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Iowa Great Lakes are a multi-species paradise By Larry Myhre Team Outdoorsmen Adventures

     SPIRIT LAKE,  Iowa — It was shaping up to be a picture perfect, bluebird day. The sun glinted off the calm surface of Emersons Bay on Big West Lake Okoboji as fishing guide John Grosvenor put the hammer down on his big Skeeter WX2060.

     Aboard were Clay Norris, longtime product manager for the Berkley Company, and me. Following close behind the Skeeter were Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., who has the Outdoorsman Adventures Television show, and cameraman Garrett Heikes, Wayne, Neb., in my Alumacraft Tournament Sport which would serve as the camera boat for this trip.

     We didn’t have far to run.

     Grosvenor had caught a lot of fish on a rock bar just outside the mouth of the bay the day before. Bluegills, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleyes had rounded out his catch. He dropped down his Minn Kota Ulterra, bow-mounted electric motor and hit the anchor button. GPS tracking would keep us on one spot in spite of a light breeze which was beginning to kick up.

     John handed Clay a rod armed with a slip bobber and a 1/16-ounce jig head tipped with two red wiggler worms. These tiny worms max out at about 4-inches long and are great fish bait because of their wiggling action. After getting Clay rigged up, John handed me a drop shot rod with a Havoc Bottom Hopper Jr., plastic worm, on the short-shanked drop shot hook. A three-eigths ounce drop shot sinker was slipped onto the line about 18-inches below the hook.

     Both rods were rigged with Berkley Crystal Fireline with Berkley Vanish Flurocarbon leaders.

     Both the slip bobber and drop shot rig are finesse techniques and work well in the clear waters of this spring-fed, 3,847 acre lake.

     It didn’t take long for Clay to hook up with a nine-inch bluegill. It was a brightly colored male as were most of the big ‘gills we caught that day. In this deeper water, the ‘gills were still on the beds. Clay took two more fish, a bluegill and a largemouth, before I hooked up with my first largemouth of the day.

     We moved a couple times on that bar, but could not find the larger bass John was looking for. Ours topped out at about 15 inches. And the walleyes, it seemed had left except for the small one that Clay brought to the boat. We had caught and released a lot of bluegills and largemouth, but the smallmouth were absent. A cold front had moved through late the day before and we figured the smallies might have gone into deeper water.

     John decided to make a move. He started the big motor and pointed the bow north. We were headed for the rock bars above Gull Point.

     John has been guiding on the Iowa Great Lakes for the past 16 years. I first met John when he was an Anchor/Reporter for KTIV-TV news and I was working at the Sioux City Journal. John spent 10 years in the news business, both in Sioux City and Des Moines.

     As we began working the rock piles on the flats above Gull, it became apparent that the largemouth and bluegills and even a few walleyes were home, but the smallies still evaded us. We also caught three small northerns along here. I caught a silver northern, my first ever. A silver northern is just a color phase and not a separate species. The silver northern has no spots or coloring along its back and sides.

     Clay remarked, “It looks like a walleye with a northern pike’s head.”

     That’s as good of a description as any.

     Another color phase found in these lakes is the striped northern. The DNR estimates only one percent of the northern population is striped, while some 20 percent are silvers. Apparently, the three color phases originated from Spirit Lake, but the DNR has stocked them in both West and East Okoboji.

     We made one more move into deeper water on a rock pile to the north.

     The smallies were home. I connected first with an 18-incher on the drop shot rig. We caught several smallmouth from this spot running from 17 to 19 inches. I caught at least three bass jigging the drop shot rig right under the boat. It’s not unusual for smallmouth to follow your bait to the boat but not hit. Often they’ll gather under the boat. It aways pays to fish under the boat for awhile before moving.

     After grabbing lunch at nice waterfront restaurant in Smiths Bay, we slipped into East Lake to attempt to add yellow bass to our list of fish caught that day. We soon did along with another bunch of big bluegills.

     With more tape in the can than we needed, we decided to call it a day.

     While we didn’t catch any perch, it should be noted that perch are making a big comeback in West and East Lake. The population in Big Spirit has always been good. There is also a strong population of yellow bass here. In West Lake, John said they average about 10 inches and are very fat. These fish are fighters just like their cousin the white bass, but they are much better eating.

