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Late winter action slows, even on farm ponds By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

I didn’t need to look at a calendar to know that it was the month of February.

My depth finder was lit up like a Christmas tree with fish signals, but nothing was happening. A tiny 1/100th-ounce jig was hanging on fresh, two-pound test line. It was tipped with a micro grub body with a long, skinny tail. A tiny piece of waxworm added some scent.

But even this finesse presentation was being ignored.

Yes, that happens a lot in February. Ice fishing success slows down. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish, it just means you have to pay attention to details. And, you just have to hang in there, because sometime during the day the bite will take off, and you will be hard pressed to get your bait back down to pull up another fish before it all ends.

I was fishing a farm pond northeast of Hartington, Neb. I had met Gary Howey and Dani Thoene, both of Hartington, at the pond a few minutes earlier.

Dani was running the gasoline-powered auger digging holes all over. Gary was shoveling the ice chips away from each hole. So, all the hard work was done before I even got down there. Imagine that.

I dropped the transducer down one of the holes and took a look. Ten feet deep and nothing there.

Undaunted, I dropped down my tiny jig and before long the fish showed up. Probably bluegills.

Meanwhile, Gary and Dani were reporting the same thing. Lots of fish, but no biters.

Of course, that changed.

Dani was the first to score a small bluegill. Gary added another shortly after. Another finally took my small jig a few minutes later, and the smell of “skunk” wafted away into the cool, clear air.

We were each taking fish from time to time, mostly small bluegills but occasionally we’d get a good one, seven to eight inches.

Before long we were joined by Dani’s brother Anthony and Melvin Kruse, both of Hartington.

[Read more…]

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Hardwater Fishing- Watertown, SD Gary Howey

My hometown is Watertown, S.D. a place I return to as often as I can. A couple of weeks ago, we headed back north to ice fish on a few of the dozens of lakes and sloughs scattered throughout the Watertown area.

Anyone who has spent time on the ice where the northerns live, know what they can do once they latch onto your bait. A pike is a fighting fool when hooked, even when it’s prowling around under 8 inches of solid ice.

It happened just before we arrived on a frozen lake near Watertown where Outdoorsmen Adventures Team Member Larry Myhre and I were to join good friends and present or past Watertown residents Chuck Krause, Don Fjerstad and Junior Burns.

Like many ice anglers, Don fishes with two rods, one with a live bait rig and the other with some sort of attractor rig. His live bait rig was propped up in the snow while he jigged with the other, then it happened, a jarring strike, one, which could only have come from the hard-hitting northern, a fish with a voracious appetite. Rearing back hard, he set the hook, with the fish taking off, peeling line off his reel. Out the corner of his eye, he noticed his other rod coming out of the snow, rapidilly sliding along the ice into the other hole. He had his hands full fighting the fish and his rod disappeared into the depths of the lake, gone forever!

After a hard fought battle, where, luckily, the northerns mouth full of sharp teeth and sharp gill plates didn’t cut the line, Don flipped the fish on the ice. Figuring he had won the battle with the northern but lost the battle with his second rod, he proceeded to remove his jig from the pike and strangely enough, noticed another line wrapped in the fish’s gill plate.

The pike had hit his lure and on the first run wrapped the line from his second rod, pulling it down the hole. Not only had he landed the fish, he also landed his rod which a few minutes before was lying on the bottom.

Earlier, before we arrived, Chuck, Don and Junior were on the south end of the lake, doing what fishermen need to do this time of year in order to catch fish, the old run and gun. Anglers this time of the year need to punch a lot of holes, looking for fish. Chuck and Don had migrated to the south end of the lake and were set up just off to the side of each other while Jr. kept on the move, punching holes trying to locate a concentration of fish. [Read more…]