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Small & Largemouth The Bass Gary Howey

  Bass, both the smallmouth and largemouth bass are one of the top predators in any body of water as they’re some of the most aggressive fish in the body of water.

Largemouth

  The largemouth inhabits most bodies of water from small farm ponds, gravel/sand pits, to the Missouri River Reservoirs of South Dakota and Nebraska. Where’s there’s water, you’ll find the largemouth, including in the numerous lakes found throughout Minnesota and the “Glacial Lakes” of northeastern South Dakota.

  As mentioned earlier, largemouth can be very aggressive and will attack almost anything they might think they can get into their mouth. Among several of the things that bass are known to eat include snakes, frogs, lizards, salamanders, ducklings, crayfish as well as other fish.

  Bass are aggressive feeders, in the spring before the “Dog” days of summer; you’ll find them shallow in preparation for the spawn.

  The male will create a nest with their tail in one to three feet generally less than ten feet from shoreline where the fertilized eggs are deposited. The male will guard the fingerlings until they’re capable of fending for themselves.

  Because the male has been busy keeping predators away from the nest, he hasn’t had an opportunity to eat and one of the final things he’ll do before leaving the nest is chase the fingerlings from the nest by gobbling down as many of the young as possible. This not only allows the male to feed, but it may also show the young fish that they can’t trust anything, not even their father.

  After the spawn, the female moves into the deep water to rest and recuperate from the spawning ritual.  During the cool time of the day and after the sunsets, the females will move from the deeper water up shallow looking for a quick meal.

  In the summer, all largemouth will look for more comfortable water temperatures, this may be deep, adjacent or in the weeds or in the shade of a dead fall or stump lying in the water.

  As summer moves into fall, bass like all fish will start to feed heavily, as they need to bulk up before winter sets in, feeding heavily until water temperature decline when these cold blooded creatures metabolism slows and they ride out the winter.

  Some of the preferred baits for taking largemouth include; jigs and pig, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, Texas rigs with Berkley Gulp, PowerBaits and Carolina Rigs,  dropshot rigs, crankbaits like those manufactured by  Bagley and in some cases live bait rigs.

    The largemouth records for the states mentioned above vary with the South Dakota record for largemouth being 9 lbs. 3 Oz. with the Minnesota record fish coming in at 8 Lbs. 15 Oz. while the Nebraska record tipping the scales at 10 Lbs. 11 Oz

Smallmouth

The smallmouth bass can be even more aggressive than their cousin the largemouth bass are. Called the Bronze-back, a name given to smallmouth because of their aggressive nature and the way they fight once hooked, pretty much describes the fight an angler has on his hands once the fish is hooked. They run hard, test your equipment and come from deep water in a flash, dancing along the surface trying to dislodge the hook in their jaw.

  They inhabit numerous lakes throughout Nebraska, with excellent populations in the Missouri River reservoirs as well as on Merritt Reservoir and other smaller lakes.

  The South Dakota Reservoirs, Lewis & Clark, Lake Francis Case, Lake Sharpe and Lake Oahe all have huge smallmouth populations as do the “Glacial Lakes” in the northeastern portion of the state that include Horseshoe, Roy Lake, Reetz Lake and Enemy Swim.

   In Minnesota, you’ll find numerous lakes where these “Bull Dogs of the Deep” will test your equipment and your fish fighting skill. [Read more…]

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What’s Hot when it “HOT on the Mo. River Reservoirs Gary Howey

   These are the “Dog Days of Summer” when no matter where you’re fishing the fishing can be tough.

  I remember those days, where you could set out there most of the day, using several different presentations and all we had to show for it was a bad sunburn and a tackle bag with less tackle than we started with.

  We knew where the fish were deep as we located them with our locators, but we had a tough time getting our baits to them. They suspended in the deep water, hanging out at different depths in and amongst the trees left when the reservoir filled.

  We tried bottom bouncers and spinners, loosing many of them before switching to another method, which performed about the same as the bottom bouncers.

  Years later, we were filming with Guide and Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Joel Vasek of Missouri Valley Guide Service on Lake Francis Case when he introduced us to pulling crankbaits on lead core, which helped us to fill our limits while other anglers were coming up short.

