Lake Oahe is the first stop along the northern part of the Missouri River in South Dakota. It stretches for 231 miles from Oahe Dam, near Pierre, all the way north to Bismarck, N.D. The largest of the four Missouri River reservoirs, Lake Oahe is the "big water." This deep, clear lake - at its maximum depth, Oahe reaches 205 feet-- makes for excellent boating and fishing.
Like the other reservoirs, Oahe is known for its walleye fishing. Other commonly caught species include smallmouth bass, white bass, northern pike and perch. Most anglers fish by boat, but plenty of fishermen have their favorite spots along the shore. Because of the lake's size and the possibility of high winds, it's recommended that boats be at least an 18-foot deep "V" with 50 horsepower outboard.
The lands along Oahe also are known for exceptional hunting. Canadian geese, duck and sharp-tailed grouse are some of the most popularly hunted species.
The Oahe Dam
Located just six miles north of the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities, the Oahe Dam stands as one of the largest earth-rolled dams in the world. It creates the fourth largest artificial reservoir in the United States, supplying irrigation, conservation, flood control and electric power to many Midwestern states as well as abundant recreation along Lake Oahe.
The Oahe Dam was authorized in 1944 by the Flood Control Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began working on the dam in 1948. By 1962, the Oahe Dam was functioning and producing hydroelectric power. The dam was dedicated on August 17, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy. The word Oahe, once the name of a Christian mission, is a Sioux Indian word meaning "a foundation," or "a place to stand on."
Visitors can view the Oahe Dam and Lake Oahe by following the highway seven miles north of Pierre. The Oahe Dam Visitor Center provides a complete history of Lake Oahe and the surrounding area. Exhibits feature the history of the construction of the dam and power plant and the natural history of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. The Oahe Dam Visitor Center, located above the dam, is open year-round, featuring interactive displays and information about the Oahe Dam and the Missouri River.