The first time and the hundredth time are equally as funWORTHINGTON — A few weeks back, I wrote about the desire to scratch my late-winter itch with a trip to the Missouri River in central South Dakota. This is a trip everyone who likes to fish should take.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A few weeks back, I wrote about the desire to scratch my late-winter itch with a trip to the Missouri River in central South Dakota. This is a trip everyone who likes to fish should take.
I scheduled this trip with my daughter’s father-in-law, Dave Remme, from Luverne, about six different times this spring. The first several tries were blown out as the wind speeds were over 20 miles per hour (mph).
This is big water and any wind over about 10 to 15 mph makes for a rough day on the water. The next couple efforts were rained out, and at my advanced age I have come to a time when it is either going to be fun or it is not going to be. The next effort was cancelled due to a work-related conflict.
After multiple tries, a Sunday-Monday opportunity showed itself and by 5 a.m. we were on the road. The forecast was for 70 and sunny and it ended up being 50, hazy and misting. It was one of those days that the gloves came on and off all day long.
Fishing with gloves sucks, so we went as long as we could without them and then had to do the temporary warm up.
We landed the boat in Chamberlain and headed upriver about two miles. The fish cooperated right away, and over the next six hours we caught more than 70 walleyes. There is a 15-inch minimum length limit and only two of those 70 made 15 inches. The interesting thing was that all of them were more than 14½ inches. They missed the mark by less than a half inch all day long.
The method of fishing we used is one of my favorites: tie on a lead head jig, attach a minnow through the lips and toss it over the side. A gentle drift moves the boat through a variety of different depths and 16 feet seemed to be the ticket this day.
At four o’clock and with only two keepers to our name, we had a difficult time deciding what to do. It is hard to leave a spot that has biting fish in it to go to another spot that might have no biters at all.
We decided to take a little sightseeing trip as Dave had never been on the river before. We headed north and traveled about 12 miles just taking in the sights and sounds of this impressive river. As we headed north and west we passed multiple marks on my GPS that had indicated fish had been caught in this spot before. When there is a hot spot on the river it is easily identified by the cluster of boats that will be using it.
Late on a Sunday afternoon, there were no other clusters of boats. Almost all of my other river trips had taken place on weekend days. It became clear there is far less competition for a good spot if you fish late Sunday and into the early week.
At five o’clock the sun came out, the temperature went up 15 degrees and the wind laid down to about 5 mph.
It had turned into a beautiful afternoon and it just kept getting better. We dropped a marker in one of those GPS spots that I had not used in years. Over the next 45 minutes we caught six more keepers and all of them were very nice. Two walleyes were in the 18-19 inch range and four more over 17 inches. It makes me wonder why only the 14 ½ inchers bit all day long and then in the afternoon only the bigger ones cooperated.
We had ourt limit of eight keepers and then had a great time motoring back 10 miles to town, where we loaded up the boat. There is kind of a tradition that I wanted Dave to experience on his first of what I hope are many trips to the river.
You need to get your picture taken at Allens’ Hillside Motel in front of the motel sign. When we got back to the motel, there was a sign on the door that said if you needed help to call the number. I called that number and Gary Allen himself answered the phone.
I asked him if there was anyone who could take the iconic photo and he said to hold on and he would come and take it himself. There is probably no one in the state of South Dakota that knows more about the Missouri River than Gary Allen. After guiding thousands of fishermen and catching thousands of fish, he treated us like we were his favorite customers.
A few Polaroids later and a picture taken on my cell phone and transferred to Gary’s, was mission accomplished. It took Gary about 90 seconds and our pictures were posted on the motel Facebook page.
This was a show of modern technology at its finest. Normally there is one thing that sticks out in your mind as you retell the story to others. In addition to Daves’ first picture, the item on this trip that will go down in my history book is a comment Dave made near the end of the day as he was reeling in one of our better keepers.
He said “Scott, I got one but it was the absolutely most pathetic bite that I have ever had.”
When fishing with a jig and minnow, normally the walleye will thump the bait pretty hard and a bite is easy to feel. This day was very different. These fish would grab on to the bait and just follow along as the boat moved. A fish could be holding the jig for 15 seconds and the rod tip would never quiver. The only way you could catch a fish was to recognize the slightest addition of weight on the end of the line and set the hook with never actually feeling the bite.
For many anglers this is hard to do if you are out of practice. Dave did a great job of catching on to this, better than many other anglers I have had in my boat. We cleaned the fish and headed out to supper. Unfortunately, Charlie’s Steakhouse is closed on Sundays and I was unable to sample the best pea salad on earth. Dinner at Al’s Oasis was a great substitute and the next morning we were greeted with a 25 mph wind that was rocking at 7 a.m. We secured the boat’s contents and decided to head for home.
The two-day trip ended up being one day and we still had a great time. I purchased a season license and am making the decision to make a few summer trips to Lake Francis Case to get the most from that purchase.
They say that cocaine is addictive, but fishing on the Missouri is addictive as well. You should give the fishing addiction a try.
Thanks Dave for a great memory and photo for the wall of fame in my garage.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.