  Hot weather fishing is different from the rest of the year, requiring different presentations: different baits, different rigs, presented at different speeds.   

 I’ve fished many of the hot weather deep-water methods, but by no means am I an expert. 

  Some of the most successful guides and tournament anglers, those individuals that spend hundreds of hours on the water use need to put fish in the boat, no matter what the season or water temperature may be, have methods they use during the Dog Days of Summer.

  To get the best information on this, I contacted some the most successful guides and anglers I know, and quizzed them about deep-water fishing during the “Hot” weather.

  Below you’ll find their suggestions on the lakes they fish and the methods they’d recommend to catch walleyes when it’s “Hot”.

Lewis & Clark Lake:

 Anglers in a recent tournament held on Lewis and Clark had to deal with water temperatures of 75-77 degrees used lead core line to troll the deeper water of the old river channel were awarded 1st place in the event.

   Lead core line and Off Shore snap weights are used to get your bait down deep, along with Off Shore Plainer boards that will spread those lines out seems to be a good bet when water temperatures warm up on Lewis & Clark.

Joel Vasek, Geddes, S.D. Missouri Valley Guide Service, www.walleyetamer.com:

Joel guides on Lake Francis Case on up to Chamberlain. S.D. and feels that deep-water walleyes are easy to pattern as they seem to suspend in 30′ to 50′ of water and as long as the baitfish are there won’t they won’t move much.

  To get deep, where the walleyes are located he uses lead core, snap weights and downriggers. He also uses Off Shore Planer Boards with lead core as when you make a turn with the boats the boards stop and this is when the walleyes seem to like to hit.

  Vasek feels that the best deep-water fishing happens when there is the right sun with a little chop on the water and feels that cloudy day’s hurt deep-water fishing. As the depth increases, visibility becomes poorer, with the sunlight penetration helping the walleyes to locate your bait.

  Walleyes will follow the Gizzard Shad and when they move, some of the walleyes will stay put as larger fish during the heat of the summer don’t seem to like chasing bait and this is when the odds are in your favor, when crankbaits work well as there’s less baitfish for the fish to feed on.

  Vasek and his guides have excellent luck trolling crankbaits over the trees or along 45′ to 55′ break lines. [Read more…]

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Ice-out is time for trophy northern pike By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

If your goal is to catch a trophy northern pike, the best time to do it is coming soon.

The big, old females, those 20-pound-plus leviathans, move into shallow bays to spawn even before the ice goes out. By the time the ice leaves the bays, the spawn is usually over, but those hogs stay around, basking in the warmer water those bright, sunny spring days often bring.

And the good news is, they can be caught.

Much of what these big females are foraging on is winter-killed fish that are lying on the bottom. If your lake has shad, the bottom might be littered with dead fish. And big catfish will join northerns in this feeding frenzy. If there are no shad, rest assured there will be other fish offering meals to the cruising northerns.

South Dakota’s massive Oahe Reservoir is a definite destination for early northern pike fishermen. Just about any of the lake’s many shallow bays will offer good fishing.

For years I would make an annual trip to fish with my friend Steve Nelson who lives in Pierre and is definitely one of the best shore fishermen up there.

While you can definitely catch these big fish from a boat, most of the early anglers fish from shore.

As anyone who has spent much time around water knows, the ice leaves the shallow bays first while the main lake remains in an icy grip. So shore fishermen might get as much as two weeks head start on the northerns before the boats can even get there.

Here’s how we would go about it.

Our rods were long and rather heavy. I used the same rods I used for downrigging at the time, eight-and-one-half feet long, medium heavy action. We would attach big spinning reels spooled with 12-pound-test monofilament.

Our terminal tackle consisted of a 12-inch steel leader with a swivel on one end and a snap on the other. Our hook was a size 1 treble. Our bait was frozen smelt which we obtained at local grocery stores or tackle shops.

We preferred to cast our smelt out onto a flat coming off the shoreline.

Here’s the method. Take one of the smelt and insert the shank of the treble hook into it at mid body. Push the shank through and attach the eye of the hook to the snap.

