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When it’s Windy Put the Brake on By Gary Howey

  If you spend much time in the outdoors in the Upper Midwest, you know that the wind can kick up quickly and mess up a fishing trip

  Walleye anglers know the best fishing can occur when there is a chop on the water, when these ripples on the surface prevent the sun’s rays from penetrating to deep.

   However, what do you do when the winds blowing twenty-five to thirty miles per hour, some would say, that is easy “Stay Home”, which would make a lot of sense to most of us.

  Sometimes you have no chose when you are already there and you need to get out no matter what the weather conditions are.

  This happens a lot, if you have a fishing tournament you are in or are like my crew when we are there to film a television show, those times when you really do not have an option.

   Take for instance, a trip we made to north central Minnesota where we planned to film one of our shows had to face heavy winds on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.

  We had driven hundreds of miles, had our accommodations paid for and did not want to give up and drive back home just because of the wind, so with rain gear on and life jackets securely fastened; we headed our twenty-one foot  boat out into the large waves.

  This was what you call “Rocking & a Rolling” and after twenty minutes of being tossed around, we finally arrived at the area we hoped to fish.

  The original plan was to use bottom bouncers with eight to ten foot spinner and livebait rigs, to drift over a twenty-five foot gravel flat where we had caught some nice fish on previous trips.

  Because of the strong wind, just allowing the boat to drift in these conditions was not an option, as the wind pushed us along a lot faster than we wanted to go, with our baits riding high in the water and moving too quickly for the fish to zero in on them.

   Using the bow-mount trolling motor would not work either because the waves at times were coming over the front of the boat.

  Trolling with the 9.9-kicker or our big motor was also not working well as it was hard to control our drift. [Read more…]

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Amazing Facts About Aquatic Invaders

We have been telling you about aquatic invasive species (AIS) all summer and what you can do to slow the spread of these nasty plants and animals. Now how about some simple and sometimes amazing facts about these aquatic invaders?

Silver and Bighead Carp

  • These species have the ability to leap 10 feet when startled.
  • These two species are the most important fish, worldwide in terms of total aquaculture (grown on fish farms for food) production.
  • One bighead carp can produce over 2,000,000 eggs.
  • In an effort to make the fish more appealing to Americans, the fish has been renamed silverfin or Kentucky tuna.

Zebra Mussels

  • These freshwater mussels were originally native to the lakes of southern Russia and the Ukraine.
  • They have a lifespan of 4-5 years.
  • An adult female zebra mussel can produce 30,000-40,000 eggs in each reproductive cycle and over 1 million eggs a year.
  • Most zebra mussel predators don’t live in North America. An adult crayfish can eat 100 zebra mussels a day. Smallmouth bass also are a predator.

Rusty Crayfish

  • Their name derives from the two rusty sots on the sides of their back.
  • Typically larger than other crayfish species and can grow to over 4 inches from their eyes to the tail.
  • Will displace other native crayfish species.
  • Females can carry up to 200 fertilized eggs under their tail.
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Reetz Lake near Webster, S.D. Open to Anglers on August 1

PIERRE, S.D. – As part of a signed access agreement with the landowners, Reetz Lake will be open to licensed anglers starting Aug. 1 – Sept. 30, 2018 and from May 1 – Sept. 30, 2019.  

Although the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Commission adopted regulation changes for the lake, the revised regulations will not take effect until the administrative rules process is complete and the rules are approved and filed with the Secretary of State. At the earliest, the new fishing regulations would take effect on Sept. 10, 2018.

“The Department is pleased to announce that after 15 months of being closed, Reetz Lake will once again be open to the public and even though the new regulations are not in effect Aug. 1, the landowners are willing to provide additional angling opportunities,” stated Kevin Robling, GFP special projects coordinator. “As a reminder to anglers, we ask everyone to recreate with respect and be aware of the size restriction changes likely to occur in September.”

