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Fish the Weeds and Wood For Bass By Gary Howey

  Some anglers seem to develop tunnel vision this time of the year, when some anglers go after just one species of fish and head for the larger bodies of water. 

  When an angler develops tunnel vision, they are missing some of the finest early season fishing.

  Many anglers are hooking onto their boat and running great distances going by some of the best fishing available found, right in their own backyard, those smaller waters that hold big bass.

  Throughout the upper Midwest and especially and in our area there are excellent populations of bass, both small and largemouth and this is an excellent time to take good numbers of both species.

  You will find small and largemouth bass throughout the Missouri River system on upstream in Lake Francis Case, Sharpe and Lake Oahe, in ponds, farm and stock dams, lakes and reservoirs with most having  catcheable populations of largemouth bass.

  After the rigors of the spawn, bass are located in the deeper water, where they are resting up and beginning to feed and as the water temperatures begin to warm, they will become more active.

  As water temperature move into the low 70’s, bass will start to feed aggressively.

  Look for bass this time of the year spending much of the day in the deeper water, moving into the shallows early in the day and later in the afternoon looking for an easy meal.

 In the Missouri River and areas with current, bass will be hanging out throughout the day tucked in behind some sort of cover and in areas with warmer water such as backwaters and in open pockets in the rushers and in deeper bays.

  Anything that cuts or slows down the current, those slack water pockets, are good locations for bass to find shade and a place to ambush prey.

  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 large and smallmouth bass take spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worm rigs and jigs, but when fishing for smallmouth, it is a good idea to downsize your baits as the larger baits used for largemouth may over power a smallmouth.

  In the lakes, ponds and stock dams look for largemouth bass in ambush areas that are shaded those areas with pockets just inside the weed line, under boat docks, next to down timber or adjacent to brush piles. [Read more…]

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GameKeeper Quick Tip: Managing Your Bass Pond

For a recreational bass fishing pond to reach its full potential and maintain that peak, it must be managed throughout the year. One major component of managing a fish pond is controlling the fish population. If a pond gets overpopulated, there becomes a lack of food and there will be a corresponding decrease in fish size and health.

Controlling the fish population in a pond requires it to be fished enough to take out the right number of fish per year as well as keeping the right size. This process also needs to be organized and kept up with, instead of just “ball-parking” how many fish are taken out of the pond. One great way GameKeepers can keep a detailed track record of their ponds is to have a mailbox by every one of the main docks. In each mailbox is a notebook that everyone fills out when they are finished fishing for the day. This keeps a record of the date, exactly how many fish were caught, the size of each fish and how many were taken out.

For fertilized ponds, try to keep about 20 to 35 pounds of bass per acre per year depending on how bad the overpopulation problem is. If the population in one of your lakes or ponds is balanced, you need to keep about 10 to 20 pounds per acre per year. The sizes of the bass that are generally kept are 14 inches and smaller.

Letting family members and close friends fish these ponds on a regular basis is a great way for all to enjoy and have a part in managing its success. It would not be possible to keep an accurate record of the amount of fish taken out of our ponds without these mailboxes that we put at every dock. Since we have started keeping up with the number and size of the fish caught as well as culling the proper size, there has been a very noticeable increase in the size of the fish in our ponds.

For more info on pond management, read “Habitat Structure for Producing and Holding More Fish”. Some fish species relate to bait more than structure. But even when that’s the case, the bait they’re after usually relates to structure of some kind. So giving your fish something to relate to in the form of structure is a huge step forward to producing and holding more fish.

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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.

Largemouth

  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

Smallmouth

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…]

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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…]