Smallies of the Stilling Basin

Smallmouth bass can be found throughout much of the Missouri River system in South Dakota.  Known for their amazing fight, these fish bring joy to fisherman every spring, summer and fall. 

While I generally wait for the summer months to activly pursue these smallies in the sandy bays below Oahe Dam, we decided to check the spawning grounds in the Stilling Basin, and we were glad we did. 

Smallies are agressive when protecting a nest.  Use bright noisy baits to really get them to strike.  There was a slight wind from the west, allowing us to drift almost perfectly.  We were sight fishing, which is one of my favorite ways to find shallow fishing in the spring and summer.  The fun comes in the fishs’ active pursuit of your presentation.  Smallmouth, northern pike and white bass were all present that day, and we had shots at all of them. 

While going for smallies, we had a slight “problem” with the white bass.  We couldn’t keep them off our line!  I know, I know, poor me.  Catching a 2-3 lb white bass on almost every cast was getting tiring, and I needed my strenghth for Mr. Smallmouth. 

A perfectly placed cast was all it took to hook the agressive smallies.  When the smallmouth did strike, they struck with ferocity.  They slammed the flashy jerkbait as soon as it hit the water, and the fight was on.  We only caught 3 smallmouth that day, but had an amazing time catching white bass while observing how fish behave together in the water.  Next time you are planning a trip for smallmouth/white bass, remember the stilling basin below Oahe Dam.  And don’t forget the kids!


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