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Hardwater Fishing- Watertown, SD Gary Howey

My hometown is Watertown, S.D. a place I return to as often as I can. A couple of weeks ago, we headed back north to ice fish on a few of the dozens of lakes and sloughs scattered throughout the Watertown area.

Anyone who has spent time on the ice where the northerns live, know what they can do once they latch onto your bait. A pike is a fighting fool when hooked, even when it’s prowling around under 8 inches of solid ice.

It happened just before we arrived on a frozen lake near Watertown where Outdoorsmen Adventures Team Member Larry Myhre and I were to join good friends and present or past Watertown residents Chuck Krause, Don Fjerstad and Junior Burns.

Like many ice anglers, Don fishes with two rods, one with a live bait rig and the other with some sort of attractor rig. His live bait rig was propped up in the snow while he jigged with the other, then it happened, a jarring strike, one, which could only have come from the hard-hitting northern, a fish with a voracious appetite. Rearing back hard, he set the hook, with the fish taking off, peeling line off his reel. Out the corner of his eye, he noticed his other rod coming out of the snow, rapidly sliding along the ice into the other hole. He had his hands full fighting the fish and his rod disappeared into the depths of the lake, gone forever!

After a hard fought battle, where, luckily, the northerns mouth full of sharp teeth and sharp gill plates didn’t cut the line, Don flipped the fish on the ice. Figuring he had won the battle with the northern but lost the battle with his second rod, he proceeded to remove his jig from the pike and strangely enough, noticed another line wrapped in the fish’s gill plate.

The pike had hit his lure and on the first run wrapped the line from his second rod, pulling it down the hole. Not only had he landed the fish, he also landed his rod which a few minutes before was lying on the bottom.

Earlier, before we arrived, Chuck, Don and Junior were on the south end of the lake, doing what fishermen need to do this time of year in order to catch fish, the old run and gun. Anglers this time of the year need to punch a lot of holes, looking for fish. Chuck and Don had migrated to the south end of the lake and were set up just off to the side of each other while Jr. kept on the move, punching holes trying to locate a concentration of fish. [Read more…]

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Late ice fishing action can be hit or miss By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

WATERTOWN, S.D. | It was beginning to look bad for the home team. We had been on the ice for about three hours and had only one walleye to show for it.

And that one had been caught by our friend Chuck Krause, Gettysburg, S.D., who was fishing with Don Fjerstad, Watertown, S.D., just before Gary Howey and I arrived.

We were on a lake called Dry Lake, a glorified slough southwest of Watertown which, like many former sloughs in northeast South Dakota, have begun to swell as lakes over the past 15 years or so.

One thing they all have in common is high populations of perch and walleyes.

But you sure couldn’t tell that by looking into our ice buckets.

It was well past 3 p.m., and we didn’t have much time to redeem ourselves. Then Chuck’s cell phone rang. It was his nephew Junior Burns, Watertown, who was fishing at the north end of the lake.

“I just put three walleyes on the ice,” he reported.

It didn’t take us long to pack up and head north. Aren’t cell phones wonderful?

Gary, of Hartington, Neb., was hoping to catch enough action to produce a segment for his Outdoorsmen Adventures television show. Things were going to have to improve quickly because the next day’s forecast was for a monster cold front with northwest winds of 25 to 30 miles an hour. Once that front hit, I was confident the catching would turn from worse to terrible. As they say, this wasn’t my first rodeo.

As our caravan of three vehicles headed to the north end of the lake it was clear that fish had been caught here. There were a number of ice houses and a whole bunch of portable shacks as well as guys just fishing out in the open.

We quickly punched a bunch of holes and settled in.

It didn’t take long.

Fjerstad set the hook and announced he had a fish on.

It was putting a pretty good bend in his rod and Gary pulled the depth finder’s transducer from the hole so the fish wouldn’t tangle up in it. [Read more…]