Liebel's Guide Service Fishing Reports
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Liebel's Guide Service Fishing Reports

2-26-14 Fishing Report & Rooster Run Recap

Well the 2014 Rooster Run Ice Fishing Tournament is all wrapped up and we are looking forward to next year!  We once again want to thank all our sponsors for conrtibuting and making this event even better!  Things didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped but we have already decided on some changes that will be made for next year.  If you have any constructive comments or concerns please email me and we will adress them.  Just remember this tournament is put on by fisherman for fisherman so we like to participate as well.
Thanks again to all our Sponors
  • NorthCountry Marine
  • Scheels
  • Walmart
  • Newbies Ace Hardware
  • Runnings
  • DroptineProduction Services
  • Big Boys Toys
  • Dakota Tackle
  • Scott’s Bait and Tackle
  • Reef Runner
  • HT Enterprises
  • Veterans Roustabout and Hot Shotting
  • The Rooster
  • Sportsman’s Loft
  • Rosies
  • Andrus Outdoors
  • Home of Economy
  • Thrivent Financial
  • The Little Bar and Grill
    For my brother Nick and I we had a little bit of a tough bite, especially compared to last year...  We had a few places where we had caught some decent walleyes prefishing but it was never real consistent.  We never found a consistent sauger bite like we had the last year.  Our first afternoon was real slow only managing to catch 5 keeper sized fish and only 3 of those were what i would conisder decent at best.  We did catch a bunch of 11-13 inch walleyes that kept us busy during the evening bite.  We ended the day with 7 pounds and change and around 15th place.  The overnight bite really saved us from having a real disappointing tournament.  Nick caught 3 18-20 inch walleyes from 1-3am, without those fish we are looking at the same weight as the day before.  We managed to catch 6 keeper fish on day 2 and weighed 11 pounds and change.  We focused on rock points in 18-28 feet of water for our walleyes.  Some of the saugers came in that range during the 1 and last hours of daylight.  The other saugers came in 55-65 feet.  We ended the tournament tied for 7th place and the paid to 6 places... FRUSTRATING.  Here are the final results for the tournament: Rooster Run Final Results
    We should have about a month left of good ice fishing, I will try and report when i get chances to go out so stay tuned!

    January 28th 2014

    Well we are into 2014 and ice fishing is in full swing!  I have made it out a few times and have found some mixed results.  We have had some good days and some slow days.  The weather has been the same, some really cold and other really nice!  I did hear of some pressure ridges opening up last weekend so please use caution when out on the ice. Remember there is no such thing as 100% safe ice.

    Last weekend was the Tobacco Gardens Catch for a Cure Ice Fishing Tournament.  My brother Nick and I took part along with 52 other teams.  It was a great turnout and the weather cooperated pretty well for January in North Dakota.  The fishing was slow for us only managing 7 keeper saugers, and we weighed 6 for a total of 7.30 pounds. The fish were in a really neutral or even negative mood as they would rarely hit a jigging rod.  Most fish came on dead sticks and there was no real pattern for us.  It took 16 pounds to win the even and 10.5 to cash a check.  So we didn't finish where we had hoped but out pre fishing hadn't yielded much better results so it wasn't a big surprise.

    Coming up in a few weeks we have the Rooster Run Ice Fishing tournament so i will be heading to the skunk bay area to prefish.  I will give an update on the tourney as the time approaches.


    Mason Matthew Liebel.  Future Guide in Training for Liebel's Guide Service!Well once again it's been a long time since I've updated my website... its been well over a month, but what a month it's been!  The biggest and most important thing happened on September 17th at 12:59pm, when we welcomed Mason Matthew Liebel into the world!  He was 2 weeks earlier than expected and came at just the right time, we have to thank the doctors and nurses for all they did and also God for looking down on us with him!  He was born 4lbs 11oz and 18in long!  For his size the doctors said he was very healthy!  He did have to stay in the hospital for 10 days while he put on weight, but he is now home and doing great!  We are even getting some sleep at night(keyword: some)!

