Lake Francis Case is the large, gently
winding reservoir behind Big Bend Dam on the Missouri River in south-central
South Dakota that covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles
reaching a depth of 140 feet.
The rolling prairie terrain along Lake
Francis Case is a peaceful paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, and the reservoir
itself is home to all kinds of water recreation especially for anglers. In the
water, you will find walleye, northern pike, sauger, sunfish, yellow perch,
common carp, black bullhead, channel catfish and small-mouth bass but
Chamberlain-Oacoma is best known for its walleye fishing.
Avid Fisherman and local
Chamberlain-Oacoma fishing guide, Brennan Lockwood, touts that “this part of
the Missouri river is a walleye factory with the ability to catch your limit
within the same school of actively feeding fish.”
One thing that is unique in our area is
that there is fishing year-round. Lockwood credits the plentiful fishing to
underwater sand flats, rocks, high cut banks, and submerged vegetation that
make good spawning grounds for walleye and other species. Lockwood also recognizes the South Dakota
Game Fish and Parks for their efforts in the area to maintain the fishing
habitat. The limit here in South Dakota allows you to catch up to four fish per
day between 15-19 ¾ inches and one fish over 20 inches.
One of the first and legendary fishing
guide services in the state of South Dakota, Allen’s Guide Service ran by Garry
and Mike Allen, commented that “The Chamberlain-Oacoma Area specifically Lake
Francis Case and Lake Sharpe has the best Walleye fishing in all of the United
States.” Allen indicated that “they are looking forward to a bumper catch in
2020 as the last two years the river has risen to record levels bringing an
abundance of baitfish creating ideal conditions for spawning”. For the outdoor fanatic, Mike Allen says,
“Five miles up or down the river you encounter the great wilderness; you are
off the grid. Just you and nature.”
Garry Allen explained that “every angler
has his style of fishing and many may be inclined to fish with plugs and lead
core line within a 25′ to 30ft channel, but if that doesn’t work our local
fisherman and guides recommend using sizes #5 and #7 Flicker Shads and Shad
Raps in 15′-20 ft of water”. Mr. Allen
indicated that of the 1,000 guided tours they give every year, many of their
patrons catch and release countless walleye over twenty inches which speaks to
the health and abundance of walleye in the area.
Another successful method involves
trolling close to the shore and spawning areas in the early morning with a lead
core line and #5, #7, or #9 floating Rapala’s and a 6 or 8lb test FireLine. The
tried and true style of using and Jig and Minnow either vertical or casting
near the rip rap or close to spawning areas is sure to produce your limit for
the day. Our local fisherman recommends
1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 oz jigs with a 4 to 6-pound test line.
The Chamberlain-Oacoma area provides
several boat docks to launch from, and you will also find rental slips at the
Arrowood Resort and Swenson Brother’s Marine. There are plenty of bait shops
and safe places to park your trucks and trailers while on the water.
Every summer, we are host to many ﬁshing
tournaments and avid ﬁshermen, but the fun does not stop there! We also have an
annual ice ﬁshing tournament every January. There is plenty of river for
After you have caught your limit for the
day, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy some live music on the deck at
Arrowwood Resort, catch a round of golf, a movie or a game of bowling, visit
our museums, restaurants, and specialty shops offering a variety of
one-of-a-kind experiences. Be sure to
cross the iconic bridge to enjoy a piece of homemade pie and 5-cent coffee at
the famous Al’s Oasis. The Chamberlain-Oacoma area is a fisherman’s paradise in
a fun and family-friendly community.
For four Fridays during the summer you
will find a vibrant street festival on Chamberlain’s main street. Locals and
visitors flock to the event to enjoy a taste of the finest food trucks and a
vast selection of beverages in the beer/wine garden. This kid-friendly weekly
event showcases live entertainment, vendors from around the state, and activities
for both the youth and adults.
Chamberlain says aloha to Summer in a
big way with a final bash on the third weekend of August. American Island Days
are held over three days with main events on Saturday. You will find activities
such as turtle races, strong man competitions, and a whole slew of bounce
houses for the kids. Be sure to come hungry as there is always a selection of
wonderful food from food trucks across South Dakota. The local car club lines
the street around American Creek Recreation area. You’ll find yourself
reminiscing of days gone by as these classic cars gleam in the sun.
Chamberlain is also home to the South
Dakota Hall of Fame, showcasing the contributions of many famous and
trendsetting South Dakotans. Next to the
Hall of Fame is the Veterans Memorial Park to honor all South Dakota military
veterans and active-duty personnel for their unwavering service to our great
country. Every military conflict that our country has ever endured is
represented in this park through pavers of soldiers who have fought in them or
are currently fighting.
Because of the grassy prairie and grain
fields, this area provides the prime habitat for pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse,
prairie chickens, turkeys, and geese. The Chamberlain-Oacoma area is honored to
be selected as the #1 Pheasant Hunting Destination by Pheasants Forever. The
communities rest in the heart of prime pheasant, grouse, deer and waterfowl
country. With easy access from Interstate 90 and having one of the highest
annual bird harvests and counts. Hunters can also pursue big game animals such
as white-tailed deer, mule deer and antelope within a 50-mile radius.
Chamberlain-Oacoma can easily become your top hunting destination in South
Rich, Native American history weaves its
way through the area, you can find the Crow Creek and Lower Brule South Dakota
tribes bordering the northern banks. You can visit the world-famous Akta Lakota
Museum at the St. Joseph Indian School in Chamberlain as well as the beautiful
50-foot high stainless-steel Dignity Statue.
You can also take a drive on Native American Scenic Byway (Highway 50
and BIA 47) cutting through the heart of the Lakota Sioux Nation. The Native
American Scenic Byway crosses the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux Indian
Reservations. It travels across South Dakota’s high plains through the hills
and bluffs alongside the Missouri River.
Dams constructed by the Corps of Engineers created two scenic lakes on the river: Lake Francis Case and Lake Sharpe. Among the wildlife inhabiting the area are deer, eagles, and large numbers of waterfowl. Anglers will find catfish, pike, bass, crappie, and sunfish in both lakes, but Walleye is king. The lakes offer numerous campgrounds and picnic areas. Come and enjoy the locals’ secret fishing spot and take home plenty of Omega 3 for the freezer. We believe your stay will be worth your while but if you are not able to take it all in, we think that Chamberlain-Oacoma – is a place where… You’ll come back.