Fishing on Lake Sakakawea: It's just you and the fish

Lake Sakakawea shines in a never-ending fishing season that offers ever-changing rewards

With more shoreline than the Pacific Coast of the state of California, Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota has a lot of room for fish – lots of different fish. Anglers can spend a day on the water without meeting another person. It's just you and the fish.

On a lake as big as Lake Sakakawea, anglers never run out of ways to fish and species to fish for. And fishing has never been better. Fish are healthy and abundant, specifically the walleye. The game fish of choice in North Dakota showed good body condition, good growth rates and high abundance, as reported by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Walleye abundance is the highest documented in the last 45 years due to several strong year-classes in recent years.  

Techniques and targets vary by location and season. The only sure thing about fishing in North Dakota is that the fish keep on biting. As Lake Sakakawea warms and cools, the presentations change to keep the bite going. Fishing, however, remains excellent all along the big lake, beginning in the spring at the lake’s headwaters at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. 

Water temperature warms first there and fish follow the warming temperatures down the lake. Techniques will vary. Trolling crankbaits and using bottom bouncers and spinners are tried-and-true methods.

By late summer, fish have moved down the length of the lake and fishing has picked up in the deep water at Garrison Dam, the structure that holds back the massive body of water. There, you can find a smorgasbord of fish, including walleye, northern pike, salmon, crappie, smallmouth bass and more.

Guides advise you to trust your electronics and fish where you find them.

The same can be said for other bodies of water in the state.

The Missouri River below Garrison Dam through central North Dakota into Lake Oahe has been a fishing hotbed all year, even with the river level high.

Anglers pulled walleye out of our rivers and lakes all summer and they're still doing so through the ice. Walleye is the king - the fish of choice - in North Dakota and can be found almost anywhere.

Devils Lake is brimming with perch, bass, walleye and pike. Here, like on Lake Sakakawea, fish will begin to slowly alter their depths and cause anglers to switch patterns. Again, the fishing remains excellent.

Whatever your choice of fight, North Dakota has the battle for you. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has all the information you need to get started.

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