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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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Summer walleye bite on Bitter going strong By Larry Myhre

WEBSTER, S.D. | Bitter Lake appeared to be a sleeping, gentle giant as I peered across the big lake from the east shore boat ramp. Its waters were flat calm, a very unusual thing in this year of constant wind.

Cory Ewing backed his big Lund into the water and Austin Creamer, Hartington, Neb., and I jumped in while Gary Howey, Hartington, parked the trailer.

Soon the three of us were motoring over the flat water and the slight chill in the air made me glad I had the pull over windbreaker on.

It wasn’t long before Cory cut the RPMs and we glided into a saddle between the shoreline and a sunken island. The water here ranged from 6 to 9 feet deep and the weeds on either side of us gave away the shallower structure.

“Walleyes were in here thick yesterday,” he said as we idled through with our eyes glued to the graph. Soon the familiar arches of fish showed up. “They’re still here.”

We dropped down one-eighth-ounce jigs tipped with minnows and began to jig vertically while Corey moved us slowly with the electric motor.

Austin, an intern with Gary’s Outdoorsman Adventures, had never caught a walleye, but the high school senior was a quick learner. He landed the first fish, a 15-inch walleye. That was a fine start and we worked the area for about an hour, landing several more walleyes from 14 to 17 inches.

And then we moved.

This time Corey selected a saddle between two sunken islands. Again weeds gave away the shallow water on either side of the 6- to 9-foot deep area we were fishing. I had retied with a 1/16-ounce, chartreuse lead head, a size I am much more comfortable with in this shallow water.

Again, the depth finder told us there were fish present and again we proved it right by catching them.

It was good, steady action and we caught what looked to me like three separate year classes. They are just good eating-size walleyes. And then the big fish hit. [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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Kramper Lake offers great fishing promise By Larry Myhre

 

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

HUBBARD, Neb. | The tiny red and white bobber tipped over on its side and then zoomed under the water as yet another bluegill inhaled my 1/64th-ounce jig.

“I just love the way bluegills fight,” I told my boat partner, Gary Howey of Hartington, Neb., “If they weighed six pounds I don’t think you would ever land one.”

This little guy was exhibiting the trademark fight of his kind. Bluegills turn their broad sides to the pressure of the line and somehow swim in tight circles which can test the mettle of your 4-pound-test line.

We were fishing Kramper Lake, the centerpiece of the new Danish Alps State Recreation Area just a mile or so southeast of Hubbard, Neb.

The lake opened to fishing last July after heavy rains the previous year filled the 226-acre reservoir. The lake was first stocked in 2012 and has had two more stockings since then.

Well-stocked with bass, bluegill, crappie, walleye and channel catfish, the lake is tucked into over 500 acres of parkland featuring more than 70 gravel pads for RVs and 22 tent-camping sites. Camp sites are complete with 30 and 50 amp electricity hookups, water, shower houses and equestrian facilities. A picnic table and fire ring is located at each campsite.

Our boat was tied up to one of the many trees which line the now submerged Jones Creek. Although many of the trees are in over 30 feet of water, we were taking bluegills within a foot or two of the surface. Sunken trees attract most gamefish, including walleyes. We were told that a 17-inch walleye had been caught on a crankbait in the trees the week before.

The trees are only part of the ample structure built into the lake. Before it filled, several brush piles, shoals, rock piles, reefs and other structures were installed. Coordinates are provided in a brochure which will enable anglers to find them with their GPS units.

All things considered, this could be one of the best small-reservoir fishing sites anywhere.

We had begun the day working the weedline looking for bluegills, largemouth and crappies. [Read more…]

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Current Facts How current affects fish By Gary Howey

  When I was growing up in Watertown, S.D., where we fished, we did not worry about the current and the way it affected the fish. Why, well we did not know a thing about it, secondly, we were fishing in the Sioux River and lakes where current was not a big factor.

  After moving down to the area I live now, Hartington, NE. where I would be doing the most of my fishing the Missouri River, understanding current became very important.

  Anglers, especially those who fish down river from a one of the four Missouri Reservoir dams, need to pay close attention to what is happening at the dam, especially the amount of water being released or decreased, as a change in water velocity and levels drastically affect the location and mood of the fish. 

  I’ve heard it dozens of times where anglers have clobbered the fish one day and then the next not have a clue why fishing the following day will not be good at all.

  In many cases, the reason things have changed is that the discharge from the dams has changed either raising or lowering the water levels and changing the current flows.

In many of the newspapers including the Yankton Press and Dakotan, they give a report on Gavin’s Point Dam, showing the water temperature of the lake, the amount of discharge as well as other information.

  The water temperature on the lake, gives anglers and idea as to when the spawn will happen and the bite will begin to improve, while the information on the discharge is important, as the movement in the water causes all species of fish to change their patterns.

  The best fishing is going to happen when there’s an increase in water flow as this means there will be injured baitfish coming through the dam, signaling to fish down river that it’s lunch time, causing them to move up stream to feast on what’s being washed through the turbines or over the spillway.

