Larger established bodies of water get a lot of attention from walleye anglers. Well-known destination fisheries are some of the surest bets for experiencing great fishing. Locations like Devils Lake in northeastern North Dakota or Lake Sakakawea in western North Dakota are two premier walleye fishing destinations in North Dakota. I also love Fort Peck Reservoir in eastern Montana. Walker is one of my favorite little communities in Minnesota on the shore of Leech Lake… that is where I like to hide out with my family for short mini vacations and Leech Lake is one my favorite places to film a fishing show. Also fell in love with Kabetogema Lake in the north country of soda land.
What so often gets overlooked or unsaid however is that there are truly great fishing destinations on small lakes scattered across the Midwest. Small lakes can offer the same challenges as big lakes. The really good lakes get little fan fare because small lakes can’t take a lot of angling pressure so anglers are much tighter lipped to protect these fisheries. We film a lot of television on small lakes and at times, viewers get upset with us for not naming the actual lake. On smaller lakes less than a few thousand acres, we will often just say which area or county we are fishing and leave the lake unnamed unless the lake is large enough to support the pressure. My reasoning for doing so is because I know in my heart that a lake will get devastated if a couple hundred anglers descend on a tiny lake.
Not all big time walleye fishing opportunities are on big time water. There are a few areas in the Country that really stand out to me for having numerous small lake fishing opportunities that are top notch. The Glacial Lakes Region of South Dakota is as good as fishing gets. There are also many small lakes in central and southern North Dakota that are similar by design. If you look at a map of North Dakota between Bismarck and Jamestown and look north and south of the interstate by about seventy miles, you are looking at a lot of untapped walleyes. Ottertail and Becker Counties in western Minnesota are fun but there are hidden treasures all across the Midwest. The DNR or Game and Fish websites are helpful resources for each respective state where net surveys and stocking reports can help you find some of these under the radar gems.
Biggest challenge of finding good walleye fishing on some smaller bodies of water is finding which lake to fish. The other challenge is breaking down a lake fast to find fish. The prairie dish bowl lakes of the Glacial Lakes Region of South Dakota along with the new lakes in central North Dakota are just that… dish bowl lakes with little structure across the basin. For much of the year, you can’t go wrong working the shoreline. Shoreline contours that have the right depth profile combining either weeds or a harder bottom like sand, gravel or rock often hold walleyes for much of the year. Another top location is any saddle that was