By Mike Peluso
It’s a broken record, I know, and I can’t argue this at all. I said probably three fishing reports ago I was going make the switch over to ice fishing. Well, that hasn’t happened quite yet, but looking out my window this morning it’s definitely ice fishing season.
I was supposed to start the ice fishing season this past weekend, but we were blessed – or cursed – depending how you look at the weather this time of year. So, we decided not to move forward with the ice fishing trips, simply because of the weather and poor ice conditions. Instead, we dumped the boat in a few more times.
Speaking of launching the boat, if our water conditions don’t improve with a massive amount of runoff we are going to have launching issues on the Missouri River next spring. Both Fort Rice and Hazelton launches are about out of commission. The Rifle Range launch is out of commission right now as well. Misty Waters, Interstate landing, and the Desert ramps around Bismarck are not useable. Graner’s landing is okay and Little Heart is okay and the best ramp at the moment would be Fox Island.
Another problem we will have next spring is that the walleyes don’t usually migrate up as far in low waters. This creates a lot of congestion further south. If history repeats itself, the falls usually mirror the spring. The fishing this fall has been outstanding, the only problem is, I probably fished 40 days this fall and caught fish 35 of those days in the same half mile stretch of river. It was awesome early fall because most folks were staying away because it was a little difficult to navigate. Leaving the spots mostly empty of other boats. With low water, the spots are not very big and normally can’t hold more than a couple boats.
Again, this could create some intense moments this coming spring. So, we all need to hope and pray we get major snows in the mountains of Montana. I know Sakakawea is going to have some ramp issues as well if water levels continue to fall.
My last day on the open water was really good and I caught some really nice fish. The smaller walleyes are definitely struggling somewhat and are pretty skinny. I am guessing they are not finding enough food to sustain their diet. Hopefully, we get some water to flood the shorelines again, and give all the fish some great spawning habitat.
So, I promise this is the last open water fishing report until the spring. Actually, this was more of a low water, ramp situation, and looking into our future report than anything. I will be on the ice up near Devils Lake starting next week! If you are looking to ice fish with mem get ahold of me. I do have some scattered dates available.
Mike Peluso is Dakota Edge Outdoors contributing writer and a licensed ND fishing guide specializing in walleyes on the state’s premier waters.
Featured Photo: The author is finding bigger walleyes to be much healthier in the low water conditions, while smaller fish are struggling to feed on limited forage. Low Missouri River waters are also impacting ramp access, which may carry into spring. DEO Photo by Mike Peluso.