North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea has quietly been one of the premier trophy walleye fisheries in the country. Girthy walleye in the high 20’s into 30-inch sized fish, along with great numbers have started to make this large reservoir a destination for many Midwest anglers. Jason Mitchell and Virtual Angling sat down with Mike Peluso who has been guiding on Sakakawea for decades to gain some insight on how to attack this walleye factory.
“It’s mind boggling.” Mike says. “To begin the year, it didn’t matter what lures you used, you caught fish.” As an example, Mike talked about a recent guide trip where he had 3 guys in the boat and they had 15 keeper walleyes in the boat by nine o’clock, only an hour after starting, and that’s fairly normal. That’s the type of fishing you can find on Sakakawea. While it’s slowed a bit with the summer heat, it’s relative. Slow on Sakakawea is a hot bite on most other bodies of water.
One big reason the walleyes are booming is the increased forage base. In addition to the normal smelt base, Mike explained the perch numbers have seemed to increase giving the walleye another large food group to feed on. This has helped the lake’s normal large numbers of walleye turn into large numbers of trophy fish. Peluso regularly catches walleye that are spitting out eight to ten inch smelt on the way to boat.
Where to Look For Fish
Based out of the Indian Hills area, Mike tries to stay away from other boats and uses his electronics to search for fish and pick them off when he spots them. One of his favorite ways to cover water is a crawler harness. Even though the fish are eating large smelt and perch they still eat the crawler harnesses. Mike mostly sticks to the main lake points and humps because they produce the best numbers for his clients. If your hunting trophy walleye though, Mike suggests fishing some of the reservoir’s arms, such as the Van Hook Arm.
“The bigger fish seem to be up in the arms, chasing baitfish in some of the shallower sections. If I was a tournament angler or someone looking for that trophy fish, that’s where I’d be fishing.”
For more footage from this Virtual Angling Live Session click the link below: