By Kellen Latendresse
Over the past two weeks, I have had 17 trips in 15 days throughout north central North Dakota then took a break to head to Canada with my son and dad to chase my favorite species, muskies, on my favorite water, Lake of the Woods.
First things first, the excellent walleye bite has not changed much from what we’ve seen over the summer. The bite for 15 to 18-inch fish on Lake Sakakawea remains insane. On calm days they might move a little deeper into that 25-foot-plus range, but for the most part from the middle of the lake to Van Hook there are still a ton of fish in that 15-to-20-foot range. I had seven trips out of Van Hook with 40 to 60 fish being caught on those days and did one out of New Town with not as many numbers but nicer fish.
We are having one of the best August bites on the big lake that I have ever seen. As far as the east end of lake, I have heard its slower but personally haven’t fished it in over a month. If you’re coming to North Dakota, Van Hook or New Town is where you want to be. Crankbaits have probably put the nicest fish and most numbers in the boat, but crawlers and leeches are still producing. You really can’t go wrong!!
I have guided a few nights on the tailrace under Garrison Dam on the Missouri River and fishing has been slower but the quality has definitely been there with most nights landing a few fish over that eight pound mark. Last week we had a 12.2, 10.2 and a 9.6 pound walleye, all released in one trip. There are also some trophy trout and some nice salmon showing up.
If you know muskies, catching a few in a day is a success. Other than one skunk day last week, the prior five trips on north central North Dakota’s muskie lakes, I put 24 fish in the boat. The muskies have seemed to move up shallow in low light periods and then slip off deep edges suspended during the daytime. We have had our best luck throwing rubber baits midday in 15-to-25-feet and burning bucktails in low light periods over those five-to-15-foot depths.
If you never been to Lake of the Woods, put it on your list. We stayed up at Mylie’s Place Resort in Orson on the Canadian side, and it didn’t disappoint. You won’t find a more beautiful body of water with endless structure. My father, nine-year-old son and I made it up there fishing for two and a half days, boating 12 muskies with the biggest going 47.5 inches. The trip is one I look forward to every year. I got to witness my dad, who’s never musky fished, put four beauties in the boat and watch my dad net my son’s first Canadian musky. The memories far outweigh the stats.
Featured Photo: All Smiles. The author’s son and father with a nice Lake of the Woods muskie. DEO Photo by Kellen Latendresse.
Kellen Latendresse is a Dakota Edge Outdoors contributing writer and multispecies guide in north central North Dakota.