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Tricks for finicky late-season fish By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

There’s one thing you can take to the bank if you are an ice fisherman during the month of February. Catching fish is just going to get tougher.

The bloom of early ice is off. Gamefish have settled into the doldrums of winter. If you are going to catch your share, whether it is bluegills, crappies, perch or walleyes, you are going to have to fish smarter.

Generally that means lightening up. Smaller baits, lighter lines, more precise presentation all play a greater role late in the ice fishing season.

If you have been fishing four pound test, you might consider switching to two pound. But even more importantly, you need to fish fresh line. Monofilament has a memory. That memory means the line comes off your spool in curls. Your tiny ice fishing jigs or teardrops are not heavy enough to take out those curls, so you are never in direct contact with your lure.

One thing underwater cameras have shown us is how lightly late winter panfish hit lures. We’ve watched bluegills and perch swim up to a lure, inhale it and spit it out all in one motion.

If you are using a camera, you can probably hook that fish. If not, you won’t even know it inhaled the bait. Sure, you can see the fish on your flasher, but you can’t tell if he has the lure.

One little trick I use is when I see the fish signal merge with my bait signal I began raising my rod tip feeling for pressure. Quite often, especially this time of year, the fish has taken the bait with no indication even if I’m using a bite indicator.

So here’s the thing. Having coils in your line severely complicates the catching of light biting fish.

I could make a strong argument for changing your line each time you go fishing.

That doesn’t mean you put on an entire 110 yards of new line each time. If you are fishing 30 feet or less, put on 40 feet of new line, using a blood knot to join the old with the new.

Once you are on the ice, it is a good idea to hook your lure on something heavy like your ice shack or snowmobile and stretch the line to remove the memory coils before fishing.

A good argument can be made for using one of the new “super” lines for ice fishing. There will be no coils in the line and no stretch, so your sense of feel will be greater. The deeper water you fish, the more important it is to use a super line.

Are there other ice fishing tricks that will help you take late-winter fish? You bet. [Read more…]

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Fall fishing heating up on natural lakes By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Lake Poinsett, that 7,903-acre glacial lake just a few miles west of Estelline, S.D., certainly lived up to that billing last weekend.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska, and I joined fishing guide Jarrod Fredericks for an afternoon go at what Poinsett had to offer.

 We weren’t disappointed. Jarrod sent his Minn Kota Talon to the bottom in eight feet of water to anchor our boat on the edge of a boulder pile that gave way to a gravel and sand flat.

“We get big smallmouth off the boulders as well as good-sized crappies,” he said. “Perch and walleye work the edge of the rocks over the gravel.”

It didn’t take long for us to prove him right.

Gary soon hooked up with a scrappy smallmouth on his 1/8-ounce, minnow-tipped jig. Another smallmouth inhaled my 1/16-ounce, marabou jig to put me on the board.

For the next couple of hours, the smallmouth kept us busy, but we also added some nice walleye and pound-plus crappies.

We each put a dead rod over the side with a 3/16-ounce tungsten jig tipped with a piece of crawler. Smallmouth are notorious for following your cast back to the boat and then setting up residence under the boat. The dead rods proved that, but we also took several walleyes using the same method.

After awhile, Jarrod dropped a Jiggin’ Rap over the side and proceeded to give us a lesson on this technique, which is a “must” method for any serious walleye fisherman. As soon as he dropped the Rap to the bottom and gave it a snap, he was hooked into a two-pound walleye.

After releasing that one, he went back down and, I swear, no more than two snaps and he bagged another walleye.

While this spot had produced big perch for Jarrod in the past, they were absent on this day.

“We may have to troll crankbaits to get them,” he said. “We’ll save that for tomorrow.”

We anchored in two more spots that afternoon and each produced smallmouth and walleye.

I was surprised at the number of boats that were fishing that afternoon. There were lots of trailers and rigs at the boat ramp on the east side of the lake. Most of these anglers were in pursuit of the jumbo perch for which this lake has become famous.

Last winter the lake received tremendous pressure from ice anglers as the big perch bite heated up. It’s amazing how quickly word of a bite can spread through social media nowadays.

It’s a far cry from the days when I first fished this lake in the early 1960s. I’d drive up and launch my 12-foot wooden boat with a 7 1/2-horse motor and fish for whatever I could catch. That was mostly walleyes, white bass and northerns. If Poinsett was slow, I’d slide over to nearby Lake Albert and fish for bullheads. I slept in my car.

It was also where Fran and I spent our two-day honeymoon in August 1964. I caught a nice stringer of walleye, white bass and northern while wading one evening off the shore at our resort in the southwest corner of the lake.

[Read more…]

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Walleyes biting well on Lake of the Woods By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WILLIAMS, Minn. — Nick Painovich, owner of Zippel Bay Resort, guided the big, 30-foot charter boat around the corner and through the mouth of the bay. Lake of the Woods lay before us. Nothing but water could be seen along the northern reaches. The view of the south shoreline was tree-lined until it, too, faded into the dancing heat waves and melded into the lake’s surface.

To the east you could see a couple of faraway islands, two of the over 14,000 found on this giant inland sea.

Our destination was 23 miles to the north just outside “the Northwest Angle.” The Northwest Angle is the farthest north portion of the contiguous United States. Its existence is thanks to a mapmaker’s error in the late 1700s.

It was an hour’s run to a reef where one of Nick’s charters had picked up some nice walleyes the day before.

Our plan was to troll bottom bouncers and spinners with nightcrawlers impaled on three-hook rigs. And, it was a good one.

We soon were pulling eating-size walleyes and saugers over the side of the big boat. The best ones were put in the live well for supper back at camp that night.

Gary Howey, of Hartington, Nebraska, and I had arrived at Zippel Bay the day before. Nick put us up in one of their big log homes available for guests. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a jacuzzi, kitchen with stainless steel appliances, fireplace, flat-screen TV and a large deck.

We met Nick for breakfast in the lodge and then boarded the charter, where we were joined by Mitch Cole, a veteran charter boat captain with 40 years of service on the water.

All walleyes between 19.5 and 28 inches must be released at Lake of the Woods. The walleye/sauger aggregate limit is six, but not more than four can be walleyes. From Dec. 1 through April 14, the limit is increased to eight, but only four can be walleyes.

We were catching a lot of fish, nice 18- to 19-inch “eaters,” but none topped the 19.5 mark. We were hoping to get a “picture” fish, which, of course, would be released. Last year I released an eight-pounder. So we made a change of location to another reef about five miles to the southwest. A charter captain there told Mitch via marine band radio that he was trolling plugs behind downriggers and was catching some nice fish.

We pulled in, put down our spinners and began boating fish. But once again the larger fish were eluding us. [Read more…]

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This system catches summer panfish By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Late summer and early fall find crappies and bluegills heading for deep water.

For many anglers, this is the time for the slip bobber set-up, but over the past several years I have been using a method that just about everyone knows about but almost no one is using.

That would be drop shotting.

The method first burst upon the professional bass tournament trail probably around 20 years ago. Perfected in tough, clear fishing waters of Japan, the bass pros soon learned that it was a dynamite system over here as well. It was a closely guarded secret for years. But, eventually the word leaked out.

I don’t remember the year, but I was introduced to the technique by one of the pros at the Berkely Company. We fished West Okoboji and caught smallmouth, walleye, perch and crappie using the technique.

I could recognize the potential this system had for any of a large number of gamefish. In those days we simply used long shanked Aberdeen hooks and large split shots for weights. Although I rigged up a small plastic box just for drop shotting, I seldom used the system. That was a mistake. Over the years, special weights and hooks designed for this system were developed and are widely available today.

In case you are not familiar with the system, let’s go over it. It is your basic hook, line and sinker setup. You tie a hook on the line using a Palomar knot, which will cause the hook to sit out parallel to the line. You leave a long tag on the line and slip it through the eye of the hook and, let’s say 12 inches below the hook you attach a sinker such as a large split shot or two.

I’ll try to explain how to make this rig in more detail. You want the hook point to ride up, so begin the Palomar knot by passing the line from the top side down through the hook eye, and then bring it back through from the bottom, leaving a loop under the hook. Then, using the loop, tie an overhand knot and slip the hook through the loop it creates. Pull the knot tight. Next, pass the tag end of the line through the hook eye from the top side down, tighten it and attach a drop shot sinker or large split shot. [Read more…]

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Perch, Panfish & And Kids

I remember when I was growing up in Watertown, when my Grandparents Butch and Mary Menkveld took my brother and I fishing.  They were always fishing and knew about everything there was to know about the outdoors.

