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Late Season Ice Fishing Tips Punching holes and Slowing Down By gary Howey

It’s late season, the slow time of the year when it comes to ice fishing. In order to locate the fish, you may have to punch a bunch of holes in the ice and use every trick in your tackle bag to get the fish to bite.

When I first hit a body of water to ice fish, I will punch numerous holes in several directions; with the ice, where we will be fishing, the ice will resemble Swiss cheese.
As I pull my auger from the hole and head for the next spot: my fishing partner drops the Vexilar transducer in the hole and calls out the depth. We repeat this until we have an idea as to where the bottom configuration changes, if there is any structure below us and of course if there are any fish.

Fish like to relate to something, it could be a change in bottom depth, what is lying on the bottom or the edge of vegetation that is still standing, something making one area different from others. That is what you are looking for when you start punching your holes in the ice, the change.

When the water gets cold, fish will be looking for comfortable water temperatures, but that does not mean they will spend all of their time in that area, they will still move around checking out their environment and be looking for what little food they now need.

It always seems that the first bite comes right after we drop our bait down the first time. Some believe it is because what froze in the ice broke loose and now drifts to the bottom attracting the fish.
If the first bite comes quickly, then the bite dies, we do not spend much time there as we are looking for large concentrations of fish as fish in schools are competitive and will try to beat the other fish to the bait.

How you fish a lake or pond depends on what species were after. If we are in a lake with walleyes and perch, our first bait going down will be a larger spoon tipped with a minnow head or a whole minnow. If the fish follows, but refuse to bite, it is a good indicator your lure is too large for what’s swimming around down there. If that happens, we will quickly go to our back up rod with smaller lure tipped with wax worms.

Perch unlike their cousin, the walleye have a smaller mouth and many times will peck at a larger bait but not be able to pull the larger bait into their mouth. [Read more…]

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Rivers offer best walleye fishing right now By Larry Myhre

  Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
 

When the month of March rolls around, walleye fishermen’s thoughts turn to rivers.
While that is particularly true throughout Siouxland, the river-fishing angler exodus is experienced across the country in early spring.
And there is a good reason for that. Walleyes are moving upstream toward their spawning areas. On many rivers, including the Missouri River, their migrations will be halted by dams. There, walleyes will gather by the thousands awaiting the warming waters which will trigger the spawn.
 

Gavins Point Dam at Yankton, S.D., has long been a magnet for late-winter walleye fishermen. So too have the other dams in South Dakota. Fort Randall Dam at Pickstown, Big Bend Dam at Chamberlain, and Lake Oahe Dam at Pierre, S.D., will all be focal points of walleye fishermen for the next month and a half.
  It’s a sure bet that the majority of anglers, by far, will be armed with leadhead jigs tipped with fathead minnows. This has proven to be a very productive presentation for cold-water walleyes over the years.

  Let’s look at how anglers can use the jig and minnow proficiently at this time.

  The waters below these Missouri River dams will be crystal clear so it is important to use light line. While I don’t necessarily think the line spooks walleyes, I generally side on “why take a chance.
Lines in the 4- to 6-pound test, clear category get my nod. So too, does fluorocarbon. The light line aspect probably comes into play more about how your jig and minnow presentation reacts in the water. Light lines may present a more natural presentation to the fish.
Unquestionably most anglers will be using a technique known as vertical jigging. This means holding your boat in place, bow pointed upstream, in areas of reduced current and dropping your jig straight down beneath the boat. As the jig nudges the bottom, the boat “slips” back with the current so you are offering the jig to the fish below, all of which will be facing upstream and are used to obtaining their food in this manner. [Read more…]

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Do the Change Up When fishing is slow! By Gary Howey

I know there isn’t much open water left to fish; this is the time of the year when we should be plenty of time to read and think about things that occurred on the open water, this column mentions one of those times!

What I’m writing about happened to me numerous times over the years and I am sure it will happen again, where I have spent a lot of time running from one old hot spot to another looking for fish.

When I was beginning to think that there was not a walleye in the lake and about to stop for the day, I finally located some active fish with my locator.

My eyes were glued to my locator and I was working my way back and forth over this one particular area several times when suddenly, I spotted fish in 15 foot of water, those big lazy arcs indicating the presence of fish and by the size of the marks on the locator, these were good ones!

