Enough water and plenty of fish in Lake Oahe

Enough water and plenty of fish in Lake Oahe It's May, and that means fishing on Lake Oahe is heating up.

Walleye fishing on Lake Oahe peaks in June, but the fish are on the prowl now.

"The fish we are catching this year are in as good, if not better, condition than they were last year. We're expecting another tremendous year of fishing," said Denny Palmer of MoPro Guide Services in Mobridge. Palmer said the average fish he has caught is around 17 inches so far this year.

This year's walleye and smelt spawn is complete. While it's still to early to determine how successful it was, water levels remained fairly stable throughout the spawn, which is one of the key factors to a successful reproduction cycle. The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department will sample the fishery this week to determine the success of the spawn, according to Jim Riis, GF&P's Missouri River Fisheries Program administrator.

On all parts of Lake Oahe, the average walleye caught is expected to be between 12 and 15 inches long. Liberal daily limits for walleye on Lake Oahe continue in 2003. The daily limit is 10, of which no more than four walleyes can be 15 inches or longer and no more than one may be 18 inches or longer. This regulation is in effect year-round.

Low water continues to hamper boat ramps along the lake. However, recent rains and state efforts are helping to maintain access to the Missouri River reservoir, according to Doug Hofer, GF&P's Parks and Recreation director.

"We are benefiting from improved mountain and plains precipitation this spring," Hofer said. "This has resulted in a near stable Lake Oahe water level over the past month, and a slightly better summer water level projection.

"The recent moisture has bought us some valuable time for getting several of the ramp extensions in place. Currently most of the ramps on Lake Oahe are working well and all of the major ramps will be extended later in the summer if the water levels are drawn down and extensions are needed," Hofer said.

In late April, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to provide $635,000 to supplement the state's efforts to make Lake Oahe more accessible. This, combined with GF&P's earmarked $1.1 million to ensure access, means getting on the water will be easier.

"We will be able to keep more boat ramps open and serviceable this summer. Anglers looking to fish Lake Oahe will have access," Hofer said.

He added that the combined funding will allow the relocation of two marina breakwaters at Spring Creek. He said it will also make reimbursable grants available to Pike Have, Garrigan's Landing, South Whitlock Resort and Bob's Resort to assist in their access efforts.

For more information on boat ramp conditions, visit www. state.sd.us/gfp or www.travelsd.com or call 1-800-SDAKOTA (1-800-732-5682).

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