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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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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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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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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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Kids and Fishing By Gary Howey

When you spend as much time in the outdoors as I do, you realize there are many things that just naturally go together.For instance, spring – mushroom hunting, summer – walleyes, fall – pheasant hunting or the fall colors and winter – ice fishing and of course – kids and the outdoorsWhen I think about kids, I think fishing. Because kids and fishing just naturally go together.

Kids have a lot of energy and are always looking for their next great adventure. Of course, one thing they are short of is a whole lot of patience, but that can be something fishing can teach them.

To a kid, fishing can be an adventure into the unknown. All you’ll need to do is to make it interesting and keep the action going.

You don’t want to make it to complicated as you want them to catch a bunch of fish. [Read more…]