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Looking Back at Another Year By Gary Howey

  It’s the time of the year, when temperatures are dropping and the northwest wind is making a visit to our part of the country.

  I’m in the office working with my computer, hating to think that I’ll have to head outside again, when I think about all the last year, 2016, which will be ending soon.

  Overall, it was a very good year, where Team members and I spent some time on the water and in the field with old friends as well as making some new ones along the way.

  We started out our year in Howard, S.D. on a late season hunt where Team member Josh Anderson and I filmed a pheasant hunt, on this trip; it was easy to see why South Dakota is the “Pheasant Capital of the World”.  This trip brought back memories, reminding me of how the pheasant hunting was when I was a boy growing up in Watertown, S.D.  

  Back then, they had a government program, the Soil Bank program with a potion of the farm left idle. This and the method they farmed back then, created thousands of acres of habitat, which help to create excellent pheasant numbers.

  Current pheasant numbers in our area are down, but I’m optimistic and looking forward to bird numbers improving. The new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will create thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, which gives birds a place to nest, roost, raise their chicks and help to protect the birds from predators.

  Following that trip, Team member Simon Fuller and I headed to the Aberdeen-Webster area to do some ice fishing. On the trip there were some big walleyes caught and returned into the icy depths of the Glacial Lake we were fishing. On that trip, I set a record for the most fish caught; unfortunately, they were minuscule, about the length of my hand and released, allowing them to grow up. It was a great trip as it gave us the opportunity to spend time on the ice with folks cut from the same cloth we were, spending time with others who loved to spend time in the outdoors, on the ice on a cold winter day. [Read more…]

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Late fall is prime time for big smallies by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WEBSTER, S.D. — When those big old cottonwoods begin shedding their bright yellow leaves, there awakens in me an almost uncontrollable desire to be on the water.

            And not just any water.

            No, I begin to dream of lakes harboring strong populations of those big ole brown fish. And if you don’t do Southern speak, let me interpret for you. We are talking about smallmouth bass.

            In my book, the smallmouth bass is the fightingest freshwater fish that swims.

            And the best time to take numbers of huge smallies, sometimes in areas no bigger than your average living room, is right now till freeze up.

            That’s why I called my brother Dean, who lives on a farmstead near Worthing, S.D., and asked if he wanted to chase big smallies on a couple of northeastern South Dakota lakes. It was, of course, a question that needed no answer.

            Fast forward a few days. We had been fishing maybe five minutes when Dean’s seven foot spinning rod bent over and began to pulse with the thrust of a good fish.

            “Got one,” Dean muttered to no one in particular, and I began digging for the landing net. It’s a fold up style and takes a little bit to get unlimbered and ready for action.

            “Should have gotten this ready before we began fishing,” I said as I opened the mesh and began pushing buttons and sliding the handle back and forth.

            I got the thing together just as the three-and-a-half pound smallie surfaced alongside the boat. I dipped him up and placed the net in the boat at Dean’s feet. [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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South Dakota State Record Smallmouth

The fish, a female full of eggs, was 19 inches long and had a 19-inch girth.

“I’ve never seen anything so fat. It was so fat its eyes were bulging. It was a freak,” Held said.

Held caught the fish on a swim bait with a jig head, using an Alabama rig. Not legal in all states, but allowed in South Dakota, an Alabama rig allows an angler to fish with multiple hooks on one line.

“Basically it imitates a school of bait fish, like perch,” Held said. “I started the morning using jerk baits and then switched to the Alabama rig. I caught the fish on the second cast with the rig.”

To say Held caught the fish in a very brief space of time is not entirely accurate. The two had been scouting, studying and fishing Horseshoe Lake for three years. They began after reading that the previous state record was caught in the lake in October 2013. [Read more…]

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South Dakota smallmouth don’t disappoint By Larry Myhre

When October rolls around, my thoughts turn to smallmouth bass.
So, I called my brother, Dean who lives at the family farm home near Worthing, S.D.
“The smallies should be in their winter pattern,” I said. “That means deep and grouped up.”
He was ready, and didn’t even ask where we were going.
Enemy Swim Lake just 14 1/2 miles northeast of Webster, S.D., was my first choice, but just about every lake up there boasts good populations of big, brown bass.
“I’ll reserve us a couple of rooms and pick you up about 9 a.m.,” I said. “That will give us plenty of time to see if the bass will cooperate that afternoon.”
There are lots of ways to fish for smallmouth grouped up in their winter habitats, but I prefer live bait.

[Read more…]