From Aug. 1 – Sept. 10, daily fish limits for Reetz Lake include:

  • 1 walleye or sauger 28 inches or greater.
  • Only those largemouth and smallmouth bass less than 14 inches can be taken and only 1 greater than 18 inches.
  • Statewide regulations for all other species.

From Sept. 10 – 30, daily fish limits for Reetz Lake will be:

  • 1 walleye or sauger, 28 inches or greater.
  • 1 yellow perch, 14 inches or greater.
  • 1 black crappie, 15 inches or greater.
  • 1 bluegill, 10 inches or greater.
  • Statewide regulations for all other fish species.
    • Includes the year-round removal of the largemouth and smallmouth bass size restrictions.

Landowner permission is required to fish Reetz Lake from Oct. 1 – April 30.

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Jigging- The Method that works on all Game Fish By Gary Howey

  When I do my seminars throughout the upper Midwest, I talk to a lot of anglers and at one, I had several anglers tell me that they either had trouble fishing a jig or had not used them much as they did not have the time needed to learn how.

  I told them, fishing jigs is not bait used just for species, as they will catch all species of game fish, from panfish on up to lake trout. 

  For me, I do not believe there you will find a more effective piece of equipment in your tackle box or bag an angler can use!

  It surprised me to see that some folks felt jigs used for only one or perhaps two species of fish.

  Jigs are such a versatile tool, that they will catch any game fish that swims!

  Some anglers think that a jig has to be jigged, on the bottom, raised, lowered, and used only when fishing from a boat.

   Jigs are baits that, all anglers should have, no matter what species you fish for or how you fish, as they work when fished from boats, the shore or through the ice.

  If you want to make them more effective, add to them, add a plastic body, night crawlers, leeches, and minnows or fish them plain!

 They come in all sizes, colors and designs.  Bulk them up with marabou, squirrel tail, buck tail or plastic to make the jig drop slower and during cold-water fishing, many anglers simply use a plain jig tipped with a minnow or even a wax worm.

  When fishing smaller jigs, those used for panfish, you can jig them, working them up or down off the bottom, or jigged vertically, cast along the edge of the weeds or suspended under a slip bobber with a piece of crawler, worm or small minnow, making them a very effective method of taking a wide variety of panfish.

  Walleye anglers use jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce, depending on where they fish, the amount of current and the depth they are fishing. They attach minnows, leeches or crawlers to entice walleyes that at times can be very finicky.

  Those looking for bass use a jig & pig combination, with a trailer, which can be plastic like Berkley Gulp, Power Bait, or a pork rind to take both smallmouth and largemouth bass during the toughest of conditions. [Read more…]

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Capture Better Hunting Photos with Your Phone

In today’s world, most everyone has a phone that they use to take pictures. Where you may have to search for a camera, our phones are almost always with us and the cameras in many of  these phones can shoot some amazing images. We’re capturing split seconds of time we cherish later, sometimes years later, and love to relive the memories. As time passes, photos and video are all we have to look back on special times that meant something to us. Whether it is a beautiful sunrise, an antler you found glistening in the sun, or a photo to show your friends the deer you were chasing and finally caught up to this past fall, it’s always great to have a camera at your fingertips. Cell phone technology has improved so much within the past few years; it allows you to have access to an excellent camera wherever you go.

The roots of my job as a photographer began just like that, walking around with a phone looking for anything that caught my eye. Looking back at those pictures, there were several things I wish I had known then that I know now. One quick way to make your photos stand out is to try different angles of the subject. This allows the audience to see your subject in a different perspective and maybe in a way they never have before. A slightly different angle can bring in more or less light and might compose a unique and different scene.

One thing I always ask myself when I’m photographing something is “how does everyone else do it?” Usually I try to go the opposite direction of that or add some sort of a twist to make it more exciting and stand out. The next thing I wish I had learned was to use the focus for your benefit. Using the focus in creative ways can add depth of field or make your subject stand out more than the [Read more…]

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Those Dog Days Of Summer By Gary Howey

  Not long ago, late winter we wished it would warm up, well, it is happening now with those wishes coming true.

