Missouri River Odyssey
Bend a rod
Drifting on Lake Oahe with the steady prairie wind, the boat needs only slight nudges from a trolling motor. Almost as soon as the rod tip points out over the big water, it dips and doesn't snap back.
The hook has something solid, heavy but hidden in the cool water. A snag? Except snags don't try to circle away from the boat. "Set the hook!" the angler yells mostly to himself, not expecting a strike so fast. "Grab the net!"
The drama plays out a thousand times a day in June and July, the prime season for walleye on one of the best walleye lakes in North America, actually a dammed stretch of the Missouri River. From south of Bismarck, the lake flows south for 231 miles to Pierre with 2,250 miles of shore and hundreds of fish-harboring coves.
Sometimes there's a surprise on the line -- a pike, catfish, Chinook salmon or bass. But many get what they're after -- strike after strike and strings of fat, sleek, green walleye weighing as much as 8 pounds.