Since they were located right on or just a foot or so off the bottom, I guessed they were active walleyes and immediately marked the spot.

Grabbing a couple rods set up with live bait rigs, I probed the 15’ along the drop off where my locator indicated the fish were holding.

It did not take long for me to realize that these fish were in a negative mood and were not interested in what I was offering.

I started going through my tackle bag, switching from one walleye bait to another, going with my old standards, a spinner with a crawler, leech and even a minnow, a Northland Roach live bait rig with a crawler, throwing a jig and leech and finally a crawler on a plain hook with just a split shot, all to no avail.

These fish were not in the mood, no matter what I was shoving in front of them they just laid tight on the bottom refusing to move.

Once again, I started digging into my tackle box, looking for something different the walleyes may not have seen before, looking at baits used for some other species, something, which might get the fish’s attention, and to pull them out of their negative mood. [Read more…]

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Late Season Walleye By Gary Howey

Late season, just before freeze up is the time you should be on the water fishing for walleyes as they have started making their way upstream in preparation of next spring’s spawn. In the Missouri River System, this migration is halted by the Missouri River dam systems.

Because the fish are stacked up below the dams, you will find them in the same general area you found them in early fall, perhaps a little deeper as they are in that transition period where they will soon be moving into their wintering areas.

Since water temperatures have dropped, so has the fish’s metabolism, so a slow presentation is what is needed to catch them. Many of the fish will have worked into the deeper water, just off the drop offs, moving very little.

The preferred bait during the late season would be jigs worked vertically, just verily raising the jig off the bottom, holding it there for a second and then following it back to the bottom. Live-bait rigs such as Northland Roach rigs also produce well during cold weather and fished in the same manner as a jig.

Since water temperatures are cooling, you might have to play with the fish a bit. [Read more…]

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Spinner jigs popular choice for walleyes By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

If you combine two top lures for walleye fishing, you should have created that magic, never-miss lure.

Right?

Well, not exactly. But you will have a pretty good lure that will catch a lot of fish.

Combining a jig with a spinner isn’t exactly new, but such lures have been getting a lot of favorable press lately.

To my knowledge the first lure to be manufactured which combined the jig and spinner theory was Blakemore’s Road Runner. It was in 1959 when this lure came on the market. It was manufactured in Branson, Mo., which is in the heart of crappie and bass country. It initially was created as a crappie lure but anglers soon learned that it would catch anything that fed on minnows.

Bass Buster lures came out with the Beetle Spin at about the same time. This was a jig attached to a “safety pin” type wire and spinner blade. It was another dynamite lure, but not really in the family of lures we are talking about.

In the late 1960s, I remember reading an article in a now, long-defunct tabloid newspaper which focused on fishing the Missouri River in South and North Dakota.

It featured an angler from Yankton, S.D., who was catching a lot of saugers and walleyes below the Gavin’s Point Dam. His secret was trolling a jig with a Hildebrandt Flicker Spinner attached to the hook. If you are not familiar with this old favorite, I’ll try to describe it. [Read more…]

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Fall offers the best fishing of the year By Larry Myhre

If you are thinking about winterizing your boat and putting away your fishing tackle for the season, don’t do it.

From now to ice-up is the finest time of the year to catch fish, particularly big fish.

As waters begin to cool, fish instinctively know to feed up big, storing fat and energy to take them through the lean days of winter and, for the females, maintain the developing eggs within them.

To be successful, however, you need to change tactics. What worked in the summertime will not work very well in mid to late fall. Take weedlines, for instance. In the summer that was the place to be. In the fall weeds begin dying and fish leave the area. There are exceptions, however. If you can find green weeds, fish them. Green, healthy weeds in the fall are a magnet for all game fish.

A couple of general rules must be considered.

First, fish tend to move into deeper water in the fall months. Deep rock piles and deep, fast-dropping points are two good areas, particularly for walleyes and bass. Also when you look at a depth map of the lake, seek out areas where those contour lines come close together. These are fast-dropping areas where fish are likely to be.

Second, you must slow down your presentations. The later it gets and the colder the water gets, the more this holds true. Fish are cold blooded creatures and their activity level will slow with colder temperatures.

