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Yes, Virginia, you can catch bass all winter By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the SIOUX City Journal

Largemouth bass do not need to be an “accidental” catch in the wintertime. If you search out areas which attract them under the ice, use lures and techniques they like, you will catch them with regularity.

Yes, Virginia, you can catch bass all winter.

It was a brilliantly sunny day when Gary Howey punched several holes though the ice on one of the local ponds near Hartington, Nebraska.

Within minutes they were baited up and in the water with tiny jigging lures tipped with wax worms.

Gary set out a dead rod tipped with minnow under a bobber a few feet away from his bucket.

We weren’t exactly surprised when Gary’s first bite resulted in a 2-pound bass. I grabbed a few quick photos and went back to my rod which had been sitting on my bucket. I picked it up and felt pressure, so I set the hook. It was another bass which was twin to the one Gary caught.

Later his bobber went down and another nice bass flopped out on the ice.

All these fish were released.

This was not a unique experience for us. We have caught a lot of largemouth through the ice over the years.

I’m guessing that 99 percent of the largemouth bass caught through the ice were taken while the angler was fishing for something else. But bass do not have to be an “accidental” catch.

If you want to try something different this year, target largemouth bass.

I know most people think bass go lethargic in cold water, but I’ve caught enough of them through the ice to know they can be caught, and caught in numbers. [Read more…]

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The “Prime” Time for Predator Calling! By Gary Howey

  The weather has changed and its cold, too cold to do many outdoor activates, sure, ice fishing is coming soon, but it may be awhile before there’s enough ice to fish.

  One thing you can do if you bundle up warm is to call predators.  As the weather starts to change, become colder, furbearers, including coyotes and fox will have their heavy winter fur, which helps them make it through the winter.

  Then there are those poor coyotes that have developed the mange a terrible infliction where they lose all or most of their fur, with the most humane thing that could happen to them would be to put out of their misery.

  When it’s cold like it is, all critters and waterfowl will spend time moving and hunting, looking for some high protein food source to help keep their bodies warm. This means they’ll be out more as they have to eat often in order to make it through this tough time of the year.

   This is why, this time of the year is “prime” time to call predators, with several of the predators you may have come to your call be coyotes, fox and bobcats.

  Predator callers generally hunt with a small caliber rifle with lighter grain bullets, with 223-22-250 and 243 being three of the more popular calibers. Having s good variable scope mounted on tour rifle is also a good idea as it allows hunters to make some of the sometimes-difficult shots needed when hunting predators. 

  Getting permission to call predators is generally not too hard of a task as farmers and ranchers who’ve cattle have no love for predators. Predators are opportunists, taking advantage of anything that offering an easy meal and known to hang around calving yards.

All predator’s I mentioned above have excellent eyesight, hearing and an acute sense of smell, when calling predators you’ll want to glass the area you plan to call, then put together a plan, get in and set up quietly, which means using the terrain to your advantage. 

   Because the ground in the area is frozen or snow covered, you’ll want to come in slowly, making as little noise as possible and wearing some sort of camouflage to break up your outline is a big plus. Try to keep something, a cedar tree or some other vegetation between you and the area you’re calling when coming in to set up.

   The most important thing, as is with all hunting is to use the wind to your advantage by calling with the wind in your face so the keen nose of the predators don’t detect you.

  Even if the predators don’t spot you, they may attempt to circle around you to use the wind to their advantage. Don’t panic when this happens, and if you need to change shooting positions, do it slowly when the critter is in a low spot or behind a tree.

    Our best calling has been when we have two or more hunters and whenever possible facing opposite directions so we’ve both avenues of approach covered in case a coyote would come in behind us.

  Another mistake that some callers make, including our group is to hunt with just  scoped rifles, as on occasion, a coyote will pop up in front of you, too close to get a decent shot using a scope.  Now when we call, one of us always brings along a shotgun loaded with heavy loads.

  We use a combination of calls, relying heavily on our ICOtec electronic callers, but all hunters with us will also have mouth calls just in case we’re caught by surprise.

