The pros size up Oahe

PIERRE, S.D. — Lake Oahe is the third largest inland reservoir in the United States, with 374,000 surface acres, 2,250 miles of shoreline and stretching 231 miles from end to end.

The South Dakota impoundment is also the site of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia. The lake was uncharted water for the Elite pros until they launched boats into the massive impoundment for practice. That ended yesterday and the competition is now underway.

The lake spills into North Dakota, although those waters are off limits to the competition. What also sets boundaries is the availability of fuel on the lake. The only fuel station is located at Spring Creek Resort and Marina, the launch site that is nearest the dam. So running far and wide comes with limitations.

I posed two questions to the pros so we can all see the lake through their eyes, at least through the end of practice. Here’s what they had to say about the lake situated in the Great Plains.

 

Mark Daniels Jr.

Tuskegee, Ala.

What do you like about Oahe?

The high numbers of smallmouth, getting lots of bites keeps you entertained and interested.

 

What surprises you about the lake?

That’s easy. The wind and how quick this place can go from calm to where you can’t even get to where you want to go.

 

Brent Chapman

Lake Quivira, Kan.

What do you like about Oahe?

“I just love the scenery. The wildlife and that you can actually go out there and enjoy it.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“How small it fishes and how everyone seems to be able to find the same fish. It’s a massive lake but there seems to be a lot of dead water in it. There spots way up the lake that you can run and see five boats on it. I would have thought everyone would be more spread out.”

 

Jordan Lee

Grant, Ala.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The size. It’s one of the biggest lakes that I’ve ever visited. It’s a unique lake.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“The shorelines. The shorelines get muddy when the wind blows and from the boat traffic. I’ve got to think the fish aren’t used to that and it probably moves them off.”

 

Adrian Avena

Vineland, N.J.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The sheer size and amount of wildlife. Just seeing mule deer, antelope, pheasant, and all the wildlife, including the skull I found on the shoreline. It’s just a remote, wild place.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“The lack of big smallmouth. I thought there would be more smallmouth in the 2-plus pound range.”

 

Josh Bertrand

San Tan Valley, Ariz.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The fact that it’s so wild. When I got here it was like going back in time 100 years. There are no homes, businesses and no cell phone coverage, just completely remote. It reminds me of the lakes out in the desert in the middle of nowhere that I live, which is kind of cool.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“The fact that we had two nice calm days to practice, based on how it tends to blow around here. That was a pleasant surprise. But there are a lot of clay and mud banks and the shoreline gets muddy, quick.

 

David Mullins

Mt. Carmel, Tenn.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The scenery. It reminds you of watching “Lonesome Dove” (filmed nearby) and it’s a very unique, beautiful place. “

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“That the smallmouth population wasn’t as big as what I expected. After the first day of practice I realized there weren’t as many numbers of smallmouth as we thought.”

 

Terry Scroggins

Palataka, Fla.

What do you like about Oahe?

“What I like the most is that nobody has ever been here before. It’s brand new to us all. Everyone had to figure it out during the two days of practice.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“Just how big it is. You can look at a creek on the opposite side of the lake, think you’re going to just run over there and 20 minutes later you finally make it. Being more conscientious of the gas gauge has been on my mind as I run around.”

 

Brent Ehrler

Redlands, Calif.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The clear water and how it reminds me of places that I’ve fished before. It does fish differently than anywhere I’ve been, but I do like the clear water factor. I also like the size, hoping that it will spread people out. “

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“I’ve caught a fair amount of walleye up shallow and I’ve never done that before.”

 

Greg Hackney

Gonzales, La.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The mule deer population.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“How it looks. It’s the most unique lake I’ve ever fished. Just beautiful, remote and wide open spaces.”

 

Ott DeFoe

Knoxville, Tenn.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The scenery, it’s just beautiful.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“How much the banks can disappear while you are fishing around them. I’ve fished around some mud cliffs and watched chunks just break off and crash into the water. And so far, I’m blessed to not have been underneath one of those.”

 

Brett Hite

Phoenix, Ariz.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The size. It’s just a massive lake. For us to have never been here before, or never hear about it, and it’s one of the largest in the country, is odd for us. It reminds me of Lake Mead, a real vast and large reservoir. If the wind blows there will be massive weights.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“The remoteness. There are no gas stations or boat ramps except for the launch site at Spring Creek. There are no towns, nothing.”

 

David Walker

Sevierville, Tenn.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The scenery, it’s just beautiful and nothing like it that I have ever seen.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“How remote the lake is, and also how the fishing wasn’t what I expected. Since we’ve never been here before, I thought the unpressured fish would be easier to find and catch.”

 

Kevin VanDam

Kalamazoo, Mich.

What do you like about Oahe?

“The channel catfish. I’ve caught a ton.”

 

What surprises you about the lake?

“The scenery. It’s just a beautiful lake.”

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