What about presentations? Well, bigger is better in the fall. All of the forage fish have grown in size. Young-of-the-year perch could now be 4 or 5 inches long. Baits such as very large minnows or chubs will be preferred.

This is also the time to haul out those hair jigs. There’s just something about hair jigs in cold water. Walleye and bass like them. Tip with a large minnow and vertical jig them in fish holding spots and you will catch fish.

Spinners and minnows may be the best way to go if you can’t get your hands on some good chubs. I make a copy of Cap Kennedy’s old Killer rig which is dynamite in cold water. It is a spinner on a wire with a long shanked hook covered in deer tail hair. Tip it with a minnow and troll it along a sharp drop off. The photo with this column shows a walleye taken on a Killer Rig. [Read more…]

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Late Season Walleye

It may not seem like it right now, but its fall and soon the fall colors will appear with cold weather is right around the corner.
When the weather is like this, it makes late season fishing a joy, when you do not have to hit the water with three layers of heavy clothing.
Of course, if you fish in the early morning or late afternoon, it would be smart move to bring along an extra sweatshirt or jacket.

It is this time of the year when many anglers will have put their fishing gear away, pulled out their shotgun or bow and is pursuing waterfowl, grouse, archery deer and antelope.
If you are one of those, you may have made a big mistake, as this is the time of the year when you find the larger concentrations of walleye and sauger feeding heavily on the remaining baitfish and prey fish.

Generally, these larger concentrations move into the deeper water where the baitfish have stacked up to spend the winter.
It is during this time of the year when game fish want larger baits and when larger live baits really produce.
Finding the schools of walleye and sauger really is not very difficult this time of the year! You will need to look for them in some of the deepest water located on the lake or river.
Once you have located them, you should be able to come back year after year and find them in about these same areas. As long as the baitfish are in the general area and the structure does not change, the predator fish like the walleye and sauger won’t be far behind. [Read more…]

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Fall, the time of the year When you Better be Ready!

Fall; when things get hectic, there is so much going on and so little time.
Some of our Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Members are still fishing, but all, are starting to think hunting.
Our Waterfowl Pit & Blinds are ready with our Decoys ready to go on the water and in the field, Calls have been tested and adjusted, the Shotguns cleaned and our Ammo purchased.
Food Plots are in, the Game Cameras in place, our Deer Stands set up, our Rifles zeroed, and Bows sighted in

Our Hunting Dogs has been out and are ready to go, the time of the year when Outdoorsmen and Women like our crew have their pickups and 4-wheelers loaded for all seasons. [Read more…]

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In the Heart of the Sandhills, Valentine, NE. By Gary Howey

Our destination, Valentine, Nebraska, located in north central Nebraska in the part of the state known as the Sandhills, a picturesque part of the state where seven different ecosystems come together.

When most folks think of Valentine, they think about the excellent canoeing and tubing down the Niobrara River. Among the other attractions and outdoor opportunities found in the Valentine area, include several waterfalls, including; Nebraska’s tallest waterfall, Smith falls and the Snake River falls. Other attractions all located within a short, drive from Valentine, include the McKelvie National Forest, the Valentine National Migratory Bird Refuge, Fort Niobrara National Wildlife and Valentine State Fish Hatchery.

On this trip, we visit another of the excellent vacation and fishing destinations in the area,  as we will be fishing and filming on Merritt Reservoir with Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Steve Isom of Valentine.

Merritt Reservoir, a three thousand acre reservoir is located twenty-six miles southwest of Valentine; the reservoir holds excellent populations of walleye, smallmouth bass, crappies, and channel catfish and is one of the few lakes in Nebraska with Muskie.

Several Nebraska State record fish have come from these waters including the state record Channel Catfish. I n 1985 a thirty-nine inch fish tipping the scales at 41 lbs. 8 ounces came from these waters, the following year the record was tied when another big catfish, also weighing 41 lbs. 8 ounce fish was taken from the reservoir.

Merritt is also the home of the Nebraska record Muskellunge (Muskie), the state record fish came from the reservoir in 1992, the a fifty-two inch fish weighed in at 41 pounds 8 ounces. [Read more…]