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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…]

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Big Stone Lake’s panfishing secret exposed By Larry Myhre

ORTONVILLE, Minn. | Big Stone Lake is a 26-mile long fish factory. Long known for its excellent walleye fishing, and in the past few years an exploding perch population, few anglers are aware of the excellent fishing for other species.

Take panfish, for instance.

When Artie Arndt, owner of Artie’s Bait and Tackle, told me that 10-inch bluegills were common here, I admit to being skeptical.

Turns out the first ‘gill we caught was taken by his son Tanner and it measured 11 1/2-inches. And that was right in front of the public docks and boat ramp right in town at the south end of the lake.

“Kids fish from the docks here and catch them all the time,” Artie said. [Read more…]

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PANFISH ON THE ROCKS ON BIG STONE By Gary Howey

Ortonville, MN. It was not long ago, when I made the remark, “bobber fishing is not one of my favorite ways to catch fish”, but that all changed last week. On that day, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member, Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. and I would meet Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait Shop, Ortonville, Minnesota to do some bobber fishing.
We were on Big Stone Lake; a twenty-six mile body of water located in northeastern South Dakota along the border with Minnesota is an excellent lake for walleye fishing and for its perch bite.
On this trip, it would not be the walleye or the perch we were after, as we were looking for panfish, crappies and bluegill.
The first afternoon, we launched from the public access near the rearing ponds where many of the bluegill we were after had started out as fingerlings.
With the wind picking up, we made our way across the lake, heading for some of the more protected bays behind the many islands on Big Stone.
As we approached one of the calmer bays, a pair of Canada geese greeted us, let us know we were trespassing on their territory, while several white pelicans perching on the rocks, paid little or no attention to our boat.
Both anchors were deployed as we begin to probe the shallow waters of the bay. We were anchored off one of the numerous islands in the lake, where the panfish, the crappies and bluegill had recently moved into in preparation of the spawn. As I was taking it all in, all that was around me, I gazed across the bay at the islands, its rock-strewn shoreline and the clear water. Glancing back at my bobber, it darted off to the right disappearing into the wave; taking up the slack line, I reared back on the rod, expecting to see a small panfish come flying out of the shallow water. [Read more…]

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Early Season Bass By Gary Howey

This is the time of the year when many anglers develop tunnel vision, thinking only of walleyes and fishing on the bigger water!
When you do this, it means that you are missing some of the finest early season fishing.
Many of these anglers will be running great distances when some of the best fishing available may be right in their own backyard for bass.
In the upper Midwest, there are excellent populations of both Small and Largemouth bass and right now is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.
Both are found throughout the upper Midwest, in Missouri River in Lewis & Clark Lake up stream into Lake Oahe. In South Dakota, you will find excellent bass fishing in most lakes including on Reetz Lake, Roy Lake, Big Stone and Enemy Swim.
Most dams, ponds, farm & stock dams, lakes and reservoirs also contain cacheable populations of Largemouth bass.
During this time of the year, bass will have moved off into deeper water to rest up from the rigors of the spawn. As the water temperatures begin to warm, they will become more active.
As water temperature moves into the low 70’s, the bass will start to feed aggressively.
Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water and then moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.
In the river and areas with current, you will find bass throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover.
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 species of bass can be taken on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs. [Read more…]