OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Pike Haven Resort
Part 1:THE TRIP
Missouri River Walleyes
With Pike Haven Resort
By Dan Wennerlind
Fishing the Missouri River brings back fond memories for me, growing up my Dad and I made a week long trek out to the Pierre area when I was a youngster and I remember catching a wide variety of fish including Salmon, Trout and big Pike. However I had always heard how great the Walleye fishing is on the river and had hoped that someday I would get back there and experience it first-hand.
Now 30 years later, I was able to bring my own family back and share with my wife and son not only what an unbelievable fishery this section of the Missouri River is, but also what a beautiful and peaceful setting that my good friends the Miller Family have to offer at the Pike Haven Resort, located only 40 minutes north of the South Dakota capital of Pierre, right on the river.
The Miller Family-
Owners- John & Jacque
Sons- Dusty & Alex
In preparation for our trip I had a chance to speak with owner John Miller in depth about the fishing on this section of the Missouri River at length. John shared with me that earlier in the year, for the entire month of May, the Pike fishing was fantastic. In fact he showed me photos of numerous fisherman of all ages that had already caught Pike ranging all the way up to 18 pounds consistently during the entire month before we arrived.
John also shared with me that traditionally the Salmon fishing on the river has been very good for many years, but when the big flood hit back in 2011 it really messed with the Salmon population in the area and that is still recovering. But John stated that if you want to catch Walleyes, the time to come is from early June to late July. In fact the Walleye fishing is so good for those two months that it is rare for the Millers to have a vacant cabin available as their past customers come flooding back every summer. On average John said the customers who fish with his son Dusty, who also runs a guide service on the river, they catch between 20 – 40 Walleyes per day, all summer long.
After a delicious and much needed dinner served at the Pike Haven Restaurant we had a chance to visit with the Miller’s youngest son Alex who manages the restaurant and bar. Alex shared with us the favorite part of being at the Pike Haven Resort in his opinion, other than the fantastic fishing, is the ability for their customers to unplug for a few days from the real world and relax and enjoy the peaceful setting that they have to offer. If fact they are one of the only resorts on the Lower Lake section of the river that has a private access point to the river itself.
Before hitting the sack in preparation for our upcoming guided fishing trip with Dusty the next morning, my wife Sara and I caught the tail end of a beautiful sunset from across the river and my son Brandt even put the local family of wild turkeys to bed in the tree out front of the resort, which was a highlight of the trip for him.
At 7am sharp Alex had the restaurant open for business and we enjoyed another delicious meal before heading out on the river with Dusty. At breakfast we met many of the local fisherman and guests of the resort who were also getting ready for a big day on the water.
When Dusty pulled up outside the restaurant to pick us up in his 2014 21 foot Ranger G21VS walleye rig I was very impressed. I was even more impressed after we all climbed into the boat, still on the trailer and were personally escorted down to the launch and launched- off we went. (Another service the Pike Haven Resort offers is personal launching of your boat at no charge for their customers).
We made our way across the 6 mile wide section of the big river and I had a chance to get to know Dusty a little better. I found that Dusty was actually on the pro walleye circuit for several years and now spends over 100 days a year on the river guiding fisherman. In fact Dusty has been fishing this section of the river full time for over 11 years now and part time for over 25 years of his life. I got the impression Dusty knew this river like the back of his hand. I would soon find out that I was correct.
Being that we were after Walleyes today, Dusty knew exactly where to take us, just up the entrance of the Cheyenne River about a ½ mile from where it flows into the Missouri. With Dusty’s 300 hp outboard it only took us about 15 minutes to get up to that point of the river and before my wife Sara’s line even hit the bottom she had her first Walleye on! What a thrill!
A beautiful Missouri
And the perfect size
for the frying pan!!!
Less than 5 minutes later I too had a Walleye in the boat. My son Brandt was having so much fun all he could say at age two was “Again, Again” over and over. I think we may have been spoiling him for his fishing career by spending a day in the boat with professional guide Dusty Miller. Fishing with his Papa growing up was not going to be this productive every time out that was for sure.
The morning progressed and even though the rain continued, the lines were consistently getting hit by 2 – 3 pound Walleyes- perfect eaters as any avid fisherman knows.
Dusty was also very patient with my son Brandt. As any parent of a toddler knows that over 2 hours in a boat can get to be a little overwhelming, no matter how great the fishing is.
Dusty is great with the kids and even assisted Brandt in pulling in his first official Walleye of his career. This was exactly what I had hoped for when booking the trip.
The morning progressed and Dusty continued to share with us that not only is the Missouri River a great Walleye and Pike fishing destination but also a World Class smallmouth bass fishery as well. In fact Dusty said during the months of June and July the small mouth fishing is excellent and the fisherman consistently catch bass ranging from 3 – 5 pounds. I was really bummed that we would have to hit the road that afternoon and wouldn’t have the opportunity to spend more time with Dusty and the Millers and capitalize on this amazing fishery they have out their front door.
