This would be the first time the Bassmaster Elite Series has visited this massive body of water. Lake Oahe stretches 231 miles long with approximately 374,000 surface acres of water to cover in search of the 5 biggest smallmouth bass an angler can catch consistently over a four-day period. This was the largest body of water most of these anglers have ever fished and, for many of them, the first time they have been to Lake Oahe and/or South Dakota.
It was clear that after a couple days of pre-fishing that the bite was tough as the smallmouth bass were in a transition mode after post spawn. The tournament launched out of Spring Creek Resort all four days and anglers found themselves traveling up to 100 miles north of the launch site to catch their bag of 5 smallmouth bass worth taking to the scales. As usual, the wind blew which played a major factor in how these anglers attacked this massive body of water. Anglers presented several techniques to put a solid bag together, but it was evident after the 2nd day that the biggest of bags was coming from the guys working the deep water with drop shot rigs and Ned rigs. I was able to watch, firsthand, pro’s like Brandon Palanuik and Justin Lucas navigate the deep water with their eyes locked on their graphs just like a young boy playing a video game. Fishing electronics have come a long way over the past few years and these anglers were able to see fish that were over 60 feet away from their boat as well as fish that were below the boat while also watching their baits coax the fish into biting. It was a bit like ice fishing for those of you up North.
After the waves settled, the fish made it to the scale at Steamboat Park in Pierre, SD. Mark Daniels Jr. was able to hold his 1st place position after day two all the way to championship Monday and bring home the title. This was Mark Daniels Jr.’s first Elite series win and he couldn’t have been more humble nor more honored for it to come from Lake Oahe. Mark’s winning technique was a “Finesse TRD soft-plastic bait by Z-Man with the mushroom head (Ned rig), and drop shotting a Z-man Finesse WormZ,“ Daniels explained.
This was an epic event to witness for any angler amused by professional tournament angling for any species. The Bassmaster Elite Series is clearly an Elite series with the best of the best in the Bass angling business. Fans from all over the country and especially South Dakota showed up in full force each day to watch the nation’s top 107 bass anglers bring their fish to the scale. This is quite a production that Bassmasters puts on and the city of Pierre made it known to the anglers that they were glad the Elite series was here as record crowds attended the weigh-ins each day.
Lake Oahe, is a huge body of water, stated many of the anglers, as well as the scenery like nothing they have ever fished around before. The amount of wildlife and the lack of development along the shorelines of this fishery was something they all really enjoyed. Not to mention how welcoming all the people of South Dakota were. Fishing may have been tough for the timing of this tournament, but I think it’s safe to say the Bassmaster Elite Series will be back to Lake Oahe soon and us South Dakotans will welcome them with open arms. The final results from this tournament can be found here: https://www.bassmaster.com/results/tournaments/2018-bassmaster-elite-lake-oahe/1