Using a kind of lob cast, throw the rig as far out as you can, making sure the smelt doesn’t fly off. Then let the whole rig sink slowly to the bottom. [Read more…]

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Warmest memories created in the cold By Larry Myhre

There’s nothing quite like that hour before dawn on the ice. Throughout my long ice fishing career, I harbor many cherished memories. It’s not the big fish or the number of fish I’ve caught on an outing that occupies the high points of my memory of many hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of hours and days on the ice.

No, it is those predawn hours spent on the ice of West Lake Okoboji through the late 1960s and early 1970s that come to mind most often. I was in my early 20s and just happy to be able to join the seasoned outdoors veterans who allowed me to fish with them virtually every weekend all winter.

They were a group of ice fishing addicts. They always ate a big breakfast at whichever lakeside cottage we were staying at. Then they were on the ice a full hour before daylight. And they stayed out there until a limit of perch was reached or dark, whichever came first. Lunch? Forget it. They might have a thermos of coffee and perhaps a snack in their bucket, but most likely not.

My idea of breakfast was a Coke and a cigarette. But I choked down the fried eggs, bacon or sausage and pancakes because I knew we wouldn’t eat again until about 7 p.m.

I was not an early riser. I would hear them banging around and yelling for me to get up. But I was often reluctant to leave the pleasant warmth of my sleeping bag. One morning, one of the group, a big, linebacker-type of man, picked up my sleeping bag with me in it and dumped me out on the cold floor. Another time he dumped me into a baby’s crib. He said that’s where I belonged. Do you know how hard it is to get out of a baby’s crib?

There we’d be. Sitting on a white, five-gallon bucket. If it were windy, a big rock would reside in the bucket so it wouldn’t blow away. Our short ice fishing rods were rigged with a Mitchell 308 spooled with four-pound-test line at the end of which danced a quarter-ounce Swedish Pimple spoon, its single hook sporting several tiny grubs.

So there I’d sit, back to the wind, wondering why in the hell did we have to start so early because perch don’t bite in the dark. Walleyes? Oh yes. They love that hour before dawn. But we were never on a walleye spot. These guys wanted perch. And they usually got them.

Those hours in the pre-dawn darkness reminded me a lot of listening to the marsh wake up when you are duck hunting. It’s eerily quiet at first and then you begin to hear sounds. It might be the wingbeats of ducks flying over, then later the quiet is shattered by the loud quacks of a hen mallard saying nothing in particular. Then the redwing blackbirds begin to sing.

On the ice it is the sounds of vehicles driving out, the snow squeaking under their tires. Loud voices. Laughter. The scream of ice augers punching through 30 inches of ice. All the while a pink tinge to the eastern sky begins to signal that there is, indeed, a sun. As that pink blush splashes into a hot red-orange glow all across the horizon you make out trees, their branches back lit by the morning light.

It’s another half hour before the sun finally crests the hills and splashes its light across the ice.

That’s about when you notice your first bite of the day. A faint pull on the rod tip and you raise it quickly, feeling the resistance of another Okoboji yellow-ringed perch at the other end. Even though the sun is now fully upon the ice, the day seems a little brighter.

And so it is with memories. Time makes them seem a little brighter. [Read more…]

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THINGS ARE Good ON THE BIG LAKE By Gary Howey

  Lake Oahe, with its 370,000 acres is the fourth largest reservoir in the U.S., is located on the Missouri River north of Pierre, S.D.

  Oahe has long been considered a great walleye fishing lake and that’s why Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, and I were headed that way.

  We’d be teamed up with a good friend, Missouri River guide and Watertown native Chuck Krause who knows these waters as he has been guiding out of the Gettysburg area since 1980.

  When we arrived, Chuck was just coming in from guiding and his boat had done well, bringing in with some nice walleyes.

  We’d stash our gear in Chuck’s modular home and then meet up with him at his South Whitlock Supper Club to make a plan for the next day’s excursion

  It was early as we worked our down the road that meandered through the Missouri River bluffs leading to the Sutton Bay boat ramp. It looked as if the word was out about that the bite was on as several boats were making their way out of the bay with several other rigs in line to launch.

  As the boat dock cleared, Chuck quickly backed his Stratos boat into the water, parked his truck and we were headed out into the main river.

  We’d be heading for the same area Chuck had fished the previous day, Willow Creek Bay. We weren’t the first to arrive there as another boat was already working the point.  It wouldn’t be long before a half dozen or more boats would be fishing the bay that day.

