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Lake Oahe Walleye

Regulations for Lake Oahe Walleye

For 2015, daily and possession limits remain the statewide limit of 4 walleye per day and at most 1 walleye 20 inches or greater can be kept. The possession limit also remains at 8 walleye.

2015 Walleye Fishing Trends

Walleye abundance is indexed using the average number of walleye caught per gill net.

In 2014, walleye abundance for Lake Oahe was 14.1 walleye per net. Abundance was slightly lower than the long term average of 17 walleye per net.

Walleye abundance in Lake Oahe is usually highest in the upper zone. This remained true in 2014 as abundance in the upper zone equaled the long term average of 17 walleye per net and decreased as you head downstream.

Historically, the average size of walleye decreases as you move upstream. Due to high reproduction in recent years, fish around 15 inches will be common throughout Lake Oahe in 2015. Lake-wide, the majority of the 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 are less abundant than years prior to the 2011 flood; however, large fish can be found throughout the lake. The average size of walleye caught and kept by anglers was the same as in 2013 at 14.8 inches.

Rainbow Smelt :: 2011 Flood and 2015 Predictions

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 percent of the population were removed from Lake Oahe.

The majority of the rainbow smelt were young, newly hatched fish. Although estimates are higher than 2014, current rainbow smelt numbers are low compared to the long term average. This is due to low reproduction in 2012, 2013 and 2014. However, rainbow smelt is a prolific species and the population is abundance enough that, depending on spring spawning conditions, they could rebound quickly.

Walleye fishing usually peaks at different times for different regions of Lake Oahe.

Anglers experience high success in the upper region of Lake Oahe from late May through June while the middle and lower reaches peak a little later in the year.

In 2014, walleye catch rates (number of walleye caught per hour per angler) decreased from 2011, 2012 and 2013, but remains higher than the long term average.

In 2015, walleye fishing should continue to be good due to high numbers of walleye in the population; however, hourly catch rates may decrease in 2015 due to the 6th highest warm-water prey fish abundance on record in Lake Oahe.

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 various other techniques.

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.

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.