    North Dakota Moose swimming across Lake SakakaweaMy fishing time has been very limited as we adjust to a new baby, but I have managed to get out twice since he was born.  Jeff and I ventured out of Lund's Landing on September 29th for a few hours in the morning.  While the fishing was slow it was a beautiful morning!  The highlight of the day was watching a young bull moose swim across the lake!  The width of the lake where he crossed it 2.25 miles! He looked a little bit tired after the long journey.  Check out the photo gallery for more moose pictures.  While we only boated one nice walleye for the day it was nice to get out on the water!  

    The Tobacco Gardens Fall Walleye Classic was held last Saturday October 5th, and it was a chilly one!  With temps below freezing at takeoff it made for a cold run across the lake.  I was fishing with my brother Nick and we decided that with the cold weather, we would look to traditional late fall/early ice locations.  It didn't work out well for us.  We caught a lot of catfish and started bouncing around from spot to spot, putting over 50 miles on the boat.  We gave them a selection of jigs, lindy rigs, and cranks.  We couldn't seem to put a pattern together.  We ended up catching 2 walleyes for a total of about 4.5 pounds.  We also caught an 8.9 pound northern that won us biggest northern so we didn't go home empty handed!  The fishing was slow, the teams that did well sat on spots all day to try and grind out 6 fish.  That just isn't my style of fishing, I would much rather run and gun, trying to find active fish.  Oh well! That's why they call it fishing!  I have to again send a huge shout-out to Mike Russell and Concord Energy for sponsoring our entry fee for the event! 

    The fall fishing on Lake Sakakawea can be great!  The opportunity for trophy class walleyes is there and the fall is prime time to catch the fish of a lifetime!  I have a few weekends available, and also Thursday, October 17th and Friday, October 18th.  Give me a call and we can discuss a fall walleye trip!

    The Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers should also be heating up, as of now the water is dirty but the fish are there, and it doesn't take a big improvement in clarity for the bite to fire up!  Fall is just a great time to be on the water in western North Dakota!


    Wow, It's been way too long since I've updated my fishing reports.  I've been very busy with golf practice, school and preparing for a new baby boy expected to arrive October 2nd!  

    First off the Casino Cup Recap is pretty simple.  We had a few decent fish located a LONG ways from the start point, so we made the long runs both days and the bigger fish just didn't bite...  We caught alot of fish but nothing with any size so we ended up placing much lower than we would have preferred. But that's fishing!  Again I'd like to thank Mike Russell and Concord Energy Transportation for sponsoring us in these tournaments!  

    Fishing the past few weeks has been pretty good up on the west end of the lake from Lewis & Clark State Park to White Earth Bay!  The fish on this end of the lake have not followed the trend on moving deep with hot weather.  Our best bites have been coming in 5-12 feet, we have caught a few out to 16 feet.  Crankbaits have out produced spinners but yesterday it was the opposite.  Nightcrawlers were the bait of choice!  The fishing has been great all summer on Lake Sakakawea and believe it or not, it should only get better as fall sets in!  Big fish that are scattered right now should group up and put on the feed bag to fatten up for the winter!  Fall is usually your best chance at a whopper Lake Sakakawea Walleye!  The River up near Williston also cleans up and the big walleyes are lurking and catchable as well!

    I am now busy with school, so i am unable to guide during the work week, but i do have some weekend dates available.  Also with baby due Oct 2nd I will be guiding only out of Lund's Landing or Lewis & Clark State Park for the time being.  You may have noticed there is now a deposit page on my website, this 50% deposit is now required to reserve your date.  Please call first to confirm that I have the date available, then you can pay the deposit.  Paypal is the preferred method to make a deposit, but I can accepts credit cards over the phone(requires a 2.99% charge).  Once i receive your deposit I will call to confirm the date!  Deposits are refundable until 5 days prior to the trip.  Otherwise they are NONREFUNDABLE except for weather cancellations or cancellations on my end due to baby being born!  Sorry for the inconvenience but it is a necessary thing due to previous cancellations the morning of scheduled trips.

    7-29-13 Governors Cup and DWC Recap

    The past 2 weeks have been extremely busy with the ND Governors Cup and the Dakota Walleye Classic fishing tournaments!  These are 2 of the biggest fishing tournaments you will find anywhere and they are both very well run tournaments!  

