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Dove hunting season opens September 1st by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Sept. 1, is the opening day of dove season throughout our three-state area. While there will be many hunters in the field this evening, the big push will not come until the weekend.

I’ve hunted doves for years, mostly in Nebraska and South Dakota, long before Iowa had a season. I’ve enjoyed every hunt, and doves, when prepared correctly, can be mighty good eating.

If dove hunting is a new experience for you, and for many Iowans it will be even though we have had a season for a few years now, I’ll try to get you started.

There are numerous ways to hunt doves. The way I really prefer to do it is to set up at a farm pond to await the evening flight. It is, however, important to pick the right pond. Doves like to fly in, settle on a mud bank and walk down to the water to take a drink. So it is important that you pick a pond with good mud banks at least on one side.

Doves roost in trees at night, so a pond near some timber where doves roost can make one pond fit the “super” category and another just “average.”

This is where scouting comes into play. Just like any other hunting, you want to set up where the game is. It helps to get out and drive around looking for good places to set up. Take a pair of binoculars because they can help you spot doves.

Most landowners will let you hunt doves, but explain your tactics to them so they know what to expect.

Iowa has lots of public shooting areas that have good flights of doves, especially those that have food plots planted for doves. Go to the Iowa DNR website and click on the banner dove picture to find the listings.

South Dakota has over a million acres of “Walk-In” land in addition to a great many other public lands that you can hunt. Nebraska does too. Go to their websites to get all the information. [Read more…]

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Farm ponds offer bass, bluegill action By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
HARTINGTON, Neb. | One thing I like about farm pond fishing is that ponds are generally loaded with fish.
And the one Gary Howey and I were fishing just southwest of town was proving that it was no exception.
When it comes to bluegill fishing in ponds, there is no more effective method than using a fly rod. And I was proving that fact today. Seven-inch bluegills were taken on practically every cast.
The tiny black ant that I designed for bluegill fishing more than 40 years ago had not lost its charm. While the ‘gills weren’t monsters, they were giving a good account of themselves on my light tackle.

Howey, meanwhile, was casting a spinnerbait for bass. He had caught and released three before I decided to tie on a bass fly. I chose a black wooly bugger in size 6. The black marabou tail behind the black chenille body made the fly nearly 2 inches long.

Wouldn’t you know it: The first cast produced a nearly 2-pound largemouth. After several airborne leaps I brought the bass to hand and then released it.
We weren’t keeping any fish, but if we were, we still would have released the bass. Bluegills, on the other hand, would have been fair game. They are very prolific, and if there are not enough bass in the pond to keep their numbers down, they will overpopulate and become stunted.

If that happens, any largemouth still in the pond will find it difficult to bring off a spawn. The tiny ‘gills will attack the nest in an effort to eat the eggs, and the male guarding the nest doesn’t stand a chance against hundreds of hungry mouths.

In fact, the old rule of removing 10 pounds of bluegills for every pound of bass from a farm pond is still pretty good advice.
I’m not sure how many farm ponds there are in Nebraska, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there are about 110,000 in Iowa providing about 1.6 million fishing trips annually. The local economic impact is estimated at $7.5 million.

That’s pretty good considering farm ponds are on private property and the angler must get permission to fish from the landowner.

Farm ponds also produce big fish. [Read more…]

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West River stock dams yield big bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

PIERRE, S.D. | The prairie swept away to the west like an endless sea of waving grass. It was shortly after dawn and antelope and deer scampered away from our vehicles as Gary Howey and Steve Nelson guided their trucks down the gravel roadway.

We were on our way to fish one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of stock dams which dot these grasslands. The ponds are built to provide water for cattle, an industry which anchors the incomes of most who live in this region.

Steve Nelson, Pierre, S.D., has been a friend of mine since we attended the University of South Dakota a generation ago. After graduation, our paths went separate ways until we made contact about 10 years later. Pierre, Steve told me, was an outdoorsman’s paradise. I needed to come visit. Of course I knew that, but my tunnel vision was fishing. It was hard to drive farther than Lake Frances Case, a Missouri River reservoir a lot closer than Lake Oahe. Oahe had bigger fish, but Case had the numbers. Decisions, decisions.

But, I needed to see an old friend.

