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Lake Oahe Walleye

Lake Oahe Zones

Regulations for Lake Oahe Walleye
Lake Oahe walleye regulations for 2014 have changed back to the statewide regulation. The 2014 walleye regulations include a daily limit of 4 walleye with the following size restrictions: at most 1 walleye can be 20 inches or greater per day. The possession limit also decreased back to the statewide limit of 8.

Walleye Fishing Trends for 2014
Walleye abundance is indexed using the average number of walleye caught per gill net. In 2013, the walleye abundance index was 15.7 walleye per net. Walleye abundance was slightly lower than the long term average of 17 walleye per net. Overall walleye abundance decreased slightly from 2012 to 2013.

Walleye abundance in Lake Oahe is usually greater upstream due to higher natural production of young walleye in the upper section of the reservoir. Unlike previous years walleye abundance was highest in the middle zone of Lake Oahe in 2013. If trends remain similar to previous years, then walleye fishing should be still be good in all regions of Lake Oahe in 2014.

Historically, the average size of walleye decrease as you move upstream. Due to high natural production during recent years, fish around 15 inches will be common throughout Lake Oahe in 2014. Lake-wide, approximately 70 percent of the current walleye population was produced in 2009 and growth has slowed due high numbers of this size of fish in the system. Fish that were produced in 2009 should be nearing or exceeding the 15 inch size during the spring and summer of 2014. Walleye 20 inches or larger make up a greater portion of the population in the lower reach of the lake, but large fish can be found throughout the lake.

The average size of walleye caught and kept by anglers was lower in 2013 at 14.7 inches. The average was 17 inches the past several years.

Walleye fishing usually peaks at different times for each region of Lake Oahe. Fishing in the upper region of Lake Oahe usually peaks from late May through June. The middle and lower regions of Lake Oahe peak during June and July. During peak fishing times, walleye catches by anglers can be higher in the upper and middle regions of Lake Oahe compared to the lower region. However, catch rates were similar lake-wide in 2013. The number of walleye caught per hour by anglers was high in 2013 due to the abundance of small fish in the population and low availability of food. In 2013, we recorded the sixth highest warm-water prey fish abundance in Lake Oahe. In 2014, walleye fishing should continue to be good due to high numbers of walleye in the population. However, with the high availability of food, catch rates in 2014 may be lower than those observed in 2013.

Lake Oahe Zones

Walleye Fishing Techniques
There are a wide range of techniques to fish for walleye in Lake Oahe. Many anglers fish with live bait on minnow or crawler rigs directly below their boats while drifting or trolling slowly. Other techniques include shallow or deep trolling crankbaits, deep vertical jigging, open water trolling for suspended fish, casting wind blown shorelines, and other endless techniques to catch fish. Many anglers tend to fish 10 to 40 feet of water depending on the time of year, conditions, and mood of the fish. The best way to fish for walleye is just keep trying a few techniques and depths until you catch your first fish and keep repeating it.

Rainbow Smelt: the 2011 Flood affects and predictions for 2014
The flood of 2011 caused increased amounts of water to be released through Oahe Dam. The high flows
through Oahe Dam caused many rainbow smelt to be swept through the dam into Lake Sharpe. Survey
estimates show 134 million rainbow smelt or 84% of the population were removed from Lake Oahe. The majority
of the rainbow smelt were young, newly hatched fish. However, current rainbow smelt numbers are low due to
low production of young rainbow smelt in 2012 and 2013 and a high abundance of walleye and other predators.
The adult rainbow smelt population is abundant enough, depending on spring spawning conditions, to rebound

Protect our Waters

You can do your part for the health and productivity of South Dakota's waters by being proactive in preventing the spread of invasive plant, fish and animal species that threaten to crowd out native species.