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A Prairie Jewel
 By Rick Olson 

 Lake Oahe is a jewel among the prairie.  It offers a great opportunity
to be if not the top at least one of the best walleye waters in the US.
The lake is huge running from near Bismarck, North Dakota to Pierre,
South Dakota about 150 miles long with over 250,00 surface acres.
 Recently I had the  opportunity visit with John Cooper the executive
director for South Dakota Fish and Wildlife Service of, South Dakota.
His said Lake Oahe has produced more walleyes than they ever
anticipated.  Already the creel censuses show that on a give day
hundreds and hundreds of walleyes are taken out of Oahe.  To counteract
over harvesting of the walleyes John has stressed to Outdoor Writers
that Oahe should send a message not to over harvest and to tell our
readers that if the harvesting continues at the current rate more
regulations might have to be put into place.  At this time only four
walleyes can be harvested per angler on a daily basis, and that is
 What I would like to urge all anglers to do is to practice either
selective harvest or catch and release on this body of water.  By far
this has to be a volunteer effort or we will all regret the "heyday" of
 If you are planning to come to Oahe or live within driving distance of
this magnificent body of water heed these words and make sure you bring
along a lot of film so you can take pictures before you release that
fish.  If you are planning on catching a few for supper the following is
probably the best way to get some smaller fish for the frying pan.
 The presentation of choice is a spinner.  Without a doubt in my home
state of South Dakota the spinner is the way to go when fishing these
reservoirs.  Color can be very important.  My five favorite colors for
fishing reservoirs are fluorescent orange or red, chartreuse, green,
nickel and gold.  Expect to find definite preferences on certain
reservoirs.  However, don’t get hung up on one specific color.  Keep
switching colors until someone finds the hot color of that particular
 Blade size can also be an important consideration.  Many of my biggest
fish have come on a #4 blade, which is slightly larger than the standard
#3 blade found on most commercially tied spinners.
 While many fishermen prefer Indiana or Colorado blades, some also like
the willow leaf design.  The Colorado blade seems to spin at slower
speeds than the others do and big blades spin easier than small ones.
On those rare days when the fish are finicky and a slower trolling speed
is necessary, you are better off going with a # 4 Colorado blade to get
blade rotation at reduced speed.
 For weight, use bottom bouncers or snap weights.  I prefer to use the
bottom bouncer because I grew up using them.  They are really designed
for reservoir fishing, because the long wire finger keeps the spinners
out of the shale and rocks that will snag you up.  The L shape of the
bottom bouncer gives the cam action you need as the probe or finger
hinges on a rock crevice and gives the impression that the bait is
speeding up and slowing down.  This pause surge pause method of
presentation has captured a lot of walleyes in Oahe.
 Oahe has submerged islands, buttes, plateaus, and bluff banks.
Trolling the flats is occasionally good but the topography changes so
rapidly that it can be tricky.  You really have to know the contours and
finding the fish is the trick.  Many of them will hold tight to the
bottom, very few will suspend.  Finding fish takes more skill than
catching them, so if you are coming expect good fishing, but remember to
take only what you can eat and leave the rest for your children's
 Lake Oahe is a prairie jewel for sure.  It should be admired by all
others not just a select few.  If you are coming to South Dakota don't
by pass the prairie pothole regions.  The water is up and the walleyes
have a lot more habitat to roam through and the numbers are up in that
region as well.

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