Lake Oahe Walleye
Regulations for Lake Oahe Walleye
Lake Oahe walleye regulations for 2013 have changed from the statewide regulation to allow anglers the opportunity to harvest more of the abundant small walleye that are currently in the lake.Â
The 2013 walleye regulations include a daily limit of 8 walleye with the following size restrictions: no more than 4 walleye can be 15 inches or greater in length per day and at most 1 walleye can be 20 inches or greater per day.Â
This means anglers are allowed to harvest up to 8 walleye per day under 15 inches or combinations of as long as only 4 walleye are greater than 15 inches with only 1 walleye greater than 20 inches.Â
The possession limit also increased to allow for higher harvest. The current possession limit is 24 walleye after a minimum of 3 days of fishing with the above per day length restrictions.
Walleye Fishing Trends for 2013
Walleye abundance is indexed using the average number of walleye caught per gill net. In 2012, the walleye abundance index was 20.5 walleye per net. This walleye abundance was higher than the long term average of 17 walleye per net. Overall walleye abundance has increased due to production of young fish during the 2005 to 2011 period.Â Â Â
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 high throughout Lake Oahe in 2012. If trends remain similar to previous years, then walleye fishing should be good in all regions of Lake Oahe in 2013.
Historically, the average size of walleye decrease as you move upstream. Due to natural production during recent years, fish less than 15 inches will be common throughout Lake Oahe in 2013. Lake-wide, approximately 75 percent of the current walleye population was produced in 2009 and growth has slowed due to so many fish of the same size in the system. 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 2012 at 15-3/4 inches. The average was 17 inches the past several years. This decrease in average size of walleye was due to a high abundance of small walleye in the lake.
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. The number of walleye caught per hour by anglers was high in 2012 due to the abundance of small fish in the population and low availability of food. In 2013, walleye fishing should continue to be good due to high numbers of walleye in the population and low availability of food.
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 2013
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 pulled 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 a high abundance of walleye and other predators. The adult rainbow smelt population is still abundant enough, and depending on spring spawning conditions, to rebound quickly.