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Hard Water Ice Angling Near Webster, S.D. By Gary Howey


   We arrived in Webster, South Dakota the afternoon before we were to be on the ice and spent a leisurely afternoon eating lunch at Perebooms and stopping at Sportsman’s Cove to see where the best bite was and what baits the anglers were using.

  I always like to know what the main forage species is on the waters we will fish, on the Glacial Lakes of N.E. South Dakota, the freshwater shrimp are plentiful and what the perch feed on, so I try to find small bait that resembles the small shrimp or baits that is similar in color.

   Some anglers were using Wax Worms, but those catching the most perch seemed to be partial to Red Wigglers on their baits and to be on the safe side we grabbed both wigglers and wax worms just in case the fish had changed their diet.

   I also added several white tungsten jigs and jigging spoons to my tackle bag, hoping that they would be the bait that the perch were after.

  Then we unloaded our extra gear at Boomer’s Motel, ordered a pizza and spent the evening watching one of the best Super Bowl games either of us had ever seen.

  The following morning, we talked with our guide who indicated we would start fishing on Reid Lake, one of the hundreds of shallow Glacial Lakes found throughout the region. Reid is a nine hundred and eighty acre lake that lies southwest of Webster, South Dakota.  

  Arriving at the lake, the wind was howling, bringing the wind chill down well below zero and we were glad we did not have to fish out of the two-man sled in the back of my pickup.

  Our guide, Brandyn Hulsebus, one of the guides with Cory Ewing’s Waubay Lakes Guide Service had set up the icehouse we would be fishing out of before our arrival and had everything ready to go when we pulled onto the lake.

  It was mid season with several fronts having moved through the area, which could be devastating when it comes to ice fishing as the fronts affect the barometric pressure and when it is up as it is when fronts move through it has a tendency to slow the bite.  

  Fortunately, for us, Cory and his guides had spent time on ice locating areas the perch were coming into.

  When we get into the house, we set up our Vexilar locators and started jigging using Red Wigglers as that was what the perch were biting on.  When we first get on a lake, each of us go with different baits, as this allows the fish to tell us what they like.

  Once we land several fish on a certain bait, the others in our group will switch to that bait until the fish quit biting and then use an attractor bait, a jigging spoon, Jiggin Rap or some bait with a lot of action to pull the fish in while the others in our party all put down  different baits.

  Larry and I would be using two and four-pound Berkley ice line with tungsten jigs. While, Brandyn would use his jigging spoon to draw the fish in.

  The attractor spoon would bring the fish in, allowing us to catch one or two of the aggressive biters from the school and then we switched to our tungsten lures, allowing us to use smaller yet heavier baits that dropped quickly. Using them allowed us to getting our baits down and not waste any time when the perch were below us.

  Perch have a tendency to school according to size with the smaller perch being more aggressive than those found in larger schools.

  The bite had slowed since the week before, so we had to earn each fish, but those fish we took were good size, in the eleven to thirteen and a half inch range. [Read more…]


Early Ice By Gary Howey

  I know it is hard to believe, but its December and the time of the year when people really start to think seriously about ice fishing.

  As soon as Thanksgiving is over, the phones in our office goes wild with people wondering where the ice is good enough to go ice fishing and where the fish are biting.

  Well this year, the ice particularly on the larger bodies of water in our area has not gotten solid enough to support an ice angler and his gear.

  Some of the smaller dams have a little ice, but I for one would wait for colder weather before venturing out onto them!

  With the warmer temperatures that we have had over the last several weeks, even though our nighttime temperatures were below freezing there has not been enough consistent cold to make good ice.

  However, with the heavy winds that we have had, it is tough to make good ice because the wind keeps the water moving making it hard for good ice to form.

  By Christmas Day, the winter weather will be here, with its colder temperatures, so it will not be long before the entire Midwest has plenty of ice.

  You will want to be careful if the body of water you are fishing has snow covering the ice, “Take Care” as it is impossible for good ice to form below the snow as the snow acts as an insulator, and will not allow the cold temperatures to get down and freeze the ground or the water underneath it?

  Even though the ice on the body of water looks like it is solid or be solid along the shoreline where the snow has blown clear, there are probably areas on the lake that have very little ice because of the snow that insulated the water that lies underneath from the cold temperatures needed to freeze t solid.

  You want to make sure, before you make your way out onto the ice fish that you are aware of the potential dangers of ice. [Read more…]


Small & Largemouth The Bass Gary Howey

  Bass, both the smallmouth and largemouth bass are one of the top predators in any body of water as they’re some of the most aggressive fish in the body of water.