    The ND Governors Cup was held July 19th and 20th out of Fort Stevenson State Park. The weather was pretty consistent throughout the week prefishing with temperatures in the 80's, but come tournament day we had cooler temps which changed the fishing for many people and it proved to be a very tough tournament.  We started out Friday morning in the old coal min they call Garrison Bay.  45 minutes into fishing we hooked a nice 22 inch walleye on a #9 shallow Shad Rap.  After a few more passes we moved to a steep point on an island and pulled live bait and Tory caught a 26.5in walleye right away!  Then a few minutes later i pulled in a 23.5 in walleye!  It's now 10:30 and we have 3 good fish in the boat!  We then caught a 15 inch walleye and a 18 inch sauger but since it was early and we only needed 2 more good fish we let them both go...  Then our bite died. We fished all over in Garrison Bay trying to get 2 more bites...  We finally left and ran over Douglas Bay to our Plan B spots and found that our fish there had moved as well... No marks on the HDS-8 anywhere.  So we had about 75 minutes of fishing time remaining, we blast back to Garrison Bay and put the cranks  down to try and find any active fish that wanted to bite.  After 2 big northerns tricked us into thinking we had a big walleye, we finally caught a small sauger that had to go in the well.  We ended the day with 4 fish and a total of 14.93 pounds and in 15th place.

    Day 2 once again had cooler temperature and some scattered rain showers.  We decided we were going to try and grind out 5 good bites out of Garrison Bay.  We had the first flight and hoped to catch some before all the boats made it back there, but that plan failed...  We only had one decent fish at noon, we then moved out towards the mouth of the coal mine and managed to catch another decent 21 inch walleye and 3 other small fish to make our 5 fish limit.  We then searched hard to find 3 upgrades but we couldn't manage to get the right bites.  We had 8.22 pounds for day 2 and ended up in 19th place out of 252 teams.  That finish earned us a $750 check!  The bite was alot more difficult than most people expected, especially with how good the fishing has been all year on the lake.  Congratulations to the team of Bethke and Power, they managed to find 43 pounds of fish and run away with the ND Governors Cup Title!  A great effort when you look at the difficulty most of the teams had!

    The Dakota Walleye Classic was held July 26th and 27th out of Beulah Bay.  177 teams set out trying to find 10 walleyes big enough to bring home the $12,000 first place prize!  I fished this tournament with my brother Nick, and we had a great time!  Prefishing we had found a good crankbait bite in 28-32 feet of water, we lots of smelt along with many big arches nearby! So we decided that there was no need to fish live bait, even with another big cold front coming through.  On day 1 the fishing was good for smaller fish in the 16 inch range but we knew we would need bigger fish to win, so we kept trolling away trying to find some bigger bites.  We ended up getting 2 good fish in the afternoon and ended the day with 12.74 pounds and in 19th place.  Day 2 we had the same game plan knowing that the leaders were in the same area, and still seeing many fish on the HDS-8.  The fish were alot more scattered day 2 and didn't cooperate as well.  We made a couple moves and found one good walleye along with 4 smaller fish and ended the day with 10.22 pounds and moved up 2 place to finish 17th and take home a $350 check!  Congrats again to the team of Foss and Arndt for their efforts, pulling in 34 pounds of walleye to take home the first place prize!

    Coming up this weekend is the 4Bears Casino Tournament held out of New Town, ND!  The bite up on the west end of the lake has been good!  It will be interesting to see what the weather does and how the fish react!

    I have to throw out a big thank you to Mike Russell and Concord Energy for sponsoring us in these fishing tournaments!  It is very much appreciated!

    The summer is starting to wind down with school starting in less than a month so dates are becoming limited, especially weekend dates.  My next open weekend date is August 17th and 18th!  If you're looking for a guide trip on Lake Sakakawea give me a call ASAP!!! 

