Lake Sakakawea Map
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Lake Sakakawea

ND (Dunn, McKenzie, McLean, Mercer, Mountrail, Williams)

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Current Season

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Species

Fall Styles

These are the styles that are relevant to your species in this season:

  • Buzz Baiting
  • Carolina Rigging
  • Cast/Retrieve Deep
  • Cast/Retrieve Mid Depth
  • Cast/Retrieve Shallow
  • Chatterbaiting
  • Crankbaiting
  • Dropshot
  • Finesse Fishing
  • Jerk Baiting
  • Livebait Rigging
  • Ned Rigging
  • Neko Rigging
  • Shaky Head Fishing
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Spybaiting
  • Texas Rigging
  • Top Water
  • Trolling Deep
  • Trolling Mid Depth
  • Trolling Shallow
  • Vertical Jigging Deep
  • Vertical Jigging Mid Depth
  • Vertical Jigging Shallow
  • Wacky Rigging

Lake Details

Summary

What you need to know about fishing Lake Sakakawea

Lake Sakakawea is a massive 380,000-acre reservoir that has over 1500 miles of shoreline. The lake was formed in 1956 with the completion of the Garrison Dam which was constructed for flood control and hydroelectric power generation. With its location of about 50 miles north of the state capital and its abundant supply of recreation areas, there is no difficulty in finding access to getting on the water. It runs 180 miles long with an average width of 2 -3 miles. Although pike are known to grow to enormous sizes and smallmouth have come on strong, many anglers travel to Lake Sakakawea for the walleye fishing. During the spring, focus on creek arms with several points that come out in different areas. Often the second and third points going back into the creek prove to be the most productive. Jig heads tipped with minnows or soft plastics are perfect for picking apart these staging areas. Come June the walleye start pushing out to the main lake. Focusing on the same creek arms, look toward the mouths and main lake points. Trolling crankbaits or lindy rigs will allow you to cover water while looking for schools of fish. Fall is when vertical jigging in 15 to 30 feet becomes a great tactic. If you want to get away from the main river and fish a lake within a lake, head to Van Hook Arm. This is a section of the reservoir that is off to the side and is filled with submerged humps, break lines, and countless pieces of structure.

Waterbody Type

Reservoir

Coordinates

-102.3180W
47.8105N

Surface Area

1199.74 sq. km

Avg. Depth

0 ft.

Species Present

Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Panfish / Bluegill, Northern Pike, Sturgeon, Trout, White Bass

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    Relevant Gear For You

    Omnia Recommendations

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    Buzz BaitingCarolina RiggingCast/Retrieve DeepCast/Retrieve Mid DepthCast/Retrieve ShallowChatterbaitingCrankbaitingDropshotFinesse FishingJerk BaitingLivebait RiggingNed RiggingNeko RiggingShaky Head FishingSpinnerbaitsSpybaitingTexas RiggingTop WaterTrolling DeepTrolling Mid DepthTrolling ShallowVertical Jigging DeepVertical Jigging Mid DepthVertical Jigging ShallowWacky Rigging

    Fish Confidently on Lake Sakakawea

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    Expert Picks

    LIST

    Sakakawea Summer/Fall Smallmouth Bass

    Here are some of presentations I use to chase Sakakawea smallmouth bass in summer and fall. I tend to bounce back and forth between both shallow and deep patterns. When I look shallow (1'-6') I'm looking for a weed/rock mix or wood/rock mix and usually the presence of lots of shiner minnows. Shallow cover can produce both numbers of bass and big bass all summer and fall. Whopper Plopper 130s are one of my go-to big smallmouth baits and they are super effective along shallow weeds and wood. Twitching texas rigged zoom super flukes in and along weeds can be super effective. Pitching jigs and tubes along the base of stumps is a consistent producer. And cranking lipless cranks, squarebills, and spinnerbaits along shallow weeds and wood can tear it up as well. When I'm fishing deeper structure I'm often looking for structure in the 15'-30' range that isn't far from at least 60' or deeper water. The smallies eat lots of shiners on these structures along with ambushing offshore smelt. Pay attention to the smallies responses to your presentations and their locations in the water column. I catch them everywhere from the bottom to the top in deep water. The fish can adjust position quickly depending on bait and currents/water clarity/weather conditions as well. A couple favorites of mine for targeting offshore smallies on Sakakawea include dropshotting Zoom Finesse worms with a size 1 Owner Sniper Finesse Neko hook and a topwater to keep handy for schooling fish busting bait on the surface.

    Waterbodies: Lake Sakakawea

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    Sakakawea Spring Walleye

    Sakakawea Spring Walleye (Ice Out through May) Sakakawea is quickly becoming known as one of the nations best walleye fisheries. Start your hunt for spring time Sakakawea walleyes in areas of the lake with warmer water and in proximity to tributaries and bays. The far western arm of Sakakawea all the way up through the river heats up first in the springtime and attracts the largest concentrations of active walleye. Popular locations to start in the spring include Lunds Landing, White Earth Bay, and New Town. Look for active walleyes on shallow rocky points or flats in proximity to creeks and bays. Walleyes run up some of these creeks to spawn, while others creeks are used by hoards of smelt for spawning and large numbers of post spawn walleye aren’t far from this feeding fest. In addition, warming points, flats, bays, and creeks attract large schools of emerald shiners, and other baitfish for walleye to feed on. Productive depths are usually shallow in the spring ranging from 2’-14’. When selecting colors on Sakakawea chrome/blue is hard to go wrong with, but when water clarity decreases bright colors or high contrast patterns such as chartreuse or firetiger can be hard to beat. Remember windblown shorelines tend to get fish feeding more aggressively and are good areas to begin your search. Also, water levels and water clarity are in constant flux on Sakakawea. Don’t get hung up on fishing memories, keep moving until you get on the fish. Jigging Minnows and Hardbaits: 1/8oz and 1/4oz flasher jigs or stand up jigs such as the Mission Tackle Willow Wabbler and Stand Up Short shank jig are great options for either fathead minnows or 3” Gulp! Minnows. For a more aggressive presentation that can trigger even inactive fish at times, try working these same areas with Rapala Rippin Raps or Strike King Red Eye Shads (I like the red eye shads in shallower water like 2'-6') using a quick rip off bottom followed by a 1-2 second pause on bottom. Look for points with rock or steep drop offs nearby and pitch these baits against the shoreline and retrieve them all the way back to the boat. Do this until you find active schools of walleye or productive depths and then replicate that pattern on similar structures. Casting Crankbaits: Along with pitching jigs or lipless crank baits, having a second person in the boat casting crankbaits in the same areas listed above can be a good one-two punch to find what mood the walleye are in. Suspending crankbaits such as Rapala X-Rap Shads and Glass Shad Raps can be phenomenal baits especially when worked in a pull and pause manner in the springtime. Trolling: Large flats and large points with scattered cover adjacent to bays or creeks can be very productive. The most efficient means to cover ground in these situations is usually by trolling. Flatline trolling Berkley Flicker Shads and Rapala Shad raps are great lures to begin the search with. Generally, if the water is dirty or the wind is breezy, jointed baits and high contrast/brighter colors tend to get more bites. As the water warms especially over 55 degrees, slow death rigging nightcrawlers with Macks Smile Blades becomes a great option as well.

    Waterbodies: Lake Sakakawea

    Species: Walleye

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