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“Of the Outdoors” Missouri River Pierre Area Fall Fishing

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

October 15, 2018

“Of the Outdoors” Missouri River Pierre Area Fall Fishing

by | Oct 15, 2018 | Gary’s Thoughts from the Field

    Paul’s lure had just come to the bottom and as he raised the bait off the bottom, his rod dipped towards the water indicating a bite.

  On this trip, we were fishing with guide and good friend Paul Steffen, Steffen Brothers Guide Service on the river below Pierre.

   Team Member Larry Myhre and I had arrived the day before, stopping by the South Dakota Missouri River Tourism office to talk with Karen and Jenn, Paul as well as checking in with several other friends in the area.

  We would be in Pierre a couple of days filming another of our Outdoorsmen Adventures television shows, which meant, no matter what the weather we were on the water as  we had to be back on the road Friday afternoon because of prior appointments back home.

    Fall, when fish instinctively pig out, feeding heavily prior to freeze up when their metabolism will slow down and they have to make it through winter, relying on the fat reserve they built up during the fall.

  The plan was to locate an active pod of fish and using jigs and live bait rigs to put enough fish in the boat to make a show.

  Because the big lake, Oahe would be windy on the following day, on Thursday, Paul thought we should go down river to fish for walleyes and try trolling on Oahe Friday morning.

  The rain was coming down as we headed south out of Pierre; with Paul indicating, that there had been a good jig bite, not too far from the Farm Island boat ramp.

  It was later Thursday morning, when we launched the boat and made the short run from the Farm Island boat launch to  where on a recent trip, Paul had located a good size pod of walleyes.

    Paul made one or two passes through the area, locating the fish, marking them and our drift on one of the three large Lowrance locator/GPS units on his boat.

   Then, closely watching the locator brought the boat back on the same line we had drifted on the earlier passes, in, around and through the depth, the walleyes were holding and once through that part of the river, go back up and do it again.

  Using his Minnkota Ulterra bow mount, he maneuvered the boat giving all three of us an opportunity to work our baits down through the deeper hole and then back up into the shallower water on the backside of it.

  What was different about this trip was that we were jigging with Jiggin Raps, a minnow shaped bait that has a hook sticking out of either end along with a small treble hook on the bottom of the lure. The eye to attach it to your line is in the middle at the top of the lure. The baits fished as you would any other jig.

  When you bring your rod up quickly, it shoots out in different directions, resembling a wounded bait or game fish. As the bait drops, with a tight line, it slowly descends to the bottom, touches down and then this jigging motion continues until additional weights felt. 

  Paul set the hook on the first fish as soon as the bait hit the bottom, the fight the fish was putting on, was that of a short fish, less than 15-inches.

  Because, I was new at using this presentation and not used this bait often in open water, I kept an eye on how Paul was working the bait. Keeping a tight line, he followed the bait down allowing it to tap the bottom, then ripping it skyward, several feet, and as before, following the bait back down to the bottom. 

[et_pb_image_n10s _builder_version=”3.15″ show_in_lightbox=”on” image_as_url=”off” overlay_orientation=”to right” overlay_orientation_hover=”to right” src=”” caption_overlay=”Author, Gary Howey with Guide Paul Steffen the 12 keeper walleyes from the the 40 they caught while filming on the Missouri River below Pierre.” n10s_type=”seattle” text_font_size=”18px” text_font=”Droid Serif||||||||” /]

  After a dozen or so, rips, something hit my bait, setting the hook, I brought another of the short fish up to the boat. Larry soon followed with another short fish, as did Paul, and as we came out of the deeper water and decided to run back up and make another drift.

  Paul indicated when we approached the deeper hole the fish were using, letting us know that concentration was the name of the game and to be ready for a bite.

  Making a couple of rips with my bait as we descended into deeper water, something slammed my bait hard and with a little more weight than the last several small fish we bought to the boat. Paul asked if I needed the net, “You bet” was my reply as the fat 15 ½ inch legal fish came to the surface; Paul scooped the first of our three-man limit into the net.

  Paul and I were fishing one the port or right side of the boat, while Larry was working out of the starboard or left side.

  I have always thought it was a good bet to fish out of the same side the person running the bow mount trolling motor, as he is also the one who is watching the forward locator. The angler up front on the trolling motor who brings the boat right over the fish, giving him the first chance at the fish, with the angler behind him getting the next opportunity.

  During the three and a half hour period, we caught forty walleyes, with up to three walleyes on at the same time, many of those small fish, with the twelve keepers running from fifteen and a half to eighteen inches.

  We had another half day on the water, and it was hard to believe it would be as good as it was on Thursday, but I have been wrong before!

  The following morning, once again in the rain, we launched from Spring Creek on Oahe and headed for some flooded trees to do something different.

  Because of the lower water in years past, willows had grown up and as the level of the lake increased these trees flooded, perfect habitat for pike and other game fish to suspend in and wait for a meal to swim by.

  The plan on Friday was to troll crankbaits on leadcore over the trees through the deep water of the Lake.

  On our first pass, two rods began to jerk violently, as two northern slammed the baits; both were nice fish, on the smaller side, five or so pound. At the end of the submerged trees, we pulled up, headed back to where the submerged trees started and trolled back through them and as before, two rods shook violently, with Larry grabbing one rod while Paul worked the other. Paul’s fish, another northern popped up behind the boat while Larry’s stayed down and when I did see it did not look like a northern, as it was fatter and darker colored.

  As the fish finally came up along side of the boat, we were looking at a nice size salmon, a male that was already starting to take on that darker color just before they spawn.

  With each pass, we picked up fish and it did not take us long to land a dozen northerns, with a fifteen pound fish being the largest, along with the one salmon.

  Paul, not wanting to give up on the Jiggin Rap, on the way back tried another spot and Jigged up a chunky smallmouth Bass.

  You have heard me say it before; “I love it when a plan comes together” and this one did as the majority of our trips up to the South Dakota Missouri Rivers do.

  These lakes and reservoirs offer so much water and such a variety of fish, that unless Mother Nature turns on you, any trip to any of these bodies of water is going to be a great one!

  More information on the South Dakota Missouri Rivers Area is available at (605) 224-4617 or on line at

  Looking for a great fishing and hunting guide in the Pierre area, contact Paul Steffen at Steffen Brothers by giving him a call at 1-605-280-7448 or on line at

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