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Early Open Water on Lake Francis Case By Gary Howey

  For those anglers in northeastern South Dakota and other parts of the state who have been anxiously waiting for the waters of the Missouri River reservoirs; Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case and Lewis & Clark to open up, it will not be long.

  As we recently found out on a trip to one of the Missouri River impoundments as the parts of the lakes, the bays and some of the shoreline waters are now fishable.

  As I looked out across the open water onto the ice covering the biggest part of Lake Francis Case, I wondered if perhaps we might have jumped the gun on this our first open water fishing trip on the lake.

  Last year about this time, early April, it had been short sleeve shirt weather, with unbelievable early open water fishing. 

  Not this year as the temperatures were in the mid thirties, with everyone in the boat layered in cold weather gear as the warm part of the day would be in the low forties with wind.

  Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. Gary Kubicek, Firth, NE., representing our sponsor, Country Vet Dog Food, new co-host and camera operator Josh Anderson, Hartington, NE. and I headed north to meet up with Team Member and Missouri Valley Guide Serve owner, Joel Vasek, Geddes, S.D., as we would go after walleyes in the first open water available on the lake.

  Arriving the afternoon before at the Missouri Valley Lodge, we went over the game plan, which included; weather, wind, fishing method, depth of the fish, breakfast meal, departure time and what location we would be launching from.

  There were bays on the lake that were open with some open water running out into the lake along the shoreline. Several of the areas we would be fishing still had a light covering of ice extending out into the main lake. In the spring, as the wind picks up, the light ice will break away from the main ice pack, drifting into the shoreline, covering the water where Joel had located active fish earlier.

  This was no problem as the wakes from the boats three-hundred fifty horse Yamaha motor broke it up, allowing Joel to work through the ice as he searched for active fish.

  The following morning, Joel was on the water before daybreak checking to see if any of the ice had closed off our launching site and to check out the areas that were holding fish.

  We were to head out after one of the Lodge’s filling breakfasts and wait for his call letting us know what boat dock he would be ar.

  Shortly after he was the water while searching for active fish, he landed four good fish from several open water spots holding a good numbers of fish.

   Once we boarded, the plan was to work these areas, with jigs and larger minnows, hoping to temp the walleyes to take our baits.

  All of the four huge GPS/Locators all showed fish with Joel using his bow mount trolling motor worked from the shallower twenty four foot of water on out to fifty foot of water, looking for active fish. [Read more…]

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What’s Hot when it “HOT on the Mo. River Reservoirs Gary Howey

   These are the “Dog Days of Summer” when no matter where you’re fishing the fishing can be tough.

  I remember those days, where you could set out there most of the day, using several different presentations and all we had to show for it was a bad sunburn and a tackle bag with less tackle than we started with.

  We knew where the fish were deep as we located them with our locators, but we had a tough time getting our baits to them. They suspended in the deep water, hanging out at different depths in and amongst the trees left when the reservoir filled.

  We tried bottom bouncers and spinners, loosing many of them before switching to another method, which performed about the same as the bottom bouncers.

  Years later, we were filming with Guide and Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Joel Vasek of Missouri Valley Guide Service on Lake Francis Case when he introduced us to pulling crankbaits on lead core, which helped us to fill our limits while other anglers were coming up short.

  Hot weather fishing is different from the rest of the year, requiring different presentations: different baits, different rigs, presented at different speeds.   

 I’ve fished many of the hot weather deep-water methods, but by no means am I an expert. 

  Some of the most successful guides and tournament anglers, those individuals that spend hundreds of hours on the water use need to put fish in the boat, no matter what the season or water temperature may be, have methods they use during the Dog Days of Summer.

  To get the best information on this, I contacted some the most successful guides and anglers I know, and quizzed them about deep-water fishing during the “Hot” weather.

  Below you’ll find their suggestions on the lakes they fish and the methods they’d recommend to catch walleyes when it’s “Hot”.

Lewis & Clark Lake:

 Anglers in a recent tournament held on Lewis and Clark had to deal with water temperatures of 75-77 degrees used lead core line to troll the deeper water of the old river channel were awarded 1st place in the event.

   Lead core line and Off Shore snap weights are used to get your bait down deep, along with Off Shore Plainer boards that will spread those lines out seems to be a good bet when water temperatures warm up on Lewis & Clark.

Joel Vasek, Geddes, S.D. Missouri Valley Guide Service, www.walleyetamer.com:

Joel guides on Lake Francis Case on up to Chamberlain. S.D. and feels that deep-water walleyes are easy to pattern as they seem to suspend in 30′ to 50′ of water and as long as the baitfish are there won’t they won’t move much.

  To get deep, where the walleyes are located he uses lead core, snap weights and downriggers. He also uses Off Shore Planer Boards with lead core as when you make a turn with the boats the boards stop and this is when the walleyes seem to like to hit.

  Vasek feels that the best deep-water fishing happens when there is the right sun with a little chop on the water and feels that cloudy day’s hurt deep-water fishing. As the depth increases, visibility becomes poorer, with the sunlight penetration helping the walleyes to locate your bait.

  Walleyes will follow the Gizzard Shad and when they move, some of the walleyes will stay put as larger fish during the heat of the summer don’t seem to like chasing bait and this is when the odds are in your favor, when crankbaits work well as there’s less baitfish for the fish to feed on.

  Vasek and his guides have excellent luck trolling crankbaits over the trees or along 45′ to 55′ break lines. [Read more…]