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Bottom Bouncing Slow Death Rigs On Francis Case By Gary Howey

 As we pulled into the parking lot on Tuesday, the second day of our fishing trip on Lake Francis Case, there were sixteen rigs inline waiting to launch their boats, my first thoughts were, Wow doesn’t anyone work anymore!”

  When the bite is on, news travels fast and the bite was definitely on with boats launching out of Platte Creek in the Dock 44 area.

  As I mentioned in the beginning of this column, it was our second day on the water, where we’d be filming with professional angler and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame inductee, Ted Takasaki, Sioux Falls, S.D.
  Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA., camera operator Bill, Miller, Elgin, NE.  and I had driven up on Monday in heavy wind and intermittent rain showers, and it looked like the bite would surely be off because of the front coming through and we’d have to pound the water late into the first day to find some fish.

  Ted, who arrived mid afternoon had waited out the storms, which took roofs off several buildings in Armour, S.D. and dropped hail east of Sioux Falls. He’s been busy as he just returned from fishing the National Walleye Tour on Lake Sakakawea where he finished in 5th Place.

  We launched Ted’s Lund 219 Pro V mid afternoon, heading out of the bay, expecting to having to fight the wind, when it  calmed down, making for a perfect walleye chop and a nice smooth ride to where we would be fishing.

  This was the first day of our two-day trip and with all the fronts that had gone through, I didn’t know what to expect as cold fronts generally shut the fish off.

  When we arrived at the first spot we’d planned to fish, we were greeted by several boats working the point, with the majority of them pulling plugs.

  Because we were filming, which seems to attract a crowd, Ted maneuvered the boat to an area that was less crowded?

  On this trip, we’d be using bottom bouncers and spinners. Ted uses the Smile spinner blade Slow Death rigs, which proved to be deadly on walleye. The Slow Death hook is off set causing the bait to spin with a corkscrew action with the blade’s extra wiggle gives off more vibration. If you’re using the rig with crawlers, you want to insert the barb of the hook as close to the top of the crawlers head and thread it up past the hooks eye, the pinch off all bur 5 or 6″ of the worm. The vibration from the blade and the action of the hook along with the scent being dispersed from the crawler seemed to draw fish to the bait. [Read more…]

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Spring Turkey Hunting When They Won’t Come In Gary Howey

  One of the things that I hear a lot when it comes to spring turkey hunting is the Toms will gobble every time the hunter calls,  but will not come in that last 35 yards or so into range.

  This is definitely a problem for turkey hunters and numerous reasons why a bird will not come in or hang up just out of range.

  In the real wild world, the hen hears the Tom gobble and comes to him.  Hunters need to reverse the roles in order to pull a Tom into range. 

 Can you imagine how hard this is on a big old Tom’s ego?  He is the big boy, the dominant Tom and he has proved it, kicking the daylights out of any other Tom that gets getting in his way. Here the gobbler is, strutting  his stuff, all fanned out and the hen just does not get it, she is suppose to come to him and will not play the game right.

  Well, if he is going to get the opportunity to get close to this hen, he will have to forget about his ego and work his way towards her, hoping that once she sees him she, in all his glory will come to her senses and come to him. Some Toms take a little longer to swallow their pride and may not move or saunter your way, which could take a long time.

  The most common reason a Tom will hang up is that he has hens with him.  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out if an old Tom has several hens in his harem already; he is not going to leave two or three hens for a chance at a single hen.

  When a bird will not move and are henned up, do not give up. There are several things you might try to convince him to come your way.

  The first is to become vocal, call as if there are several different hens talking to him, by using a couple of different calls and changing the pitch.

  Many times, this will make the bird curious and draw the Tom towards you.  Do not give up or get upset if he takes his time coming your way, because he will have to bring his hens with him or take the chance of leaving them and having some subordinate Tom walk off with his harem.

  There are always subordinate Toms following in the shadows or with the flock.  The ones with the flock are generally the younger birds or birds that have not acted aggressively towards the dominate Tom.  Those hanging around the fringes of the flock are usually the older birds that the dominate birds has stomped the tar out of.  These are the birds that know better than to get to close, but are hanging around just in case something happens to the dominate bird or a hen strays from the fold.

  If the dominate bird hangs up and doesn’t come in, many times the loud boisterous calling will pull one of the subordinate Toms in and you’ll be able to tip one of them over and fill your tag.