  The largemouth inhabits most bodies of water from small farm ponds, gravel/sand pits, to the Missouri River Reservoirs of South Dakota and Nebraska. Where’s there’s water, you’ll find the largemouth, including in the numerous lakes found throughout Minnesota and the “Glacial Lakes” of northeastern South Dakota.

  As mentioned earlier, largemouth can be very aggressive and will attack almost anything they might think they can get into their mouth. Among several of the things that bass are known to eat include snakes, frogs, lizards, salamanders, ducklings, crayfish as well as other fish.

  Bass are aggressive feeders, in the spring before the “Dog” days of summer; you’ll find them shallow in preparation for the spawn.

  The male will create a nest with their tail in one to three feet generally less than ten feet from shoreline where the fertilized eggs are deposited. The male will guard the fingerlings until they’re capable of fending for themselves.

  Because the male has been busy keeping predators away from the nest, he hasn’t had an opportunity to eat and one of the final things he’ll do before leaving the nest is chase the fingerlings from the nest by gobbling down as many of the young as possible. This not only allows the male to feed, but it may also show the young fish that they can’t trust anything, not even their father.

  After the spawn, the female moves into the deep water to rest and recuperate from the spawning ritual.  During the cool time of the day and after the sunsets, the females will move from the deeper water up shallow looking for a quick meal.

  In the summer, all largemouth will look for more comfortable water temperatures, this may be deep, adjacent or in the weeds or in the shade of a dead fall or stump lying in the water.

  As summer moves into fall, bass like all fish will start to feed heavily, as they need to bulk up before winter sets in, feeding heavily until water temperature decline when these cold blooded creatures metabolism slows and they ride out the winter.

  Some of the preferred baits for taking largemouth include; jigs and pig, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, Texas rigs with Berkley Gulp, PowerBaits and Carolina Rigs,  dropshot rigs, crankbaits like those manufactured by  Bagley and in some cases live bait rigs.

    The largemouth records for the states mentioned above vary with the South Dakota record for largemouth being 9 lbs. 3 Oz. with the Minnesota record fish coming in at 8 Lbs. 15 Oz. while the Nebraska record tipping the scales at 10 Lbs. 11 Oz


The smallmouth bass can be even more aggressive than their cousin the largemouth bass are. Called the Bronze-back, a name given to smallmouth because of their aggressive nature and the way they fight once hooked, pretty much describes the fight an angler has on his hands once the fish is hooked. They run hard, test your equipment and come from deep water in a flash, dancing along the surface trying to dislodge the hook in their jaw.

  They inhabit numerous lakes throughout Nebraska, with excellent populations in the Missouri River reservoirs as well as on Merritt Reservoir and other smaller lakes.

  The South Dakota Reservoirs, Lewis & Clark, Lake Francis Case, Lake Sharpe and Lake Oahe all have huge smallmouth populations as do the “Glacial Lakes” in the northeastern portion of the state that include Horseshoe, Roy Lake, Reetz Lake and Enemy Swim.

   In Minnesota, you’ll find numerous lakes where these “Bull Dogs of the Deep” will test your equipment and your fish fighting skill. [Read more…]


When the fish won’t bite! Do a Change-Up! By Gary Howey

   What I’m writing about happened to me numerous times over the years and I’m sure it will happen again.

   We were fishing on one of the numerous lakes in the Glacial Lakes and Prairie Region of Northeastern South Dakota, near Watertown and not having much luck. I knew there was a tremendous fisheries here as I was born and raised in this area but was beginning to think there wasn’t a walleye in the lake and as I was about to call it a day, I finally located some fish with my locator.

   My eyes were glued to my locator, as they had most of the day, hoping to find these fish.

  As I was working my way back and forth over this one particular spot, there they were fish just off the bottom in 12 foot of water, as well as several on the bottom. They were showing up as those big lazy arcs indicating the presence of fish and by the size of the marks on the locator, they appeared to be big!

  Since they were located right on or just a couple of feet or so off the bottom, I guessed they were active walleyes and immediately marked the spot.

  Grabbing a couple rods one rigged with a live bait rig while on the other I used a jig. I put the one rod with the live bait rig in a rod holder letting it drag along the edge the drop off, while I used a jig, working it up from the deeper water onto the flat where my locator indicated the fish were holding.

  Even though the fish appeared to be active as they were off the bottom, it didn’t take me long to realize that these fish were in a negative mood or weren’t interested in what I was offering.