    ND Governors Cup Preview! 7-17-13

    Well it's tournament season!!! The North Dakota Governors Cup starts in 2 days, and the fishing has slowed down a little bit on the east end of Lake Sakakawea.  But there are still plenty of fish being caught, the tournament winning size fish are just tough to come by.  It will be interesting to see what the 252 boat field will find!  Somebody always finds the big fish and hopefully we will find some luck and put a good limit in the boat each day!  Good Luck to all the teams fishing!  I will report back at the conclusion of the tournament. So stay tuned!

    The fishing on the west end of the lake has been really picking up with good reports coming from the white earth bay area and some reports even farther west.  Lindy's, Spinners, and cranks have all been producing.  Depths have ranged from 5-25 feet so watch your electronics closely to see what depths they are hanging in!


    Thursday, June 20 we headed out of Deepwater Bay a little bit later than planned due to severe thunderstorms going through the area.  I was a little bit nervous since that the fish wouldn’t cooperate after that show Mother Nature put on.  But the walleyes didn’t care about the thunderstorms… They wanted to eat!  Slow Deaths and crawlers were the best but lindys and minnows or leeches also caught plenty of fish.  We had 15 in the boat relatively quickly and then as the wind came up we put the cranks down.  The walleyes and northerns loved the cranks in 10-12 feet at about 2.3-2.8mph.  One northern loved the cranks so much it ate even with a full stomach!  We noticed the big stomach then looked inside its mouth!  We decided it needed to go to the cleaning table for closer examination, that revealed a 16 inch sauger in its stomach!  Our total count for the day was 32 walleyes, 5 northerns, and 2 Smallmouth bass!   

    Then today Friday, June 21 I had Ethan his son Bohden and nephew Jalen out  for another fishing adventure!  We again went out of Deepwater bay and had the same program as yesterday!  Again the fish liked crawlers, minnows, leeches, crankbaits, you name it!  Our total count for the day was 48 walleyes, 8 northerns, and 4 smallmouth bass, 2 drum, and a few white bass as well!  Jalen caught his first fish ever today! Ethan had a personal best walleye!  Bohden caught a big beautiful white bass!  It was a great day out on the water with action a plenty!   Check out the photo gallery for all the pics from the trips!

    I have 2 days available next Monday or Tuesday if you want to book a trip while the fishing is hot!  I then will be busy and won’t be taking any more trips until the 11 of July.  July is very busy for me with 3 fishing tournaments so call asap to book the days I have available!


    Well the weekend is over but that doesn't mean the great fishing is!  We had a great weekend on the water, catching limits easily each day.  The bigger fish have become a little more scattered but the smaller 14-17 inch fish are biting very well along with the occasional 20+ inch fish.  The bass and northerns are also biting.  The fish are still prefering minnows and plastics to the traditional nightcrawlers, but they will bite them as well.  Jigs and lindy rigs have been good along with crankbaits on the windblown shorelines.  The best depths have been from 3-13 feet.  


    Well the fishing is still very good on the lake!  The past 2 times out I haven't put any live bait in the water and managed some nice limits.  The fish really like the paddle tail plastics on a 1/4 ounce jig.  Pitching it up shallow and working it back towards the boat has been the best tactic.  With the wind this afternoon I made a switch to crankbaits and trolled them in 4-10 feet. 7 feet proved to be the best.  The wind blown shorelines can be unbelievable and it didn't disappoint today.  Tomorrow looks to be windy again so we will be prowling the wind-blown areas.  Boat control can be difficult but if you book a trip you don't have to worry about the boat, that's my job, all you have to do is fish!!!  Call today to book your trip, June is half done and July is very busy so book as soon as you can!


    The fish are biting on Lake Sakakawea!  We've been out the past 2 days and managed some very nice fish.  The best bite has been in the morning on the classic jig and minnow pattern.  We have had our best luck pitching jigs up shallow and working them back to the boat which i try and keep positioned in 10-12 feet of water.  The smallmouth bass and northern are also biting.  Check out the new pictures added to the photo gallery!

    Call us today (701)770-6746 to book your fishing trip.  June dates are filling up fast!


    Well we are in Fort Peck, MT at the moment getting ready for the Rock Creek Tournament.  This tournament is known for big fish with 75+ pounds winning the past few year and a record weight of 97 pounds!  

