Lake Sakakawea, ND: Day 2


The second day began shrouded by dense fog as we awoke to find the tent covered in heavy dew. After fumbling around camp, building a fire and preparing a hardy breakfast of sausage, eggs and onions, we set out for an isolated location of the lake. We noticed the spot the day before and thought it would be very productive. Only accessible by a 400 yard hike down the hillside, and protected from boat access by a row of partially submerged trees, it receives very little fishing pressure. After spending more than an hour with four poles in the water, we only were able to land one smallmouth bass. The shallow, clear water with no vegetation proved to work against us in the late morning sun. It was time to move on.

We packed up the vehicle and headed to an inlet of the lake near Wolf Creek Recreational area, another experimental spot. The “Justin Rig” was out in full force and proved successful once again as Justin hooked into a very large carp that almost took his pole into the lake. Only a diving catch saved it from a watery grave. The fish shook off the hook after a minute, and we watched it return to the depths.

Noticing a great deal of top-water action and large swirls in shallow water we began to work a small, calm area of the cove. Justin managed to land a 26” Northern Pike with a small spoon (color: pink, blue and white), which later became our dinner back at camp.

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Justin with Northern Pike

As we were wrestling with the pike on shore to remove the deeply engulfed lure and striving to maintain all of our fingers, the “Justin Rig” attracted yet another fish. This time, we were able to land the carp and snap a quick photo before releasing back into the lake.

Justin with Carp

We fished up and down the shoreline of the cove for the remainder of the afternoon, soaking up the mid-day sun, enjoying a few cold beers and catching the occasional smallmouth bass. There were a couple more encounters with carp, but they proved difficult to successfully hook and land. Probably for the best, as we did not intend to keep them and would prefer they returned to the water unharmed and healthy.

As the afternoon drew to a close, we had to head back to camp, clean the pike, eat, pack and get on the road to Bismarck, ND. We’ve all been there… standing on the shore, wondering what fish are waiting below, and debating when to call it quits. One more cast…this is the one.

Well, on the last cast of the day, I managed to catch a nice drum which put up a great fight before I released it back to the big lake.

A. J. with Drum

It was a fantastic end to my day, and our 2011 trip to Lake Sakakawea. Three years running, and my visits to the lake keep getting better.

Justin Townsend

Justin (Choctaw) is an avid hunter, angler, and chef whose passion for the outdoors lead him to create Harvesting Nature in 2011. He continues to hunt, fish, and cook all while sharing his experiences with others through film, podcasts, print, and with recipes. He also proudly serves in the United States Coast Guard.

One thought on “Lake Sakakawea, ND: Day 2

  • Virginia townsend

    This is a really neat site. Your flyfishing article is a beautiful piece of writing, and there speaks not your nonnie but an award winning writer. I won the English honor society writing award in college. Also a couple of other awards, so I may not know good fishing, but I know good writing!!
    JC, it is so hot back here it is just awful. Remember the pond across the street from us? It is bone dry for the first time in my life. Ranchers are having to feed cattle already because there’s no grass. On the upside, earlier this year your grandma and I saw 6, yes six, deer crossing the pasture that is down the road from our house. Our neighbor in the 2 story house north of us says he has a fox that comes to visit, he has seen several coyotes in the pasture across the street from him, and he saw six bucks with antlers still in velvet. Last year we got to see a young buck several times. 1st time we saw him he had straight little horns in velvet. Although nature can sometimes be cruel, sometimes it can be funny. A friend of mine was watering her flowers and got her concrete porch wet. Later she looked out and there were 4 squirrels face down on the cool concrete!!
    I understand the awe you felt at the river, which is so beautiful. I often think, when I have seen the ocean, the smoky mountains, the “mighty missisip”, and when I look up at the night sky, how can anyone see this and say there is no God?
    I looked through my cookbook collection for a cookbook the miners museum put together one time, because I wanted to send a recipe for skunk to your blog, but apparently, if I had one, and I’m sure I did, I worked my butt off on that project, I don’t know what happened to it. If I can find someone with a copy, I will send you the recipe. I know you will anxioulsy await this recipe so that the can be the entree’ for your next dinner party.
    Keep up the good work and if I find some unusual recipes for preparing game, I’ll send them along. Oh, and on your wild rabbit chili recipe, it should begin “first, catch your rabbit”!!!


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