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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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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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Whiskered Wonders-Channel Catfish By Gary Howey

 

Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to tangle with a big catfish knows how powerful a big cat is.

  They’re not the prettiest fish in the water, but they are plentiful, fun to catch and great eating.

Cats are bottom-hugging creatures, spending most of their time either on the bottom or close to it.  Their eyesight is not very good, so they depend on their sense of smell and taste to find their food.  The barbells protruding from their upper lip are covered with taste receptors, as are their lips, helping catfish to locate a meal.

In the upper Midwest, you’ll find three species of catfish: the Channel, Blue and the Flathead.

In this column, we’re going to be talking about the Channel catfish.

Channel catfish are the most abundant fish species in our area and are found in most rivers, ponds, small lakes and reservoirs.

You’ll find them below the dam at Gavin’s Point and throughout the Missouri River system.  Look for channel catfish in deeper holes below the spillway, behind the rubble below the turbines and in snag-infested areas adjacent to deeper water.

They’re opportunists when it comes to what they eat; feeding on just about anything, they can get their mouth around.

I hold two line-class world records for Channel Catfish, which were taken on cutbait, which is no more than a piece of flesh cut from a Sucker and Goldeye. If you are going to use cutbait, be sure to leave the skin as this makes it harder for the fish to pull from the hook and with the skin attached, the bait will stay on your hook longer

 They will also take worms, Bluegills, Bullheads, Shad entrails, chicken or turkey liver, stink baits and about anything else, you throw at them. [Read more…]

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It’s High Water on the Red For Catfish By Gary Howey

Grand Forks, N.D. The water in the Red River was up, up a lot, up thirteen feet with debris, branches, logs and even entire trees, floating by as they headed north towards Canada.

The Red River begins its journey north where the Bois de Sioux and the Otter Trail rivers flow between Minnesota and North Dakota flowing northward through the Red River Valley into Manitoba Canada.

Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. our guide Brad Durick and I found ourselves anchored just above one of Brad’s favorite catfish holes.

Brad, a guide specializing in fishing for channel catfish on the Red of the North, he is the author of the 2013 book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code” and a nationally recognized educator and outdoor writer.

On this trip, we were after channel catfish, which have poor eyesight, but a tremendous sense of smell as they have receptors in, along the outside of their lips and on the barbells protruding from either side of their month. Catfish use these receptors to follow the scent coming down river, helping them to locate their meals, even in the muddiest of waters. When you are fishing for channel catfish, you had better use bait that is oily and smelly the better if you want to entice these bottom dwellers into biting. We were using chubs and goldeye for cutbait, both oily fish and when cut into inch and a half to two-inch pieces, they leave a scent trail, which is easy for the fish to follow. [Read more…]

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Red River Channel cats on the bite By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. | It was the Mother of All Cold Fronts that swept through Grand Forks, N.D., and other parts north a couple of weeks ago.

“The river is up about 13 feet from where it was a week ago,” Brad Durick told me over his cell phone. He was on the Red River with noted outdoor photographer Bill Lindner and staff, doing product still and video filming.

Gary Howey and I were pounding down the interstate on our way to Grand Forks after flying out of Ontario’s Carroll Lake. We were to fish with Brad the next day.

We had battled the effects of that cold front for the past week, all the way from Lake of the Woods to the Ontario fly-in. For the next few days the sun would be shining and we hoped the catfish, for which the Red River is noted, would be in a biting mood the next day.

As it turned out, they were.

The tip of Brad’s Rippin Lips catfish rod took a heavy dive and stayed down while the Rippin Lips 8/0 circle hook did its work. I picked up the rod and began battle with the channel cat.

It was a 10-pounder and like all his brothers, he fought to the end before we finally got him in the net.

“That cold front dropped the water temperature several degrees,” Brad said, “and that slowed the fishing. It was really great before.”

But the fishing was bouncing back and the next rod dipped with the bite of a 4-pounder.

Durick is widely known throughout the cat-fishing world. He is now a full-time cat-fishing guide on the Red and also can arrange trips on North Dakota’s Devils Lake. He is also a nationally recognized fishing educator and outdoor writer. He is the author of the 2013 self-published book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code.”

Prior to the cold front, the Red was running very low. The area had received little snow so there was no runoff, kind of unusual for this area.

In fact, in 2011 the river was at near flood stage the entire year. Now, with the river running 13 feet higher than earlier this year, Brad says the level is just right for good cat fishing.

“We just need it to warm up a bit,” Durick, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, said.

We had launched Brad’s 19-foot G3 aluminum boat at the Grand Forks boat ramp and headed downstream, which is north on this side of the divide. We hadn’t run very far before Brad pulled above a river hole just off the main current and dropped his Cat River anchor (made in rural Hinton, Iowa, by the way) over the side.

With all three of us licensed to fish, we could put out two rods each. Each rod was rigged with 30-pound test mono on Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reels. A no roll, 2-ounce sinker rode above a swivel and a 2-foot leader of mono ran to the hook. The rigs were baited with cut sucker pieces. [Read more…]

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Late Spring Fishing By Gary Howey

Late spring is the time of year when fish become active and aggressive, since they’re cold-blooded, warmer water means more activity and more activity requires more food.

The walleye will be on the move, cruising, looking for a meal, so you’ll need to make some changes from the way you fished during the cold-water period.

This is the time of year when you’ll be able to speed up your presentation. You’ll still use many of the same lures, but you’ll fish them a little faster.

If you’re using a jig, you’ll want to speed up your retrieve, jig a little more aggressively, drift the boat a little quicker or use your trolling motor to move the bait a bit quicker.

When using a live bait rig, this is a good time to switch from your minnow rig to a crawler rig. [Read more…]

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Red River catfish guide talks catfishing By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Mention Red River of the North to any fisherman in Siouxland and visions of big channel catfish will begin dancing in their minds.

There is no place on earth that produces the number of big channel catfish than does the Red.

It’s a 545-mile-long river that is born from water spilling out of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers near Beckenridge, Minn. It flows north, forming the border between North Dakota and Minnesota before flowing into Manitoba on its way to Lake Winnipeg.

Brad Durick has guided on the Red for the past eight years, working out of Grand Forks. Currently, Durick has turned to full-time guiding, writing and educating catfish anglers.

“Catfishing on the Red should start about May 1 this year,” Durick said. “Of course if we get another weeklong cold front that sees highs in the 40s, that goes right out the window. Of course catfish bite right after the ice comes off and there are guys catching them right now, but I don’t get too excited until the water temperature hits 48 degrees. When it gets into the mid 50s, I really start getting excited.”

Durick was on hand for last week’s Fish Fest hosted by the Sioux City Scheels All Sports store at the Southern Hills Mall.

“We’re going to have very low water conditions this year,” he said. “There will be no flood this year or the threat of one.

“I would not say that low water makes fishing tough,” he continued. “It just makes it different from what you are used to. You fish more in the channel of the river than you do when dealing with high water. The fish will be working the current seams just as they do in high water, but it will be more toward the middle of the river.” [Read more…]