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Keeping minnows alive worth extra steps By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | There’s a lot more to keeping bait — minnows or chubs — alive and active than simply tossing them into a bait bucket filled with water.

Minnow baits catch fish best when they are in good condition, not when they are oxygen-starved or stressed by water temperature.

Some minnows, especially shiners, creek chubs and redtails, can be really difficult to keep alive. That’s why you seldom see them in smaller bait shops. Aeration in their tanks has to be spot on, and aeration is expensive.

The biggest mistake you can make is putting too many bait fish in your bait bucket. Overcrowding will cause the bait to begin dying almost immediately.

In the fall months, water cools down and that certainly helps you keep your bait alive. Metabolism slows down in colder water and oxygen requirements are less. That helps. So, rule No. 1 is to keep your bait in cool water. Also, take care not to shock them by removing them from warm water and dunking them quickly into cold water. Add the cold water gradually.

Change the water often in your bait bucket. A couple of things are happening in your bait bucket. One is oxygen depletion. If your minnows are swimming to the surface, they need more oxygen. Dump out the old water and add new. The other thing is, fish release ammonia when they are confined. This can kill them. If you’ve ever had a tropical fish tank, you know about ammonia.

When it comes to baitfish water, I advise reading your fishing regulations carefully regarding the transporting of live bait. In an effort to stem the spread of invasives, many states have changed their laws regarding live bait. For instance, in South Dakota you must not use lake or stream water to transport your bait fish. Instead, you must use bottled water or tap water.

If you use tap water, you should remove the chlorine in it before putting in your bait. Pick up a small bottle of dechlorinator liquid from a pet store. One drop will be all you need to add to the bait bucket to ensure chlorine is gone.

The traditional bait bucket was the old galvanized pail with an insert into which the bait was placed. Those buckets have a lid that can be opened and as you lift the insert out, the water drains and you can select your bait fish. The insert can also be removed from the bucket and placed in the water over the gunwale of a boat or off a boat dock. They are still available, but most bait buckets today are made of plastic. They come in a variety of sizes. [Read more…]

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Spring Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

I can’t wait until old man winter releases his grip on the upper Midwest and spring arrives when I can hit the woods to begin another season to pursue spring turkey.

This will be my forty-first season where I hope to add my 104th bird to my turkey log. This year, I’ll have three Nebraska tags and help my Son-in-Law Matt and grandson Teddy to tag their first birds in South Dakota.

It’s a good time to get out, spend some time in the woods doing a combination turkey scouting and shed hunting trip. Deer general; shed their headgear in mid-February, but not all deer shed at the same time. It’s possible you will find sheds shortly after the rut. While I’m out looking for sheds, I have my eye out for turkey sign as I hunt sheds in the same areas where I hunt turkeys.

When my camera crew and I are seriously thinking about turkey hunting, the first thing we need to do is to put together some sort of a plan.

If you are hunting locally, putting a plan together doesn’t take much time, but if you’re looking at hunting in a different area or even a different state, making a plan will be very important.

If I’m going to be hunting in a different state, I start by checking the web sites of the state’s Game and Parks or DNR I’m looking at getting a permit. If they have a lot of information and columns devoted to turkey hunting, it’s a good bet there a good numbers of the birds in the state.

After looking at the South Dakota Game & Parks site where I had hoped to have the opportunity to do some turkey hunting with my son in law and grandson, I was disappointed to find out the county they would be hunting in, didn’t issue any nonresident permits, I had to re-plan the hunt.

We would have to start checking around at the states where we would have a chance at obtaining a permit; I’ll grab the phone and contact the game department of the state. This is where I obtain as much information as I can from their experts. I’ll talk with the people that spend a lot of time in the field and have their finger on what’s happening as far as turkey numbers. This information helps me to zero in on an area with good numbers of birds and if I’m lucky, I may even be able to obtain some names of folks in the area that may allow hunting.

I choose a zone or area where I have a good chance of getting a permit. Then it’s that anxious time, waiting to find out if you were successful on the draw. Once I know I have a permit or tag I look for any public land in the area, if that area happens to be one the game department was high on, I get an aerial map of it and see what’s there, checking out any heavily wooded areas for possible roosts and areas where the birds could feed.

I’ve hunted turkeys in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Mississippi and got my best information from those states Game & Parks-DNR’s. Some of them have turkey density and harvest information that helps us to choose what area to hunt. [Read more…]