with you later this summer and check out the walleye and smallmouth. It sure seems like the smallmouth populations, and top end size potential, have exploded all over SD.

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