“Fishing from a boat in December?!” I exclaimed as a friend of mine told me he had heard fishing had been good recently on Lake Sakakawea. It didn’t take me long to answer in the affirmative I was willing to head up to the Big Lake with him.

However, our main objective wasn’t to fish. The original plan was to try to find a deer for my buddy to harvest with his muzzleloader. So, with hunting gear and fishing gear loaded into the back end of his pickup, we headed to an area near Lake Sakakawea.

As I always do when on fishing or hunting escapades, the binoculars are always at the ready because you just never know when I might need them to spot an interesting bird. The binoculars come in handy, every time. We used our binoculars to search for deer and to check out the area avifauna. Loads of Canada geese were roosting on the edge of the Lake. Never a dull sight to observe those incredible birds.

We put the binoculars away and headed to the boat landing. I couldn’t believe we were going to load a boat into the lake in December. A first for me. The lake had a skim of ice near the landing and we had to bust through it for a few hundred yards before we reached open water.

Canada geese numbering in the thousands were scattered on nearby exposed islands and bare shoreline. The sound of flapping wings over ice is an incredible sound as it appears to be amplified. I wish for everyone to experience the sights and sounds of Canada geese landing nearby. We made it to our first fishing spot in the calm waters, then moved to other spots. Fish were marked on the graph but they didn’t want anything to do with what we offered.

As we moved to our final spot closer toward the boat landing, a lone drake northern pintail cruised the edge of the lake in search of a spot to land and rest. I hadn’t seen a pintail in nearly two months. As we fished, the eastern edge of the lake had streams of thousands upon thousands of Canada geese. The horizon appeared black at times as the number of geese on a string flapped their way south. This is the latest in the fall I’ve seen this large Canada goose migration. 

After the fishing trip, the fishing rods were put away and hunting clothes and gear were put on to try and attempt our luck at searching for a weary deer. Throughout our late afternoon, the skies and fields were again filled with geese. Also, a couple bald eagles were observed perching in tall trees next to a wetland. To our amazement, we only observed one deer, but saw five moose. It never gets old to see those tall gangly creatures on the open plains. Of course the moose were in range, but the deer steered away.

The following Sunday, we finally spotted nine deer. Again, too far out of reach with a muzzleloader. The geese were still around, and again, the skies and fields were filled. Bald eagles were perching in trees. An American crow was sitting atop a crossbar of a fence corner and was munching on a tasty morsel. A prairie falcon cruised overhead as it flew between tree groves. A single red-tailed hawk and a rough-legged hawk were searching for food.

Late-morning Sunday left us with no deer and no fish, but we enjoyed a fabulous weekend full of mild weather, moose, eagles, geese and more geese. I hope you have a chance to fill your eyes and ears with the outdoors this coming season and all year through.