  I don’t remember the lake, but I do remember Grandpa giving us a cup full of bait, just enough to get start fishing and telling us, he wasn’t going to clean any of those little fish we usually catch unless we caught over twenty-five.

  He thought that it was a safe bet, but forgot he’d showed us how perch eyes were such great bait for perch.

  That evening when he and I were out behind the house cleaning the dozen of little perch we caught, he mumbled under his breath, “I should have never showed those kids that trick”.

  We were fortunate to have several people in our lives to show us all the great adventures that were part of the outdoors. My father Cal, my Grandparents and good friend and neighbor Glen Matteson got us interested in the outdoors.  Which was good as it kept us too busy to get into trouble, well anyway in much trouble?

  Kids and fishing just naturally go together but there are a couple of things you’ll need when it comes to teaching a youngster about fishing, one is a lot of patience on your part and the other is something pulling on the fishing line, an eager biter, a fish that will take the bait.

  When fishing with kids, the old K.I.S.S. rule is in effect, or the Keep It Simple Stupid rule, which means go with the basics, the old hook, line, sinker and a small bobber. The more difficult you make it, the quicker you’re going to lose the kids interest, as a kid’s attention span is very short.

  In the fishing classes I give to kids as a Nebraska Aquatic Education instructor, I start with the basics, keeping it short and not too complicated, starting with how to handle a rod & reel, the short Mickey Mouse set-ups for the younger kids and a Zebco 202 for the older ones. I teach them how to cast, rig up the basic rig, including how to put a wiggly ole worm on a hook. With some of the girls, this may take a bit of coaxing, but after they’ve completed it once, and have something to wipe their hands off and after they’ve did it the first time, it’s not so bad. [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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Last Ice By Gary Howey

I was keeping an eye on the weather, as we needed cold weather in order to get back into the dam we hoped to ice fish, but didn’t need any sub zero temperatures or heavy wind.

I was looking at ice fishing a pond southwest of town, one that was in the middle of a half section. We had tried once before to get back into it, which wasn’t a good idea as it was just too muddy and we didn’t want to tear up the field.

When the Press and Dakotan indicted next week’s weather would have sixty-degree weather, the next few days of cold weather looked to be our last opportunity.

It was nine below zero when Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre, Sioux City pulled into the office, bitter cold with the wind that was howling in from the northwest.

We didn’t need to worry about mud on this trip as everything, including much of the water in my minnow bucket was hard as a rock.

Bouncing over the corn rows, we made our way to the pond with some open water around the riser, so it was my job to hit the ice first with my Jiffy auger to see if we had enough good ice. I punched several holes, finding ten inches of ice, signaled my partner to join me.

I would punch the holes with Larry following behind with his Vexilar locator letting me know the depth.

We were looking for deeper water, as this time of the year in this type of pond, the fish searched out the deepest water in the dam. [Read more…]

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Potential New South Dakota State record Perch

Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Don Fjerstad, Watertown, South Dakota, the Host of KWAT Outdoors sent us this photo ofa potential new South Dakota state record Perch. The fish weighed in at 2.86-pounds and was caught on Bitter in N.E. South Dakota by Chase Jensen, Aurora, S.D.

[Read more…]

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Cold Weather & Hardwater Angling By Gary Howey

Some folks may wonder about those of us who spend time ice fishing, to be honest with you, there are times I wonder about it myself. Wondering why we would leave a warm lodge when the wind chill is minus thirty degrees the answer is simple, we Love it!

Last week our crew, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. Scott Ulrich, Hartington, NE. and I made our way north to Hidden Hills Lodge, Roslyn, S.D. On this trip, we would be fishing the ice-covered Glacial Lakes in search of perch and walleyes.

We would be joining good friend Casey Weismantel, Aberdeen C.V.B. HuntFishSD.com Austin Kaus, S.D. Tourism, travelsd.com/tourism Greg Liebel, East River Guide Service, dakotasportsman.com, ice-fishing pros from Clam clamoutdoors.com and Vexilar vexilar.com.

[Read more…]