March 25, 2010

The tailrace experience

The tailrace experience
By Robyn Rohde
BHG News Service

The mention of Garrison Dam Tailrace to many anglers brings to mind big fish, casting crank baits at night and boat fishing any time of year. Particularly in January through April when the rest of the state’s lakes are frozen, anglers can be found either on the boat, fishing from rock studded shore or on top of the dam’s three tailrace wingwalls.
Last Monday afternoon a school of carp were sunning themselves and an illusive walleye was nibbling without commitment for five unlucky fisherman. Rick Meyhoff, who fishes Lake Sakakawea and it’s surrounding waters all year long, was one of the unfortunate anglers.
“Sometimes you’ll stand here and it will be nothing. Then a school will move in and it will hit,” he said. “Later in the year it’s better. January and February it’s about 50-50. Once you get into March the fishing gets better.”
The tailrace, or powerhouse water outlet, is located on the lower end of Lake Sakakawea, about one mile southeast of Pick City. Immediately below Garrison Dam, the tailrace is approximately 750 feet wide, 30 feet deep, and both shorelines are armored with rock rip-rap to prevent erosion.
The water seldom exceeds 60 degree Fahrenheit and is clear for much of the year due to the deep (approximately 160 feet below the surface) location of the intake. Because of constantly flowing water, the tailrace is one of the few locations in North Dakota that remains ice free throughout the year. Open water and the popularity of mammoth fish legends makes the tailrace one of the most used fishing access sites in the area.
 


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