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Late Season Walleye

It may not seem like it right now, but its fall and soon the fall colors will appear with cold weather is right around the corner.
When the weather is like this, it makes late season fishing a joy, when you do not have to hit the water with three layers of heavy clothing.
Of course, if you fish in the early morning or late afternoon, it would be smart move to bring along an extra sweatshirt or jacket.

It is this time of the year when many anglers will have put their fishing gear away, pulled out their shotgun or bow and is pursuing waterfowl, grouse, archery deer and antelope.
If you are one of those, you may have made a big mistake, as this is the time of the year when you find the larger concentrations of walleye and sauger feeding heavily on the remaining baitfish and prey fish.

Generally, these larger concentrations move into the deeper water where the baitfish have stacked up to spend the winter.
It is during this time of the year when game fish want larger baits and when larger live baits really produce.
Finding the schools of walleye and sauger really is not very difficult this time of the year! You will need to look for them in some of the deepest water located on the lake or river.
Once you have located them, you should be able to come back year after year and find them in about these same areas. As long as the baitfish are in the general area and the structure does not change, the predator fish like the walleye and sauger won’t be far behind. [Read more…]


If you’re thinking Pheasants You have to be thinking South Dakota! By Gary Howey

If you are an upland game bird hunter, you have probably heard the stories about the great pheasant hunting in South Dakota.

As I travel throughout the U.S. and talk with people about hunting and the outdoors, the first question they ask when hearing that I am originally from South Dakota is, “I hear the pheasant hunting is pretty good up there?”

Any ways, that would be their lead in to the conversation because they already know darn good and well that the pheasant hunting in South Dakota is phenomenal!

They had either been there, read about it or wished they could be there during the next pheasant-hunting season!

When I lived in South Dakota, Watertown to be exact, we just took it for granted that everyone had pheasants as we did.

It was nothing to walk from my home in southwest Watertown and see pheasants everywhere. They were part of the landscape like the cattle and other animals we saw around the farms and you did not have to go very far before you saw the next bunch of pheasants.

With each trip to South Dakota I am reminded what pheasant hunting was really like. [Read more…]


Grouse Season is on By Gary Howey

Can you feel it? Can’t you see it? It is in the air, the cool brisk temperatures and the breeze that will soon bring the cold weather into our area.
My hunting dog, “Mo” knew it was here; he had a little more bounce in his step when I let him out for his run last night!

He came out of the kennel on a dead run, his nose to the ground, tail high in the air and after two or three laps around the yard, ran to the back of the pickup thinking that it was time to go hunting.
You did not need to look at a calendar to know that fall would arrive this week. You could feel it!
With the arrival of fall outdoorsmen and women, know that hunting seasons have begun.

The sharptail grouse/prairie chicken season opened in South Dakota September 19 running through January 3 and in Nebraska January 1 through December 31.
Hunters in South Dakota who hope to bag a prairie chicken would do best to hunt the south-central part of the state as they are found mixed with sharptails east of the Missouri River and west of the Missouri from Haakon and Stanley counties south to the Missouri River.

You will find scattered coveys of grouse on public lands east of the Missouri, with the best hunting being found farther west. In eastern South Dakota, sharptails are present but not as abundant as in the western part of the state. [Read more…]


The Edge When it comes to Hunting By Gary Howey

I have hunted for as long as I can remember, cherishing every trip and the memories they created!

My first hunting trips were with my Dad, Cal near Watertown, South Dakota where the pheasant population was +unbelievable. It was more of a long walk than a hunt for us kids, because Dad had only one shotgun, his old Model 97.

When we were young, Dad would take us along hunting which we loved, as we would always stop at Tinker Town west of town for an early lunch That was where we got our first store bought hamburger and a pop. We were not really hunting, just sharing the experience, as my brother and I were Dad’s bird dogs, flushing, running down and retrieving the birds.

Even though I never had the opportunity to shoot a bird, I could not wait until opening day to spend some quality time with my Dad in the outdoors.

Back then, I noticed certain areas always held more birds, so if I wanted to be where the action was, I needed to be with the group of hunters walking through those areas. At times, there would not be a whole lot of difference from one spot or another, but these subtle changes seemed attract and hold the birds.

As I grew older and started to hunt more, I would always hunt these types of areas as something drew both the birds and me to these spots.

These areas were not always the best habitat in the field, with the most cover, sometimes they would be the worst cover in the fields, but they held birds.

I noticed the same thing when I did a lot of depredation trapping; some areas just had more sign than others did, so the furbearers were relating to these areas just as the pheasants had. [Read more…]


Small Waters Big Fish Gary Howey

  The sun was lighting up the morning sky in brilliant shades of pink and blue as we made our way west from the Ramkota Inn, Pierre, South Dakota and it appeared to be the beginning of a beautiful day for fishing.