  The wounded rabbit calls, the cottontail and jackrabbit calls have been around a long time. In some areas, have been over used, making predators fooled by them once, much more cautious when coming into these calls. [Read more…]

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Early Ice Fishing Tactics Gary Howey

  It’s December, when in a somewhat normal year there’s good ice in northern South Dakota and Minnesota. Well, I’d have to say that this isn’t even close to a normal year. In our area the last week of November and first week of December, we’ve had very few cold nighttime temperatures.

  Don’t despair, as it can happen quickly when temperatures drop below zero and even colder at night, as ice can build fast once the temperatures begin to drop.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, don’t get too anxious to get on the ice, make sure there’s plenty of ice to support everything you’re bringing with you on the ice.

  Once the ice builds, early season ice fishing can be the most successful time for you to be out there, as the fish are still somewhat active and not into their full winter mode.

  Years ago, the thinking was that once the ice covered the lakes and ponds, all fish dropped to the bottom to be comfortable and pretty much hung there most of the winter.

  Since the invention of Vexilar locators, we’ve learned a whole lot about where the fish will be located throughout the winter. We now know that, especially during first ice, fish are moving not just vertically, but also horizontally.

  The Vexilar locators have made it much easier to locate the fish, the depth they’re holding, the depths our baits are and to see if we still have bait on our lures. [Read more…]

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Early Season Ice Fishing, Safety First Gary Howey

  It’s November when in a normal year with cold weather when people those die hard ice anglers are looking for a place to ice fish.

  Not this year, as the weather we’ve in early November was so unseasonably warm, we haven’t had to field many questions about ice fishing.

  With the warm weather, not too many folks are thinking about ice fishing as it may be awhile before we get any good-safe ice in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

  Before the colder temperatures arrive and ice starts to form, it’s not a bad idea to refresh our memories when it comes to ice safety.

 It’s just common sense to be in a hurry to get out on ponds and smaller lakes or before heading out on any body of water to ice fish, as there is always a danger when it comes to ice.

  Ice color is one of the best ways to see if ice is strong enough to hold you.  Look for clear blue ice, which is the strongest because it’s created by a sustained freeze.

  Black, gray or honeycombed ice is the worst and unsafe because of repeated freezing and thawing. Discolored or dark spots are a good indicator of open water, thin ice, or possibly a spring, all of which are dangerous.

  If there’s snow on the ice, it acts as an insulator, not allowing solid ice formation and making it almost impossible to judge its thickness.

  Snow piling on the unfrozen ground does the same thing to the ice, not allowing the cold temperatures to get down and freeze the ground or the water.

  Sure, ice may look solid, especially along the shoreline where the snow has blown clear, when in fact there’re probably areas on the lake having very little ice because of the snow covering it.

  Anything on the ice, icehouses, fishing piers and bridges absorb the sun’s heat and increase melting.  Vegetation will also absorb heat from the sun, and rotting vegetation can create its own heat as can fish, muskrats, beaver and other animals swimming under the ice can weaken it.  This is especially true in shallow lakes and rivers.

  Any moving water weakens ice approximately 15% and wind creates pumping action forces water through the breaks and cracks enlarging them and making them bigger. Be especially careful if there is a windmill or other type of aerator on the pond as these have outlet pipes under the ice creating moving water, which will weaken the ice.

  If your crossing ice on foot and you’re not sure of the thickness of the ice, it’s safer to slide your feet instead of stepping, as this helps distribute your weight more evenly. [Read more…]

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Mother Nature and Waterfowl Hunting On the Sisseton-Wahpeton Reservation Gary Howey

  It was early November, but surely didn’t feel like it, as it’s not often we see the warm 60 to 70 degree temperatures we’ve seen so far this month. 

  Higher temperatures are great for most outdoor activities, however, for those of us who’ve been straining our eyes scanning the horizon, hoping to see those huge flocks of migrating waterfowl, it’s been a slow start for waterfowl hunting.

