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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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Ice Fishing at 50 degrees By Gary Howey

  There’s something to be said about ice fishing when it’s fifty degrees, it’s not the type of weather you usually associate with ice fishing.  For one thing, your hands and the rest of your body isn’t as cold as those minus thirty-three wind chill days you had been on the ice. That day when we traveled five hours north with a film crew and had to film as we had been invited up by one of our sponsors and the day before wasn’t as bad with the weatherman indicating that the following day wouldn’t be all that bad!

  On fifty-degree days, you can fish without heavy gloves, making it easier to untangle your lines and easier and quicker to tie on or bait ice fishing micro baits when you don’t have to wear gloves.

  The best thing about it is you don’t have to bribe your friends to go ice fishing with you.

  When the forecast for Friday February 10 was for fifty-degree weather and little wind in the morning, it sounded like a good time to hit the ice.

  Some of my fishing partners were worried about the ice and not having enough ice but after I assured them that there was eight inches a few days before, they were all in.

  Dani Thoene and I hit the ice first, with Dani punching holes and me following up behind him to clean up the ice mound around the hole and scoop them clean.

  Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. pulled in shortly after we arrived and set up on one of the holes to the east of where I was fishing.

  Ten minutes later Anthony Thoene arrived and began fishing not too far from where Larry had set up, with Melvin Kruse rounding out our crew.

  We’d be fishing on a privately stocked pond in northeast Nebraska, one that I’d fished in open water and knew there were some big fish patrolling the depths as on one occasion, I was fishing with heavy line and was broken off when a big fish hit my lure and broke me off in open water.

  We all had Vexilar locators, showing letting us know when fish moving in on our baits, but as many fish do in the winter, they weren’t overly aggressive.

  I rigged up a live bait bobber rig with a minnow and jigged with another rigged tipped with a wax worm hoping to entice a crappie. Larry, Dani and I were doing a number on the smaller bluegill and bass, with two or more of us pulling fish up at the same time.

 A thick red line, indicating a fish moved up under my bait, I raised my bait just a bit, as I waited for the fish to move up to the bait, I watched the sensitive spring bobber at the end of my rod as it will indicate a bite long before you feel it.  [Read more…]

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Yes, Virginia, you can catch bass all winter By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the SIOUX City Journal

Largemouth bass do not need to be an “accidental” catch in the wintertime. If you search out areas which attract them under the ice, use lures and techniques they like, you will catch them with regularity.

Yes, Virginia, you can catch bass all winter.

It was a brilliantly sunny day when Gary Howey punched several holes though the ice on one of the local ponds near Hartington, Nebraska.

Within minutes they were baited up and in the water with tiny jigging lures tipped with wax worms.

Gary set out a dead rod tipped with minnow under a bobber a few feet away from his bucket.

We weren’t exactly surprised when Gary’s first bite resulted in a 2-pound bass. I grabbed a few quick photos and went back to my rod which had been sitting on my bucket. I picked it up and felt pressure, so I set the hook. It was another bass which was twin to the one Gary caught.

Later his bobber went down and another nice bass flopped out on the ice.

All these fish were released.

This was not a unique experience for us. We have caught a lot of largemouth through the ice over the years.

I’m guessing that 99 percent of the largemouth bass caught through the ice were taken while the angler was fishing for something else. But bass do not have to be an “accidental” catch.

If you want to try something different this year, target largemouth bass.

I know most people think bass go lethargic in cold water, but I’ve caught enough of them through the ice to know they can be caught, and caught in numbers. [Read more…]

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Plastic worms shine in hot weather bassin’ By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

When it comes to hot weather bass fishing, my thoughts turn to plastic worms.

The simple 6- or 7-inch plastic worm is often the most effective presentation in warm-water fishing.

Like most things in successful fishing, simplicity is often best. And, the plastic worm presentation is simple — basically it is a hook, line and sinker.

I’ll never forget the first time I used a plastic worm for bass fishing. It was on a farm pond north of Sioux City. I’d been reading about plastic worms being used by southern bass tournament fishermen, but the type of baits they were using were not available up here right away. Then the Creme Company began marketing worms in Siouxland. I picked up a bag of six, six inches long in purple color.

