Lake Oahe Tournament

Lake Oahe Tournaments

By Dennis Foster

After a year on hold-like just about everything else in the country-the Northern Oahe Series is back online for the 2021 Tournament Season. Lake Oahe is one of the most well-known and prolific walleye waters on the Continent and the reservoir is currently in great shape. All of our past loyal participants are raring to go and we would like to invite all the newcomers that we can to come and join us for some high-spirited competition and camaraderie amongst the finest anglers our area has to offer. You will find our competitors and the host communities are quite welcoming to fresh faces. If you are not a South Dakota resident, you will find a trip over here and our approach to Covid a welcome relief.

With the diversity of baitfish and present population of our walleyes, every single tournament is wide open for victory. Wins could be had with any number of presentations or, a combination thereof. It could range from pitching jigs and cranks into inches of water all the way out to deep structure trolling patterns and everything in between. Passive or aggressive approaches could rule depending on prevailing conditions. Tree top trolling could be a wildcard for those willing to decorate a few branches with lures. Artificial baits will definitely play a role in many top finishers programs. More than just crankbaits too. Many savvy anglers now rarely tip jigs with meat, opting more for the vast array of plastic options. This also applies to mainstay presentations such as pulling spinners and live-bait rigs. Plenty of attractive and effective choices to replace the standard fair of minnows, leech’s and crawlers. Despite the name, Slow Death rigs originated here and do not require the killing of anything. You guessed it, there are great artificial options here as well. Nothing is less alive than a heavy chunk of metal. But get the right movements and cadence down on a swimming jig and the action can be quick. A couple of well-placed casts can result in the largest fish of the day.

Most any technique that you may have confidence in can and does work on this particularly aggressive strain of river run walleyes. Once again, every single tournament can be won with any number of techniques. No matter where you may place, there is a winning aspect to joining in on some clean competition. The enduring friendships made, continued camaraderie and experiencing the hospitality of each hosting community has incalculable value. Not to mention the learning aspect as you will witness first-hand what is getting it done…each and every day. This hands on and observational experience offers benefits many times the quite minimal expense of entry fees.

The host communities are all eagerly awaiting us with open arms. They have been conducting their respective tournaments for decades and I can personally assure you that these are the most well-run team formats in the nation. And without a doubt, the most fun! Grab your partner(s) and head on out to Lake Oahe. Bring family members if possible as we encourage and welcome the continued growth in family participation. I cannot imagine a better experience for fostering an intense interest in fishing and the outdoor lifestyle in general than to initiate youngsters into the good-natured competitive spirit being offered. No zoom meetings or online learning here. The only electronics or video games needed are what plays out on the graph screen and that is all part of the plan to out-wit, fight in and experience holding nature’s bounty in their hands. It is truly amazing to see how involved the younger crowd can be if we as adults provide them with the opportunity to simply get outside, open their eyes and let their senses absorb everything nature has to offer. Building not just an appreciation for the outdoors, but also positive core values that will prove advantageous for them in any venture life may present.

The entry fees for the qualifying tournaments and the championship are quite affordable. Less than you would pay a guide for a day on the water and you are going to come away with far greater value. You can fish all events with either a 2 or a 3 person team. Rules allow declaring 3 members and an alternate

for the maximum amount of flexibility. As long as 2 of the original 4 member fish an event, the points qualify for Team of the Year honors.

The lineup of events are as follows:

Wolves on Water Tournament—June 5th

Denny Palmer Memorial Tourament— June 12th

Pollock Men’s Club Tournament— 19th & 20th

Whitlock Bay Walleye Tournament—July 10th & 11th

South Dakota Walleye Classic/Northern Oahe Series Championship—July 23rd & 24th

Each tournament is considered an independent qualifier and ran according to the host’s format.

You can fish in as few or as many tournaments as you would like. I would strongly encourage signing up for the series and putting the required $50 per tournament into a side pot that accumulates for an equal split amongst the Championship Winning Team and the Team of the Year. You can qualify for this by fishing at least 2 of the qualifiers. Teams then take the points from their best two finishes into the Championship event in Akaska. The more tournaments you fish, the better your odds for high finishes-equaling high points totals and a good shot at Team of the Year. The Championship will be weighted with double points to encourage participation. This makes it a real wildcard event as the race is generally tight and positions can and do move around dramatically. The Championship event will run concurrent-yet separately-with the South Dakota Walleye Classic. Each will have a separate Calcutta you are encouraged to participate in. So, you will be competing in both tournaments for places and the Northern Oahe Series Championship for potential Team of the Year honors.

What this all amounts to is that the winners of the Championship have the potential to walk away with tens of thousands of dollars once 2 tournament wins, the Championship side pot, possible Team of the Year and Calcutta proceeds are factored in. Makes for one hell of a bonus to participate in a low stress, low entry fee event.

At this point, plans are being made for the Northern Oahe Series Championship/South Dakota Walleye Classic to be televised on Focus Outdoors TV and the weigh ins livestreamed on Outdoor Action TV and our Facebook page. Please check out all of the details at and keep up with all the latest news and developments at

Dennis Foster is a long tenured outdoor communicator in all forms of media. In particular, Focus Outdoors TV. He also offers full and self-guided pheasant hunts in his home State of South Dakota. He can be reached via or for comments, suggestions and promotional inquiries