  The warmer weather hadn’t moved the birds south into northern Nebraska, so Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA., Josh Anderson, Hartington, NE. and I headed north to do some waterfowl hunting in Northeastern South Dakota near Sisseton, S.D.  hunting on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Reservation. This is a large reservation, encompassing land coming down from the southern North Dakota border east to Travis along the Minnesota line on down to Watertown, the glacial Lakes area, so we had plenty of reservation land to hunt.

  The warmer weather we experience in Nebraska was with us as we came through southern South Dakota and as we arrived at the Casino on I-29 east of Sisseton where we were to meet our guides; the sun was shining brightly with 62 degrees temperatures.

   We’d spend a couple of days in the field with N8tive Hunting Guidez, Brandon Adams and Ray Eastman out of Sisseton, Brandon and Ray offer waterfowl and turkey hunting trips on the tribal ground in northeastern S.D. and southern N.D.

  There were plenty of birds on the reservation, but the waterfowl in the area we’d be hunting had been there for a while and were well educated. We’d heard, because of the warmer weather, the main migration hadn’t made it this far south with the waterfowl stacking up in southern Manitoba and North Dakota.

  The first afternoon hunt would be on a small slough just off one of the larger lakes in the area, and as we approached the slough, the water erupted as a mixed flock of Widgeons and Gadwalls took wing, flying up and over the tree-lined shoreline.

  Brandon and Ray quickly put out two dozen decoys and two robo ducks while our crew blended into the cattails and trees along the shoreline with Ray’s lab, Sophie setting patiently in the cattails waiting for his master to rejoin him.

  Once everything settled down, our guides begin calling, with the call of a lonely hen mallard ringing out across the slough. There’re plenty of birds in the air with several groups of them winging into the decoys, setting down out in front of the decoys, well out of our shooting range.

  As another pair passed overhead, our guide’s calls echoed out across the water, through the trees and out into the distance.

   It didn’t take long before the pair of Gadwalls, approached the decoy spread circling several times, looking and then pulling away.  Our guide’s comeback call rang out causing the birds to circle around, coming back in the direction of our spread.

  Their wings were set, feet down as Brandon called out “Take Em” and all in one motion, our shotguns came up and a volley of steel shot reached out towards the birds. The birds back peddled, pumping hard to put distance between themselves and the pond. Somehow, the birds worked their way up through our shot avoiding it, making their way to safety, up and away through the trees that lined the one side of the pond. [Read more…]

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PDR Hunt 2016 by Gary Howey

“It’s not about the harvesting of a deer as much as telling the story each kid has of overcoming significant limitations”.

  Clark, S.D. We at Outdoorsmen Adventures television  had the privilege to send our film crew to Clark, South Dakota in September to film at the ninth annual PDR Disabled Youth Deer Hunt.

  Dean Rasmussen, Clark, S.D. developed the hunt honoring his grandson Payton Dean Rasmussen whose life was taken by spinal meningitis in 1999.

  Dean says that the hunt would not have gotten off the ground without the support from many people, including landowners, businesses and agencies.  Sponsored events includes, all arrangements, food, overnight accommodations, rifle, ammunition, deer stands, and transportation to and from the field, all of which are provided to the hunters at no cost.  

  The P.D.R. Youth Hunt allows young children with disabilities to enjoy a carefree weekend of hunting where friends and memories are made.

  The celebration begins the afternoon before when the hunters get an opportunity to meet and to have an opportunity to check out and zero their weapons at the shooting range set-up at the Day Betterment Lodge outside of Clark, S.D. followed by a barbecue dinner. 

  Rasmussen indicated, “Parents and others tell them the biggest reason kids like to come isn’t always because of the hunting experience, although that’s special to them, what they really enjoy is being accepted as they are. For this one weekend, the kids feel like any other kid. The community of Clark is a special place.”