  Another method that I have used to call a gobbler that has hens into range is to call to his girl friends.  There is usually a dominate hen with the group and if you talk sweet enough, long enough and loud enough, she might just come over and see who or what is trying to take her man away.

  I used this method numerous time; one that really emphasizes what I am talking about was a hunt years ago on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to help Larry Myhre from The Sioux City Journal to fill his tag. 

  Most of the larger Toms had collected their harems and were not about to leave their flock to check out a lone hen.

  This Tom was over the hill, so I set up down the hill from Larry, putting my decoy in between us.

   I started calling with a slate call and immediately heard several responses from different gobblers.  I worked the birds for about 10 minutes and could not get them to come any closer, so I started to call louder and more frequently to the hen.  She got louder and started coming our way.  This went on for another 10 minutes, but the hen was getting closer, I knew if the hen left the Tom, he would have to follow her over the hill giving my partner the opportunity for a shot.

   As my slate got squeaky, I switched to my diaphragm call while I roughed up the surface of the slate call.  When my mouth got dry, I switched back to the slate and kept going back and fourth or used them together to make the Tom think there were several hens on this side of the hill.

  I kept it loud, because the Tom was not moving, he was hung up and I needed to bring the hen over in order to get the gobbler within range. 

  Fifteen minutes after I started calling, the hen appeared at the top of the hill and headed directly towards my decoy clucking, spitting and putting all the way.  She was “MAD”!

  Fortunately, for my decoy, another Tom had been responding to my calls and after twenty minutes of calling, she lost interest in my decoy and the Tom over the hill and headed off to looking for the other bird.

  When she shut up, I backed off on the calls and waited for the Tom and the rest of his harem to come looking for his hen that had wondered off.  It did not take long after the hen moved off when a blue and white head popped up over the rise.  A few more clucks and purrs and the gobbler stepped over the hill and into Larry’s sights and it was all over. [Read more…]

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Farm ponds offer bass, bluegill action By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
HARTINGTON, Neb. | One thing I like about farm pond fishing is that ponds are generally loaded with fish.
And the one Gary Howey and I were fishing just southwest of town was proving that it was no exception.
When it comes to bluegill fishing in ponds, there is no more effective method than using a fly rod. And I was proving that fact today. Seven-inch bluegills were taken on practically every cast.
The tiny black ant that I designed for bluegill fishing more than 40 years ago had not lost its charm. While the ‘gills weren’t monsters, they were giving a good account of themselves on my light tackle.

Howey, meanwhile, was casting a spinnerbait for bass. He had caught and released three before I decided to tie on a bass fly. I chose a black wooly bugger in size 6. The black marabou tail behind the black chenille body made the fly nearly 2 inches long.

Wouldn’t you know it: The first cast produced a nearly 2-pound largemouth. After several airborne leaps I brought the bass to hand and then released it.
We weren’t keeping any fish, but if we were, we still would have released the bass. Bluegills, on the other hand, would have been fair game. They are very prolific, and if there are not enough bass in the pond to keep their numbers down, they will overpopulate and become stunted.

If that happens, any largemouth still in the pond will find it difficult to bring off a spawn. The tiny ‘gills will attack the nest in an effort to eat the eggs, and the male guarding the nest doesn’t stand a chance against hundreds of hungry mouths.

In fact, the old rule of removing 10 pounds of bluegills for every pound of bass from a farm pond is still pretty good advice.
I’m not sure how many farm ponds there are in Nebraska, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there are about 110,000 in Iowa providing about 1.6 million fishing trips annually. The local economic impact is estimated at $7.5 million.

That’s pretty good considering farm ponds are on private property and the angler must get permission to fish from the landowner.

Farm ponds also produce big fish. [Read more…]

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Summertime tricks for more walleyes By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

