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Looking Back at Another Year By Gary Howey

  It’s the time of the year, when temperatures are dropping and the northwest wind is making a visit to our part of the country.

  I’m in the office working with my computer, hating to think that I’ll have to head outside again, when I think about all the last year, 2016, which will be ending soon.

  Overall, it was a very good year, where Team members and I spent some time on the water and in the field with old friends as well as making some new ones along the way.

  We started out our year in Howard, S.D. on a late season hunt where Team member Josh Anderson and I filmed a pheasant hunt, on this trip; it was easy to see why South Dakota is the “Pheasant Capital of the World”.  This trip brought back memories, reminding me of how the pheasant hunting was when I was a boy growing up in Watertown, S.D.  

  Back then, they had a government program, the Soil Bank program with a potion of the farm left idle. This and the method they farmed back then, created thousands of acres of habitat, which help to create excellent pheasant numbers.

  Current pheasant numbers in our area are down, but I’m optimistic and looking forward to bird numbers improving. The new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will create thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, which gives birds a place to nest, roost, raise their chicks and help to protect the birds from predators.

  Following that trip, Team member Simon Fuller and I headed to the Aberdeen-Webster area to do some ice fishing. On the trip there were some big walleyes caught and returned into the icy depths of the Glacial Lake we were fishing. On that trip, I set a record for the most fish caught; unfortunately, they were minuscule, about the length of my hand and released, allowing them to grow up. It was a great trip as it gave us the opportunity to spend time on the ice with folks cut from the same cloth we were, spending time with others who loved to spend time in the outdoors, on the ice on a cold winter day. [Read more…]

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Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

There’s a fish swimming in most of South Dakota’s lakes, rivers and reservoirs that has often been described as “the fightingest fish that swims.”

Yet, like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield was fond of saying, “it don’t get no respect.”

You see, the smallmouth bass is, indeed, the fish most likely to stretch the memory coils out of your monofilament that has sat dormant on your reel’s spool all winter. A two-pounder will demand your full attention, and will probably jump at least two feet out of the water, more than once.

However, this bronze rocket has the misfortune of swimming in water where the walleye is king. This is the land of $60,000 boats pulled by $60,000 pickups by guys hoping to land a limit of four walleyes measuring over 15 inches. None, most likely, will measure greater than 18 inches on most days and weigh less than a pound an a half.

They are fishing for sport and food. Sometimes I wonder which holds the most importance.

If they have the misfortune of hooking a smallmouth, a wave of disappointment washes over them. More than likely the smallie will go into the live well to keep the walleyes company, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Smallmouth are darn good eating, too. OK, I’ve let the cat out of the bag.

Bass fishermen will label me as a heretic. They don’t keep bass. They release them to fight again. It is a matter of principle with them. You’ll never see limits of smallmouths hanging on steel hooks bolted to two by fours with the proud anglers standing behind them smiling as they display their success.

That’s walleye company. It’s a prelude to good eating.

And, it was the lure of walleyes that drew Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and me to Pierre, South Dakota, a couple of weeks ago. But it turned out to be one of those times when you go to a walleye fight and a smallmouth fight breaks out.

“You’ll probably catch some smallmouth here,” our guide Kent “Hutch” Hutcheson said as he eased the big Ranger up onto a rocky flat projecting off Lake Sharpe’s east shoreline just south of the West Bend boat ramp. He should know. He’s been guiding here for over 30 years.

Sure enough, Howey’s rod tip bounced and the fish tore off line in a frantic run toward shore. I grabbed the camera, flipped on the switch and caught the smallie leaping out of the water some 30 feet away. The red “Record” light was on and through the dim viewfinder I saw the fish leave the water throwing spray six feet across on either side of him.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” I muttered to no one. Getting that jumping fish on tape was pure luck, and I’d be the first to admit it.

With the smallie in the boat and unhooked, we took some quick pictures and released him. There would be bigger ones, we knew. [Read more…]

http://outdoorsmenadventures.com/12506-2/

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We pursue post-spawn walleyes on Lake Sharpe By Larry Myhre

 

PIERRE, S.D. | If there is one thing you can count on about Lake Sharpe this time of year, it is that it will kick out walleyes. Early spring means “eaters,” those 15- to 18-inch males that take up residence on the rocky flats where the big females move in to spawn.

If you hit it right, the fishing can be phenomenal. Be a few days early or a few days late, and it is another story.

Oh, you’ll catch fish. And you shouldn’t have any trouble catching a limit of four walleyes over 15 inches. But you will have to work for them.

That’s what happened to us late last week. Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and I fished with longtime friend and fishing guide Kent “Hutch” Hutcheson, who has been guiding in the Pierre area for over 30 years.

When Hutch picked us up at the Ramkota Hotel, our headquarters for the next few days, he told us the walleyes were at the end of their spawn and finding fish might be tough. He had fished the Cheyenne River on massive Lake Oahe the previous day and reported the fish were there but finding them was not easy.

After some conversation we decided our best bet might be the West Bend area of Lake Sharpe, the 80-mile-long reservoir to the south that stretches from Big Bend Dam just above Chamberlain to the Oahe dam just a few miles north of Pierre.

When Gary and I crossed the bridge spanning across the river from Fort Pierre to Pierre, we noticed a lot of boats working the sandbars just downstream. I took a quick count and came up with 26 boats.

“Doesn’t anybody work anymore?” Gary said. We used to see this kind of pressure on the weekend, but this was during the week.

It was the same at the West Bend boat ramp. Over 20 rigs were parked in the parking lot and three more boats were ready to launch.

As we eased out of the small bay that protects the ramp, I counted 15 boats working the big, long sunken reef or island that lays out across the bend. But Hutch wasn’t heading there. He abhors fishing with a bunch of boats and pointed the bow downstream to one of his hot spots a few miles away.

When we got there, three boats were working one hump and another was awfully close to where Hutch wanted to fish.

“I used to have this spot all to myself for years,” he said. “But things have changed.”

[Read more…]