    The weather here is terrible.  Lake wind advisory, constant rain with totals for the last 3 days being 2-6 inches.  We did make it out fishing yesterday afternoon for a couple hours after the interesting road into the rock creek marina (check out the video here).  We caught a few northerns and small walleyes but the highlight happened within 20 minutes of dropping our first line, a beautiful 28 inch walleye!  Hopefully the fish stay there and we can catch a few more like that tomorrow and sunday!  We are not fishing today since all of our gear is soaked, and it's still raining and there are 4+ foot waves, and the road into rock creek is very treacherous!  So the plan for tomorrow is to hit the big fish spot right away then run and gun trying to find active fish!  The weather change is going to change fishing patterns so being able to adapt quickly is a must.  It's going to be an exiting tournament!

    As for Lake Sakakawea, the water temps are still a little bit cool for the hot walleye bite, but there are fish being caught.  It just takes a little more patience.  Smallmouth bass and northern are also starting to heat up as well.

    I will be coaching at the State Class A Golf Tournament early next week, but will be fishing starting next friday!  Call me to book your trip today!  June dates are filling up fast and July is already very busy so call asap!

    5-10-13 Fishing Report

    Well I've been very busy lately with school and coaching golf so i haven't had much time to fish.  I was able to get out a little last weekend for the maiden voyage of the 2013 open water season.  Fishing was pretty good although size was a little small.  We did manage to catch a limit of nice eater size walleye and sauger.  The water temperature on the river was 54 degrees and the males were milking.  If the river stays clean it'll be good for a few more weeks, but looking at the projections its supposed to rise about 2 feet over the next few days so that could put an end to the spring river walleye bite.

    The lake is really close to being completely ice free(finally)!  I hope to make it out either this weekend or next on the lake and look forward to reporting back.  I know the northerns are also biting very well off shore right now too.  We finally have spring weather so get out and enjoy it!

    I am booking trips for the summer so call ASAP to book your  guided Lake Sakakawea fishing adventure! 


    Saturday my friend Jeff and I did some turkey scouting for the upcoming turkey season.  After finding a bunch of turkeys and formulating our plan of attack for the opener next Saturday we turned our focus to ice fishing.  It's april 6th and we still have plenty of good ice for fishing... it's crazy!  We were in search of northern pike since the bait shop was out of minnows, so frozen smelt was the bait of choice.  We set up at the mouth of a large bay with a creek flowing into it.  We put out tip ups in 3-8 feet of water.  

    It didn't take long for the pike to start biting.  While putting in our 2nd line we had our first flag with a nice northern!  After getting all our lines set the action was pretty steady.  We had many times where the fish would come in schools and we'd have 2-4 bites at a time!  We ended the day catching many northern in the 3-6 pound range and a couple in the 7-10 pound range!  By the end of the day we were out of smelt and had caught 25-30 northern pike!  It was a great day on the ice, even though we didn't find the giant pike we were hoping for.

    The ice was deteriorating quickly around the shorelines so if you venture out please use extreme caution.  The lake is rising, the days are longer, the sun stronger... not a good recipe for ice.  But that means it's almost time for the boat!!!


    I was able to get out and chase some northern pike over the easter weekend, and there are still plenty of pike in Lake Sakakawea!  We focused on shallow areas(3-6 feet) near bays with creeks flowing into them.  The bite was a little slower than some reports i had heard earlier in the week but we still had plenty of  "flags."  

    Saturday we were out for about 4.5 hours and managed to ice 8 northerns between 3-8 pounds.  Monday we had to search a little bit more to find clearer water and then once we found it we caught 12 in the 2-8 pound range in 3 hours.  The fish seemed a little bit sluggish, they would ofter grab the smelt and run a little ways then drop it.  Or they would be running like crazy, but when you set the hook all you felt was the smelt rip off the hook.  I'm not sure if they were just small northerns or they would just have a small part of the bait in their mouth.  It seemed like they were playing mind games with us...  Just as you decided to let them swallow it, they would drop it.  And then when you hustled over  and set the hook right away, they would barely have it in their mouth.