I rigged Texas style. More about that later.

Those six worms lasted only one evening of fishing. The bass simply tore them apart. I had never used a lure which was more effective.

Frankly, that was a long time ago. And you know something? My mind hasn’t changed. A plastic worm is the best overall bait you can use in the summertime for largemouth bass.

There are lots of ways of rigging worms. Let’s look at some of them.

One of my favorite rigs is the jig worm. Back in the days when my late friend Bob Brown kept a trailer at Pequot Lakes in north central Minnesota, that was the only presentation we used for largemouth. [Read more…]

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Summertime is topwater bassin’ time By Larry Myhre

When summertime rolls around, my thoughts turn to topwater for bass fishing.

While 90-degree days under bright sunny skies with the countryside wrapped in sweltering humidity might not be the best time for chasing bass on top, it is certainly a good option.

The explosion of submerged weeds in most of our bass waters is what triggers my desire to wrestle with chunky largemouths in the slop.

You see, there are some bass, certainly not all in the lake, that will take up residence in the almost impenetrable jungle of aquatic growth.

Winching them out of this boars’ nest requires a whole new set of rods, reels, line, lures and just plain old elbow grease.

Of course, you don’t have to be in the middle of the equivalent of an aquatic cow pasture to successfully use topwater techniques. There’s a period of time just before the weeds hit the surface that can be good too. Also don’t overlook woody structure along shorelines or any ambush point in shallow water where a hungry bass might take up residence.

If I had to pick the best time of day to take bass on topwaters, it would have to be that hour before dawn and that hour after sunset. But to limit your topwater presentations to only those

times would be a mistake.

Bass can be taken on topwaters any time of the day. And not only in the summertime. Believe it or not, I’ve caught ‘em in November in the middle of a snowstorm by “walkin’ the dog” with a big Zara Spook.

So what’s my favorite topwater bait? I don’t have any. What is recognized as the “go to” topwater bait for bass? There isn’t any.

Here’s the deal.

There are a huge variety of topwater baits designed to catch bass, both smallies and largemouth. Each has their time and place. [Read more…]

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Farm pond ice trip yields bass, bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

BOW VALLEY, Neb. | I could see the gate was open to the pasture that held the little farm pond that Gary Howey and I planned to fish. His pickup was parked near the top of the hill that overlooked the little gem, which we knew was filled with fish.

My Jeep plowed through the snow at the gate and climbed through it to higher ground where I parked alongside Gary’s rig.

My companion already had all of his gear, which is usually substantial, already on the ice and he was busy drilling holes. With bibs and parka on and zipped, I grabbed my bucket and began waddling down to the pond.

“There’s all kinds of fish down here,” Gary, of Hartington, Nebraska, yelled. His sonar was lit up like a Christmas tree.

He jerked back on the rod. Swing and a miss.

I baited up and sent my tear drop down, a waxie hanging off the hook.

Then Gary connected.

“Big fish,” he exclaimed.

His rod tip was bent down to the waterline and he was desperately trying to pull his transducer out of the hole. Just as he got it free, his line went slack.

Moments later, I set the hook into something just as substantial. I didn’t have to clear my hole because Gary hadn’t brought the Vexilar that I usually use when we fish together. Nice guy. [Read more…]

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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…]

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Fish play hard to get on Nebraska farm pond By Larry Myhre

HARTINGTON, Neb. — The fish showed up as a red line on the Vexilar flasher. It was just below another red line which was my tiny, tear drop jig tipped with a waxworm.

The two red marks merged. My eyes left the flasher and concentrated on the strike indicator at the tip of my short, ice fishing rod. The indicator dipped ever so slightly and stayed there. I lifted the rod until I felt the fish and then swept up with a gentle hook set. There was a tug of resistance and then nothing.

The bite had been so fine I don’t think the tiny jig was in the fish’s mouth. The resistance was probably the fish pulling the waxworm off the hook.

Sure enough. When I reeled in to check, the hook was bare. [Read more…]