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Late fall is prime time for big smallies by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WEBSTER, S.D. — When those big old cottonwoods begin shedding their bright yellow leaves, there awakens in me an almost uncontrollable desire to be on the water.

            And not just any water.

            No, I begin to dream of lakes harboring strong populations of those big ole brown fish. And if you don’t do Southern speak, let me interpret for you. We are talking about smallmouth bass.

            In my book, the smallmouth bass is the fightingest freshwater fish that swims.

            And the best time to take numbers of huge smallies, sometimes in areas no bigger than your average living room, is right now till freeze up.

            That’s why I called my brother Dean, who lives on a farmstead near Worthing, S.D., and asked if he wanted to chase big smallies on a couple of northeastern South Dakota lakes. It was, of course, a question that needed no answer.

            Fast forward a few days. We had been fishing maybe five minutes when Dean’s seven foot spinning rod bent over and began to pulse with the thrust of a good fish.

            “Got one,” Dean muttered to no one in particular, and I began digging for the landing net. It’s a fold up style and takes a little bit to get unlimbered and ready for action.

            “Should have gotten this ready before we began fishing,” I said as I opened the mesh and began pushing buttons and sliding the handle back and forth.

            I got the thing together just as the three-and-a-half pound smallie surfaced alongside the boat. I dipped him up and placed the net in the boat at Dean’s feet. [Read more…]

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Jumbo bluegills seek deep water in summer By Larry Myhre

When fishermen think of bluegills, their thoughts turn to weed beds.

“That’s where they are right now, right?”

Well, if you are happy with small to mid-size ‘gills, you’re right. But if it is those dinner plate-sized jumbos you want, that answer is wrong.

Big bluegills, and I’m talking those nine, 10 or bigger-sized hogs, are not found in the weeds during the dog days of summer. No, those giant, ultra-light-tackle-busting monsters are found in deep water in glacial lakes all across the upper Midwest.

I guess we should get a little more specific right now, especially when we are talking about lakes. Good bluegill lakes are a lot like good walleye lakes. Lots of deep water, lots of sunken islands and bars, long tapering points and some black bottom bays. If your lake doesn’t fit that description, thick weed beds might be your best option.

I first ran across deep water ‘gills on Lake Vermillion, that big jewel of a lake located on the Precambrian shield of northeast Minnesota. It’s not exactly the kind of lake we’re talking about here, but the big bluegills leave the bays and get on structure in the summertime. Back in the mid ’70s it didn’t have a very strong bluegill population. That has since changed, however.

I was probing the deep bars and sunken islands looking for smallmouth bass using 1/16-ounce marabou jigs.

There was a tiny rock bar about 12 feet down, not much bigger than the average-size living room. I found it by accident since it was not on the map, but my flasher found it. It topped out at 12 feet and when the first fish came in I was really surprised. It was a big bluegill. I caught and released several of them off that small bar each day thereafter.

It was food for thought, but being a little thick-headed, I didn’t put two and two together.

A couple years later I was fishing Lake Wapogasset near Amery, Wisconsin. It was a walleye factory in those days and I found them easy pickings during the seven days I fished there. There’s a major point, so broad it is almost a flat in the southeast corner of the lake. Walleyes were thick all along the weed line. [Read more…]

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South Dakota smallmouth don’t disappoint By Larry Myhre

When October rolls around, my thoughts turn to smallmouth bass.
So, I called my brother, Dean who lives at the family farm home near Worthing, S.D.
“The smallies should be in their winter pattern,” I said. “That means deep and grouped up.”
He was ready, and didn’t even ask where we were going.
Enemy Swim Lake just 14 1/2 miles northeast of Webster, S.D., was my first choice, but just about every lake up there boasts good populations of big, brown bass.
“I’ll reserve us a couple of rooms and pick you up about 9 a.m.,” I said. “That will give us plenty of time to see if the bass will cooperate that afternoon.”
There are lots of ways to fish for smallmouth grouped up in their winter habitats, but I prefer live bait.

[Read more…]