  It is the time of the year, when the temperatures rise, along with the humidity, perfect conditions for some nasty weather and tougher walleye fishing conditions.

  There are numerous adjustments fish have to relate to during the Dog Days of Summer season including: rising water temperatures, rising or falling barometric pressure, high water, low water and the bright summer sunlight all making walleye fishing during this time of the year tougher.

  This is generally when the deeper water areas with less sunlight penetration are where you will find many fish.

  Because of the heavy rain, we have had and the fluctuations in temperatures, things may be different this year, some of the walleyes and other species not in a big hurry to head for deeper water. 

  Just as it has each year, water temperatures will warm up and fish will be searching for more comfortable water temperatures, with the deeper water providing cooler water temperatures the fish need when things heat up. Not only will the cooler water temperatures attract the fish, they move because their food source, the baitfish will also move deeper, bringing the predator fish with them.

  When fish go deep, there are several things you can use to get your bait down to the depth the fish are holding.

  Try trolling using line counter reels spooled with Berkley Fireline and Off Shore snap weights or leadcore line, which allows anglers to get their crankbaits deep. 

  A fish’s movements can vary drastically; this is the time of the year, especially just prior to a severe weather change.

  Fish can detect a weather change long before it occurs using their lateral line, a series of sensitive nerve endings extending from behind the gills along their side out to their tail.  

  Because they feel the weather, changes coming and cannot be are sure how long it may last, walleyes, other species of fish will go on a feeding binge prior to the storms arrival, and then as the weather change arrives move deep, lying dormant, tight on the bottom until weather conditions stabilize.

  It is during the Dog Days that the sun is at its highest point and walleyes, who are very light sensitive, will be more active in periods when sunlight penetration is minimal. Which would be early morning and late evening, when the sun is at its lowest point and sunlight penetration is least. [Read more…]

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Fish the Weeds and Wood For Bass By Gary Howey

  Some anglers seem to develop tunnel vision this time of the year, when some anglers go after just one species of fish and head for the larger bodies of water. 

  When an angler develops tunnel vision, they are missing some of the finest early season fishing.

  Many anglers are hooking onto their boat and running great distances going by some of the best fishing available found, right in their own backyard, those smaller waters that hold big bass.

  Throughout the upper Midwest and especially and in our area there are excellent populations of bass, both small and largemouth and this is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.

  You will find small and largemouth bass throughout the Missouri River system on upstream in Lake Francis Case, Sharpe and Lake Oahe, in ponds, farm and stock dams, lakes and reservoirs with most having  catcheable populations of largemouth bass.

  After the rigors of the spawn, bass are located in the deeper water, where they are resting up and beginning to feed and as the water temperatures begin to warm, they will become more active.

  As water temperature move into the low 70’s, bass will start to feed aggressively.

  Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water, moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.

 In the Missouri River and areas with current, bass will be hanging out throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover and in areas with warmer water such as backwaters and in open pockets in the rushers and in deeper bays.

  Anything that cuts or slows down the current, those slack water pockets, are good locations for bass to find shade and a place to ambush prey.

  Points, rock piles pockets in the weeds and down timber, all cut the current and make excellent locations to look for bass in the river.

  Both large and smallmouth bass take spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs, but when fishing for smallmouth, it is a good idea to downsize your baits as the larger baits used for largemouth may over power a smallmouth.

  In the lakes, ponds and stock dams look for largemouth bass in ambush areas that are shaded those areas with pockets just inside the weed line, under boat docks, next to down timber or adjacent to brush piles. [Read more…]

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GameKeeper Quick Tip: Managing Your Bass Pond

For a recreational bass fishing pond to reach its full potential and maintain that peak, it must be managed throughout the year. One major component of managing a fish pond is controlling the fish population. If a pond gets overpopulated, there becomes a lack of food and there will be a corresponding decrease in fish size and health.

