02-23-2010, 04:38 PM
I have been fishing Lake Oahe several times a year for the last several years and have had great sucess. I have been toying with the idea of heading to Merritt in western Nebraska instead of Oahe for one of my trips. My question is am I wasting my time going to Merritt? I know Oahe is the sure thing, but have heard Merritt is good. Anyone help me out a bit here? Thanks
02-23-2010, 05:02 PM
Merrit can be hit or miss. Lots of big fish, Musky state record I believe last year. Also big eyes, smallies etc, it is quiet the fishery. I would think late May to early June would be the best this year. It looks to be a late spring.
02-24-2010, 07:00 AM
We fished Merritt 4 times last year and did well every time. Word has it that there was an alewife kill the prior winter and the fish were more aggressive because of it. The spring bite is mainly anchor fishing using slip bobbers and light jigs in the weed beds. We did well rigging the various humps by the dam. Later summer pulling plugs was the ticket. Our biggest was a 28 incher with numerous 19-24 inch fish. They received allot of rain last year so the summer draw down was late. A friend guides there and told us the the main landing cleaning station had the guts pumped out 3 times last year vs. once normally.
We're headed there again the first of June. My group thinks it will be on fire again this year but I believe it will be significantly more challenging. As brentfrank stated, Merritt can be and usually is very hit or miss. A HUGE number of fish were taken out of the system last year.
Oahe is still my favorite and offers the bonus of salmon fishing too. It's hard to beat the ribs at The Outpost also! Many different fishing methods work there, great diversity in structure and some big water.
02-24-2010, 05:27 PM
I have fished both lake. Oahe is the best. Merritt is real spotty. At merritt you can be from end to the other end in 10 min. with a 50hp boat ,never lose site of both shores on the way.your 45 min. from food and lodgeing by road at merritt. Theres 1 bait shop and they have some high priced rooms. I believe meritt is about a mile wide at its widest. And about 7 miles long. There's an area called power-horn. full of trees and brush in the spring and is complety out of the water by mid summer. Once the farming industry starts using the water it can drop a foot a day. Again by mid summer only 1 ramp out of 5 will be usable. The upper end of merritt has trees sticking up all over. Some are marked most are not..one day were fishing what we thought was a deep flat by evening we could see tree tops sticking out all over.when they start to drop the water for the farmers and ranchers it will drop over 40 feet in the season. Dropping that fast in the summer put most of the fish in a tail spin. like i said merritt res. was made for the farming and ranching use. first and formost,
Late aug early Sept .the lake will rise a foot a day. Until they hold it for ice
Again if I were you .I would stick to the best lake around OAHE
02-25-2010, 07:28 AM
Andy.....Don't sell Merritt short. Every spring the NGFP harvests eggs from Merritt for brood stock and nets large numbers of 10# plus walleye.
This represents over 75% of the walleye spawn taken annually. Yes Merritt serves as an irrigation reservoir and is experiences a draw down every year. The area you referred to in your post is the "Powder Horn" arm of Merritt. This is one of the most productive areas on the lake in the spring time as walleye congregate in the weed beds and are taken by slip bobber or jig presentations.
Last year was a phenomenal year for Merritt. I personally feel that this year will be more challenging. That said, the rewarding thing for me is to figure out a successful pattern on any lake at any time and execute that pattern. I absolutely enjoy fishing during an "easy bite" but derive much more satisfaction out of producing fish during a challenging bite.
Oahe has it's own set of challenges. With it's rise in elevation to near full pool last year, we now are dealing with an immense amount of new structure. What was a tree line on the bank 2 years ago is now submerged under 30' of water. Add to that the fact that the forage base population has literally exploded, the biggest obstacle to overcome is now mother nature herself. We caught our largest walleyes last year by casting spin shads into 1' of water and drawing them back through the weeds.
My point is that no matter what lake or what conditions, you have to able to adapt to them at that time. Proportionally Merritt holds a far greater percentage of trophy walleye than Oahe and throw in the chance for a muskie. It simply comes down to what your looking for. As mentioned before, I enjoy fishing Oahe because of the great diversity it offers and it's sheer physical size. Merritt simply offers a different set of challenges and generally gets going earlier than Oahe which provides more oppourtunity for me to FISH!
Here's a few pics from last year at Merritt. FWI there is a slot limit at Merritt. We never keep any of the over 22" fish at Merritt (my boat rule)
02-25-2010, 01:25 PM
You Bet. Merritt is good if you hit it right. My experience on Oahe. Is you find fish bitting some where. And a lot more of them.
I had days at Oahe that I can't keep[ the samon of my line. Talk about smally's and pike. Get in the shallow weedy areas . Oh my goodness. They destroy your bait.. I do not like to eat musky, but the 3 biggest if ever landed .comes out of Oahe.. By the time it takes a person to drive from town to merritt dam. You can drive from Pierre to spring lake and have a couple quality fish in your boat. Not everyone is after walleye. I believe I have caught just about every type of fresh water fish in Oahe (nice sized to). From rock bass to smallys ,walleyes to muskys, pike to catfish' white bass to perch.. Can't say the same about merritt. Your on a pond at merritt. Oahe that goes through 2 states .over 265 miles of water without the tributaries. No comparison. Theres bays in Oahe bigger than merritt.
I been on merritt. Where there was only 1 ramp usable. . My partner had to walk two blocks arter parking the truck.. weaved around tree's in the borsheman creek.Trees that would poke a a hole in a boat in a split second and were under water a few days earler. To see 2 boats trying to get a stranded boater off a sand bar that was under water two weeks earler
03-15-2010, 08:00 PM
I'm currently trying to select a fishing mecca destination for the first week of May. Both Oahe and Merritt are on the list for consideration. I'd be curious to know what people's opinions are of the bite at that time of year.
Eyeboom, you mentioned that Merritt gets going earlier.
Does the bite turn on by early May at Oahe?
Thanks for your input.
03-16-2010, 07:18 AM
The first of May will be a bit early for Oahe unless we have an extremely warm spring. Fishing gets going earlier the farther north you go. Here's a historical report thread from last year:
The Pollack, Mobridge, and Cheyenne River areas are generally the first to heat up, BUT it looks like there will be significant runoff again this year which will make the water rather dirty again. This was the case last year and proved to be negative for fishing. Also, Oahe is currently at 1609.63 elevation with full pool being 1620. With the current state of downstream flooding the the Missouri and Mississippi River basins, its very probable the Corp of Engineers will be holding back all of the water they can and Oahe will be at full pool soon. That just gives the fish more structure to hide in.
For time frame reference, the above link shows the results of the May 11th Wolves on the Water tournament out of Mobridge. It was a VERY challenging tourney due the the cold and dirty water conditions.
IMO, I would focus my efforts on other lakes at that time of the year.
03-18-2010, 05:49 PM
I plan on being in Gettysburg on April 30th.
08-08-2010, 04:34 PM
2010 Merrit and Oahe Walleyes