By Kellen Latendresse
When it comes to fishing, central North Dakota is in that magical month. I live in Minot and right now you can go north, south, east or west and find fish for the frying pan or a picture.
Walleyes have been heating up on most prairie lakes as water temperatures are in that 70-74 degree range. The most efficient way to approach these waters this time of year is to pull cranks or spinners in shallow water, preferably on the wind-blown side, or fish outside of the weed lines. Once you find fish or figure out the structure, pitch jigs with bait or plastics as most of your prairie lake fish will hold shallow throughout middle part of July.
Lake Audubon is now in the 70s and walleyes are going good on outside weed edges in 10-20 feet of water and you can’t go wrong with Lindy rigs or spinners. The smallmouth bite has been phenomenal as they are crushing jerk baits and top waters right now. There’s not much more exciting than watching smallies torpedo two feet in the air with a buzz bait or frog of your choice clamped down in their mouth. If you want to get kids off the electronics and in the boat, this a great option! I wish I could report the Muskie fishing as going good, but it has definitely been a slow start. I expect to see them getting more active in next few weeks.
Lake Sakakawea and the Missouri River both remain good fishing for walleyes. The river has been hot from Antelope flats down to Skunk Bay cranking, trolling bait or pitching – you can’t do much wrong on the river. Most the river seems to be in that 66-to-68-degree range and fish are holding usually under 15 feet of water. The size isn’t great but there is no shortage of 14-to-17-inch walleyes, and limits are coming easy most days.
Sakakawea is finally starting to heat up in the Van Hook arm, with smaller fish up north as the quality remains around most of the islands in the mid-southern half of that area. Depths in Van Hook vary across that 2-to-20-foot range depending on wind, clarity and location. From middle of the lake and east, the fish seem to gain more quality and the bite is more stable. Deep Water to Douglas remains good with most people pitching jigs and minnows or pulling Lindy’s and minnows as water temps are cooler compared to out west with most water in that 58-64 degree mark.
The Missouri River from the Tailrace to Washburn has been spotty, there are some fish coming at night but its hit and miss the closer to the dam you get. There has been a few Trout showing up down river but overall the lake seems to be a better option than the river.
Kellen Latendresse is a Dakota Edge Outdoors Contributing Writer and a licensed North Dakota fishing guide focused on multispecies action for walleyes, smallmouth bass, pike and muskies in the north central part of the state.
Featured Photo: The walleye bite remains strong on smaller lakes and bigger bodies of water including Lake Sakakawea and the northern Missouri River below Garrison Dam. DEO Photo by Kellen Latendresse.