     If you would like to contact John for either an open water or ice fishing guided trip, his phone number is 712 330-5815, or email him at: jtg@fishokoboji.com. or, check out his web page at fishokoboji.com

     It had been a long time since I had fished West Lake Okoboji. I fished it a lot in the 1970s, virtually every weekend from Labor Day to Memorial Day for many years. You know what? The fishing is better today than it was then. And it was pretty darn good in the 1970s.

 

      

    

    

    

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Boat plug, bait and fish transporting rules for South Dakota.

 

As summer kicks into full swing, we would like to give you a fresh reminder on the boat plug and bait and fish transporting rules for South Dakota.

DRAIN PLUGS: Boaters and anglers are required to open or remove all drain pluge or similar devices; except when in the boat ramp parking lot or when the boat is being launched and loaded.  Plugs must remain out of the boat during transportation and storage.

BAIT: Bait and fish may not be transported in water taken from a lake, river or stream. Bait may be transported in water taken from a lake, river or stream while in route to a fish cleaning station only if the cleaning station is located within the parking lot area and must be drained prior to leaving the fish cleaning station.

FISH: Anglers have three options for transporting whole fish for cleaning at home or at a cleaning station not within the boat ramp parking area:

  1. In a container –  (not a part of the boat) that is filled with domestic water (tap, well, bottled or ice).
  2. On ice – in a cooler or pull the plug on their livewell and fill it with ice (plug must remain out).
  3. Dry – put fish in an empty bucket or pull the livewell plug before leaving the boat ramp and let it drain while traveling.

Remembering these simple rules will help keep South Dakota’s lakes, rivers, ponds and streams free from invasive species. 

Stay educated, stay informed and help current and future generations slow the spread of AIS in our great state. You can also visit sdleastwanted.com at any time to learn more about what you can do!

 

 

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Zebra Mussel Facts

 

In 2015, zebra mussels were found in Lewis and Clark Reservoir in southeastern South Dakota and have since spread to nearby McCook Lake as well.

Since then, this invader has spread rapidly.  While you can still enjoy the beauty and water recreation on Lewis and Clark and McCook Lake, here are a few things you need to be aware of in regards to zebra mussels.

  • The zebra mussel population in Lewis and Clark is expected to grow significantly through the summer of 2017.
  • The largest number of mussels will be found in depths shallower than 10 feet.
  • In some areas of the US, mussel densities have reached 700,000 individuals per square meter.
  • Mussels typically attach firmly to hard surfaces such as rocks and pipes, however dead shells will wash up on shore…sometimes in great numbers
  • Mussel shells are extremely sharp and can easily cut human feet, legs and hands as well as the pads on dogs’ paws.
  • Beaches with zebra mussel shells pose no higher disease or pollution concerns than other beaches and the water is still safe for swimming.
  • To avoid injury, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks suggests that users who plan to enjoy the beaches at Lewis and Clark wear water socks, swim shoes or sandals to prevent contact with shells.

Stay educated, stay informed and help current

 

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Multi Species, Multi Lakes & Mega Opportunities It’s Alexandria, MN. By Gary Howey

  The bobber rig on the end of my line was about to reach the boat, when a dark shadow, a huge muskie rose up from the depths, paying little attention to my 1/16 ounce jig and leech as it slid by my lure and into the cabbage weed in the deep water.

   It was a “BIG” fish one that appeared to be at least 36 inches long, not a giant on this lake, but one any angler would love to tangle with.

   Our guide Joe Scegura indicated the waters around Alexandria, MN. offer some of the best opportunities for anglers to catch a trophy muskie with one exceeding 50″ not uncommon.

  We had headed north on Tuesday, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA, videographer Garrett Heikes, Wayne, NE. and as we worked our way up, Larry who had fished these waters before, clued us in on what we might expect. The fish found there, the lakes he’ fished and of course all the big fish he had taken there.

  Within a short drive of Alexandria you’ll find more lakes than you could count, most having excellent fish populations.

  The main structure on the lakes would be cabbage weed as well as some rocks, with good visibility down to twelve feet or more; these lakes hold walleyes, muskie, crappies, pumpkin seed panfish as well as northern pike.

