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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.

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Small Ponds, Lakes & Weeds By Gary Howey

  If you fish some of the clearer lakes and ponds such as the Glacial Lakes in the Watertown, SD area and others found in in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa or smaller lakes and ponds in late spring and on into summer you’re going to have to deal with weeds.

  As temperatures rise and the sun’s power increases, these bodies of water will weed up in the first eight to ten foot from the shoreline a weedy mess.

  This makes for some tough fishing especially for the bank angler.  Using a simple rig such as the hook, line, sinker and a bobber doesn’t work if the shoreline is weed covered.
  The moss and emergent weed growth can make it impossible to fish from shore, but it’s a blessing for the newly hatched fingerlings as it gives the small fish a place to hide from predator fish such as bass, pike and walleye. 

  It doesn’t take much shoreline cover to give fingerlings a hiding place to keep from being eaten by the many larger species looking for their next meal. 

  Because the predator fish are cruising along and in between the weed lines, why shouldn’t we be fishing in or near them, but that’s easier said than done as nothing eats tackle like heavy weeds.

    There are ways, shore or bank anglers can fish these solid beds of vegetation and take Bluegill and bass. In all weed beds, there are some open areas where the weeds haven’t grown or they don’t come to the surface.  These open pockets may have a rock or sandy bottom where weeds haven’t been able to establish themselves.  These areas form an edge or a bottom change, as all fish and wildlife, like the edge.

  This gives the fish a place to retreat out of sight, a place to hide from any predators and a place for predators to ambush any smaller fish.

  By fishing these pockets, you’re able to pull the fish out of the weedy areas.  Surface lures imitating a frog or insects work well to entice the fish in these areas as do spinners and buzz baits when run over the top of the weeds and through the openings in the weeds.

   When using spinner baits you’ll want to cast your lure into the water past the pocket, hold your rod high and crank quickly in order to keep your bait from sinking into the weeds. Once you come to an open pocket, pause, allowing your bait to helicopter into the pocket and then crank hard to bring the bait back on top and over the top of the weeds.   Your strike should come as the bait helicopters into the pocket or when you start bringing it up out of the pocket.

   The worst thing you can do when fishing weeds is to work your bait too quickly.  All species of fish use their five senses to locate their prey, sight, sound, vibration, taste and hearing. You’ll have to remember when it comes to fishing in the weeds; the fish aren’t able to use all of their senses in heavy weed growth. Its vision and sense of vibration become impaired because of the thick weeds and it will take them longer to locate your bait, so work it as slow as possible. [Read more…]

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Setting the Hook The Key to Landing more Fish By Gary Howey

  It’s said that a definition of a fisherman is a jerk on one end of a line waiting for a jerk on the other end.

  You know there’s some truth to that statement!  If you don’t jerk or set the hook properly, you’re going to do a whole lot of jerking, not much catching and then feel like a jerk when you miss the fish.

  It’s happened to all of us, you feel a tug or a little extra weight on the end of your line and you instantly jerk back, which at times works out well!

  There can be quite a bit of difference when and how to set the hook and a lot of it depends on what you’re fishing for, what action rod you’re using and what type line you have on your reel.

  Let’s look at it from the fish’s point of view?  The fish is just lying on or near the bottom when along comes a tasty looking morsel, in this case a jig with a minnow. He  glides up to it, looks it over, decides it’s just what he’s looking for, flares his gills, sucking the bait in only to have it jerked out of the side of his mouth.

  What’s wrong with this picture?  Well to begin with the best place to hook a fish is in the top of the fish’s mouth, the boney part of its mouth, not in the side where there‘s very little bone and a whole lot of soft skin.

  So when you set the hook it’s best to pull straight up, because you have a better chance that your hook will penetrate the top of the mouth.  If you pull to the side, you’re more apt to pull the hook away from the fish or hook him in the soft tissue in the side of the mouth where it can easily pull out.

  If you’re using a live bait rig or jig and feel a fish pick up your bait, your best bet for a good hook set is to reel up the slack line eliminating any bow in your line.  Once you feel the weight of the fish on your line bring the rod tip straight up not side ways, forcing the hook into the top of the fish’s mouth.

The way you set the hook is extremely important with crappies as their mouth is paper thin on the side and a hook set to the side may result in the hook tearing through the side of the mouth.

  By reeling up the slack line, you’re removing the bow in your line, shortening the distance between the end of your rod and the hook, allowing you to drive your hook home with less effort.

