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Shallow water Perch Bite On Big Stone Gary Howey

The red line below my tungsten jig on my Vexilar locator rose up from the bottom slowly indicating a fish was moving up to my bait. Peering down into the clear water, I could see the perch moving up to the same level as my jig.

I twitched my bait ever so slightly as the perch moved in on it and inhaled my micro jig and wax worm. As I brought my rod up, I felt the added weight and set the hook bringing the first of the numerous perch we would take on this trip.

Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, Iowa and I were ice fishing on Big Stone with Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait & Tackle of Ortonville, Minnesota.  Tanner knew the lake as Larry and I had spent time on the water with him on a spring fishing trip, one where we caught good numbers of crappie, bluegill and bass. [Read more…]

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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…]

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Shallow water Perch Bite On Big Stone By Gary Howey

  The red line below my tungsten jig on my Vexilar locator rose up from the bottom slowly indicating a fish was moving up to my bait. Peering down into the clear water, I could see the perch moving up to the same level as my jig.

  I twitched my bait ever so slightly as the perch moved in on it and inhaled my micro jig and wax worm. As I brought my rod up, I felt the added weight and set the hook bringing the first of the numerous perch we would take on this trip.

  Team Member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, Iowa and I were ice fishing on Big Stone with Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait & Tackle of Ortonville, Minnesota.  Tanner knew the lake as Larry and I had spent time on the water with him on a spring fishing trip, one where we caught good numbers of crappie, bluegill and bass.

   Ortonville lies along the east shore of Big Stone and is a thriving community; with excellent schools, new housing developments, a large hospital, year round recreation possibilities, an eighteen-hole golf course and an area where you will not find finer people.

  Big Stone is a large lake, part of the waters forming the border between northeastern South Dakota and Western Minnesota. It is one of the numerous glacial lakes found in South Dakota and Minnesota, a twenty-six miles long body of water averaging around one mile wide.

  On this trip, we were after perch, one of the numerous species of fish that inhabit the lake along with walleye, northern pike, bass and bluegill.

  Perch, have a tendency to cruise throughout the lake, not spending much time in one location and when our indicators showed perch under our house, we did our best to get them to hit our lures before they moved on.

  If they moved off my bait, depending on the direction they were going, we would let each other know they were on their way, giving each a little warning to be ready and to look for them to arrive.

  It was early February, when it can be a the slow time for ice anglers as the fish moved from their early ice bite where they were still feeding and it would be a good month away before  late ice when the fish began to feed again.

  This was the time of the year, when to a falling barometric pressure seemed to be a good sign, as when the pressure dropped, the fish seemed to be a little more eager to take our baits.

  We were in one of Artie’s Ice Castles, a large icehouse equipped with lights, heat, and television, fold down beds. cooking stove and a bathroom, which allowed us to fish very comfortably beings the outside temperatures, were well below zero.

  I was running the camera, so Larry and Tanner kept me busy and when, my Vexilar showed fish below me, I had an opportunity to catch a fish or two, some were keepers while others, the smaller perch we released.

  We were using small tungsten jigs, as tungsten is heavier than other metals, allowing you have smaller heavier baits that sink quickly down to where the fish are holding.

  There were times when the fish were so tight to the bottom were they moved in quickly or when they were tight to the bottom when Tanner or I became spotters for Larry, watching the fish move in on his bait and when it sucked in his bait, told him to set the hook.

  Throughout the day, schools of fish moved in under our Ice Castle, where we would pick up a fish or two and when things slowed, one of us would switch rods and put down attractor bait, a small Jiggin Rap, rattle spoon or some other larger bait to draw fish into our area.

  This was a tactic our late friend Jim McDonnell, of Royal, Iowa used quite often, taking it to an extreme, using a larger spearfishing decoy to attract the fish. [Read more…]

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Ice Fishing Then and Now By Gary Howey

   The sport of ice fishing has really changed a lot from when I started ice fishing as a kid back in Watertown, South Dakota.

  Our clothing we wore outside in the winter, whether it was to go ice fishing or scoop a few walks to earn spending money was basic. It consisted of blue jeans, long johns, tee shirt, sweatshirt, two pair of socks, covered by a plastic bread sack, the only pair of shoes we owned, overshoes, a parka, a pair of Jersey gloves and a stocking cap.

  Today, there are dozens of ice fishing suits, such as the Clam line of outerwear, in numerous accent colors in sizes to fit men, women and kid.  The Clam bibs and parkas allow you to face some of the most extreme conditions that  we ice fisherman may have to endure, utilizing cutting-edge engineering with segmented flotation assist material to help you float should you fall through the ice.