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The youth that attended this years 2016 PDR Youth Hunt with Dean Rasmussen, (Center) Director of the hunt .

that attended this years 2016 PDR Youth Deer hunt in Clark, S.D

  There were twelve youth hunters attended this year’s event from throughout South Dakota and Minnesota hunters at this year event which included; Lane Smith from Gary,  S.D., Austin Clark,  Sioux Falls, S.D., Jorden Steltz, Ortonville MN., Logan Morey, Harrisburg, S.D.,  Marcus Van Dam, Coleman, S.D., Calvin Lozinski, Tauton, MN., Cameron Lewis, Mission Hill, S.D., Ethan Kittelson Good Thunder, MN., Logan Winkelmann Hector, MN, James Byukkonen Tripp, S.D., James Brown Centerville, S.D., and Felicia Charging Elk Gettysburg, S.D. 
 

[Read more…]

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Ready for Next Season By Gary Howey

  In most years, by November, many outdoorsmen have put their fishing gear away and only thinking about hunting.

  With as warm as we’ve had and no water being frozen up, many open water anglers are still out there, spending time on the water and catching some fish.

  Once you do decide to give it up, you should check your fishing gear, tackle and your rods and reels, making sure everything is ready to go fishing next season.

   What I do before putting my rod & reels away is to look them over, getting an idea as to what needs to be done so they’re ready when the water opens up next this spring.

  You’ll want to wipe them down, and when you’re doing this, look them over closely.  On    your rods, you’ll need to check the guides and making sure, that they aren’t cracked and need replacing.

  Some of the guides may have a crack that’s you can’t see,  if you don’t find the cracked guide, the next time you go to throw a bait, that minute crack you didn’t detect may cut your line and the bait will be lost. Try running a Q-Tip over each guide and if some of the cotton stays in the guide, you’ll have to replace the guide or set it aside and go to another rod that you had preciously inspected.

  Many of the reels out there, when new, come with oil and instructions as to how to lube them. If needed lube the reel and make any adjustments that are required.

   It’s a good idea to loosen up the reels drag before putting it away. The drag on most reels is no more than two fiber washers that press against each other, creating friction, allowing line slippage when a big fish makes a run.

  If you store your reels with the drag tightened, and they are damp, the next time you go to use them, they may be froze up and not working and by loosening them up, they won’t be locked up the next time you go fishing. 

  On the reels I use most often, I’ll check my line, if I find any frays, nicks or weak spots. I’ll change the line on that reel, making sure that it’s done correctly, as winding line onto a spinning reel is done differently than line wound onto a baitcasting reel.

  On spinning reels, lay the spool on the floor with the label facing up, run the line through the last guide and tie it onto your spool with a good knot such as the arbor knot. Hold onto the line, while you are spooling up, applying a slight amount of tension. Begin reeling, if you have wraps or twisted line, turn the spool over and begin reeling again. You’ll want to check from time to time to assure the line is going on strait and not twisting. Continue filling your spool until there’s only about 1/8″ left on the reel spool. [Read more…]

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The Poinsett Experience, A Proud Community, excellent Fishing, honoring Veterans and making Friends By Gary Howey

  On this trip, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre and I had our sights set on Lake Poinsett, near Estelline, South Dakota.

   We had made good time, as the 80 M.P.H. speed limits on I-29 allowed us to put the miles behind us quickly. 

  Growing up in Watertown, my grandparents had helped me cut my teeth on perch fishing on the lake, but a short drive south of home.

  This was the lake where My Grandpa Menkveld taught me how to catch perch; he had given us a dozen minnows and wished us good luck.

  As we plodded along the beach five-gallon bucket in hand with a few minnows, he mumbled something under his breath about not helping clean those tiny fish unless we had a mess of them. He thought he’d figured out, thinking he’d given us so little bait we wouldn’t catch many perch.

  Grandpa was at that age where he said many things while teaching us some of the tricks of the trade, like using the eyes of the first fish we caught for bait, allowing us to fill our bucket before even getting close to using all our bait.

  It was many years ago, but that was my first Poinsett experience and I had forgotten much about the city itself and many things have change in the years since I was on Poinsett.

We were to meet Estelline’s Mayor Don Zafft around noon, and as we came into town at 11:00, we hoped that the town was ready for us.

