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A Look Back

Article By 
Ron Wilson

We’re convinced of just two things in this dated black and white photograph: The body of water is Wood Lake in Benson County, and the dock needs a little work.

What follows, however, is guesswork: The photograph was taken in the early to mid-1960s based on the year of the pickups featured in the upper right corner. The vehicles, it’s also surmised, belong to Game and Department fisheries biologists, who are shown gathered on the dock, possibly spawning fish.

This much is certain: Wood Lake is located 2 miles west and 1 mile south of Tokio. According to a Department district fisheries supervisor, Wood Lake today holds numerous small yellow perch and bluegill, plus good numbers of bigger walleye and some large pike.

Speaking of big walleye. The long-established state record walleye was taken from Wood Lake in 1959. While published information more than suggests the 15-pound, 12-ounce fish wasn’t actually caught by hook and line, but rather found floating dead by an angler trolling in a boat, there is no question that it came from Wood Lake.

In an article in North Dakota OUTDOORS dating back nearly 60 years, Dale Henegar, Department fisheries chief, wrote the following: “Wood Lake is one of the better natural lakes in North Dakota … Surrounding the lake are hills covered primarily by hardwood trees. A number of cabins (34) owned by private parties and one resort are found on the lake shore. A park is maintained by Benson County on the north end of the lake.

“The fish most sought after in this lake is the walleye and the lake does contain a number of this fish in varying sizes. Also found in abundance is the bluegill and at times fishing for this species is excellent. Northern pike and perch make up the rest of the fish that are taken on hook and line.”

Back then, Wood Lake was open to fishing for all species in the summer months, but was closed to pike and walleye fishing through the ice in winter.