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Finding the Best Bait

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Fishermen are often teased for telling tall tales about the one that got away, but their luck may be changing.

Anglers are finding success at lakes across the state, but some areas, including Devils Lake and small area lakes, are paying off better than others.

"Lake Sakakawea is kinda hit and miss right now. The water is going up considerably and it's switching those fish into different areas that people aren't accustomed to fishing and that makes it tough. Lake Oahe this year, it's probably been in its top five. It's steady. The fish aren't huge by any means, but to go out there and catch a lot of fish and have a lot of activity, it's been really good," says Mike Peluso of Bait N'More.

Peluso says an angler's bait choice is often influenced by the season. The number one bait of choice right now is nightcrawlers. He recommends pairing the bait with a slow death lure.

"Slow death is kind of a slower version of a spinner. It basically twirls the bait in the water. It's kind of a methodical, enticing type of presentation. Right now, our systems are so full of forage with smelt, gizzard, shad, what have you, the fish aren't necessarily hungry. You're trying to get them to react and entice them into the easy one. And that's kind of what the slow death does," says Peluso.

When selecting bait, it's also important to know what kinds are legal in the state of North Dakota, and more specifically on the water you will be fishing on.

"All of the baits that we allow in North Dakota are native. When it comes to minnows especially, we have pretty strict rules on what kind of minnows you can use and where you can and can't use minnows. There's a few lakes around the state that are in our fishing guide that the use of live minnows is prohibited for various reasons," says Scott Gangl of North Dakota Game and Fish.

Gangl reminds anglers it is illegal to import aquatic bait into the state. And that includes minnows, leeches, frogs and salamanders. Gangl says non-aquatic bait, like nightcrawlers, can be transported across state lines.

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