  This is especially important if you’re using monofilament line because mono has a tremendous amount of stretch. In order to set the hook using mono, not only do you have to use enough force to penetrate the hard, bony top of the fish’s mouth, you also have to pull hard enough to make up for the stretch in the line.

  If you’re using one of the super lines like Fireline and Spider Wire, it’s a completely different story.

  To get the inside scoop on these super lines and how to fish them different, I contacted Berkley, the manufacturers of both Fireline and Spider Wire.

According to the folks at Berkley, “you’re going to have to fish super lines differently than you will mono since super lines have no stretch.

  If you fish Fireline or Spider Wire the same way you fish mono, you’re going to end up pulling the bait away from or tear it out of the fish’s mouth.”

  For walleye fishing, they recommend a rod with a fast, limber tip as this takes the place of the stretch in the mono, giving you a little give when you set the hook.

 

  When fishing for Bass, Pike and Muskie, you’re going to want to go to a moderate action rod which not only gives you a little give when you set the hook into these hard hitting, hard charging fish. The heavier rod will have enough backbone to drive the hook home and be able to bring them to the boat.

  This is especially true in current as you need to be quick with your hook set, but not so quick that you rip the bait from the fish.”

  If you’re fishing super lines in shallow water, it’s a good idea to go with a Medium Light rod.  In medium depths a Medium rods will work well and when you’re fishing water deeper than 25”, he’d recommend using a Medium Heavy rod.

  With super lines, you let the rod set the hook and that’s why a quicker tip rod works well.

The main thing you need to remember to become a more consistent catcher and not a jerker is to make sure that you reel up all the slack line once you feel a bite, that bring your rod tip straight up, driving the hook into the top of the fish’s mouth.

  If you set your hook to the side, more times than not, you’ll pull the bait away from the fish or tear the hook through the soft tissue on the side of the fish’s mouth.

  By keeping a tight line, you’re going to detect more bites and by setting the hook by bringing your rod straight up, you won’t believe how much your fish hooking ability will improve.

 

 

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Eight lures you should fish, but may not By Larry MYHRE

Every angler is looking for the next hot bait. And when they find it, they buy it. And that is good. However, there are some baits that were hot yesteryear, are hot today and will be hot tomorrow.

So why do we tend to forget them?

I think part of the reason is that our bait choices are so high today that just trying to pick out a plastic worm, for instance, becomes an exercise wrapped up in futility. Four-inch, six-inch, seven-inch, or bigger? Three hundred and fifty different colors, 10 different flavors (scented or unscented). Flat tail or curly tail or double curly tail. Ribbed or not ribbed. And on and on. The original plastic worm was six inches long and offered in black or purple. It caught fish like crazy and still does. Things were so much simpler 40 years ago.

We’re going to discuss eight lures that have stood the test of time. They are fish-catching machines, yet they seem to get lost in the hubbub of Madison Avenue fishing advertising.

Let’s start with the Rapala Original Floater minnow. Eighty years ago, Lauri Rapala, a Finnish commercial fisherman, carved the first lure that became known as the Rapala minnow.

In 1959 the lure was brought to America. It became an overnight phenomenon. This balsa lure dives a couple of feet and has an action fish can’t resist. Few fishermen in the Upper Midwest use this lure consistently. They may have a box full of number 7 Shap Raps, another Rapala lure, but the Original Floater, if they have one, isn’t fished much.

Next spring, pull it behind a bottom bouncer and see what happens.

If you fish for northern pike, a Dardevle spoon is an absolute must. I would guess more northerns have been caught on this lure than any other presentation. While it comes in a lot of colors, the familiar red and white spoon is really the only color you need.

There are some secrets to fishing a Dardevle spoon effectively. First, you should use a snap to attach the lure so it has the freedom to make that side-to-side wobbling action. Secondly, mix up your retrieve. A stop and go retrieve and rod twiches will give it an erratic, darting action that gamefish can’t resist.

Yes, I said gamefish. The Dardevle catches more than just northerns. Use it in smaller sizes for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, crappies and trout.

This lure was created in 1906 by Lou Eppinger. It’s probably the most recognizable fishing lure out there. It deserves a spot in your tackle box.

Let’s look at another spoon. The Dardevle doesn’t do well in heavy weeds or woody cover. Its single treble hook will snag up. Not so, the Johnson Silver Minnow. This lure, with its single hook soldered to the back of the spoon, is protected by a weed guard. You can make long casts with this lure and cover lots of water.

While the Silver Minnow will catch fish when fished plain, I like to hang a “trailer” on the hook. A plastic worm, curly tail or double curly tail or a plastic frog will often give the lure more “fish appeal.” I used to always use a pork trailer on this lure, but I think the pork rinds have gone the way of the dodo bird.

