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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…]

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Drifting for Cats on the Missouri River By Gary Howey

  The Blue catfish, one of the largest catfish in North America, and aren’t caught on rod and reel often, but one Midwesterner, from South Dakota has it figured out.

  Pat Carter of Elk Point, South Dakota, director of the Cat Attack tournaments has been catching these elusive Blue catfish on the Missouri River on a regular basis.

  During his Sioux City tournaments, contestants from Kansas and other states had used the drifting or slipping method t tale some big Blues and he had perfected the presentation to be able to cat Blues on most of his trips on the river.

  Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Larry Myhre and I had an opportunity to spend some time on the river with him a few weeks ago and the method he uses isn’t what we would call a traditional method for catching catfish.

  Fishing in the current associated with the Missouri River is different from fishing in the smaller rivers catfish are known to haunt. Some anglers anchor above the deeper holes using sliding sinkers with hooks baited with live or cutbait, waiting for the catfish to come to them.

  Not Carter as he drifts for them, keeping his boat at the right angle, allowing his partners and him slowly drift or slip along with the current, keeping their baits running right along the bottom. [Read more…]

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Drifting for Cats on the Missouri River By Gary Howey

  The Blue catfish, one of the largest catfish in North America aren’t often caught on rod and reel, but one Midwesterner, from South Dakota has it figured out.

  Pat Carter of Elk Point, South Dakota, director of the Cat Attack tournaments has been catching these elusive Blue catfish on the Missouri River on a regular basis.

  During his Sioux City tournaments, contestants from Kansas and other states had used the drifting or slipping method to take some big Blues and he had perfected the presentation to be able to catch these big catfish on most of his trips on the river.

  Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Larry Myhre and I had an opportunity to spend some time on the river with him a few weeks ago and the method he uses isn’t what we would call a traditional method for catching catfish.

  Fishing in the current associated with the Missouri River is different from fishing in the smaller rivers catfish are known to haunt. Some anglers anchor above the deeper holes using sliding sinkers with hooks baited with live or cutbait, waiting for the catfish to come to them.

  Not Carter as he drifts for them, keeping his boat at the right angle, allowing his partners and him slowly drift or slip along with the current, keeping their baits running right along the bottom.

  His rigs consist of 60# braided line with a three-way swivel, a 20# dropper line with a 2 ounce sinker, a 4′ leader with an 8/O Kahle hook baited with Creek Chubs or Shad cutbait.

  As the boat drifts with the current, he slowly bounces the sinker on the dropper line on the bottom, win anticipation of the bite.

  Before meeting Larry and I at the boat dock near Sloan, Pat had gotten fresh shad and some Creek Chubs, allowing us to get our baits into the water shortly after launching the boat.

  Larry and I were both using circle hooks while Pat would use his Kahle hooks, as we they allowed us to pack a lot of cut bait and had good success hooking catfish on previous trips.

  Pat removed the bait, smelly Shad and Creek Chubs from his cooler, dicing them up into strips that we worked onto our hooks, packing the pieces on so tightly that the point of the hook verily protruded from the bait.

  The trip didn’t start out quickly as we drifted quite a ways south before Pat had his first bite, it wasn’t the bone jarring bite I’d expect from a big catfish, more like a pecking bite a smaller fish might do as it tried to pull pieces from the large hook.

  Whatever was doing it escaped without harm as when pat reared back to set the hook, the fish was gone.

  A half-hour after the first bite, Pat again had something pecking at his bait, he patiently waited for the fish to grab onto the bait and then set the hook hard.

  Immediately the fish took off, peeling his 60-pound line from the reel, charging hard towards the bottom and away from the boat.

 Pat, in no hurry, let the fish run, fighting it with his heavy rod, first on one side of the boat and then to the other. As his three way swivel came to the surface, I thought the fight was about over, the fish did not as it tore off more line, once again testing the drag on Pat’s reel. [Read more…]

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Big blue catfish call our river home By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Could it be that monster blue catfish are returning to the Siouxland section of the Missouri River?

A lot of anglers think so, and recent catches seem to indicate that is the case.

Consider that on a July afternoon in 2012, Steven “Cork” Lemmon and his nephew Terry Matheny fishing in a hole on the Big Sioux River in the area of the Stone State Park entrance put a South Dakota State record in the boat.

Lemmon’s fish weighed 99.4 pounds, erasing a record that had stood since 1967 when Bill Elliot of Vermillion, S.D., caught his 97-pound fish near the Clay County Boat Ramp on the Missouri. Lemmon’s big blue was released at the Sioux City Boat Ramp.

That same hole on the Big Sioux yielded a 71-pound blue for Matheny, and Lemmon added a 35-pounder. The anglers surmised that low water in the Sioux may have stranded the big fish on their way back to the Missouri.

While it is probable that our section of the river has held big blues for years, it does appear they are now being caught more often.

Darrel Carter of Elk Point, S.D., boated the Iowa state record in 1995 while fishing the Big Sioux River. That blue weighed 62 pounds and shattered the Iowa record of 44 pounds which had stood for many years. [Read more…]