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Missouri River Fishing Reports

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I know it's jiggin' and crankin' for the most part this time of year. Mostly, I'm curious about what accesses would be suggested and general locations- not looking for anyones gps coordinates. General tips for locating fish in the system would be appreciated. I've never fished a river like the Mizzou- mostly I'm used to the Red, the Red's tribs, and the Rainy. I've never fished such sandy waters as out there.

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A couple accesses on the Bismarck side are the Grant Marsh bridge access, Fox Island, and The Desert landing down south of town. I can't tell you which one is better to launch from or where the action is but hope to hear some reports from back home soon.

The sandbars are your friend and enemy. Not knowing where the channel and sandbars are can be tough but with some caution it isn't too bad. There are also deadheads, or tree stumps, in some areas that can be just under the surface of the water. Find some slack water behind the sandbars by watching the current and water movement on the surface and work those areas. There are little pockets all over and it's really a fun place to fish since it changes so much.

Jigs, jigs, jigs. Pitching jigs up shallow can be a deadly tactic this time of year. Find some good structure to pitch to and work it hard. Sometimes just Berkley Gulp without tipping with live bait is all you need to get them to bite if they're feeding.

I'll let you know more if I find out anything more current.

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Thanks Dan. Not sure now if I'll be headed there or the Rainy, but I'll take any info I can get. I'm sure others on here would appreciate any news you can dig up too.

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A buddy went out yesterday and they caught nine, pitching jigs in the slack-water areas behind sandbars. Two of the nine were a 5 and a 4 pound walleye. Just another ho-hum day on the river.

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Fish Bite Better in the Rain

Last week Thursday I left Minot headed west to Williston in pursuit of the Paddlefish. 20 miles out the wipers went to work. Today I’m headed south to Washburn and, yep you guessed it. 20 miles out the wipers turn on. Normally, if I’m guiding, about this time some overly excited client pipes up. “At least the fish bite better in the rain.” NOT! How did that get started? I got nothing against a good rain. It’s just that it’s 40 degrees.

The ND section of the Missouri river for the most part begins at the tailrace in Pick City where turbines churn up the water and everything else that goes through. The other stuff being churned is mostly smelt which are the forage base in Sakakawea. By the time it winds through south Bismarck it is back to lake. Here it is defined by submerged live trees due to recent high water. Ideal nursery habitat. I expect the river to only get better.

Washburn area is primarily sandbars, a few rocks and a lot of submerged old growth cottonwoods. It is also one impressive walleye fishing area. The secret to Washburn is current breaks created by the sandbars. Then finding where the fish are in relation to the break. Shallow or deep, up at the head or downstream.

Due to daily changing water levels, the result of the turbines, current breaks are in constant flux. It will help if you keep a sharp eye on the ups and downs as you fish. I start the day pitching a jig-minnow into 7 to 9 feet but it doesn’t feel right. Fact is, the harder the east wind blows the driving rain, the less anything feels right. Eventually I get first fish but more effort is left unrewarded.

Spawn is history by a few weeks even though water is only 43 degrees. Nice late April weather had water temps up close to 50. Today we are down about 7 degrees. Weather is suppose to straighten out for the weekend and fishing will be hot and only get better as we move into June.

I forgot my wool gloves in the truck and in this case it was a good thing. How did America every get settled without a good truck heater. I’m twice the man when I can feel my fingers and talk without slurring due to numb lips! Bring it on, I’ve got my gloves, I’m warmed up and ready.

Back out with a new strategy to go deeper and drop downstream into slower water. Don’t take me long to figure out this is cold front conditions. I can the pitching idea and adopt the slower vertical jigging mode. First drift in 12 feet and finally I feel like I’m on to something. Couple more drifts and I’m smiling my way to a limit.

About 3 years ago I started trying to listen to my heart, not something I do well. Stay with me here, this ain’t gonna get messy. This has to do with catching fish. Anyway this idea of following my heart is tuff to explain but easy to see. I catch more walleyes with less effort. Way more.

