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Big Stone Lake’s panfishing secret exposed By Larry Myhre

ORTONVILLE, Minn. | Big Stone Lake is a 26-mile long fish factory. Long known for its excellent walleye fishing, and in the past few years an exploding perch population, few anglers are aware of the excellent fishing for other species.

Take panfish, for instance.

When Artie Arndt, owner of Artie’s Bait and Tackle, told me that 10-inch bluegills were common here, I admit to being skeptical.

Turns out the first ‘gill we caught was taken by his son Tanner and it measured 11 1/2-inches. And that was right in front of the public docks and boat ramp right in town at the south end of the lake.

“Kids fish from the docks here and catch them all the time,” Artie said. [Read more…]

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PANFISH ON THE ROCKS ON BIG STONE By Gary Howey

Ortonville, MN. It was not long ago, when I made the remark, “bobber fishing is not one of my favorite ways to catch fish”, but that all changed last week. On that day, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member, Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. and I would meet Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait Shop, Ortonville, Minnesota to do some bobber fishing.
We were on Big Stone Lake; a twenty-six mile body of water located in northeastern South Dakota along the border with Minnesota is an excellent lake for walleye fishing and for its perch bite.
On this trip, it would not be the walleye or the perch we were after, as we were looking for panfish, crappies and bluegill.
The first afternoon, we launched from the public access near the rearing ponds where many of the bluegill we were after had started out as fingerlings.
With the wind picking up, we made our way across the lake, heading for some of the more protected bays behind the many islands on Big Stone.
As we approached one of the calmer bays, a pair of Canada geese greeted us, let us know we were trespassing on their territory, while several white pelicans perching on the rocks, paid little or no attention to our boat.
Both anchors were deployed as we begin to probe the shallow waters of the bay. We were anchored off one of the numerous islands in the lake, where the panfish, the crappies and bluegill had recently moved into in preparation of the spawn. As I was taking it all in, all that was around me, I gazed across the bay at the islands, its rock-strewn shoreline and the clear water. Glancing back at my bobber, it darted off to the right disappearing into the wave; taking up the slack line, I reared back on the rod, expecting to see a small panfish come flying out of the shallow water. [Read more…]

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Into the Blue Carroll Lake Fly-In By Gary Howey

As the Otter floatplane, lifted off the water, banking to east, a sea of blue appeared on the horizon. We were flying into Sunset Country Ontario, Canada to fish Carroll Lake. What appeared on the horizon proved what I had heard about the province to be true, that there are more than 250,000 lakes in Ontario with about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water.
Our destination was The Lodge at Carroll Lake, a lake twenty-two miles long that lies one hundred sixty five miles northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the Woodland Caribou Park on the Ontario and Manitoba border.
Approached the lake, the Otter, came around, with the Lodge and cabins coming into view, looking much like a photo you would see in National Geographic.
The lodge and cabins, nestled amongst the pine and birch trees, lay along the shoreline of the calm waters of the bay.
The Otter slipped into the dock where passengers Tami Brinkman, Mitchell, S.D., Randy Smith, Yankton, S.D., Chad Tramp, Ankeny, IA., Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. and I were greeted by Steve Brinkman and his crew.
The main lodge, a huge building with a large stone fireplace would be where we would eat our meals prepared by the Lodge Chef.
We would be at the camp for two days and were anxious to test the waters for some of the excellent fishing available in these Ontario waters.
It would not be long before Steve, Larry and I launched in one of the Lodge boats with Randy and Chad following in another, we were about to experience a trip of a lifetime.
The weather prior to our arrival did not seem to be in our favor, as it rained hard for several days. We were not sure what to expect as cold fronts had been moving into the area on a regular basis, which always indicates a tough bite. We were pleasantly surprised when shortly after we arrived in the narrows. Steve, who was rigged for the occasion, pitched his jig towards the shoreline. On his second cast, he felt the extra weight indicating a pickup. He set the hook as an angry walleye shook his head violently, attempting to dislodge the jig. The fish was a healthy seventeen-inch fish and the first of a hundred or so we would boat before our trip was through. [Read more…]

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Shallow water walleyes love crank baits By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.
WEBSTER, S.D. | I don’t think there is a more fun way to catch walleyes than by casting crankbaits on spinning tackle.
And the best time to do that is right now. The big female walleyes have recovered from the rigors of spawning and are back in the shallows, feeding up big. Find a windy shoreline on the right lake, and you’ll have action to dream about.  The Webster area is full of lakes and sloughs that fit the description of the “right” lake.
Last week, Gary Howey, of Hartington, Neb., and I met with Cory Ewing, of Waubay Lake Guide Service, to film a segment for Howey’s “Outdoorsmen Adventures” television show and to get fodder for our newspaper columns.
We’ve fished with Ewing a number of times over the years, and that guy is so tuned into the fishing here that every trip has been an exciting fish catching experience. This trip was no different.
Although the lake that gets the most attention right now is Bitter Lake, an overgrown former slough that is currently South Dakota’s biggest natural lake, we chose to fish a 200-acre nameless slough with no boat ramp. Ewing met us at Perebooms Cafe in Webster with his 16-foot boat in tow. I knew then we were heading for the boondocks.
As we motored out of town, Ewing told us, “We need that wind to blow. That will bring those big fish into the shoreline.”
We dropped the boat trailer over a 3-foot drop to reach the water and before long we were casting the shoreline.
“There’s some really nice walleyes in here,” Ewing said. “And there are lots of northerns and some perch.” [Read more…]

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“Fan”tastic Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