[Read more…]

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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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Best fishing of year is right now By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

We are currently on the threshold of the best fishing of the year.

I love the fall months, September, October, November. No, I could care less about the football season, even hunting plays second fiddle. Fishing is where it is at for me, and the catching just gets better right up until the lakes freeze over and the mighty Missouri begins running ice.

It never ceases to amaze me how popular fishing has become and how much money the average angler throws into his sport in the purchase of boats, electronics, tow vehicles and gear. Yet come September, only the die-hard anglers remain on the water.

That’s another reason why I like fall fishing. It can get lonely out there. And that’s just the way I like it. And so, too, do trophy walleyes and bass.

Launch off any of the most popular boat ramps on the Missouri River reservoirs in the middle of any week all summer long and you have to ask yourself, “Doesn’t anybody work any more?”

On the popular walleye spots you can count 20 to 30 boats in view at any time. And don’t even think of the weekends.

But from now until freeze up you’ll find plenty of room to park your trailer.

There are a couple of reasons fishing for any species is so much better in the fall. One is that water temperatures are cooling and approaching the fish’s comfort level. Temperatures above a fish’s preferred temperature put them under stress. Stressed fish are less active and not as aggressive. Colder temperatures than their preference does not put them under stress. Being cold-blooded creatures, their activity slows, but they are not stressed.

Females of all game species begin developing eggs in the fall. They instinctively know they must eat a lot to store fat to see them through the less active periods of cold water. So, they are willing to bite your lures. [Read more…]

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Plastic worms shine in hot weather bassin’ By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

When it comes to hot weather bass fishing, my thoughts turn to plastic worms.

The simple 6- or 7-inch plastic worm is often the most effective presentation in warm-water fishing.

Like most things in successful fishing, simplicity is often best. And, the plastic worm presentation is simple — basically it is a hook, line and sinker.

I’ll never forget the first time I used a plastic worm for bass fishing. It was on a farm pond north of Sioux City. I’d been reading about plastic worms being used by southern bass tournament fishermen, but the type of baits they were using were not available up here right away. Then the Creme Company began marketing worms in Siouxland. I picked up a bag of six, six inches long in purple color.

I rigged Texas style. More about that later.

Those six worms lasted only one evening of fishing. The bass simply tore them apart. I had never used a lure which was more effective.

Frankly, that was a long time ago. And you know something? My mind hasn’t changed. A plastic worm is the best overall bait you can use in the summertime for largemouth bass.

There are lots of ways of rigging worms. Let’s look at some of them.

One of my favorite rigs is the jig worm. Back in the days when my late friend Bob Brown kept a trailer at Pequot Lakes in north central Minnesota, that was the only presentation we used for largemouth. [Read more…]

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Kramper Lake offers great fishing promise By Larry Myhre

 

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

HUBBARD, Neb. | The tiny red and white bobber tipped over on its side and then zoomed under the water as yet another bluegill inhaled my 1/64th-ounce jig.

“I just love the way bluegills fight,” I told my boat partner, Gary Howey of Hartington, Neb., “If they weighed six pounds I don’t think you would ever land one.”

This little guy was exhibiting the trademark fight of his kind. Bluegills turn their broad sides to the pressure of the line and somehow swim in tight circles which can test the mettle of your 4-pound-test line.

We were fishing Kramper Lake, the centerpiece of the new Danish Alps State Recreation Area just a mile or so southeast of Hubbard, Neb.

The lake opened to fishing last July after heavy rains the previous year filled the 226-acre reservoir. The lake was first stocked in 2012 and has had two more stockings since then.

Well-stocked with bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye and channel catfish, the lake is tucked into over 500 acres of parkland featuring more than 70 gravel pads for RVs and 22 tent-camping sites. Camp sites are complete with 30 and 50 amp electricity hookups, water, shower houses and equestrian facilities. A picnic table and fire ring is located at each campsite.

Our boat was tied up to one of the many trees which line the now submerged Jones Creek. Although many of the trees are in over 30 feet of water, we were taking bluegills within a foot or two of the surface. Sunken trees attract most gamefish, including walleyes. We were told that a 17-inch walleye had been caught on a crankbait in the trees the week before.

The trees are only part of the ample structure built into the lake. Before it filled, several brush piles, shoals, rock piles, reefs and other structures were installed. Coordinates are provided in a brochure which will enable anglers to find them with their GPS units.

All things considered, this could be one of the best small-reservoir fishing sites anywhere.