Today the heart was saying; “Take it deep Schoneck, slow it down”. OK I’ll admit it, I ask for help first and then listen. Don’t have it figured out, don’t always listen and don’t always ask, but when I do, seems fish bite better. Kind of like they do when it’s raining.

Greg Schoneck for ND Live

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Didnt get out for the weekend. I think we are behind a bit from last season. The big lake (Sakakawea) is slow to kick in. By now the western end, New Town and above should be going strong but is by all accounts dead.

My prediction is this week it will go. Warm nights!South winds~its gonna happen.


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A side note to the Current Breaks story is the powerful influence of cold fronts. We were filming these fish for a video fishing tip to follow the story. All the fish came up with typical walleye resistance. Nothing sensational. After editing the video however it became clear that the fish had very little fight at the surface next to the boat. The difference from two weeks earlier in Bismarck was astonishing. There we had terrific surface action, with plenty of thrashing and splashing to make for good video. Washburn was under the influence, of a cold front that is. I think I underestimate the physical effects fronts have on walleyes.

"Current Breaks"

More videos at HSOshow.com™


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Downstream Disaster

Geez, downstream? You got to be kidding. You can do that if you want Schoneck, they’re your cranks.

The Missouri River is one remarkable walleye fishery that has a short beginning in ND west of Williston. The Sakakawea dam holds her back for the next 170 miles and then off she goes heading south to the SD border. Washburn is one of many great places but this time of year it is THE place in my opinion.

Heavy rain has been forecast for the day along with winds in the 20’s and gusts to 28. Leaving the house this morning we had both. By the time the 80 mile trip was ending the rain was all but stopped leaving only the wind to contend with.

The original plan was to put Gulp and live bait to the test vertical jigging. Two missed hits on live bait and one small walleye on Gulp before I called that plan quits. Too windy for me, the electric was on 5 just to keep me going downstream. Plus, I didn’t like the 40 degree wind in my face.

After a cautious trip upriver, didn’t hit a single sandbar, an accomplishment for me, we settled into one of my favorite Washburn locations. I still had jigs on the brain but that cleared out after a couple of guys in a Lund put on a seminar using cranks. Let the games begin!

First down was a jointed 5 in Firetiger with a Wonderbread Red Rip Shad next door. First fish, jointed 5 but that was when the Rip Shad took over. Before long the Shad Rap is being changed out for a Firetiger Rip Shad. They are hard to tune but I have no other lure I would place ahead of Rip Shads.

We are fishing a section of sand dunes running into a current break with a flat bottom. Depths average 8 to 9 feet. Current is pretty strong at the lower section but with the dunes to rest in the fish seem to be concentrated at the lower end. This would be an ideal setup for leadcore and it crossed my mind but we just didn’t need it to get fish.

I’ve done this before, I think Pepin in Red Wing was the first place. Smoking downstream with cranks can be a sure way of cleaning out the tackle boxes. It can also put fish, big fish in the livewell. I’m pretty safe here in the sand and get away with it today. I’ll admit I’m not always so lucky. If you have some old rusty cranks give it a try sometime.

By mid-afternoon winds died down and I went back to jigs for a vertical drift down to where I start back upstream with the cranks. Normally I can catch walleyes faster with cranks but jigs were quickly overtaking the crank catch. Nothing fancy, just a ¼ ounce jig and fathead minnow. Using the electric to match the current speed it’s a fun way to fish.

The river will likely stay good for another several weeks. The general theme is as summer progresses fish size and numbers begin to die down. We have had some unusually cool weather so perhaps the great fishing will continue longer that normal. For the few who really understand the river there is a lot of season left, regardless of the summer heat. I still have some cranks left. See ya on the river.


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ND Live Wet & Wild

Washburn Walleyes

Cranking Walleyes in the Missouri River near Washburn, North Dakota. They are nice walleyes and we have a special techniques that triggers these nice eyes. Rick calls it Kick, Turn, Stall......WALLEYE!!!

Enjoy this easy cranking technique in the Missouri River.

