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walleye, walleyes, jigging, jig, jigsSouth Dakota’s New Frontiers 
by Rick Olson

When is a duck slough not a duck slough and when does it become a primo crappie, perch, walleye or northern pike lake? It happens when what was a duck slough fills up and overflows it’s banks and keeps filling until it’s deep enough to carry fish throughout the winter. The process is certainly not common, but it has happened and rather recently in fact.
The site of this natural phenomenon is North Eastern South Dakota and South Eastern North Dakota. Here rising water levels have turned what was previously nothing more than shallow sloughs and duck production areas into incredible angling opportunities, especially for ice anglers. They’re especially attractive to ice anglers because they can be next to impossible to get on during the open water season. There certainly aren’t any big cement boat ramps with overflow parking, and it’s probably a good thing. For one, most of the good fisheries are much too small to withstand a lot of pressure. A good ramp would put too many anglers on too small an area and it wouldn’t take that long to fish a pond down to nothing. No, it’s probably better the way things are right now, and right now it’s pretty darn good. 

A couple of bigger lakes that have gone through the same process and are big enough to handle a good deal of pressure are Waubay and Lynn Lake. Waubay can produce some fantastic walleye and perch angling and Lynn is known for kicking out lots of nice sized walleyes and big crappies. There are plenty of the aforementioned duck production areas to go around but it’s going to take a little investigation on your part to find out where they are and which ones are carrying fishable numbers of what you’re after. One of the drawbacks to the sloughs is that they can be difficult to get to, especially the ones where you have to walk in. On the other hand a long walk will keep the less ambitious out, and leave more for the rest of us. If you have to walk in you better try to keep things as light as you can and take along exactly what you need and nothing more. A smaller portable shelter with a deeper sled like Eskimo’s Quick Flip is the way to go, as it is relatively light but big enough to be comfortable to fish in all day. The sled is solidly built and can take the rigors of 
being drug across a little dirt here or a patch of gravel there. It’s also deep enough to hold your gear without having to worry about anything falling out. 

Gas powered augers are another good idea as you’ll probably have to drill a few holes before you find your quarry. The Eskimo Shark is a great pick because you can depend on it to start and it’s high speed drill can cut a bunch of holes in short order. Whatever you’re using, you might want to try starting it 
before taking off cross country as you’d hate to go through all of the hard work and then not be able to wet a line. 

Rick Olson Holding a nice Perch
Rick Olson gives you the low down on 
South Dakota's new ice fishing bonanza
Photo by Ron Anlauf
After you get on the ice the next question is where exactly do you start? The answer is easy and is just about anywhere. The thing about most of these sloughs is the fact that there isn’t much for structure and you’re basically looking at fishing the basin. Perch, walleyes and crappies can be just about anywhere in the basin areas an it takes a mobile approach to find the fish. A drill, fish and move method is what is often needed and the quicker you can get it all done the better. A bait than you can get down the hole quickly is the way to go and you just can’t beat a jigging spoon like the Blue Fox Rattle Flash Jig’n Spoon in a 1/8oz size tipped with a piece of minnow. A rattle spoon can attract predators from a long ways off and can be a real advantage when you’re looking for fish. 
A spoon will attract all of the aforementioned and do so in a big hurry, if anything happens to be around. Try working close to the bottom but don’t be afraid to get your bait a few feet or more off, especially if you’re after crappies. If you’ve jigged the spoon for fifteen minutes or so without any takers you may have to pick up and move, and so on and so on, until contact is made. 
Good jigging spoon rods are made specifically for the technique and the Rapala IR4028M fit’s the bill perfectly. It has a stiff enough tip to give your spoon the snap you’re looking for, or more importantly what the perch, crappies and walleyes are looking for. While all of this is going on you may also try setting out a couple of tip-ups and see if you can find a big northern pike or two, or twenty. You might be surprised at the size and numbers of pike you can catch, all of which has the potential for producing some serious fun. A hungry bunch of pike can keep you real busy at times, and busy is good. One thing to keep in mind is that perch and pike are all day biters and walleyes and crappies tend to turn on right before dark. If you leave too soon you might miss out, so consider being prepared to stay late. If you’re going to stay late for walleyes or crappies try setting up where you were catching perch as they tend to hang out in the same neighborhoods. The bad news is that this new frontier might not last forever and may go the same way it came. You just never know so you better get it while you can. 


Rick Olson

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