Dusty also shared that many fisherman come just for the catfish on the river and he said that it has been documented by underwater divers that there are catfish above the dam ranging up to 500 pounds!!! For those who also enjoy the tv show River Monsters there ya go! Dusty said that there would be no way for anyone to actually land a fish that big but they are there….
It was now close to 11am now and we had a nice stringer of fresh Walleyes in the boat and it was time to head back as now my wife and son were getting cold with the rain continuing all morning. We an extensive road trip back to Minnesota ahead of us. I was also going to miss out on the opportunity of having John personally prepare our fresh Walleye from the day for dinner that night, which is an added service that the Millers offer for their customers that stay at the resort.
On the trek back to the lodge I inquired with Dusty what they do in the off season. Dusty replied that they really don’t have an off season due to the fact that the area pheasant hunting is so productive. He said they start guiding pheasant hunters in early October and run that operation through mid February each year. Dusty also said that one of the favorite trips they offer is a fall “cast n blast” trip where they run a 3 day trip with 2 days of “World Class” pheasant hunting and 1 day on the river catching walleyes. I couldn’t think of a better time spent on a fall destination!
Dusty said that he runs 3 professionally trained labs on over 1,000 acres of private hunting grounds specifically managed for the area roosters on this trip. It is about as good as you can get with the added bonus of staying in a cabin right on the river with a full time restaurant out your back door.
A quick look back at one of
Pike Haven's memorable
South Dakota pheasant hunts
from last hunting season!
After arriving back at the resort I asked Dusty to point me in the direction of the fish cleaning shack. His response was- “You can sure come with but that’s my job!”
I watched as Dusty fillet out our entire catch in less than 10 minutes and had them bagged and sealed ready for the oven. Truly a first class operation from start to finish for sure!!!!
Although we only had a short stay with the Millers at there little piece of heaven on earth, it didn’t take long for my entire family to realize that we would be back again and had created a few fond memories that we will share for the next 20 years. I am proud to have Pike Haven Resort as the Official South Dakota Fishing Resort Destination of HuntTheNorth.com.
Until next time….
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
Meeting the entire Miller family was a real treat. Being the owners and operators of Pike Haven Resort since 2006 it was evident that they not only know how to run a successful business, by treating their customers right, but all three guides- Dusty, John and Alex know the river and how to successfully guide fisherman throughout the year. The entire trip was a very rewarding experience from start to finish 5 / 5 for sure!
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
On our guided fishing trip with Dusty, everything was top notch, from his gorgeous new 21 ft Ranger boat, to all of the rods and equipment, it was a turn key operation from the first cast to the last! We all had a blast and the personalized drop off and pick up from the boat launch was the icing on the cake! 5 / 5!
|Score||5 / 5|
The opportunity to catch the highly sought after Walleye pike was absolutely fantastic! Only having a short 3 hour window to fish- Dusty put us on fish from the moment the lines hit the water, to the minute we left. Although we only had 4 keepers, we through just as many back and missed twice that many. We all had a blast and would highly recommend Dusty and the Pike Haven Resort for anyone looking for a fantastic walleye fishing trip for young and old- 5 / 5!
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||4 / 5|
The Pike Haven Resort itself was a very clean and comfortable cabin style lodging facility. Although the cabins may not be 5 Star, they are perfect for what they offer. Our cabin was very modernized and clean and slept 4 people comfortably. The resort itself was exactly what you would hope and expect from a nice family run resort, located right on the Missouri River. We would definitely come back and bring the entire family with. It was also great to have a restaurant / bar on site as well with excellent meals and the option of cooking your own catch from the day for dinner was an added bonus! Also having a bait shop and boat ramp on site made everything really easy. They have pretty much everything you need- 4 / 5!
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
The two bedroom cabin per night rate is from $90 - $120. We felt that is an excellent value. In addition Dusty’s full day guide service fee is $220 for 2 people for the day. Well worth the money if you are not familiar with the river. They also offer a package deal of 2 day / 3 night package with guide service, lodging and meals for $1,400. By mentioning HuntTheNorth.com at booking you can get the entire package for $220 per day! That is a steal in our book- 5 / 5!
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
Overall we felt the entire trip to Pike Haven Resort was a first class operation. I really couldn’t think of one thing I would change, other than the weather. I’m not sure what it costs to ensure a sunny, slightly breezy day but I think what the Miller Family has to offer is truly First Class from start to finish! 5 / 5!
|Overall Pike Haven Resort Scored 29 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate To Refer John Miller And His Family Run Operation For His Spectacular South Dakota Fishing Hunting Adventures!|
|29 / 30|
COPYRIGHT 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED