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Iowa Great Lakes are a multi-species paradise By Larry Myhre Team Outdoorsmen Adventures

     SPIRIT LAKE,  Iowa — It was shaping up to be a picture perfect, bluebird day. The sun glinted off the calm surface of Emersons Bay on Big West Lake Okoboji as fishing guide John Grosvenor put the hammer down on his big Skeeter WX2060.

     Aboard were Clay Norris, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member and longtime product manager for the Berkley Company, and me. Following close behind the Skeeter were Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., who has the Outdoorsman Adventures Television show, and cameraman Garrett Heikes, Wayne, Neb., in my Alumacraft Tournament Sport which would serve as the camera boat for this trip.

     We didn’t have far to run.

     Grosvenor had caught a lot of fish on a rock bar just outside the mouth of the bay the day before. Bluegills, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and walleyes had rounded out his catch. He dropped down his Minn Kota Ulterra, bow-mounted electric motor and hit the anchor button. GPS tracking would keep us on one spot in spite of a light breeze which was beginning to kick up.

     John handed Clay a rod armed with a slip bobber and a 1/16-ounce jig head tipped with two red wiggler worms. These tiny worms max out at about 4-inches long and are great fish bait because of their wiggling action. After getting Clay rigged up, John handed me a drop shot rod with a Havoc Bottom Hopper Jr., plastic worm, on the short-shanked drop shot hook. A three-eights ounce drop shot sinker was slipped onto the line about 18-inches below the hook.

     Both rods were rigged with Berkley Crystal Fireline with Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon leaders.

     Both the slip bobber and drop shot rig are finesse techniques and work well in the clear waters of this spring-fed, 3,847 acre lake.

     It didn’t take long for Clay to hook up with a nine-inch bluegill. It was a brightly colored male as were most of the big ‘gills we caught that day. In this deeper water, the ‘gills were still on the beds. Clay took two more fish, a bluegill and a largemouth, before I hooked up with my first largemouth of the day.

     We moved a couple times on that bar, but could not find the larger bass John was looking for. Ours topped out at about 15 inches. And the walleyes, it seemed had left except for the small one that Clay brought to the boat. We had caught and released a lot of bluegills and largemouth, but the smallmouth were absent. A cold front had moved through late the day before and we figured the smallies might have gone into deeper water.

     John decided to make a move. He started the big motor and pointed the bow north. We were headed for the rock bars above Gull Point.

     John has been guiding on the Iowa Great Lakes for the past 16 years. I first met John when he was an Anchor/Reporter for KTIV-TV news and I was working at the Sioux City Journal. John spent 10 years in the news business, both in Sioux City and Des Moines.

     As we began working the rock piles on the flats above Gull, it became apparent that the largemouth and bluegills and even a few walleyes were home, but the smallies still evaded us. We also caught three small northerns along here. I caught a silver northern, my first ever. A silver northern is just a color phase and not a separate species. The silver northern has no spots or coloring along its back and sides.

     Clay remarked, “It looks like a walleye with a northern pike’s head.”

     That’s as good of a description as any.

     Another color phase found in these lakes is the striped northern. The DNR estimates only one percent of the northern population is striped, while some 20 percent are silvers. Apparently, the three color phases originated from Spirit Lake, but the DNR has stocked them in both West and East Okoboji.

     We made one more move into deeper water on a rock pile to the north. [Read more…]

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Keeping your Body warm in Sub Zero Temperatures, Cabela’s X-Bionic Base Layer By Gary Howey

  As an outdoorsman, I spend countless hours outside when it’s cold. In the winter, we’re on the ice, while in the summer, our crew is on the water and as fall arrives, you’ll find us in the field, and in deer stands.  I’ve always had problems keeping warm, especially in the late fall when hunting waterfowl, ice fishing and .

   If I wear the heavy bulky clothing I used to wear in these conditions, I have trouble bringing my shotgun up and just moving around in bulky clothing.   

  When we have to walk great distances as we do when calling predators or getting to our deer house or stands, if I layer up, by the time I reach where I want to set up or get to the deer stand, I am sweated wet and will be cold from that point on.

  During the late pheasant-hunting season, in early winter when you are one of the walkers, if you dress too lightly, you’re cold and if you dress too heavy by the time, you reach the end of your first field you’re overheated and are cold. 

  I’ve tried everything, layers, long johns, polypropylene long underwear and almost everything available, but some are not enough while others are too much.

  Later last fall, I’d heard many good things about Cabela’s X-Bionic Base layer First-On-Skin-Energizer that was developed by Swiss scientists, the system they scientifically proven and patented.

  The advertisements indicates that the 3D-Bionic Sphere System maintains your body core at an optimum 98.6 F no matter what the temperature.

  I’d tried everything else, so why not try the X- Bionic base layer. When I opened the package from Cabela’s, it was obvious these were like no other base layer I’d seen as they are constructed much differently. The advertising on the X-Bionic indicated that it was designed to turn perspiration into therm-regulating power and I was looking forward to see if what they said about it was true.

  Woven into the chest and back area is there 3D-Bionic Sphere System that starts working as soon as you start to sweat, to cool you when you’re hot and warms you when you’re cold but without over-cooling.

  Built into the material, there Air-Conditioning Channels, a ventilation system that continuously carries moisture away, keeps you warm,  allowing the air to flow to parts of your body not normally accessible when wearing other base layers. [Read more…]

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6 Hot Spots For Finding Shed Antlers

6 Hot Spots For Finding Shed Antlers

Shed hunting is all the rage now-days. People train their dogs specifically to find sheds, there are clubs and organizations devoted to the sport and shed hunting has become so popular that guided week-long “shed hunts” in prime areas can cost you $2,500 or more with food and lodging included. Fear not, sheds can be found in your own hunting area or on public land…for free. Here are the best spots to search;

1)  Winter Food Sources

During this time of the year whitetails aren’t moving much unless they have to. They spend most of their time in their bedding area and in whatever their major food source is at that time. If there are brassicas or corn in the area, these would be the best places to begin, but any major food source is a good bet for sheds.

2)  Deer Yards – Conifer Swamps with ample Browse Nearby

Whitetails spend most of their day during the winter in their “bedroom.” Most of the locations mentioned below would qualify as their bedroom, or what some would call their “core area,” “secure area,” or many other names – it’s basically the spot where they’re spending the greater part of the day. These spots will usually have protection from the wind, thermal cover and ample browse nearby.

3)  Thick Stands Of conifers Or Other Thermal cover

When driving a snow-machine or ATV during this time of year you can definitely feel when you’ve crossed into an area with warmer temperatures, often caused by conifer trees absorbing and holding the heat from the sun. Even on a cloudy day, the dark canopy is gathering and holding radiant heat sent via infrared and ultraviolet energy from the sun. The heat transmission process includes the mechanics of thermal radiation and convection. The sun heats the conifer trees and the air current moves the heat around.

4)  South And Southwest Facing Slopes Or Benches

Here again, we’re talking about your herd taking advantage of the sun’s energy. Because of the more direct angle to the sun on these southern exposures, besides the radiant energy, these spots likely have better, thicker cover and more browse due to increased stem density.

5)  Freshly Logged Areas

In newly logged areas we have the warmth of the sun making it to the ground and obviously newly accessible browse. Even though browse is poor nutrition and difficult to digest when compared to food plot crops, whitetails for some reason must have it. This is especially so during the winter months.

6)  Fence Crossings And Narrow Gully Or Creek Crossings

These features are Mother Nature’s “shed shakers.” Follow freshly used trails and look for places where a buck may have to jump or otherwise jar his antlers lose.

[Read more…]

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Your cell phone is a powerful photo tool By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Preserving your outdoor memories has never been easier. Or less expensive.

Film? Processing expense? What’s that?

We are in the digital age. Your photos can be downloaded to a computer, cropped, edited and enhanced with any of a number of post processing programs. Your computer may have come with a program already installed. If not there are several free programs that can be downloaded from the internet.

And, if you have a cell phone, and most people do nowadays, you have got the ability to make crazy good photos of just about anything. Since you always have your cell phone with you, your camera is just a screen touch away. So, too, are all of your photos. It’s very simple to show your buddies that picture of the big buck you put down last week, or the big walleyes you caught last summer.

I hate to say this because for most of my life a camera has played a big role in just about everything I do, but for most people there is little need to buy a digital camera. Your phone camera is really all you need. And as technology advances, these built-in cameras will only keep getting better.

As is true of any type of photography, you must have a knowledge of how to operate your equipment. A camera phone is no different. You need to know how to control focus, how to control exposure and how to use the flash, to name just a few.

I have an iPhone 6. Like most phone cameras it has center focus, but sometimes you do not want the camera to focus there. To control the focus in the camera, you simply tap the screen and a small yellow box illuminates where you have tapped. That indicates the area the camera will focus on. That’s the technique for most cameras in a phone. The exposure on my iPhone is controlled by sliding a small “sunburst” icon up or down. For most of our outdoors photography the flash will be used as a “fill flash” that opens up the shadows on a subject’s face, such as the shadow from a hat brim. Remember that these small flashes don’t have much distance. Six feet is about their maximum range to eliminate the hat brim shadow. [Read more…]

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Learning from the Outdoors By Gary Howey

  I’ve been serious outdoorsmen for over 40 years, each time I go out, I learn a lot from my trips to the field as well as those on the water.

  When I first got into the outdoors, I did it because I thought it would be a great way to get away from it all, those little problems, molehills that I’d blown way out of proportion, making them seem like huge mountains.

  I’m sure that some people just think that hunters and anglers do what they do because they enjoy eating what they harvest.

  To a certain extent that’s true, but too many, like myself, it’s more than that!

  It’s the experience as a whole, an opportunity to spend time in the outdoors.  Where we can enjoy all that Mother Nature has put together and have an opportunity to spend time with individuals who have the same interest that you have.

  I’ve learned from spending time in the outdoors is that there are some people I truly enjoy hunting and fishing with.

  While others, I’d never want to spend time with because of some of the things they do and their complete disrespect for the game & fish they’re after.

  It seems that some people don’t understand why we have limits, while others are down right dangerous when you put a gun in their hand or put them behind the steering wheel in a boat.

  One question that continually comes up at my seminars and personal appearances is why we release so many fish on our television show.  I’m sure that some people believe it’s because we’re fishing all the time and our freezers are probably full of fish.

  Nothing could be further from the truth; we release them because we’ve learned in order to have fish to catch on the next trip, we need to release some of them today.

  If we release some of the fish, especially the larger ones, it will allow those fish, the breeders to reproduce another year and there will be more down the road for us to catch.

  Perhaps that fish we release today will be an even bigger trophy the next time we catch it. [Read more…]

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Five things to catch more fish this winter By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Successful ice fishing, I have long maintained, is simply a whole lot of little things put together that result in catching fish. How often have you been fishing with someone and they catch a lot more fish than you do for no apparent reason. Or, perhaps, you are the one catching most of the fish.

If you begin to investigate every little detail you may find what the difference is.

FISHING LINE

Ranking right at the top of all these little details is your fishing line. Generally speaking you should use 4-pound-test line for panfishing, 6-pound-test line for walleye fishing and 10-pound-test for northerns or lake trout.

However, sometimes these recommendations do not fit the circumstances. I always carry a rod spooled with 2-pound-test line for panfish. Some anglers even go lower. Sometimes, in ultra clear water you should drop to 4 for walleyes and 8 for northerns or lake trout.

It’s also best to use line designed specifically for ice fishing. You want a line which is soft, has low memory and doesn’t stretch much. Lines with low stretch enable you to stay in better contact with your lure and detect bites better. The line I use is Berkley’s Trilene Micro Ice. The last couple of years I have also experimented with super lines. They have literally no stretch and are finer diameter than monofilament. Some of my rods are spooled with Fireline Crystal Micro Ice.

BITE INDICATORS

If you are not using bite indicators you simply are not catching as many fish as you should. Bite indicators, sometimes called spring bobbers, attach to the end of your rod and the line goes through them. When a fish mouths your bait, the bobber dips down and that tells you to set the hook. [Read more…]

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It may happen, And when it does-Fishhook Removal By Gary Howey

Nothing will spoil a great day of fishing quicker than having a hook embedded in your finger or other part of your anatomy.

If you do much fishing, as many of us do, the day may come when it happens to you or your fishing partner.

It can happen quickly, when you pull on your line to free a hung up lure or when you are trying to remove a lure or hook from a fish that is flopping around.

My tournament partner, fishing partners and I had it happen, when a hook embeds in an ear, nose, leg or other parts of the body.

When it happens, a person’s first reaction is to simply yank it out, well believe me, that is not going to work and will be painful, even if the hook is stuck just below the skin.

I hate to say it, but I have had to remove hooks from my fishing partners and had them remove a fishhook from my thumb.

But, as my partner and I found out, if it is a treble hook, when more than one of the hooks embedded, a trip to the emergency room may be the your only alternative!. [Read more…]

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It takes good planning to dress for the ice By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

One of the keys to successful ice fishing is keeping warm. Today, that’s easy to do. There are a number of products available that will keep you comfortable in even the coldest weather.
When putting together your cold weather outfit, there are a number of things to keep in mind. And, there are a number of ways of dressing depending on the temperature, the wind, whether or not you will be fishing in the open or in a shelter.

Most of my ice fishing nowadays is done up north. So I have to pack my cold weather gear. I have a large, wheeled duffel to carry everything in. That way I can pick and choose depending on conditions.

Staying comfortable on the ice is kind of a balancing act. You need to put on enough cold weather gear to keep warm, but not too much. If you begin sweating you will become cold, no doubt.
In my estimation, the two most important areas where you must dress right are your feet and your head. If your feet get cold, you will be miserable regardless of how warm the rest of you is. The greatest heat loss from your body will occur through your head, so what you wear up top is vital.

Years ago, I learned that I could enhance the warming qualities of any pair of boots by slipping a felt sole into them. I used to buy them at military surplus stores. And I still have a half dozen pairs of them lying around. Later I purchased a pair of rubber boots with a felt bootie inside of them. Although there are a lot of new boots on the market with more advanced features, I still find myself wearing those old rubber boots.

Another secret to keeping your feet warm is do not wear boots that are too small. Your cold weather boots should be about one size over what you normally wear to make up for the heavy sock, or socks you will be wearing. If you can’t wiggle your toes easily, your boots are too small.

One thing I have added, however, is Thermacell heated insoles. These are remote controlled with no external batteries or wires. And, best of all, they don’t get too warm. You can set them for “no heat,” medium heat (100 degrees) or high heat (111 degrees).

When it comes to footwear the thing I look at is weight. It’s hard enough to walk in deep snow without adding extra weight. I should probably add that when there is no snow on the ice, you must have a pair of cleats. They won’t keep you any warmer, but they will help keep you upright. [Read more…]

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Local anglers complete Wyoming’s Cutt-Slam by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Last summer was a milestone of sorts for two local fly anglers. They spent 10 days in the western part of Wyoming fishing for three subspecies of cutthroat trout in their native drainages.

Most of their time was spent high in the mountain ranges of the Bridger Teton National Forest fishing headwater streams where pure strains of Colorado, Snake River and Bonneville cutthroat swim.

For years fish management programs have threatened the cutthroats through the introduction of non-native trout, including browns, rainbows and lake trout.

Today’s fish management is changing.

In an effort to develop more appreciation and support of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s cutthroat management efforts, the department has initiated a fisherman’s recognition program. Titled the Wyoming’s Cutt-Slam Program, it recognizes anglers who have caught each of the four subspecies in their native range within the state.

“The first I heard about the program was when I was visiting the Dakota Angler Fly Shop in Rapid City and saw the certificate on the wall,” says Robert Gillespie.

Gillespie, Sioux City, was on his way to Montana to fish the Yellowstone River with his fishing partner Charlie Thoman, Dakota Dunes. After learning more about the program, they decided to document their catch of the Yellowstone subspecies and plan a trip to Wyoming the next year to catch the other three.

It was, they both agree, a wonderful and challenging time.

“It was the best trip ever,” Gillespie says. “I’d never fished the Bridger Teton National Forest. The scenery is gorgeous, and we both like fishing smaller streams.”

Thoman agreed.

“It was fantastic,” he says. “It was the best fishing experience I’ve ever had.”

But it wasn’t easy.

The cutthroat were finicky, and weather sometimes threw them a curve. [Read more…]

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Late ice fishing action can be hit or miss By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WATERTOWN, S.D. | It was beginning to look bad for the home team. We had been on the ice for about three hours and had only one walleye to show for it.

And that one had been caught by our friend Chuck Krause, Gettysburg, S.D., who was fishing with Don Fjerstad, Watertown, S.D., just before Gary Howey and I arrived.

We were on a lake called Dry Lake, a glorified slough southwest of Watertown which, like many former sloughs in northeast South Dakota, have begun to swell as lakes over the past 15 years or so.

One thing they all have in common is high populations of perch and walleyes.

But you sure couldn’t tell that by looking into our ice buckets.

It was well past 3 p.m., and we didn’t have much time to redeem ourselves. Then Chuck’s cell phone rang. It was his nephew Junior Burns, Watertown, who was fishing at the north end of the lake.

“I just put three walleyes on the ice,” he reported.

It didn’t take us long to pack up and head north. Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

Gary, of Hartington, Neb., was hoping to catch enough action to produce a segment for his Outdoorsmen Adventures television show. Things were going to have to improve quickly because the next day’s forecast was for a monster cold front with northwest winds of 25 to 30 miles an hour. Once that front hit, I was confident the catching would turn from worse to even worser. As they say, this wasn’t my first rodeo.

As we caravanned our three vehicles into the north end of the lake it was clear that fish had been caught here. There were a number of ice houses and a whole bunch of portable shacks as well as guys just fishing out in the open.

We quickly punched a bunch of holes and settled in.

It didn’t take long.

Fjerstad set the hook and announced he had a fish on.

It was putting a pretty good bend in his rod and Gary pulled the depth finder’s transducer from the hole so the fish wouldn’t tangle up in it. [Read more…]