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Coyote calling can be an unexpected adventure By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Things don’t always go as planned when you are calling coyotes. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it so much.

If you are calling in coyote-rich country such as western Nebraska, there’s little doubt you can call in several in a day. Other places, not so much.

If I can call in one coyote for six different sets, that’s about average. So, you will spend a lot of time looking over the landscape with nothing to show for it.

But sometimes you get the surprise of your life.

It was early morning on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota a few years ago. Three of us were set up alongside a deep, tree-lined ravine. We were each leaning back against a tree trunk and looking out over the prairie. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon spreading its light slowly. It reminded me of raising a shade in a dark room.

Suddenly, out of the ravine burst a big, mangy-looking dog, snarling and looking left and right for that dying rabbit. I was holding the camera, not a gun and the beast was now right in front of me, staring into my eyes. I had tangled with wild dogs before and knew if they see a gun they will run. I had no gun. Yet, in a heartbeat he turned and ran back into the ravine.

Good riddance.

We called in a bobcat on that set, but the season was closed. The cat crossed right in front of us through a 100-yard long clearing and into the same ravine the dog had come from.

The cat ended up sitting in a plum patch not more than 12 feet away from one of us. After its curiosity was satisfied it turned back into the ravine and vanished.

Sometimes a little humor can be included.

Fran and I were with my cousin Denny Myhre and his wife, Audrey, driving down a road, I think in Grand Teton National Park, when two young coyotes crossed in front of us. I grabbed my camera with the 300mm lens.

“I’ll see if I can call them in,” I said.

Just as I left the car another filled with Japanese students pulled alongside asking what we had seen.

“Coyotes,” Denny answered.

“Mistake,” I thought.

I ran over the rise that was hiding the vehicles and ran about 200 yards to a lodgepole pine, which I got behind and began trying to catch my breath. Then I saw the two coyotes about 200 yards off and heading away. I did my dying rabbit sound with my mouth and as soon as they heard that they began running in. Hiding behind the tree trunk, I began making pictures of them.

At about one hundred yards out they stopped. I did the mouth squeak several times but they would not respond. Then they turned and ran.

“That was strange,” I thought. “They were about five-month-old pups and should have run right in.”

[Read more…]

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Late winter action slows, even on farm ponds By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

I didn’t need to look at a calendar to know that it was the month of February.

My depth finder was lit up like a Christmas tree with fish signals, but nothing was happening. A tiny 1/100th-ounce jig was hanging on fresh, two-pound test line. It was tipped with a micro grub body with a long, skinny tail. A tiny piece of waxworm added some scent.

But even this finesse presentation was being ignored.

Yes, that happens a lot in February. Ice fishing success slows down. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish, it just means you have to pay attention to details. And, you just have to hang in there, because sometime during the day the bite will take off, and you will be hard pressed to get your bait back down to pull up another fish before it all ends.

I was fishing a farm pond northeast of Hartington, Neb. I had met Gary Howey and Dani Thoene, both of Hartington, at the pond a few minutes earlier.

Dani was running the gasoline-powered auger digging holes all over. Gary was shoveling the ice chips away from each hole. So, all the hard work was done before I even got down there. Imagine that.

I dropped the transducer down one of the holes and took a look. Ten feet deep and nothing there.

Undaunted, I dropped down my tiny jig and before long the fish showed up. Probably bluegills.

Meanwhile, Gary and Dani were reporting the same thing. Lots of fish, but no biters.

Of course, that changed.

Dani was the first to score a small bluegill. Gary added another shortly after. Another finally took my small jig a few minutes later, and the smell of “skunk” wafted away into the cool, clear air.

We were each taking fish from time to time, mostly small bluegills but occasionally we’d get a good one, seven to eight inches.

Before long we were joined by Dani’s brother Anthony and Melvin Kruse, both of Hartington.

[Read more…]

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Studying Missouri River fisheries is his job By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

ONAWA, Iowa — Monitoring the Missouri River fishery is the job of Ryan Hupfeld, Missouri River fish management biologist.

Hupfeld was named to the position last fall after Van Sterner, fisheries biologist, retired.

While much of the work on the river addresses the endangered pallid sturgeon, other fish are also studied, and, as time goes on, Hupfeld hopes to expand those studies.

“The paddlefish season opened a couple of years ago, and we have been monitoring that by gill netting every spring and fall,” Ryan says. “They seem to be doing very well. We caught fish from 18 to 41 inches, and the average weight was between 17 and 20 pounds.

“We are also jaw tagging these fish to look at movement and also exploitation to some degree,” he continued. “We’ve had nine recaptures and eight of them were from our tagging and one was from South Dakota. We also have had multiple numbers that were called in by anglers.”

What the paddlefish snagging studies have shown is somewhat surprising. It is clear that these fish roam up and down our rivers a lot.

“We learned most of them traveled well over 500 river miles,” he said. One of the paddlefish we tagged in March right here at Decatur was caught in October. It went all the way down the Missouri, down the Mississippi and up the Big Muddy River and was caught below a dam. That’s 1000 miles.”

“We’re also trying to work with and cooperate with other states to manage these fish,” he says.

Invasive fish species are of great concern.

Over the years, grass carp, bighead carp and silver carp have exploded in numbers through the Missouri below Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, S.D. All of these carp, including another called black carp, originally came from Asia and were brought over by fish farmers in an effort to keep their growing ponds clean. Floods enabled many of them to escape into our waterways.

“Black carp haven’t made it up here that we know of,” Ryan says. “Asian carp spawn from April through October, and they are very efficient at feeding, much more so than native plankton feeders.

“There are no natural predators for them like there is in China,” he continues. “They are having a big effect on our native fish. We’re monitoring silver carp populations, looking at age and growth. They’re very good to eat. We need to start developing a market for them so we can relieve our native fish populations from the stresses of them.” [Read more…]