  I started digging through my tackle bag, switching from one walleye bait to another, going with my old standards, a bottom bouncer with a spinner baited with a minnow. I tried a livebait rig with a crawler, a jig with a Gulp leech, bottom bouncer and spinner and finally going to a crawler on a plain hook with just a small split shot for weight, all to no avail.

  These fish weren’t in the mood, no matter what I was putting in front of them; they just ignored my offerings or lay tight on the bottom refusing to move.

  Once again, I started rummaging through my tackle bag, looking for something different that the walleyes may not have seen before, something to get them to bite. I needed something, that might get the fish’s attention, and to pull them out of their negative mood. [Read more…]


Shallow water walleyes love crank baits By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.
WEBSTER, S.D. | I don’t think there is a more fun way to catch walleyes than by casting crankbaits on spinning tackle.
And the best time to do that is right now. The big female walleyes have recovered from the rigors of spawning and are back in the shallows, feeding up big. Find a windy shoreline on the right lake, and you’ll have action to dream about.  The Webster area is full of lakes and sloughs that fit the description of the “right” lake.
Last week, Gary Howey, of Hartington, Neb., and I met with Cory Ewing, of Waubay Lake Guide Service, to film a segment for Howey’s “Outdoorsmen Adventures” television show and to get fodder for our newspaper columns.
We’ve fished with Ewing a number of times over the years, and that guy is so tuned into the fishing here that every trip has been an exciting fish catching experience. This trip was no different.
Although the lake that gets the most attention right now is Bitter Lake, an overgrown former slough that is currently South Dakota’s biggest natural lake, we chose to fish a 200-acre nameless slough with no boat ramp. Ewing met us at Perebooms Cafe in Webster with his 16-foot boat in tow. I knew then we were heading for the boondocks.
As we motored out of town, Ewing told us, “We need that wind to blow. That will bring those big fish into the shoreline.”
We dropped the boat trailer over a 3-foot drop to reach the water and before long we were casting the shoreline.
“There’s some really nice walleyes in here,” Ewing said. “And there are lots of northerns and some perch.” [Read more…]


Early Season Bass By Gary Howey

This is the time of the year when many anglers develop tunnel vision, thinking only of walleyes and fishing on the bigger water!
When you do this, it means that you are missing some of the finest early season fishing.
Many of these anglers will be running great distances when some of the best fishing available may be right in their own backyard for bass.
In the upper Midwest, there are excellent populations of both Small and Largemouth bass and right now is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.
Both are found throughout the upper Midwest, in Missouri River in Lewis & Clark Lake up stream into Lake Oahe. In South Dakota, you will find excellent bass fishing in most lakes including on Horseshoe Lake, Reetz Lake, Roy Lake, Big Stone and Enemy Swim.
Most dams, ponds, farm & stock dams, lakes and reservoirs also contain catcheable populations of Largemouth bass.
During this time of the year, bass will have moved off into deeper water to rest up from the rigors of the spawn. As the water temperatures begin to warm, they will become more active.
As water temperature moves into the low 70’s, the bass will start to feed aggressively.
Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water and then moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.
In the river and areas with current, you will find bass throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover.
Anything that cuts or slows down the current, which are known as slack water pockets, is likely to be a good hiding spots for the bass.
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 species of bass can be taken on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs. [Read more…]


Potential New South Dakota State record Perch

Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Don Fjerstad, Watertown, South Dakota, the Host of KWAT Outdoors sent us this photo of a potential new South Dakota state record Perch. The fish weighed in at 2.86-pounds and was caught on Bitter in N.E. South Dakota by Chase Jensen, Aurora, S.D.

[Read more…]


Cold Weather & Hardwater Angling By Gary Howey

Some folks may wonder about those of us who spend time ice fishing, to be honest with you, there are times I wonder about it myself. Wondering why we would leave a warm lodge when the wind chill is minus thirty degrees the answer is simple, we Love it!

Last week our crew, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures members Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. Scott Ulrich, Hartington, NE. and I made our way north to Hidden Hills Lodge, Roslyn, S.D. On this trip, we would be fishing the ice-covered Glacial Lakes in search of perch and walleyes.

We would be joining good friend Casey Weismantel, Aberdeen C.V.B. HuntFishSD.com Austin Kaus, S.D. Tourism, travelsd.com/tourism Greg Liebel, East River Guide Service, dakotasportsman.com, ice-fishing pros from Clam clamoutdoors.com and Vexilar vexilar.com.

[Read more…]