With the increase in water flow, there is an increase in current.  It forces fish to relocate, with some moving to the deeper holes, into current breaks or to the inside bend along the shore line to avoid the swift current while others, the more aggressive fish will move up to the head of the hole to be the first to the feed on what’s washing down to them.

  The exception to the rule is channel catfish, since they seem to enjoy current and will eat about anything, they will move to the outside bend where the current is stronger, taking advantage of what is being carried downstream by the current to feed. [Read more…]

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It’s easy to get into a rut when it comes to fishing. By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Take walleyes, for instance. If your springtime presentation is limited to a quarter-ounce jig tipped with a chartreuse curly tail grub and later in the year you switch to a bottom bouncer in front of a chartreuse spinner and nightcrawler, you should probably widen your thinking to try some other baits.

When it comes to largemouth bass, or smallmouth for that matter, if your presentations are limited to a 6-inch, Texas rigged worm behind a pegged quarter-ounce cone sinker or just tossing a big spinnerbait, you definitely need to expand your horizons.

Panfish are another matter. A jig and bobber just about covers the presentation scene for most anglers for bluegills and crappies. A good choice most of the time, but why not mix it up some.

Want some examples of change-up presentations for walleye, bass and panfish? Here are two for each.bass and panfish? Here are two for each.

For the past several years, I have been experimenting with a jig and 4-inch ringworm in a lot of my walleye fishing, both during the cold water months and in the springtime. The jig and twister is the preferred choice of most anglers at this time, or, perhaps, just a plain jig and minnow.

But throwing a 4-inch ringworm on the right-sized jig head often out fishes either rig. Conditions, however, have to be right. By that I mean you have to slow down. Pitching jigs to the shoreline is often a very productive method on our Missouri River reservoirs and some lakes both in the springtime and the fall. But typically the boat is moving too fast to use the ringworm effectively.

The presentation of the worm is critical. You cannot “jig” it like you do with a curly tail. It has to “swim” along the bottom. It is a lift and drop retrieve with no embellishments on your part. It is really effective in light current where you can cast across and upstream and swim it back with that rolling retrieve on a tight line just over the bottom.

It’s a presentation that was perfected on the Mississippi River and parts east, but just hasn’t caught on anywhere on the Great Plains.Pic-Klages-Panfish

Here’s another option. It’s becoming more and more well-known now that just a piece of nightcrawler can be more effective for walleyes than the whole bait. This technique had its beginnings on the Missouri River.

Only rarely now, do I ever fish with a whole night crawler. The key, I think, is to put a small bead on your line above the hook. I suspect that color can make a difference most days, but I usually just put a fluorescent red or orange bead on the line and let it go at that. But, I have also tried chartreuse, white and green and caught fish as well. Most days the bead, regardless of color, is important to your success.

I hook the crawler through the nose and then pinch off the tail about four inches below the head. The theory is that the pinched crawler releases more scent into the water and that might be the case. It works, and that is all I really care about.

Some of the lakes where I fish largemouth bass are hammered so hard throughout the open water season that I firmly believe the bass become conditioned to some baits and just won’t hit them. Do you know a bass fisherman who doesn’t throw spinnerbaits? I don’t, either. In fact, I’d say largemouth bass see more spinnerbaits in a season than any other lure.

I love spinnerbait fishing. Cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve. That’s about all there is to it. And It catches fish. It covers water fast. It’s effective in shallow water where active largemouths spend a great deal of time.
 
 But is there another bait that these fish hardly ever see that is just as effective and just as easy to fish as the spinnerbait? Yes, there is.

It’s called a “chatterbait.”

This bait is like a spinnerbait without the overhead wire arm. It’s a jig with a rubber skirt. The jig is attached to a short wire upon which sits a “flat” piece of metal which causes the jig to jiggle, chatter and just act crazy as you pull it through the water.

It’s been very effective on every body of water I have fished. Try it and see what you think

What about panfish. Here’s a couple of ideas.

I remember when “Beetle Spins” first came out. I really didn’t think much of them. It was simply a “safety pin” type spinner hooked up to a small jig with a plastic grub body that culminated in a split tail. The body had no action

But when I tried it for the first time, I became a firm believer in the effectiveness of this lure. I fished it on both sides of the Highway 71 bridge that separates East and West Okoboji. It is a very popular fishing spot to this day, and for good reason. Lots of fish hang around there.

I caught perch, bluegill, crappie and bass right there on that little jig-spinner fishing from shore. Later, in the fall, I cast it there after dark and caught walleyes. I even hooked something one night that peeled 110 yards of brand new, four-pound-test, monofilament line off of my Mitchell 308 reel and finally broke me off as it continued its way into East Lake.

It’s a great crappie bait when fished slowly around crappie cover.

Another panfish bait well worth throwing is the Road Runner jig. It consists of a “horse head” shaped lead head at the bottom of which is attached a small willow leaf spinner. The body is made with either marabou or plastic, your choice.