And ever since then, Pierre has drawn me like a moth to a flame.

No one has a better handle on stock-dam fishing than my friend, Steve. He’s guided me on many memorable trips to these dams for bass, bluegills and perch. And I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill fish. I’m talking about pound-plus ‘gills, perch and bass of nearly state record proportions.

So when Steve called and said we should come out and seek big bluegills, we went.

The pond we were intending to fish is on private land. And that’s the case of many West River stock dams. You must have permission of the landowner to fish them, but that’s not difficult to obtain.

But, there are also a lot of ponds and small reservoirs on public land. More about that later. [Read more…]

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farm Pond produces Nice Bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

With a week’s worth of warm weather in the forecast, Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., and I decided it was “now or never” time to fish a farm pond we’d had our eyes on for quite some time.

Gary had fished it years ago and had great success on largemouth bass. Rumor had it the pond could produce good numbers of bluegills and perch as well.

So, we had to try.

This was actually our second attempt. A few weeks ago we had tried to drive to the pond, but warm weather and greasy mud over the frozen field changed our minds. It was forecast to be even warmer that day, and since we had to drive a long ways through a hilly corn field we felt we might not be able to get out if it warmed up any more.

But this time was different. It was 8 below in Hartington that morning so we weren’t worried about the mud.

Yet, when we pulled up alongside the pond, Gary pointed and said, “Is that open water over there?”

“It sure is,” I answered. “Must be a heck of a big spring.”

Right along the dam the southwest wind was pushing small waves against the ice. The open water field was about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.

“Keep drilling test holes as you go out,” I told Gary who was firing up his Jiffy propane auger. “That might not be the only spring out there.”

But the test holes revealed a good 10 inches of solid ice. I followed with the depth finder and when we registered nine feet of water we decided to start fishing.

We both were marking fish under us but there were a lot more “lookers” than “biters.”

Finally Gary set the hook and brought up and 8-inch bass. I soon followed with another. We caught several of these little fish before we got a decent-sized bluegill.

We were using tear drop jigs tipped with waxworms. Gary also had a bobber with a minnow on the hook but aside from one bite, which he missed, the minnow provided no action.

We decided to drill more holes.

We found a little deeper water and decided to try there.

[Read more…]

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Mid Season Ice By Gary Howey

As I mentioned in earlier columns, first ice is generally the best time to ice fish, when the fish are still not into their winter routine.

Last week Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Larry Myhre, good friend Anthony Thoene and I decided to hit the ice and do some Mid Season ice fishing.

Our main concern would be the quality of the ice, as the warm weather had really started to cause some ponds to open up.

I checked the pond the night before and noticed there were a couple of spots along the shoreline with open water, but the rest of the pond had a good six to eight inches of ice. [Read more…]

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Fish play hard to get on Nebraska farm pond By Larry Myhre

HARTINGTON, Neb. — The fish showed up as a red line on the Vexilar flasher. It was just below another red line which was my tiny, tear drop jig tipped with a waxworm.

The two red marks merged. My eyes left the flasher and concentrated on the strike indicator at the tip of my short, ice fishing rod. The indicator dipped ever so slightly and stayed there. I lifted the rod until I felt the fish and then swept up with a gentle hook set. There was a tug of resistance and then nothing.

The bite had been so fine I don’t think the tiny jig was in the fish’s mouth. The resistance was probably the fish pulling the waxworm off the hook.

Sure enough. When I reeled in to check, the hook was bare. [Read more…]

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Doves, The Aerial Acrobat 2014 By Gary Howey

Summer is quickly slipping away with the fall hunting season right around the corner.

Late summer is when I start to think about the upcoming hunting seasons with the dove season the earliest to open.

Most of the states in the upper Midwest now have dove seasons opening up around September 1.  We have two species of doves in our area we can hunt, the Morning Dove and their larger cousin, the Eurasian Collared Dove.

The weather plays a big part in the dove season, as it will not take much of a weather change for the birds to pack up and migrate south.

If a cold front or damp weather arrives around opening day, hanging around several days, many of the doves will begin to move out.

The good news is that unless the “fowl” weather stays for an extended period, the doves from up north will move down, stopping over in our area, giving us another chance to take a few doves.

[Read more…]