Like the other Missouri River reservoirs, Oahe is known for its walleye fishing, the most abundant and popular fish in the four reservoirs. River anglers fish depths from 5 to 20 feet using jigs and minnows in the spring and night crawlerspinner combinations and crankbaits in the summer. Reservoir anglers use similar baits, but spring fishing depths range to 25 feet. Summer depths may extend to 45 feet or more.
For Lake Oahe Chinook salmon, spring and summer fishing depths range from 50 to more than 100 feet. Most salmon fishing is done with the aid of downriggers or side planers. Flashers, squids, deep diving plugs and crankbaits work well with chartreuse and silver being predominant colors. The best salmon lures imitate rainbow smelt, salmon's primary prey. Anglers catch the majority of salmon in an area from the face of Oahe Dam northward to the Cheyenne River.
During the fall, salmon move into the shallows to spawn and can be caught by casting from shore with spoons and crankbaits. Spawning salmon can be caught in most creeks from the face of the dam to the North Dakota border. The Whitlocks Bay area, near Gettysburg, is especially good since salmon return to a spawning station located there.
Lake Oahe's back bays begin to warm by late March or early April, creating perfect northern pike fishing conditions. During ice-out, big fish usually prefer dead bait rigs, which consist of treble hooks tipped with smelt. As the water warms and pike become more active, spoons and crankbaits also catch pike. From mid-October on, anglers also have a good chance at a trophy pike.
Found in all four reservoirs, smallmouth bass offer anglers a choice when other species may not be biting. Smallmouth habitat is characterized by boulder piles, tree snags and riprap on dam faces. May and June are traditionally the most successful periods for smallmouth fishing during the pre-spawn and spawn. As summer heats up, smallmouth move deeper, and fishermen use deep diving lures for success.
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