  On our first ice-fishing trip, we borrowed a spud bar (a heavy sharpened steel rod) that you banged on the ice until you got a hole punched through the ice.  The hole would start out about two-foot wide and ended up the size of the rod as it slipped from our cold hands and went to the bottom of Lake Pelican.

  Later on, I moved up to a hand auger and it worked fine for a few holes and by that time, you had no more energy to drill another hole and decided to fish the two or three holes you managed to dig.

  Now I have a Jiffy Model 46 Propane 8″ auger, which is great as there is no mixing gas and oil, so you avoid the smell and odor on your clothes and tackle.  They start quickly and have enough power to tear through any depth of Ice.

  Back in the “old” days, our sled was a Flexible Flyer with a peach crate wired to it where we threw in our gear, not much, but it hauled what little tackle we had and gave one of us a place to sit down and rest.

  Now, there are numerous companies manufacturing ice fishing sleds, one, two and three man sleds with a bench seat or with comfortable swivel seats as well as pop up icehouses that can hold your entire fishing crew.  Some come with light covers while others have a tough denier thermal insulated covers. Some include a place to store a small 12-volt 9-amp battery out of the way; the battery used to run your sleds LED lighting and fish locator.  They also have rod holders and other accessories that will make your ice fishing experience more enjoyable as well as more productive.

  Tackle, back when I was a kid consisted of a short piece of a broom handle with a couple of nails in it to hold our line, a bobber, hook and our bait were minnows. The bobbers we had were generally so large that a hooked fish would die from exhaustion trying to move the large bobbers and when and if you did get a bite, you pulled your line in with the “old” hand over hand method. [Read more…]

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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…]

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Last Ice By Gary Howey

I was keeping an eye on the weather, as we needed cold weather in order to get back into the dam we hoped to ice fish, but didn’t need any sub zero temperatures or heavy wind.

I was looking at ice fishing a pond southwest of town, one that was in the middle of a half section. We had tried once before to get back into it, which wasn’t a good idea as it was just too muddy and we didn’t want to tear up the field.

When the Press and Dakotan indicted next week’s weather would have sixty-degree weather, the next few days of cold weather looked to be our last opportunity.

It was nine below zero when Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre, Sioux City pulled into the office, bitter cold with the wind that was howling in from the northwest.

We didn’t need to worry about mud on this trip as everything, including much of the water in my minnow bucket was hard as a rock.

Bouncing over the corn rows, we made our way to the pond with some open water around the riser, so it was my job to hit the ice first with my Jiffy auger to see if we had enough good ice. I punched several holes, finding ten inches of ice, signaled my partner to join me.

I would punch the holes with Larry following behind with his Vexilar locator letting me know the depth.

We were looking for deeper water, as this time of the year in this type of pond, the fish searched out the deepest water in the dam. [Read more…]

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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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Farm Pond produces Nice Bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

With a week’s worth of warm weather in the forecast, Gary Howey, Hartington, Neb., and I decided it was “now or never” time to fish a farm pond we’d had our eyes on for quite some time.

Gary had fished it years ago and had great success on largemouth bass. Rumor had it the pond could produce good numbers of bluegills and perch as well.

So, we had to try.

This was actually our second attempt. A few weeks ago we had tried to drive to the pond, but warm weather and greasy mud over the frozen field changed our minds. It was forecast to be even warmer that day, and since we had to drive a long ways through a hilly corn field we felt we might not be able to get out if it warmed up any more.

But this time was different. It was 8 below in Hartington that morning so we weren’t worried about the mud.

Yet, when we pulled up alongside the pond, Gary pointed and said, “Is that open water over there?”

“It sure is,” I answered. “Must be a heck of a big spring.”

Right along the dam the southwest wind was pushing small waves against the ice. The open water field was about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.

“Keep drilling test holes as you go out,” I told Gary who was firing up his Jiffy propane auger. “That might not be the only spring out there.”

But the test holes revealed a good 10 inches of solid ice. I followed with the depth finder and when we registered nine feet of water we decided to start fishing.

We both were marking fish under us but there were a lot more “lookers” than “biters.”

Finally Gary set the hook and brought up and 8-inch bass. I soon followed with another. We caught several of these little fish before we got a decent-sized bluegill.

We were using tear drop jigs tipped with wax worms. Gary also had a bobber with a minnow on the hook but aside from one bite, which he missed, the minnow provided no action.

We decided to drill more holes.

We found a little deeper water and decided to try there.

[Read more…]

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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…]

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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…]