Fall’s the Time on Oahe!

Editor’s Note: Chad Schilling was the 2007 PWT Pro Rookie of the Year. His guide service, Oahe Wings & Walleyes can be reached at 605-649-7331.

Every year from about mid-October through the first week of December is the best time to fish South Dakota’s Lake Oahe for walleyes. The great fishing would go longer, but bays and launch ramps generally freeze in early December.

During this rush of big fish, I typically fish from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, then go pheasant hunting (This is Fall in South Dakota afterall!). Almost every evening I end up cleaning limits of walleyes and pheasants … Gotta love this time of year! I concentrate on the Highway 212 bridge to the Mobridge area in South Dakota. In fact, I would narrow down the prime real estate to the stretch between Whitlocks and Akaska, but this technique has proven effective on other reservoirs I fish as well.

Total Solutions Technique

This big-fish event typically means 10 to 20 fish every two hours with most over 20 inches, especially during the past couple of seasons. I have found that bulked up jigs fished vertically and pounded on the bottom of main points is the best approach. Giant schools of walleyes concentrate on main points of bays or rivers like the Moreau in 20 to 25 feet. They like to find a small ledge and ambush bait. Thumping a jig by lifting the rod tip about two feet and free-falling it back down seems to work. After only two seconds on bottom, repeat the lift and drop. If I see fish on the graph, I can catch them. Every fall at least one 12-pounder comes to net in this area, and many exceeding five pounds.

Total Solutions Equipment

A few years ago, every angler threaded two minnows on the jig.  Now I use Berkley PowerBait Jerk Shad  or Berkley PowerBait 3-inch Minnows with glow tails.  Out of tradition, I usually add a minnow, but with the GULP! Alive! Minnow, a fish will hit again if I miss on the hook set.  Because of the quick breaks, I like the 7 foot medium action Fenwick HMG spinning rods (model HMG70M-FS). That way, with a rod in each hand, I don’t have to mess with the reel if I slide up or down the break.  The longer rod allows me to just lower or raise the rod tip, and maintain feel on bottom.

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Fenwick® HMG® Spinning Rod