Like the Bettle Spin, it is a simple, cast and retrieve bait. The best tip I can give you for fishing either bait for crappies is, fish them slowly. Crappies are not chasers so the presentation has to be slow. If fishing over deeper water, you don’t have to worry about being on the bottom; crappies will rise up to take a lure but it has to be moving very slowly.

If you haven’t already, try out these options for your favorite fish this year. It’s tempting to quote a couple of cliches here to make my point. Don’t be a “one-method Pete,” and “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Whatever.

More outdoors information is available at http://siouxcityjournal.com/sports/recreation/outdoors

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Walleyes Pre & Post Spawn Gary Howey

 A couple of weeks ago, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Larry Myhre and I spent some with guide Kent Hutcheson time probing the waters of Lake Sharpe for walleyes.

  We were hoping to hit the Pre-spawn or tail end of the spawn, which usually occurs when water temperatures hit forty degrees and ends when temperatures warm up past forty-five degrees.

  Because of the strange weather we’ve had this spring, the walleyes had a tough time finding ideal spawning temperatures and the pre-spawn and spawn occurred differently than it had in past years.

  In preparation of the spawn, walleyes should be stacked up in areas adjacent to rocky points, areas with a lot of wave action as the waves oxygenates the eggs and prevents silt from covering the eggs.

   During the pre-spawn the spawn, we looked for the fish to be located in the deeper water along rip-rap areas or areas with fist size rocks. They were there, but the major part of the spawn had already occurred, with those fish using the area the smaller males, still hanging around hoping to find a female that hadn’t dropped her eggs. [Read more…]

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We pursue post-spawn walleyes on Lake Sharpe By Larry Myhre

 

PIERRE, S.D. | If there is one thing you can count on about Lake Sharpe this time of year, it is that it will kick out walleyes. Early spring means “eaters,” those 15- to 18-inch males that take up residence on the rocky flats where the big females move in to spawn.

If you hit it right, the fishing can be phenomenal. Be a few days early or a few days late, and it is another story.

Oh, you’ll catch fish. And you shouldn’t have any trouble catching a limit of four walleyes over 15 inches. But you will have to work for them.

That’s what happened to us late last week. Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and I fished with longtime friend and fishing guide Kent “Hutch” Hutcheson, who has been guiding in the Pierre area for over 30 years.

When Hutch picked us up at the Ramkota Hotel, our headquarters for the next few days, he told us the walleyes were at the end of their spawn and finding fish might be tough. He had fished the Cheyenne River on massive Lake Oahe the previous day and reported the fish were there but finding them was not easy.

After some conversation we decided our best bet might be the West Bend area of Lake Sharpe, the 80-mile-long reservoir to the south that stretches from Big Bend Dam just above Chamberlain to the Oahe dam just a few miles north of Pierre.

When Gary and I crossed the bridge spanning across the river from Fort Pierre to Pierre, we noticed a lot of boats working the sandbars just downstream. I took a quick count and came up with 26 boats.

“Doesn’t anybody work anymore?” Gary said. We used to see this kind of pressure on the weekend, but this was during the week.

It was the same at the West Bend boat ramp. Over 20 rigs were parked in the parking lot and three more boats were ready to launch.

As we eased out of the small bay that protects the ramp, I counted 15 boats working the big, long sunken reef or island that lays out across the bend. But Hutch wasn’t heading there. He abhors fishing with a bunch of boats and pointed the bow downstream to one of his hot spots a few miles away.

When we got there, three boats were working one hump and another was awfully close to where Hutch wanted to fish.

“I used to have this spot all to myself for years,” he said. “But things have changed.”

[Read more…]

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Early walleye fishing success is about timing By Larry Myhre

For those chomping at the bit to go walleye fishing, your best bet is fishing along the Missouri River.

Pre-spawn walleyes will be staging below the dams all up and down the river. And anglers will be there in big numbers to take advantage of the bite.

For natural lakes, it is still a bit early. Iowa’s best walleye lakes, West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Big Spirit, are closed to walleye fishing at this time. The season doesn’t open until May 2.

In lakes like Storm Lake anglers are working the shallow gravel and sand points and flats looking for the male walleyes that move into those areas in a pre-spawn run.

While you can be effective fishing from a boat on a lake like Storm, or many of the northeast glacial lakes of South Dakota, wading fishermen often have an edge. That’s especially true of the locals who know their lakes like the back of their hand. Generally small jigs from 1/16th to 1/8th work best at this time. Try fishing a plain leadhead tipped with a small fathead minnow. You might be surprised.

But what about opening day on the Okobojis?

Chances are the fishing will be tough. I used to open the season there every year for a number of years, fishing in the Fort Dodge Messenger’s Walleye Tournament. Headed up by my late friend Bob Brown, the Messenger’s sports editor, the tournament was more of a social gathering than anything else.

The only decent walleyes caught were taken by anglers fishing Big Spirit Lake from the midnight opener into the early morning hours. I have never cared much for night fishing, so I spent opening day on East Lake, Minnewasta and Upper Gar. [Read more…]