Man Made Walleye Heaven

February 23, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad
Overlooking this beautiful little walleye lake

Overlooking this beautiful little walleye lake

I caught up with an old high school friend from Fargo earlier this spring. Evidentially he found his way to the Nodak Outdoors forum during the spring snow goose season and we stayed in touch. We spent some time catching up on a couple short fishing trips across the region and he had many stories of this man made walleye lake his father had built in his back yard back home. He would go on about the days where it was literally a walleye on every cast and all the maintenance they had to keep it going. I’ll admit it sounded almost too good to be true.

One of the golden walleyes from the lake

One of the golden walleyes from the lake

A short distance from Fargo lies this paradise for a walleye fisherman. What started as a vision turned into reality a few years after the millennium and the rest as they say, is history. The lake is a couple acres in size, and is long and narrow. With a good setup you can literally cast across it. They designed the lake for walleye habitat and consulted a biologist during the process. It maxes out at 31 feet deep and has a gradual drop off starting from shore. They used heavy duty plastic liner all throughout the bottom and topped it off with a combination of sand, gravel, and rocks. As the summer wanes on, it does produce some weed growth. Not too much but just enough to feel it with your jig. They have a natural well that feeds it with 2 aerators that run all year long. I was told that they have never had any winter or summer kill, the fish are healthy and strong. There is quite a bit of maintenance involved in keeping this a healthy walleye fishery. They add minnows to the lake all year long to keep them fed; just days before my initial arrival it was stocked with 140 gallons of minnows.

A couple months had passed and I was making my way back to Fargo to spend some time with family. A short phone call and the date was set, I was finally going to experience “the lake”. My good friend Taylor “Maverick” Ells had caught wind of this lake and was also dying to see this creation. I was told not to have too high of expectations on this outing. The night before a big thunderstorm ripped through the area and he said these walleyes were very touchy to fronts. And as I mentioned earlier, they just stocked 140 gallons of minnows so the fish were fat, dumb, and happy and weren’t too aggressive anyways. Just my luck I thought but I had to see this for myself. We met at a gas station on the outskirts of Fargo and I followed him back to his father’s property. I could see the fountains as I entered the gated yard and I literally sprung out of the truck as we came to a stop.

Taylor fighting one of the bigger fish of the evening

Taylor fighting one of the bigger fish of the evening

With countless hours being spent casting this lake, my buddy had a gameplan for producing post-thunderstorm, well-fed walleyes. We were going to pitch jigs tipped with Gulp Alive as well as Northland’s Mimic Minnows. With the fish hanging right on the bottom, we were hoping to drag the baits right in front of their nose and trigger a strike with a short, quick jig. Not too long after we started I hear my buddy yell, “fish on!” I ran for my camera to catch a couple shots as he said it was going to be a decent size. When the fish surfaced I could instantly see the deep, golden color of the walleye that is typically just seen in Canadian walleyes. The net went down and we were on the board with a 22” walleye. After a couple of quick shots, the fish was released back into the lake. The lake is catch and release only, and I can obviously see why.

Taylor holding one of the prizes of the night

Taylor holding one of the prizes of the night

Another half hour had passed and nothing. I was starting to feel that our timing for this outing wasn’t meant to be, but I was fishing so there’s never a reason to complain. All of the sudden Taylor yells, “I’ve got one and it’s going to be big!” I was casting on the other end of the lake so I had to grab my camera and sprint. There wasn’t much of a hurry as Taylor was using very light tackle. It took over 10 minutes to get the fish to shore. After a couple of surfaces and some “oh boys” we managed the beautiful 28” walleye in the net. It was a very healthy fish and it put up a heck of a good fight. Typically big walleyes are dead weight and hold on the bottom but not these fish. They would run and run and then run some more, reminding me of an equal size catfish from a river. After a couple more shots and a release, we were back to fishing again. Could that fish be topped?

Not 30 minutes later, Taylor yells again. And again, I found myself grabbing the camera and it was off to the races. Just like the previous fish, it took quite some time to land the fish as it kept diving down towards the 31 foot bottom. It bent the rod over with minimal head shakes just as you’d expect a big walleye to react. With the net in the water and a scoop, we brought another walleye of about equal size to land. This time it was a 28.5” walleye that was all as impressive as it’s predecessor. It was Taylor’s night for sure.

The 28.5 walleye that Taylor caught from the man made lake

The 28.5" walleye that Taylor caught from the man made lake

This lake holds a wide range of small to large sized walleyes; the smallest being around 15 inches and they’ve caught and released walleyes pushing 10 lbs. There is also some nice schools of slab crappies that are recent inhabitants of the lake. The fish are well fed and grow at a rapid rate so only time will tell just how big some of these walleyes will get in size. They have high hopes for this marvelous little fishery, and with the TLC they give it I believe there will be plenty of world class walleyes soon to come. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to this fantastic little fishery, hopefully next time will be my turn for a trophy.


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