Good friend Steve Nelson, Pierre, South Dakota had been trying to get us out his way for several years to sample some of great fishing the stock dams, the smaller bodies of water in the area had to offer. Many of the ponds and stock dams he had bragged about were located on the 115,997 acres Fort Pierre National Grasslands, while others were scattered throughout the privately owned range land in that part of the state.

These smaller bodies of water are found throughout the upper Midwest and contain catchable populations of bass, bluegill, sunfish and catfish.

In mid July, when we finally made the trip west, the temperatures can easily reach ninety plus degrees. The day before we arrived, the temperatures had been in the high nineties, with similar weather predicted the two days we would be there, because of this, we would start fishing around sunrise, during the early morning.

It was close to seven am when we pulled into the pasture and as we arrived at the stock dam; it looked as if we would have to spend some time trying to locate the fish as the shoreline weeds gave them plenty of places to hide..

Because of the weedy shoreline, we would be fishing out of two Coleman Crawdad boats, oaring our way through the thick weed beds and then using electric trolling motors to work along the deeper water of the outside edges of the weeds.

Armed with one sixty-fourth and one-sixteenth ounce jigs tipped with tiny pieces of crawlers, we probed the ten-foot water between and along the outer edge of the weed line.

As Larry pulled us away from the shore, I rigged up a micro jig with a small piece of crawler and worked it between the weed pockets.

When using such a small jig, light line is necessary and as I fed my four-pound line from my reel, keeping a tight line, following the jig to the bottom, it suddenly paused, then darted off to the right. I set the hook, not knowing what to expect, then, my ultra light rod doubled over with the drag on my small spinning reel began to scream.

Whatever had engulfed my lure was putting up a good fight and as I worked it to the surface, an angry bull bluegill came up alongside the boat. The thick ten-inch plus fish was at least one pound, and only the beginning of several dozen of the big fish who would fall prey to our offerings. [Read more…]


In the Heart of the Sandhills, Valentine, NE. By Gary Howey

Our destination, Valentine, Nebraska, located in north central Nebraska in the part of the state known as the Sandhills, a picturesque part of the state where seven different ecosystems come together.

When most folks think of Valentine, they think about the excellent canoeing and tubing down the Niobrara River. Among the other attractions and outdoor opportunities found in the Valentine area, include several waterfalls, including; Nebraska’s tallest waterfall, Smith falls and the Snake River falls. Other attractions all located within a short, drive from Valentine, include the McKelvie National Forest, the Valentine National Migratory Bird Refuge, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife and Valentine State Fish Hatchery.

On this trip, we visit another of the excellent vacation and fishing destinations in the area,  as we will be fishing and filming on Merritt Reservoir with Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Steve Isom of Valentine.

Merritt Reservoir, a three thousand acre reservoir is located twenty-six miles southwest of Valentine; the reservoir holds excellent populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, crappies, and channel catfish and is one of the few lakes in Nebraska with Muskie.

Several Nebraska State record fish have come from these waters including the state record Channel Catfish. I n 1985 a thirty-nine inch fish tipping the scales at 41 lbs. 8 ounces came from these waters, the following year the record was tied when another big catfish, also weighing 41 lbs. 8 ounce fish was taken from the reservoir.

Merritt is also the home of the Nebraska record Muskellunge (Muskie), the state record fish came from the reservoir in 1992, the a fifty-two inch fish weighed in at 41 pounds 8 ounces. [Read more…]


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Slipping Away! The new Bobber Fishing By Gary Howey

We all remember bobber fishing, how we fished when we were youngsters, you would snap a plastic bobber onto the line at the depth you want your bait to be. You would cast it out and when the bobber goes under the water, you set the hook.
It was a great way to catch fish, at times a real pain as your hook, weight and bait would tangle up with your bobber.
You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about bobber or float fishing? Everyone knows about bobber fishing, right!
It really does not take a nuclear scientist to figure out this fishing method. This is true but there are several problems with this type of bobber fishing, especially if you are fishing deep water.
First off when your bobber or float as they’re called today is set at six or seven feet, it’s darn near impossible to cast without bouncing the bobber off your fishing partners head or piercing your ear with the hook.
Secondly, once you have reeled the bobber up to your rod tip, you’ve still have six or seven foot of line and your fish dangling below the bobber.
With the really tough part being, how can you land or net a fish at the end of that six or seven feet unless your net man has super long arms or at least a net with nine foot of handle!
Slip bobbers have solved these problems allowing you to fish areas that you were not able to fish with the old style bobbers!
They allow you to fish for suspended fish at any depth and not have to worry about the bobber being “attached” several feet above your hook. These bobbers slide down against the weight, jig or hook allowing the angler to cast the line with ease.
Slip bobbers are simple to use; they slip or slide up and down your line until stopped by the bobber stop.
The stop is adjustable, sliding up and down allowing you to set it at any depth and small enough to allow you to reel it up into your reel.
These bobbers’ stops are simple. They can be fancy or as simple as braided line or rubber band tied around the line. [Read more…]


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…]