  We’d be fishing with Joe Scegura, jsguideservice.com a, lunching from the east shoreline and as Joe headed up to park the truck and boat trailer, we spotted several species of fish working in and around the dock, a good indicator as to the number of fish found in the lake.

  Joe who had been on the water the previous day showed us some photos of the fish his groups had taken from this lake using slip bobber rigs.

  Slip-bobbers are unlike the standard bobbers that snap to the line as they have a hollow stem going through the bobber, with your line running through that stem, allowing the bobber to slide on your line.

  Slip bobber rigs are a simple set up, we used a small 1/16 ounce jig tipped with leeches or minnows, with the size of the jig you use can be smaller, use one you’re comfortable with, a clear leader leading to a swivel. It’s tied to the main line; Berkley Fireline, a small bead, Thill slip bobber slid up the line and a bobber stop attached to the line, which is generally, a small knot that slides through the guides on your rod.

  The weather reports weren’t very good, with thunder storms predicted that afternoon, so we were anxious to get on the water, and as we motored across the lake, Joe kept a close eye on the locators.

   As bad weather approaches, fish seem to sense them ahead of time and have a tendency to feed heavily before the storm, and because of this, we should be looking for some great fishing.

Author Gary Howey with guide Joe Scegura with one of the numerous walleyes took using slip bobber rigs while fishing the one of the many lakes in and around Alexandria. MN.

  I fired my slip bobber rig towards the outside edge of the weeds, my bobber hit the water, came to rest against the bobber stop, stood up, wiggled a bit then darted to the side before disappearing underwater as the fish attempted to dive deep into the cover of the cabbage weed bed.

Reeling up the slack, I felt the additional weight on the line; rearing back setting the hook hard, and if the way the fish was fighting, was an indicator, it appeared to be a good fish.

  As the fish came close to the boat, it let us know it wasn’t ready to give up the fight, peeling off several yards of line as it dove back under the boat.

   Gaining on the fish, I worked it towards the net, where Joe scooped up the nice 21 ½-inch walleye, one of the many fish we’d land on this trip.

 The weather we were facing, overcast skies and slight wind cutting the light penetration, allowed the fish to move shallow to feed, with the wave action allowing us to float our rigs into the wed line ,as Joe held the boat well away from the water we were fishing with his bow mount.

  Moving from one location to another, looking for the big fish, we were working the weed bed openings, when Larry’s slip bobber disappeared, he set the hook connecting with another decent walleye. While this was happening, Joe fought a fish up front, as I was fighting one at the back of the boat, our first of numerous doubles and triples we had on that day.

  A light shower moved in and didn’t last long, just long enough to force us to don our rain gear. The shower passed with the storm clouds moving away, with the sun coming out, which slowed our walleye action. In several hours, wed landed numerous walleyes with the two largest a 24 ½” and a 20″ fish. 

  As the sun moved higher in the sky we moved to different part of the lake to fish shallower water hoping to find some crappies.

  Garrett was the first to spot the huge schools of minnows using the area and then the crappies and other predator fish lying in ambush in the weeds.

  If you can spot the fish, they surely can see you, so fishing clear water required that you position the boat out and away from the fish, making long casts in front of where they’re located and let the wind drift your rig to them.  There were all kinds of fish in this part of the lake as we landed crappies, other panfish, walleyes, both large and smallmouth bass, as well as northern pike in the short period of time we fished that area.

  We called it early, as we needed to do some filming at the Arrowwood as well as some sights in Alexandria as well as to pack for the return trip the following morning.

  As we headed back, Joe had mentioned to and Garrett that there was a good smallmouth lake not far from where they were and they decided to do a late afternoon- early evening smallmouth bass excursion to another lake. Even though the wind picked up, they were able to boat several big smallmouths with the largest in the 20″ range.

  We caught all of our fish, numerous species in a short period of time with Joe putting us on the right spot, with the right rigs.

  The Alexandria, MN, area offers Multi Species, Multi Lakes & Mega Opportunities for both open and hard water fishing, visiting and vacationing and is an area all of us plan to return to in the near future.

  More information on all that the Alexandria, MN has to offer is available at explorealex.com.

You can contact Guide Joe Secgura at (320) 260-9056 or on line at jsguideservice.com.