Sometimes a fishing trip just catches you by surpise. We’ve all had ‘em. You know, weather that’s downright crazy or fish that simply refuse to bite for days on end. Here we are, off in the middle of South Dakota’s nowhere crossing the state from Spearfish Canyon in the far west to Roy Lake in the far Northeast. 65 mph on country roads with the Triton Allure in tow. Once we arrived at Roy Lake, we planned to shoot our third South Dakota story. A state park and secret smallie fishing hole piece. The shoot just proved to be one of those experiences a fisherman doesn’t easily forget. We pulled in late Thursday evening and got a perfectly comfortable camp set up at Roy Lake State Park. Tent sites 11 and 12 sit on a grassy knoll away from the rest of the park right against the water on the East side of the lake. Really, the perfect site, outside of the bugs. Whomever said Minnesota’s home to the world’s worst population of ‘squiters hasn’t ever visited sites 11 and 12! Anyway, we grabbed plenty of shots of the blaze orange sunset over still water, cracklin’ campfires with tents in the background, even a few of the Triton Allure parked along shore for the night. Photojournalist Aaron Achtenberg and I bedded down next to the campfire and faded away for the night….
Next thing I knew, I was wide awake as I heard four or five repeated slaps on the full moon-lit water. I took a peek outside and noticed a beaver cruising around the boat trying to figure out what was blocking his nightly route. A few angry slaps of his tail to let the other creatures know we were around and he drifted off into the night. Back in the tent, I had a heck of a time getting back to sleep. See, we had a full moon and the Hex hatch was on. Big bugs we had noticed on the tents before we retired for the night. I could hear the carp and bass slapping on the glass-still water sucking up those big bugs most of the night. Next thing I knew, my alarm was chirping and I hopped up 5:15 a.m sharp, grabbed a quick shower and tried to dry at least a little of the heavy morning dew off the boat before our guests showed up. We invited Joe Horner and his wife, Lori, on the boat for the morning.. Joe’s a local guide around that Northeastern area of South Dakota and we set out to try and hook a sizeable few smallmouth bass. After pitching jigs and plastics up on rock structure for a half an hour, we were starting to wonder if the Hex hatch had put a hex on our morning of fishing. Not one bite. Add to that completely still conditions and sunny weather and temps rising toward 85 degrees, I figured we had been jinxed for our last South Dakota shoot. That’s right about the time I felt a little resistance on my line and set the hook on a sizeable fish. Picture this. Fog lifting off still water, the sun on the tree line and a rod heaved over as the slab of a smallie jumped repeatedly out of the calm water. He measure out right about 19 inches. Not a trophy, but pretty darn big when you realize just how thick Roy Lake’s fish get. So went our morning. We must have boated 8 or 10 respectable fish by about 10 a.m. and had one of those mornings a fisherman never forgets. Thanks South Dakota Tourism for a great trip! Three great stories shot in three days! Now I’m back home, washing a few clothes, getting my gear situated and ready for our next trip. Feel free to call in on Monday Night to Outdoor Live WCCO radio Monday Night. I’ll be there, along with co-host Mike Max, talking the outdoors and taking your questions. If you’re out of the Minnesota market, tune us in at www.830wcco.com