    The ice was still very thick and solid, but the warm temps and stronger sun will wear down shorelines quickly which might make access difficult, so be careful.  Also remember to bring the sunscreen!  The sun reflecting off the ice and snow can give you a nasty sunburn... I'm currently nursing my face back from the burn i sustained Monday.

    Dates are starting to fill up for the summer.  Please call to reserve your fully guided fishing trip on North Dakota's Beautiful Lake Sakakawea!

    3-29-13 Summer Preview!!!

    Well the calendar says that spring has sprung, but looking outside it's hard to see that.  We have had below average temperatures and the ice is still solid on the Lake Sakakawea.  This year could allow some of the latest ice fishing on record.  But I imagine with warmer temps forecasted next week the shorelines will start getting soft.  We could be river fishing by mid-April and on Lake Sakakawea around the 1st of May.  The outlook for Sakakawea is very good with great populations of Walleye, Northern Pike, and Smallmouth Bass! (click the links to see pictures)  The water levels are forecasted to be a little bit lower than last year which will help concentrate the fish this year, but for the long term we need a little bit higher water to maintain the cold-water forage base.  I will be available for fully guided fishing trips beginning June 6th.  I can provide trips specifically targeting walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass.  Or choose all 3!

    Smallmouth Bass
    Last year all through June we had the best smallmouth bass fishing ever seen on Sakakawea.  They should have grown and be ready to put up a great fight again this year!  Pound for pound they might be the hardest fighting fish in Lake Sakakawea!  We can cast crankbaits, pitch jigs, and even try some topwater lures for some exciting acrobatic strikes!  Call me to book your North Dakota smallmouth bass trip! Again June is the best month for bass although I caught some all year even through the ice(a first for me)!!!

    Northern Pike
    The high water the past couple years have allowed the Northern Pike to flourish!  In the next ten years Lake Sakakawea will be a Pike fisherman's dream!  Most of the fish are still on the smaller end(2-10lbs) but it takes big fish to produce the numbers of small fish we have in the lake.  Every year there are many fish over 20 pounds caught!  50+ fish days are not uncommon, I have plenty of tackle to provide you with a great day of pike fishing!  Don't expect too much down time, you will be tired at the end of a busy day catching northern pike.  Pike are also great table fare, but people shy away from them because of the Y-bones.  I know how to remove them and will clean your pike for you.  North Dakota increased the daily limit to 5 last year so you can go home will a couple great meals!  Call me to set up your action packed northern pike trip!!!

    Walleye are my main focus most of the summer, with their always changing demeanor and great table quality, I have nothing but love for the walleye!  They can be a constant challenge and I love trying to figure out the puzzle and putting them in the boat.  In my opinion there is nothing that compares to eating a freshly caught deep fried walleye!  The year classes of walleyes are very good with many fish expected to be in the 4-7 pound range! There should also many in the 1-2 pound range which is perfect for the frying pan!  I always like to let the fish tell me what they like so we may end up trying many different tactics to put numbers of walleye in the boat.  If you have a preference please let me know and we can start with that!  Generally in the summer pulling bottom bouncers and spinners or slow death rigs is the ticket with live bait.  Contour trolling crankbaits is also a very productive way to put fish in the boat!  Call me today to book your trip to catch mouth watering walleye!!

    Williston Sport and Rec Show
    The 2013 Williston Sport and Rec Show was a great success and I had a great time teaching the kids about fishing.  Hopefully the kids had just as much fun as I did!  We gave away 50 rods to the kids at the seminars on Saturday and Sunday courtesy of the NPAA and their Future Angler Foundation!  We also gave away a tackle box to Cody that was donated by Scenic Sports!

    I will be venturing out to chase some walleyes and northern pike this weekend.  This time of year is the time for big pike!  They will be in the back bays up shallow feeding as they are getting ready to spawn.  The walleyes should also be migrating to the spawning areas and generally shallower.  Late ice can produce some great fishing as long as you take proper precautions because the ice can be unpredictable.  I will report back with the results.