Controlling the fish population in a pond requires it to be fished enough to take out the right number of fish per year as well as keeping the right size. This process also needs to be organized and kept up with, instead of just “ball-parking” how many fish are taken out of the pond. One great way GameKeepers can keep a detailed track record of their ponds is to have a mailbox by every one of the main docks. In each mailbox is a notebook that everyone fills out when they are finished fishing for the day. This keeps a record of the date, exactly how many fish were caught, the size of each fish and how many were taken out.

For fertilized ponds, try to keep about 20 to 35 pounds of bass per acre per year depending on how bad the overpopulation problem is. If the population in one of your lakes or ponds is balanced, you need to keep about 10 to 20 pounds per acre per year. The sizes of the bass that are generally kept are 14 inches and smaller.

Letting family members and close friends fish these ponds on a regular basis is a great way for all to enjoy and have a part in managing its success. It would not be possible to keep an accurate record of the amount of fish taken out of our ponds without these mailboxes that we put at every dock. Since we have started keeping up with the number and size of the fish caught as well as culling the proper size, there has been a very noticeable increase in the size of the fish in our ponds.

For more info on pond management, read “Habitat Structure for Producing and Holding More Fish”. Some fish species relate to bait more than structure. But even when that’s the case, the bait they’re after usually relates to structure of some kind. So giving your fish something to relate to in the form of structure is a huge step forward to producing and holding more fish.

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Redlin Art Center featuring Terry’s Final Painting And his Farewell Collection By Gary Howey

  When travelers made their way north on Interstate 29 as they came into the Watertown, S.D. exit twenty-one years ago, when the Art Center first opened its doors, they could not help but notice the Redlin Art Center as it rose majestically from the South Dakota prairie landscape.

  Today, there are several buildings adjacent to the Center, but its size and beauty dwarfs them as do the grounds, concrete walking paths, ponds and gazebo.

  The Art Center, designed by Redlin’s son Charles, is the home of one of America’s greatest and most respected Wildlife-Americana artists, original paintings by Terry Redlin.

   At the Center, visitors have an opportunity to view one hundred and fifty of his original paintings as well as other of his artwork.

  The Center, opened in June 1997, is located just on a beautiful tract of land just off the Interstate on Exit 177 along U.S. Highway 212.

  This magnificent 52,000 square foot brick building, with its 38-foot white granite columns, resemble those seen on large southern mansions of the Civil War period.

  Once inside, you will find polished granite, with the main floor of the gallery covered with more than 9,000 square feet of white granite tile.

   There also, you will find over 24,900 square feet of granite from countries throughout the world including India and Africa.

  The grand entrance, welcomes you to more than 10,000 square feet of black Galaxy granite brought in from India.  The same black granite lies behind the railings in the Gallery.  The walls of the Gallery also feature another 5,900 square feet of white Impala granite from Africa.

  The Redlin Art Center an architectural marvel a fitting place to display Terry’s artwork, in Watertown, the place he called home.

  As Terry once quoted, “An American novelist once told us that you ‘can’t go home again.’ He was wrong. In my mind, I never left home, even when physically away. And when I finally returned, it was a great relief. I had a deep feeling that, finally, things were going to be okay. I was reconnected to my past, and to a childhood that was magic.”

  Redlin, a Master Artist, received numerous accolades from numerous conservation groups, such as Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.  Redlin was designated many times in the 1990’s as “America’s Most Popular” U.S. Artist, and was inducted into the U.S. Arts Hall of Fame in 1992, the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Watertown Hall of Fame in 2014.

  The paintings displayed at the Art Center depict some of nature’s most beautiful scenes, reminding us of our childhood memories and those days gone by. 

  A huge supporter of wildlife and the organizations that work hard to preserve them, Terry’s artwork raised $40 to $ 50 million dollars for numerous wildlife conservation groups including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation. [Read more…]