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  • Rusty and Cindy Stimmel

North Dakota fish: Yellow Perch, Pike, Bluegill

Pike on a wooly bugger

We camped at Bowman Haley Lake in North Dakota, a recreational lake with no place for good shore fishing. We went to the town of Bowman to get a fishing license and ask where to fish. We were told to go to Katina Lake where we could fish for perch, pike, bluegill and bass. We drove to Katina lake and found that the road to the dam had been flooded and was not drivable. We parked below the dam and bushwhacked our way to the reservoir. There was a stretch of the dam where fly fishing was possible if the back cast was controlled.

Rusty set up his 5-weight back up rod (a 20-year-old St Croix Imperial with a bargain cave Cabalas Prestige reel and line). The TFO BVK rod, his primary rod, which he broke in Colorado and sent in to be repaired, had come back with a section which did not fit. He started fishing with a white bead head woolly bugger with a slow sinking poly leader. Blue gill was the most common catch with a few perch. Back casting was a problem and he lost the white woolly bugger in a tree. He replaced it with a chartreuse woolly bugger and continued to catch perch and bluegill. He had a hard hit from a bigger fish. A pike about 20 inches long had taken the woolly bugger. He landed the pike and was getting the forceps to remove the hook when the line was cut by sharp teeth. The pike took off with the woolly bugger.

We travelled through North Dakota and fished several areas without any success on native fish. We stopped at two campgrounds on the Missouri River. The river was high and muddy. Rusty tried both fly fishing where it was possible and spin fishing without any success. There was a trout pond at Down Stream campground near Lake Sakakawea. The fish were fished over a lot and hard to catch. Cindy had asked for a trout for dinner. Rusty managed to catch one on a brown double helix fly, the same fly as for the apache trout. The fish would come up and look at dry flies but not take. Rusty began to slowly retrieve the fly when the trout was looking and induced a hit. The technique only worked once, but that was enough for fish tacos.