    It's just a week away the Williston Sport and Rec Show!  I will be there with a booth set up in the Kid Zone area on Saturday and Sunday.  At my booth we will do some hands on knot tying and casting practice in one of the racquetball courts.  I will also be doing 2 fishing basics seminars for the kids and have 25 rod and reel combos to give away to the kids at each seminar so make sure and get there early!  I have one seminar at 11am Saturday and another at 3pm Sunday.  Please stop by and join in on the fun!

    I will also be starting to take reservations for the upcoming summer so if you stop by I can book a date for you!  Mention this blog and you will receive a $25 dollar discount if you book a trip at the show!

    I don't have any new fishing reports, but it looks like we will have a couple more weeks left of ice fishing!  I may try and get out one night next week before the show so I may have an updated report then.


    Amy and I headed out yesterday afternoon in search of more saugers.  We got to our spot from the week before to find a few other groups fishing there.  You snooze you lose!  So we headed to a new area, hoping to find another productive spot.  Well there were a few fish in the area but most of them were small walleye.  I even caught one that was 5 inches...  I've used baits bigger!  ha!  There were a few northerns around and we ended up with one keeper sized sauger.  Not exactly the trip we were looking for but like the say... Even the worst day fishing is better than working!!!  It was a beautiful day and it could be my last day on the ice this year depending on the weather.  I'm busy the next few 3 weekends so I could be waiting until open water to fish again.

    Coming up March 15-17 I will be at the Williston Sport and Rec show.  I will be doing a couple Fishing Basics Seminars that are geared towards kids and getting them "Hooked on Fishing!"  I'm not sure on seminar times yet.  Stay tuned for the times.  I do know that as of right now I have 50 rod and reel combos to give away to the 1st 25 kids at each seminar!  A HUGE THANK YOU to the NPAA and their Future Angler Foundation for donating the combos!  Along with the seminars I will have a booth in the Kids Zone with a casting area where kids can practice casting!  Stop by and get the kids hooked on fishing!  Or book a trip for this summer on Lake Sakakawea!

    Rooster Run Ice Fishing Tournament 2-18-13

    Well the 2nd Annual Rooster Run Ice Fishing Tournament out of Skunk Bay was this past weekend.  My brother Nick and I entered the tournament as the "Sauger Slayers" and we lived up to that name pretty well!  The tournament had 46 2-person teams that were allowed to fish anywhere from Bear Den Bay to Independence Point on Lake Sakakawea. The tournament was 2 days with fishing taking place Saturday from 12pm-8pm and then Sunday from 12am(midnight)-12pm(noon).  It can be an exhausting tournament if you want to fish hard or you can sit back and relax and have a good time!  Dave had put in a TON of work to make this tournament great this year and he had a huge amount of door prizes!  Thanks for all the hard work Dave!  I'm already looking forward to next year!

    Now onto the fishing details!  We had pre-fished many spots from Skunk Bay to Bear Den.  Our quest started out looking for a good walleye bite for the primetime morning and evening bites that traditionally come with ice fishing.  Our efforts found many walleye but there was one SMALL problem.  The walleyes were abundant, but SMALL.  (Although that does mean there are more good things to come for Lake Sakakawea!) We then turned our attention to saugers.  We found a few different spots where we could get saugers and we found them in many depths.  One morning pre-fishing I caught our biggest sauger in 13 feet and our 2nd biggest in 58 feet!  The structure was steep and rocky near the old river channel.  Places near the old river channel are always good places to try especially ice fishing.  We decided that we would focus on deeper water during the day and then move up to try and get a decent walleye or 2 at dark.

    Saturday at noon we had all our stuff set up and ready to go.  We made swiss cheese of the ice drilling 50+ holes Saturday afternoon.  The bite was a little bit different than normal with the fish biting really well from 1-3 in the afternoon.  We had 4, 19-21 inch saugers and a 21.5 inch walleye  by 2:50 and were looking forward to see the evening bite and a couple bigger fish to upgrade.  Well for some reason the evening bite was a lot slower than normal and we only caught 4 fish but 1 was a 20 inch sauger which moved our weight up slightly and we finished the day with 15.15 pounds and in 2nd place.  The leaders had a dandy limit of walleyes weighing in at 20 pounds and change. 

