We've been running up to Deepwater Bay on Lake Sakakawea for most of our client trips lately, and for the most part it's paid off. The east end is starting to get better, but it's still not as consistent yet, and I haven't felt confident enough to put clients there for the time being. I'm hoping by next week, though, that'll change. I've been spending my scouting days east around Douglas Bay, so we'll be ready when it's time.
The water temps are still a little low right now for this time of year, so the summer bite hasn't fully kicked in (though it's still pretty darn good), especially downstream. The Corps has been releasing a lot of water the past week plus from the snow melt up north, and I think that is keeping the temps down somewhat too. When we comfortably hit that mid-60's range by Garrison, it should be game on.
There are basically two patterns going right now in Deepwater Bay. Ultimately most of the active fish are sitting in the same 2-8 feet of water, but where to find them is a little different. There is a good shallow flat bite going, especially in the afternoons, anything that has a wind-blown shoreline. From my boat's experience, they seem to be smaller males, good eaters with the occasional pod of bigger ones that'll move through. You can jig these fish if you drive till you see a pod and post up there or slowly drift/troll through there with jigs, otherwise you can always use Lindy's or light bottom bouncers, but not terribly fast.
The second pattern is again shallow but on some steeper rock and gravel breaks or perhaps on the end of a flat near a steeper drop. These spots seem to be producing our bigger fish, and they seem to be more likely to go in the morning than the shallow flat areas right now. The best way to approach these is usually posting up out in ten feet or so and positioning so you can pitch a jig and minnow down wind, up tight to shore. If you have good electronics, you'll see the fish on side imaging literally a couple feet off shore. If you get them there, hold on! They are uber aggressive are are just clobbering baits. Slower bite than the flats, but very worth it if you want big fish.
Crawlers are starting to grab some fish's attention, but minnows are still outperforming with water temps not yet hitting 65 degrees. If you're going to try a crawler, I'd do it in the afternoon, and I would still make sure at least one rod has a minnow out there too. We haven't had a lot of luck with plastics or crankbaits the last week or so, but that'll come back eventually as well.
There are deeper fish that you can mark in 14-25 feet, and certainly some will bite, but from my experience, those typically are resting spots not feeding spots right now. You can save yourself a lot of frustration by ignoring them and focusing shallow where fish are there for only one reason...to eat!
I haven't spent much time in the Van Hook arm of Lake Sakakawea, but from what I've heard the bite there is a little different. There is still a shallow bite happening, but people are also finding active fish out in 18-25 feet of water trolling cranks or live bait. The numbers can be good at times, and it's also probably the best place to have a shot at landing a trophy anywhere on the lake right now. There just seem to be more upper-twenty inch fish there than other places.
If you want to book a trip up here, it's a good time to do so. I have a few spots in June and some more in July, but they're starting to get filled pretty quickly as people are searching out social distancing options for their summer vacation. Oh yeah, and don't forget about the Sakakawea walleye...they're a pretty great attraction too, not to mention the plethora of bass we've been catching alongside them!