We had begun the day working the weedline looking for bluegills, largemouth and crappies. [Read more…]

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In the Weeds and Wood for Bass By Gary Howey

It’s the time of the year, when many anglers develop tunnel vision. It’s when some anglers go after just one species of fish and head for bigger waters. 

  When tunnel vision is developed, it means you’re missing some of the finest early season fishing.

  Many of these anglers are going to be running great distances driving right by some of the best fishing available may be right in their own backyard for bass.

  In the upper Midwest and especially in our area there are excellent populations of bass, both small and largemouth and this is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.

  Small and largemouth bass are found throughout the Missouri River system up stream into Lake Oahe.

  Most ponds, farm and stock dams, lakes and reservoirs throughout the Midwest also have cacheable populations of largemouth bass.

  During this time of the year, bass are located in deeper water to rest up from the rigors of the spawn. As the water temperatures begin to warm, they’ll become more active.

  As water temperature moves into the low 70’s, bass will start to feed aggressively.

  Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water, moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.

 In the Missouri river and areas with current, you’ll find bass throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover and in areas with warmer water such as deeper bays.

  Anything that cuts or slows down the current, which are known as slack water pockets, is likely to be a good hiding spots for the bass.

  Points, rock piles pockets in the weeds and down timber, all cut the current and make excellent locations to look for bass in the river.

  Both large and smallmouth bass can be taken on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs. [Read more…]

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Pre-spawn bass fishing best of year By By Larry Myhre

I watched the big single spin spinnerbait coming through the shallow water of the upper reaches of the Iowa farm pond. The big Colorado blade was pulsing and sending out flashes of chartreuse as the colored blade pumped through the scattered stick-ups and emerging weeds.

Suddenly the shallow water boiled with the strike of a big largemouth and I saw the broad side of the fish as he turned, the spinnerbait hanging from his mouth.

I lunged back hard on the rod, and felt the weight of the four-pound fish. As the brawling bucketmouth continued his powerful lunge, the rod bowed, and my forearm began feeling the pressure. I was glad I had spooled the casting reel with 15-pound-test line.

My drag was screwed down tight, so there was no give. You don’t give line to largemouths in shallow water. It’s a tug of war, no holds barred. The fish turned and began running broadside, the line picking up trash from the water and accentuating the pressure.

If you are going to land these fish, you have to be in control. I lifted the heavy tip of the medium heavy rod and pulled the bass’s head out of the water, and began cranking it in like a water skier behind a boat.

It lunged between my wader-covered legs but I pulled back and grabbed its lower lip and hoisted the fish from its watery sanctuary.

With a quick twist I pulled the hook out and admired the heavy, egg-laden female. I put her back into the water and sent her on her way. In a couple of weeks, she’d build a nest, lay her eggs and pass on her genes to the next generation of bass.

My favorite time to fish largemouth bass is right now. Early spring, pre-spawn.

In our local area, my first choice for location would be a farm pond. As we move farther north, the choice would be glacial lakes in both South Dakota and Minnesota.

Farther west would be farm ponds in Nebraska and South Dakota, but small lake impoundments such as Buckskin Hills and Powder Creek should not be overlooked either. Neither should Iowa’s county conservation board lakes.

When you come right down to it, most of the waters in our three states contain largemouth bass. So, they are a gamefish that is available to just about everybody.

There are a few guidelines to remember when pursuing early largemouth bass. One, think shallow water. Two, think warm sunny days. Three, fish like you are trying to bag a trophy whitetail buck. In other words, quietly, carefully and keep out of sight.

When fishing from the shoreline, I learned long ago not to go “clump,” “clump,” “clump” down the shoreline with heavy steps. Just the sound of your footsteps will send every fish in front of you into deeper water.

I wear hip waders when fishing from shore because much of the time I am on my hands and knees, and you just stay drier. When I get close to the pond, I drop down to my hands and knees and carefully work my way to within 30 feet or so of the water. Then I make my first cast. As I fan cast the area in front, I begin easing closer and closer until I am kneeling at the water’s edge. Then my casts parallel the shoreline on both sides of me, with the casts, depending on the water’s depth, no more than 10 feet off the shoreline. If I’m in the shallow, upper end of the pond, I’ll fan cast all the way across because all of the water there will be shallow.

There is really no “best bait” for this early fishing. Usually you want to cover a lot of water and that is done best with a spinner bait. In recent years I’ve begun using a chatter bait quite a bit. These are very effective lures and, like a spinnerbait, relatively weedless. [Read more…]