    At midnight we hit the ice again hoping to find a couple nice walleyes to help us catch the leaders.  Overnight we had a problem with one of our heaters(just like last year) so one house relied on the lantern for heat!  But luckily it was a beautiful night and we took turns in the warmer house if needed.  The overnight bite was nothing special, we only marked a couple fish but nick did manage a 8 pound northern at 3:30am, which was the 2nd biggest northern of the day winning us 60 bucks!!!  We started the morning bite after moving a tip-up at 6:30am and instantly catching a 19 inch sauger!  The morning bite then was good until about 10:30.  We caught close to 30 saugers but the size was a little bit smaller than Saturday, but we did manage to catch 5 between 18 and 21 inches.  Our total weight for Sunday was 13.22 pounds which gave us a total of 28.37 pounds, which was good enough to keep us in 2nd place!  The leaders from day 1 caught 9 pounds and change and ended with 30.5 pounds.  Congratulations to the champions as they have accomplished a very tough task of winning back to back years!

    Our fish were again scattered and to combat that problem we constantly drilled new holes if were weren't getting bites.  If we didn't get a bite within a minute after fishing a new hole we would move onto the next.  The saugers would bite just about any lure, and they loved it when you would pound it on the bottom.  Many times they would be hanging on it when we picked it off the bottom right after dropping it down the hole.  Depths again ranged from 13-61 feet but our most consistent depths were from 35-55 feet.  Again the big key for us was staying mobile.  It can be tiring but can change a 3-6 fish day into a 20-30 fish day!  There is still about a month of good ice fishing left so get out and enjoy it while you can, but as always be careful out there the ice can be unpredictable. 


    Made it to Skunk Bay last Sunday afternoon.  Set up right on the edge of a big flat, right on the corner where it had deep water on 3 sides.  We had rods set up along the break from 14-38 feet.  A few holes landed on top of a bunch of smallmouth bass.  They would look at the bait for a while but once you convinced them to bite they would crush it!  We caught about a dozen smallies with the biggest around 2 pounds.  The walleye and sauger didn't cooperate until right at dark.  The last half hour of daylight showed multiple fish but no takers.  They were real finicky and finally I convinced a nice 19 inch sauger to bite.  Then right at dark i triggered a few small walleyes with a small jig and minnow.  I got 4 in a row as fast as i could get the rod back down the hole.  Then they shut off.  It seems the fish are a bit scattered once you get away from the upper west end of Sakakawea.  The dandy walleyes from the summer are out there, but just like this summer it will take some exploring to find them.  I'll be headed back out this weekend to see what I can find!  

    The Rooster Run is only a few weeks away get signed up while you can!

    January 21, 2013

    Saturday was the Catch for a Cure Ice Fishing Tournament hosted out of Tobacco Gardens Resort and Marina.  It was a great time with the proceeds benefitting relay for life!  The wind was howling  and the temps were dropping but that didn't stop 32 teams from venturing out to find the walleye, saugers, northerns, and other fish!  We fished at one our trusty old spots just off the old river channel.  We had holes from 19 to 26 feet.  The fish were definitely scattered as there was no real consistent bite.  About half came from jigging while the others were on deadsticks.  We ended up keeping 8 fish and weighing our top 6 for a total of 11.44 pounds.  We let go 4 small saugers, 2 shiners, and also caught one 4.43lb ling(eelpout or burbot), and lost another ling part way up the hole.  So all in all it was an average day on the ice.  Our weight put us in 5th place overall, and they paid 4 places... The joys  of the bubble!  But our ling did win the biggest other fish category and we won a nice door prize donated by Power Fuels, so we didn't go home empty handed!  Thanks to everyone who turned out as it was a great event and I look forward to fishing it again next year!

    Coming up in February I will be fishing the Rooster Run Tournament, hosted out of Skunk Bay on Lake Sakakawea.  It is a 2 day tournament and it sounds like there are tons of prizes.  Come out and join the fun!  Click here for rules and registration.  So hopefully the next few weekends i'll be able to get out and find some fish on that area of the lake.
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