  We met the Mayor, Don at the city offices, and it didn’t take me long to realize that we would get along just fine as the back window of his pickup thanking Viet Nam Vets.  I thanked him for his service and we discovered we knew many of the same people, those I’ve spent time in South Dakota hunting, high school classmates and a salesperson who worked with my Dad at Sharpe Chevrolet.

    We did a quick tour of the town visiting, their school, football field, their incredible Veteran’s Memorial and the beautiful landscaping, the waterfall, pond and gazebo at their nursing home.

 We finished our filming in Estelline and headed for Dakota Ringneck Lodge, www.dakringneck.com a hunting preserve with 4,000 acres of prime South Dakota hunting ground. This beautiful Lodge, where we’d be headquarters for the next two days, is situated on a hill within sight of the lake with the interior decorated the way any person who’s into the outdoors would love to have it as the interior from all over the United States and Canada.

  Just as we finished stowing our gear, our guide, Jarrod Fredricks, of South Dakota Guided Fishing, pulled into the parking lot and we quickly loaded our gear and made the short drive to the boat launch. [Read more…]

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Going Back to Prehistoric Times, In Search of the Paddlefish By Gary Howey

  I’d been waiting for this moment for several years and it had finally arrived, after applying for and being unsuccessful in the past, this year, would be my year, as I was successful in this year’s drawing for a Nebraska paddlefish snagging tag!

  Over the years, my daughter one of our Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Mieke Howey Slaba from Wagner, South Dakota had both drawn tags, but not this year as I had mine and Mieke didn’t.

  Our other Team members and I planned on meeting at the Nebraska boat ramp just below Gavin’s Point Dam. Once again, the weatherman had tricked us into believing we’d have a warm sunny day to do some Paddlefish snagging.

  When we arrived at Gavin’s Point Dam that morning, it was misting, wind from the northwest with no sun in sight.

  Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members Marlyn Wiebelhaus, Wiebelhaus Guide Service would run the boat, Larry Myhre on the camera with me doing the snagging.

  The Paddlefish season was in high gear as could be seen by the number of anglers on the shore and in boats who were equipped with long heavy rods, big reels capable of holding huge quantities of heavy line were chucking 4 ounce lead weights and 2/0 treble hooks.

   South Dakota state record, a 127-pound, 9-ounce fish came from Ft. Randall, In Nebraska, and the record came from the tail waters behind Gavin’s Point Dam, and it weighed 113 pounds 4 ounce fish.

  They are found in the Yangtze River and its tributaries in China and in the U.S. the Missouri River and its tributaries.

  Paddlefish, with their torpedo like shape and their powerful tail, are able to move through the water quickly.

They are a prehistoric looking fish; have no bones in their body, ONLY one long cartilage running along their back from the head to their tail.

  My first fish, a short one, came as Marlyn maneuvered the boat around the other boats in the stilling basin, as I brought the small fish to the boat, I noticed it had no bill, and said, “It must have lost it going through the turbine side of the dam.”

  As Marlyn lifted the fish in the boat, he commented, “it’s a tagged fish” and as I held the small fish up, Marlyn jotted down the tag number before I released it back into the water.

  Bringing even a small paddlefish like this one to the boat can be tough,  especially if hooked in the back or tail, as you’re not only are you fighting this powerful fish, you are also fighting their huge gills that flair out, filling with water.

   We caught several more fish in the stilling basin, but as it started to get crowded, Marlyn fired up the big motor and moved down stream, to an area where there were no boats

  It didn’t take long for me to hook into another fish, and the way it was taking line, I knew it wasn’t the size of those I’d taken earlier. The fish peeled the line off the reel as I reared back and cranked on the reel handle, trying to gain back some of the line I’d lost earlier. Slowly but surely, I was gaining on the fish and as he popped to the surface all of us in the boat knew this one would be a slot fish. A slot fish is one that measures between 35″ to 45″ between the front of the eye to the fork of the tail and is a fish, which has to be released. [Read more…]