Fishing open water anytime, is a good time. But there's something special and great about fishing the pre and post-spawn bite. Not only is the adrenaline running for spring fishing and getting geared up, but fish are easy targets in shallow waters.
Near inlets/outlets, any running current, and sandy/wooded areas are prime locations.
Lake Oahe is a deep reservoir so spawning typically is 2-4 weeks later than Glacial lakes and Lake Sharpe. I've seen spawning not take place even towards the end of May, depending on weather patterns. A late spring with cold, wet weather can push things back. Pitching jigs, lindy rigs with floating jigs, plain hooks, floating rapalas, pulling plugs or cranks, and spinners are top choices amongst anglers in the pre and post spawn bite. On Oahe, walleyes can be found spawning from the Mobridge area down to the Whitlocks area, by the 212 bridge. I also know anglers that fish the Cheyenne River during spawning, in fact I have a friend that fishes the Cheyenne River year-round.
Monster walleye can be had in shallow waters on Lake Oahe end of May - June, what we call an automatic bite. July and August start to fish submerged humps and islands that are located outside of bays and part of the main lake.
Points that have a gradual incline are also spots to fish as the heat of summer warms the lake, the fish go deeper but are relative to drop-offs and shelves. Pulling crank baits, plugs and spinners in suspended water off structure can produce nice walleye.
For Oahe catfish, find any big bay and motor back into 3'-6' of water in front of weeds or in or near weeds and anchor down. Lindy a small treble or plain hook, rat nest a full crawler, a floating jig 4"-6" off the bottom and crawler works as well. Cast out from the boat a few feet and wait.
Spawning on Lakes
Sharpe, Thompson and Marindahl
On Sharpe, Thompson and Marindahl the spawn is almost every year, mid-April or the first week or two of May. On Lake Sharpe, the Fort Pierre bridge area down to Farm Island Flats are always good! In April-May, Fort George and West Bend area are excellent as well in May.
West Bend is a small mouth bass haven so going for spring 'eyes is always a blast. May and June are great months for the West Bend area for walleye and sauger. When the spawn takes place, females are pretty much shut down but the males are milking and feeding aggressively.
The inlets or near the inlets is always good during spawning in April-May. Sandbars and submerged trees in the shallows are also good places to be. Pre-spawn bite by females can be had, but once they start to lay, for a good couple weeks they will be lethargic, but the males will still be feeding.
Fishing Tip! Plain hook and leeches after dark. Pitching reflective rapalas also produce on a full moon.
Lake Marindahl is an old rock quarry that turned into a lake - deep with springs here and there. Spawning take place mid-May through the first week of June, depending on weather patterns. But crappie and blue gill dominate this lake, next to largemouth bass. The fillets are pure white. It's a secluded lake with no development. Plain presentation is the best way to go on this lake - it's a hard one to figure out.
Other great lakes for fishing a pre-post spawn bite in eastern South Dakota are Lakes Poinsett, Sinai, Bitter, Brush, Dry, Long and Waubay.