The dog days are here. Walleye fishing, predictably, gets tougher. With air temperatures hitting the high 80s or 90s most days, the water temperature heats up. Weed growth expands, and some lakes experience horrific algae blooms.
All told, I’d much rather fish walleyes in June than in August.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make great catches of walleyes during the heat of summer.
Actually the Missouri River reservoirs offer great walleye fishing in the heat.
If you are fishing natural lakes, some of the presentation tricks I’m going to outline here will help you fill that limit. And you can take them to the reservoirs as well.
First, let’s talk bait. Leeches and crawlers are the traditional summertime baits, with minnows topping the list in the spring and chubs in the fall.
Typically, when I’m fishing natural lakes, I’m using some type of live bait rig such as a Lindy Rig or Roach Rig. They are practically the same arrangement, a sinker (typically 3/8-ounce for most of your fishing) stopped by a swivel in front of 36 inches of snell with a hook at the end.
While I do use bottom bouncers in lakes from time to time, especially if I can’t find fish and have to cover a lot of ground, most of the time I find fish on the depth finder and slow my presentation down.
Most of the time the fish are relating to weeds, particularly cabbage and coontail. I prefer to fish cabbage as it is much easier to move your presentation just outside of the weed line which forms when light penetration can no longer support plant life.
I abandon the typical “Lindy” sinker when fishing weeds and instead use a cone-shaped sinker which is often used for bass fishing. This sinker slides though the weeds without fouling on them and can save you a lot of aggravation. [Read more…]

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West River stock dams yield big bluegills By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

PIERRE, S.D. | The prairie swept away to the west like an endless sea of waving grass. It was shortly after dawn and antelope and deer scampered away from our vehicles as Gary Howey and Steve Nelson guided their trucks down the gravel roadway.

We were on our way to fish one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of stock dams which dot these grasslands. The ponds are built to provide water for cattle, an industry which anchors the incomes of most who live in this region.

Steve Nelson, Pierre, S.D., has been a friend of mine since we attended the University of South Dakota a generation ago. After graduation, our paths went separate ways until we made contact about 10 years later. Pierre, Steve told me, was an outdoorsman’s paradise. I needed to come visit. Of course I knew that, but my tunnel vision was fishing. It was hard to drive farther than Lake Frances Case, a Missouri River reservoir a lot closer than Lake Oahe. Oahe had bigger fish, but Case had the numbers. Decisions, decisions.

But, I needed to see an old friend.

And ever since then, Pierre has drawn me like a moth to a flame.

No one has a better handle on stock-dam fishing than my friend, Steve. He’s guided me on many memorable trips to these dams for bass, bluegills and perch. And I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill fish. I’m talking about pound-plus ‘gills, perch and bass of nearly state record proportions.

So when Steve called and said we should come out and seek big bluegills, we went.

The pond we were intending to fish is on private land. And that’s the case of many West River stock dams. You must have permission of the landowner to fish them, but that’s not difficult to obtain.

But, there are also a lot of ponds and small reservoirs on public land. More about that later. [Read more…]

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Jigging the Big Lake, Lake of the Woods, MN. By Gary Howey

Lake of the Woods is a pristine 50,000-acre lake along the Minnesota and Canada borders. There you will find, 65,000 miles of shoreline, numerous bays and over 14,000 islands, and some of the finest fishing available in North America.
This would be our destination where we Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre and I would join Nick Painovich, Zippel Bay Resort to walleye fish on the big lake.
When we arrived, shortly after noon, our plans were to spend a couple of days fishing on Lake of the Woods, but as we looked at the extended forecast, it looked like it could be a one day trip and we had better not waste any time, as a severe weather pattern was heading our way.
It didn’t take us long to stow our gear in one of Zippel Bays thirty foot charter boats and make our way out of Zippel Bay into Lake of the Woods.
Nick motored out to one of the areas where they had been picking up some nice fish during first week of the Minnesota walleye season.
Dropping anchor, we positioned ourselves along the edge of the rock pile, tied on our jigs, tipped them with salted minnows and begin jigging. We were fishing along the edge of the rocks, hopping to pick up some of the post spawn walleyes making their way out into the deeper water.
The smaller males as well as the sauger were eager biters, some of which would join us at our fish fry that evening. As Nick and I were catching our dinner fish, Larry set the hook on what appeared to be a good fish and after a short battle, a twenty-seven inch slot walleye slid into the net, had her photo taken and then was released. Larry, who claims to be a multi-species angler, also landed a smaller northern. Not to be out done, Nick hooked another good fish, another of the slot fish, twenty-five inches that had her photo taken,
As the bite slowed, Nick would bring up the anchor and move onto another rock pile where we would work our baits off the rock pile down along the edge where it dropped off into deeper water. [Read more…]

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Walleyes cooperate on Lake of the Woods By Larry Myhre

 

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

WILLIAMS, Minn. | We were no more than a half a mile out from the mouth of Zippel Bay when Nick began zig-zagging over the reef below his 30-foot charter boat.

