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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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Walleyes throughout the Season By Gary Howey

  Open water anglers have been not so patiently waiting for the ice to come off the Missouri River reservoirs, and once it does, a mass migration towards the river begins as vehicles pulling boats head out to take advantage of the “Pre-Spawn” bite and the first open water.

  The bite prior to pre-spawn on the reservoirs was slow as the fish were in their, “neither moving, nor eating much” winter mode.  

  Those who ventured out onto the ice of the reservoirs caught some good fish, using small jigs, jigging spoons and live bait rigs suspended just off the bottom all tipped with minnows.

    With the fall of the water temperatures, these fish moved into deeper water where both the males and females prepared for the spawn with the females finishing the development of their egg sacks.

  As the daytime temperatures warmed the water, with longer days and more sunlight, the ice started to disappear the walleyes begin to become more active and to feed more. 

  Walleye and sauger in our lakes and reservoirs moved up from the deeper water, into water adjacent to their spawning areas. During pre-spawn, fish feed very little, while they hold off the points and gravel bars, waiting for the spawning conditions to be right.

  This time, there will be some fish will bite, but one needs a ton of patience to catch these fish as we found out two weeks ago on a  walleye fishing excursion to Lake Francis Case.      

   Water temperatures were just above freezing at thirty-four degrees, with a slight breeze that came and went, as the wind died, the little open water we had went glass smooth, the fish became inactive and the bite died.

  The fish we caught were big, we caught them slowly jigging quarter ounce or smaller jigs tipped with larger minnows and live bait rigs worked along the bottom.

  We marked numerous fish on the points and gravel bars, loosing several we hooked when they threw the hook before we could get them to the boat.

  It was a tough bite as the four of us took seven big walleyes in a long day of fishing, not setting the world on fire, but giving us the opportunity to get on the water to escape those cabin fever blues.

  Walleyes living in the reservoirs, fed heavily in the late fall and as water temperatures declined, moved into deeper water where they conserved energy in preparation of the spawn. [Read more…]

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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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Late Winter-Early Spring Walleye Tactics By Gary Howey

  It may have not arrived as quick as we had hoped it would, but there is no doubt that winter is winding down.

  This year, we had one of those winters like the ones I used to see where I grew up back home, in Watertown, South Dakota when the snowdrifts were up to my waist. 

  When the cold winter weather did finally arrived, and the ice finally became thick enough to walk on, the winter fishing was good on some bodies of water, but now the ice is departing quickly in our area.

  With warm weather that we have know, many anglers are beginning to get on the water below the Missouri River dams and chasing walleyes where the ice has receded in open water of the river.

  The fishing has not been what you call fast and furious, but for those anglers who have patience, have taken some good fish.

  This time of year, when water temperatures are cold, you have to understand the way a fish operates in cold water and change your fishing methods accordingly.

  When water temperatures start to cool, the metabolism of the fish slows down; they will not move much, so they do not need to eat as much. 

  Everything in their world has slowed down to a crawl, winter, and early spring walleye anglers will have to do the same with their fishing presentations.

  Slow is good when it comes to cold-water angling!  At times, just letting your bait drag along the bottom will take cold weather walleyes.

  Since the walleye and sauger move less, they use less energy and eat less and this is one of the reasons that you will want to downsize your baits this time of year.

  You will want to go with lighter line, from four to six and at times even two-pound test depending on the area that you are fishing and the bite. 

  When using lighter line, make sure your  drag is set properly, you want it set tight enough so your drag doesn’t release when you set the hook, yet tight enough that you do not break the light line when hook setting.

  No matter when you are fishing, you want to let the rod, “its action” put the most pressure on the fish and with your drag correctly set; your rod can do the fighting for you. [Read more…]