The open-water season is nearly upon us, and there are a ton of things new, exciting, and different - both about the lake and our business - so let's dive right in.
Firstly, the water levels and forecasts have gotten a lot of attention, so let's address that. After high levels on Lake Sakakawea three years ago, we now find ourselves about 22 feet below full pool, and the forecast - if we don't get major snow/rain - is for the lake to come down about 5-8 feet by year's end. Folks are worried about fishing and access, but here are a few things to remember:
1) We are still more than 20 feet above the last major drought levels.
2) While long-term droughts can hurt spawns and baitfish, we're only three years in, and we still have record levels of fish per the ND GFP, so it's quite possible less water could make the bite even better short-term with fewer places for fish to go.
3) The Corps of Engineers and the Game and Fish are pretty dedicated to doing what they can to create access given the boost the fishing industry gives to the ND economy, and there are also low-water ramps sitting in waiting, so we'll get on the water, it just may be a little different and require some patience some days.
There is now some open water in areas up and above New Town Marina, and some of the bays have opened in places, so fishing isn't far away, though I'd guess we're still looking at mid-April before full ice-out on Sakakawea (we did have over 30 inches of ice, after all). And with lower water levels, I'll be curious to see if the spring bite heats up earlier with less water to warm.
As far as new and exciting for our business, there is a building project two miles east of Garrison that is about to be my new home (and one of my guide friends) and probably/hopefully available for clients as guests at some point this year, though the details are still being worked out as they continue to pound nails and set it all up. I'll have more on that hopefully in due time.
Also, those of you familiar with my Jeep will have to get familiar with a Ford F-150. The Jeep did me well, but I just wound up needing more power, and I think for those clients riding along to the launches, it'll make for a newer, bigger, more comfortable ride. The boat remains the 2021 Pro-V GL, new last year.
As for my start date, that sort of depends on the aforementioned building site. I usually like to start April 15 (some of you remember I winter in Iowa, the "not-so-Florida of the midwest"), and I can still potentially make that work if there is interest in April trips, but otherwise it may get pushed out a little this year. I potentially have an option to stay in Bismarck as well, so if there is interest in river trips by Bismarck, that could sway my decision too. For sure by early May we'll be fishing somewhere.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the YouTube channel (Bloemendaal Fishing) and thank everyone for the support and the subscriptions there. I started it as a way to promote the service and have a little fun, but it's grown into more than I expected, and I'm hoping to potentially grow that into something even more if I can. So if anyone would like to check it out - and subscribe if you haven't already - I'd greatly appreciate the support to the channel! It takes 1,000 subscribers to get monetized on YouTube, and I'm sitting at 673, so I've made that one of my side goals this year. I've gotten awesome messages from people who get a lot out of it, and it makes me so grateful; simply subscribing and liking the videos is a great way to help me keep it going.
So with that, here are a few recent videos if you missed them. Get ahold of me and book a trip, and look forward to seeing you on the water, fisher people!