  It didn’t take Chuck long to locate the fish as his locator lit up with the big arches that anglers love to see, indicating  several fish up off the bottom.

  On this trip, we’d be fishing deep, twenty to thirty feet along a point heading out into the bay, the active fish were holding along the edge where the point dropped into the deeper water.

  Armed with six-foot snells, dressed with a red bead, a red hook and half a crawler tethered to two-ounce ounce bottom bouncers, we probed the point looking for active fish.

  My bait hit the bottom, I bounced it twice and feeling added weight, set the hook on the first walleye of the day, a healthy sixteen inch fish, it looked as if it was going to be a good day. [Read more…]

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Oahe, Walleye & Bass Enter Summer Pattern By Larry Myhre

GETTYSBURG, S.D. | We were early and already the Sutton Bay boat ramp was filling up with big rigs and empty trailers.

It was a beautiful morning. Sun splashed across the rugged Missouri River bluffs, throwing long shadows across the deep ravines and gullies. We had seen two deer lying in tall spring wheat on the way down from the South Whitlock Bay area, their thin necks stretching up with big ears splayed as they watched us cruise down the blacktop.

Chuck Krause fired up his big, 300-horse outboard and pointed the bow of the boat out of the bay toward the main river channel. Once there, he put the hammer down and we were flying across the calm water at 60 miles an hour.

It didn’t take long to reach the long point extending out from Willow Creek Bay. The point runs out a long ways and eventually drops into the old river channel.

“I found the walleyes here yesterday,” Chuck said. “It was fast fishing and we limited out in no time.”

But nothing brings out the fishermen like a landing net extending over the side of the boat and before Chuck left he had been joined by half a dozen boats and he learned later over a dozen were working the hotspot.

There was already one boat there when we arrived and one of the anglers had a fish on. His rod was bent nearly double and soon a big smallmouth erupted from the water in a shower of spray.

“I forgot to mention there are smallmouth here, too,” Chuck said.

Gary Howey dropped down his 2-ounce bottom bouncer pulling a 6-foot snell and a red hook sporting a piece of night crawler. It didn’t take the Hartington, Neb., angler long to connect with our first walleye.

It was a 16-incher and was promptly tossed into the live well. Fresh walleye was on our menu tonight at Chuck’s Whitlock Bay Supper Club, but we had to catch them first.

Chuck has been a full-time fishing guide in this area since the early 1980s. Both he and Gary are originally from Watertown, S.D., and knew each other as kids.

Chuck has accommodations for his fishing and hunting clients. We were staying in a recently built, 5 bedroom modular unit with an enclosed deck which overlooks the big lake and the Highway 212 bridge which crosses the reservoir at this point.

As we eased around the bar with the electric motor, we added a couple more walleyes and bass.

“I think the spot got hit pretty hard yesterday,” Chuck mused. I counted eight boats around us now on that bar. It was getting hit pretty hard today, too.

And the weather had changed.

After several days of howling wind, a light front had come through early that morning dropping some much-needed rain. The wind, although it pounded the fishermen hard, might have been the key to faster fishing. [Read more…]

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Lake Oahe Mid-Summer Walleyes By Eric Brandreit

Without a doubt May and June might produce some of the best walleye fishing that South Dakota has to offer.   The saying “fish are jumping in the boat” can be as close to reality as it comes with almost every type of bait and lure being productive. As the summer grows, the water warms and the baitfish hatch, naturally slowing fishing success.

Hearing that half the summer is over once the 4th of July passes on the calendar, many turn to camps and family vacations. With the weather turning hot to say the least, many try to take advantage of the weather knowing what is coming in the upcoming months.   Surprisingly, many boats get parked for a siesta convinced that the fish just aren’t hungry. Do you think that walleyes just take the months of July and August off from eating? Not a chance!

Having not quite the 10,000 lakes like our neighbor, it still can easily be said that South Dakota is rich in lakes teaming with fish of all species.   What is very different from neighboring states lakes is often water depth. In marginal depth lakes, mid-summer walleyes scatter and migrate to weedy areas seeking food and shade decreasing angling success. [Read more…]