FISHING IN NORTH DAKOTA
I have waterfowl hunted in North Dakota for the last 21 years in a row. I love the outdoors there. I hope to still be waterfowl hunting there when I am 85 years old and older if the good Lord is willing. Like most trips I go on, my goal is to try to not limit myself to the main adventure that was planned. Usually, there is a metal detector and a fishing pole stashed somewhere in my gear. It's free to metal detect and short term nonresident fishing licenses are relatively inexpensive. North Dakota metal detecting is another story that will be forthcoming. This is about fishing.
We started fishing in North Dakota four years ago. This was after seeing a guy that was fishing a lake that we hunt and were scouting there for waterfowl when we ran into him. We stopped to talk to him and like every resident North Dakotian we talk to, he was friendly and glad to share with us about his fishing success. We later talked to other locals who were equally friendly, shared information and gave good fishing reports. We were on Barnes Lake in Stutsman County, ND.
The next year we started fishing. What a learning experience these four years have been. We had been given tips that it was a good walleye lake and also held a lot of northern pike. We were after walleye. Well, things didn't go as planned. The first day we used jigs and twister tails of different colors and sizes without catching a single fish. That day while we were fishing some of the other guys in the hunting group talked to more locals that had recommended using rubber frogs with a jig head. The next day we are back at the lake armed with rubber frogs and one deceased leopard frog that the other guys had found. On the first cast with the leopard frog WHAM! A 24 inch northern. In the retrieve, the frog came off and was lost. We went to the rubber frogs and managed to catch a total of four Northern pike and no walleye. That was the tally for that year.
The second year produced one fish. A 30 1/2 inch northern but no walleyes.
At the end of the second year we talked to some guys that were fishing down the shore line from us and the were catching quite a few walleye. Well, after a while it got the best of me so I walked down to them and ask what their secret was. "Leeches" was the reply. With that tip the start of year three fishing found us fishing a jig tipped with a leech. Finally we had some success. We ended up with a few walleyes and no northern pike. We were really looking forward to year four which was this past fall.
In year four there was still more learning. Jerry Scott, who had fished every year that I had at Barnes Lake, said he had a different type of jig head for us to try with the leeches. So, we did and boy am I glad we did. Not every walleye we caught was a "keeper" but most were. We caught more and bigger ones than the previous year. The jig is what I would call a banana jig.It is painted black and weighs 3/8 ounce. When tipped with a leech it blends in appearance with the leech to make it look bigger. The walleye strikes were often and hard hitting. We cast as far out from the shore into the lake as we could and did a "drag and wind" retrieve". The drags were two to three feet each and wound up the loose line. This was done until the jig was a few feet from shore. Walleye were continually caught the entire time we fished but as is usually the case, the most walleye were caught during the "magic" hour; that last hour before dark.
Upon returning home I started searching for the jigs to buy. Jerry said he had bought his quite a few years prior and had not since been able to locate any more. After going through all my fishing catalogs and spending a couple of hours on the internet with no success I decided to try and find a mold to make them. Again I spent a good amount of time looking and finally found a mold at Netcraft located in Toledo, OH. When it arrived I wasted no time casting up a couple of dozen and am counting the days till I return to Barnes Lake, ND and walleyes.