As Ben Loecker and I watched, we could see three Toms fanned out and proudly displaying for their harems. The birds were displaying about a half mile south of us in a harvested bean field, it wasn’t the half-mile walk that I was thinking about; it was how to get Ben close enough for a shot without being spotted. The terrain we had to cross included a lot of open ground, offering us, very little to hide our movement. Our only hope was that the low fence line along the east side of the field, that had a few trees and weeds along it, would give us some cover as we made the stalk.
I had met Ben, Hartington, NE. a seventh grader at Cedar Catholic when I was one of the guides on a youth turkey hunt sponsored by the Nebraska Game & Parks at Ponca State Park. On that hunt, we were unable to tag a bird, and when the 2015 season opened, it was my chance to redeem myself.
The birds we were watching began to move to the southeast, into land that was close to a rural home, so we needed to do something and do it fast before our opportunity to work these birds walked away.
In past columns, I had mentioned using tail feathers, the “fan” from a Tom turkey used to attract a bird and since I had one in the truck, I grabbed it, a hen decoy and my turkey-hunting vest as Ben fed Winchester turkey loads into his twelve gauge.
We would need to make our way through the terraces before entering the fence line leading to the field the birds were using. As we made our way towards the birds, we paused occasionally, glassing the field, allowing us to check on the birds and know which direction they were heading. [Read more…]

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Early Season Bass By Gary Howey

This is the time of the year when many anglers develop tunnel vision, thinking only of walleyes and fishing on the bigger water!
When you do this, it means that you are missing some of the finest early season fishing.
Many of these anglers will be running great distances when some of the best fishing available may be right in their own backyard for bass.
In the upper Midwest, there are excellent populations of both Small and Largemouth bass and right now is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.
Both are found throughout the upper Midwest, in Missouri River in Lewis & Clark Lake up stream into Lake Oahe. In South Dakota, you will find excellent bass fishing in most lakes including on Reetz Lake, Roy Lake, Big Stone and Enemy Swim.
Most dams, ponds, farm & stock dams, lakes and reservoirs also contain cacheable populations of Largemouth bass.
During this time of the year, bass will have moved off into deeper water to rest up from the rigors of the spawn. As the water temperatures begin to warm, they will become more active.
As water temperature moves into the low 70’s, the bass will start to feed aggressively.
Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water and then moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.
In the river and areas with current, you will find bass throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover.
Anything that cuts or slows down the current, which are known as slack water pockets, is likely to be a good hiding spots for the bass.
Points, rock piles pockets in the weeds and down timber, all cut the current and make excellent locations to look for bass in the river.
Both species of bass can be taken on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs. [Read more…]

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Looking back at this spring’s turkey season By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

It’s moments like this that make me love turkey hunting.

The response to my yelps on the diaphragm call was loud and raucous. It was the guttural cough of a wild turkey’s gobble. Then another followed immediately after.

I crouched down behind a tree, caught a little off guard.

Up to now it had simply been a walk through the woods, yelping occasionally with nothing answering other than the occasional caw of a crow.

But that’s how it is sometimes.

I had carefully been making my way between the trees across a small gully to a cleared pastureland dotted with a few trees. I had hunted through this spot many, many times in past years but never encountered a tom turkey here. I thought it odd because this looked like a perfect spot.

Then, I thought I caught a glimpse of a fan. It was just the tips of the feathers of a fanned-out tom. So I yelped and got an immediate response.

It caught me way off guard. My camo mask dangled around my neck and my fancy, folding turkey hunting chair was slung over my back. I shucked the chair, pulled up my mask and yelped again. Gobble, Gobble.

It was two toms, and they were very close now.

I saw them strut into view, their big beards dragging the grass. I couldn’t help but to yelp again, just to watch them gobble.

I was rewarded with a double gobble from each bird.

The largest was on the left, and I focused on him as I gave a loud “Putt” with the call. He raised his head in alarm, and I put the bead of the shotgun sight at the base of his neck and pulled the trigger. [Read more…]

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Wild about Wild Edibles By Gary Howey

I love springtime, weather is warming up, fish are starting to bite and it is the time of the year when thousands of folks and I head out to start looking for those wild edibles mushrooms and asparagus.

My first experience at hunting wild asparagus happened by accident, I was on the road delivering parts throughout northern Nebraska. One of my customers mentioned asparagus hunting and I was all ears as if it is a green vegetable, I like it.

After gathering all of the information I could, I kept my eyes out for the old plants as I drove along the roads and one day, near Stuart, Nebraska, I spotted a clump of them in the ditch. I decided to check it out; I pulled over and was down in the ditch walking along the fence line looking for new shoots.

About that time, a pickup came by and a gruff old rancher asked what the heck I was doing on his land, I thought I was screwed and would soon be meeting the local Sheriff.

[Read more…]

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Mushroom Hunting A Spring Outdoor Obsession By Gary Howey

It won’t be long before outdoorsmen and women will be infected with a disease, which will spread quickly throughout in the upper Midwest. It’s been known to infect men, women and children, infecting young and old alike.

The cause of this infectious disease is a fungus that goes by the name of morel mushroom and once they start to poke their heads out of the ground, men and women will leave their home, jobs and families, heading for the river bottoms, island and hills on mushroom hunting excursions.

Morels, which found throughout our area, are easy to recognize, delicious to eat, which makes them the most popular wild mushroom in the upper Midwest.

They are elongated with an off-white stem, a crown covered with white ridges with dark brown pits. They can vary from off-white to gray in color. The easiest way to explain what a morel looks like is to look for a mushroom growing on the ground that resembles a cone shaped brain.  [Read more…]