To see video in HD: (Recommended)


More videos at HSOshow.com™

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  • we are 'the leading edge' HSO Creators

Nice report Greg.

Those look like some dandy walleyes. Nice video and picked up a tip or two. Might even be useful on home waters as well.

How many of you looking here fish the Missouri and what tactics do you use?

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I fish the Missouri, Jig every whichaway and crankin. sometimes lindy's

Very new to the area, just bought a boat and have had great days from the SD border to the tailrace.

My big fish was 6# on a 3/16 OZ jig and using 6# berkley crystal. I will be doing that again...

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We were just on the Missouri Monday and Tuesday near Stanton, the Great Rivers Power Plant.

Monday we fished from 9 am to 11:30 am and caught 7 Walleyes for the 4 of us. The wind started blowing 40 mph and we had to get off the river. We were drifting at over 10 mph!!

Tuesday we fished from 8 am to around 2:30. We caught 8 Walleyes for the same 4 people, for a total of 15 for the 2 days.

All in all it wasn't bad.

The bite was a lot hotter last week, which seems to be my luck.

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Fish the Missouri yesterday after work, first timer. Between 7 of us we caught 15 fish in 3 hours. Good size to the fish. a few were too big to keep. 25 incher was the biggest.

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Fished today for about 3 hours. Same spot as yesterday only caught 2 walleyes, 3 northerns, cisoco and a eel pout. Never seeen a eel pout caught in the open water.

This doesn't have anything to do in a fishing report but I should have added in the report yesterday. At the boat ramp yesterday just before we got there a guy had his truck almost fully submerge in the water while trying to load the boat. It sounded like he got out to hook the chain to the boat he said something snap on the truck. It back all the way into the river. Saw the truck afterward. His window was still down(power windos doesn't work) and everything was wet to the ceiling. Pretty sure that new ford was total. Couldn't help but feel bad for the guy. the only thing electrical that work was the horn.

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Limt-do you know where the Ducks Unlimited building is? We drove past there up north a ways...maybe another 7 miles. Sorry not good direction, there was a power plant right across the river at our boat ramp. A local showed us his honey spot. I guess down in Hazelton(I believe) there doing really well there but you have to deal with the crowds. I might be there next week. I'll post a report. Pretty awesome fishing there. I didn't expect it to be that good granted our second wasn't all that great. Limit you fish that river much in the past?

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Not a whole lot of reports in this section cool

heading to Bismarck this weekend for the holiday to visit some family. I I think we are going to fish the river but may go up to Sakakawea? Or maybe both as I have never fished up there so I am looking forward to see how it compares to fishing in SD.

Anyone care to share how the fishing has been? I will be going out with a local so hopefully he will get us on fish.

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I have heard the tailrace area (where Sakakawea's dam is) has been slow, but it seems the guys that know the area well always can catch fish in that area. The east end of Sakakawea is usually slow this time of year, as the fish seem to migrate west at ice-off and don't come back till mid-late June. I'm not experienced up there, just going off of what I hear from others. The river south of Bismarck has been decent, lots of small fish (12-14"). I heard there was a good sized tournament last weekend where the biggest fish caught was 3 pounds.

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terrible weekend weather wise for fishing but was still able to find some fish.

Fished the river friday night and caught a few fish including this, my first one of these ever:


Saturday we fished the river in the morning and got skunked. Tried a lake in the afternoon before the storms came through and didnt have any luck.

Sunday we boated 15 walleye kept some for a meal but also released some. Caught lots and lots of pike all day long and also CPR a nice musky.

Had a great trip, finally got to say I fished ND.

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I finally got a boat up here in Bismarck after moving out here a couple months ago and got out on the river this weekend. I spent Saturday mostly getting the break in hours on the engine and fished a few spots. Sunday I hit it pretty hard south of town and managed a limit of 14-15" walleyes as well as about a dozen 12-13 inchers. All fish were caught dragging white jigs/plastics in 8-12 feet. I figure that's not too bad for my first time on the Missouri.

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