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16 Degrees and Still in a Boat

Location: Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman Dam)

Target species: Walleye

Technique: Pitching 1/8 and 1/4 oz. jigs

Air Temp: 16 degrees at start

Water Temp: high 40s

Normally at this time of the year, I'm heading out for my first hardwater trip of the season. But this fall hasn't been normal by any stretch. A warm October kept the water temps up and the fish catches down. Finally we're getting some temperatures that will lead us onto the ice soon, but I had a chance a few days ago to get out on a lake I'm not the most familiar with, but luckily, a new friend I made a few weeks ago, offered to take us out in his boat.

I met up with Kelly early in the morning and we were off to pitch some jigs and hopefully find some 'eyes. When there's snow in the boat and the lake is still open, there's something wrong with this picture. Going across a lake at about 25-30 mph in 16 degrees is quite the chilling experience. Luckily, we were both wearing parts of our Ice Armor suits which kept the wind at bay, though our faces couldn't say the same. We couldn't get down low enough beneath the console screens as we headed off across the water.

We tried pitching jigs towards the shoreline along the dam for the first couple of hours, but we only caught one there. So we buttoned up the suits and headed off to another spot a short distance away. We had some issues with the battery to the sonar so we could only guess the depth we were in that morning (it probably thought it was too cold to work too), but I trusted his judgment since he was much more familiar with Orman than I was and the decision paid off, as we netted several nice sized walleyes over the next couple of hours. These catches all occurred in the same area which most importantly, gives us an idea of where to go when the ice gets here as the fish will more than likely hold there for a while.

It was nice to get to know Kelly as this was the first trip we'd made since we met at the Dakota Angler Ice Institute a few weeks back and I'm grateful that he was willing to take me out despite the cold conditions. We learned that we both enjoy using the same brand of rod for our walleye fishing (Carrot Stix rods) and that we're both very eager to get out on the ice soon and start pulling walleyes up. I'm looking forward to many more trips with him this year and in the future. It's always great to make a new friend while out on the water.

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