Satisfied with what he saw on the depth finder, he hit the button that released the big anchor, and we were soon holding above what we hoped would be a whole lot of walleyes.

I tipped my jig with a shiner and dropped it over the side. We fished straight down, holding the jig just an inch or two above the bottom.

The bite was light. Just a small amount of tension I could feel on the rod tip. I swept the rod back and could feel the struggling walleye below.

We were on the right spot.

Nick and Deanna Painovich, are the owners of Zippel Bay Resort. We have fished with them several times in years past. Gary Howey and I were to spend just a couple of days here before heading farther north to a fly-in lake in Ontario.

We were staying in one of their luxury log cabins facing the bay. Featuring log furniture with fireplace and satellite TV, the cabins have three bedrooms with a loft and a large deck.

While my fish broke the ice, it was not long before Gary and Nick began making contributions to the live well. [Read more…]

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It’s High Water on the Red For Catfish By Larry Myhre

Grand Forks, N.D. The water in the Red River was up, up a lot, up thirteen feet with debris, branches, logs and even entire trees, floating by as they headed north towards Canada.

The Red River begins its journey north where the Bois de Sioux and the Otter Trail rivers flow between Minnesota and North Dakota flowing northward through the Red River Valley into Manitoba Canada.

Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. our guide Brad Durick and I found ourselves anchored just above one of Brad’s favorite catfish holes.

Brad, a guide specializing in fishing for channel catfish on the Red of the North, he is the author of the 2013 book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code” and a nationally recognized educator and outdoor writer.

On this trip, we were after channel catfish, which have poor eyesight, but a tremendous sense of smell as they have receptors in, along the outside of their lips and on the barbells protruding from either side of their month. Catfish use these receptors to follow the scent coming down river, helping them to locate their meals, even in the muddiest of waters. When you are fishing for channel catfish, you had better use bait that is oily and smelly the better if you want to entice these bottom dwellers into biting. We were using chubs and goldeye for cutbait, both oily fish and when cut into inch and a half to two-inch pieces, they leave a scent trail, which is easy for the fish to follow. [Read more…]

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Big Stone Lake’s panfishing secret exposed By Larry Myhre

ORTONVILLE, Minn. | Big Stone Lake is a 26-mile long fish factory. Long known for its excellent walleye fishing, and in the past few years an exploding perch population, few anglers are aware of the excellent fishing for other species.

Take panfish, for instance.

When Artie Arndt, owner of Artie’s Bait and Tackle, told me that 10-inch bluegills were common here, I admit to being skeptical.

Turns out the first ‘gill we caught was taken by his son Tanner and it measured 11 1/2-inches. And that was right in front of the public docks and boat ramp right in town at the south end of the lake.

“Kids fish from the docks here and catch them all the time,” Artie said. [Read more…]

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PANFISH ON THE ROCKS ON BIG STONE By Gary Howey

Ortonville, MN. It was not long ago, when I made the remark, “bobber fishing is not one of my favorite ways to catch fish”, but that all changed last week. On that day, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member, Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA. and I would meet Tanner Arndt, a guide from Artie’s Bait Shop, Ortonville, Minnesota to do some bobber fishing.
We were on Big Stone Lake; a twenty-six mile body of water located in northeastern South Dakota along the border with Minnesota is an excellent lake for walleye fishing and for its perch bite.
On this trip, it would not be the walleye or the perch we were after, as we were looking for panfish, crappies and bluegill.
The first afternoon, we launched from the public access near the rearing ponds where many of the bluegill we were after had started out as fingerlings.
With the wind picking up, we made our way across the lake, heading for some of the more protected bays behind the many islands on Big Stone.
As we approached one of the calmer bays, a pair of Canada geese greeted us, let us know we were trespassing on their territory, while several white pelicans perching on the rocks, paid little or no attention to our boat.
Both anchors were deployed as we begin to probe the shallow waters of the bay. We were anchored off one of the numerous islands in the lake, where the panfish, the crappies and bluegill had recently moved into in preparation of the spawn. As I was taking it all in, all that was around me, I gazed across the bay at the islands, its rock-strewn shoreline and the clear water. Glancing back at my bobber, it darted off to the right disappearing into the wave; taking up the slack line, I reared back on the rod, expecting to see a small panfish come flying out of the shallow water. [Read more…]