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Early Season Crankbaits By Gary Howey

  When Bill Christensen, Hartington, Nebraska asked if I would want to go fishing the following Monday, I was ready as I had not done much open water angling for some time.

  Bill is a crankbaiter, loves to pull cranks throughout the year, which works very well, as you can cover more ground and takes the more aggressive fish.

  I had all weekend to finish my next week’s column, and time to re-spool my two main jigging and livebait rods with lighter line, just in case the crankbait bite was off.

  When we arrived at Santee, the dock was crowded with Santee police, tribal game wardens, along with a dozen other folks who were loading up to head out and look for an four wheeler accident victim.

  They asked which way we were heading and asked if we happen to see anything to dial 911 and let them know.

   Bill’s a  crankbaiter and likes pulling # 5 & # 7 Rapala and Berkley Flicker Shads using line counter reels spooled with 14# Berkley Fireline, its smaller diameter line allowed the baits to dive quickly and deeper, yet, when needed, had the strength to land large fish.

  The reels, coupled to eight and ten-foot rods allowed us to spread out the lines, with the longer rods fished out each side and the shorter ones running straight out the back of the boat.

  Once our rigs were ready, we checked to make sure that our baits were tuned correctly, running straight in the water, as if they are not, they go through the water erratically, not running smoothly, in a way that turns off the fish.  They will also run off to the side, running shallow. getting snagged up or tangling with your other lines.

  This time of the year, with the higher water, there s a good chance there will be a lot of trash coming down the lake, grass, weeds, twigs and even logs and when this happens, we clip a small split shot about two to three feet above where the crankbait is snapped onto the line.

  The split shot on your line intercepts grass, weeds etc. from following down your line, ending up on your bait and messing up its action.

  But, It did not take us long to realize that even with a split shot above, the heavier current and trash coming downstream there was  trash getting by, fouling up the action of our crankbaits. [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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Zebra Mussel Facts

 

In 2015, zebra mussels were found in Lewis and Clark Reservoir in southeastern South Dakota and have since spread to nearby McCook Lake as well.

Since then, this invader has spread rapidly.  While you can still enjoy the beauty and water recreation on Lewis and Clark and McCook Lake, here are a few things you need to be aware of in regards to zebra mussels.

  • The zebra mussel population in Lewis and Clark is expected to grow significantly through the summer of 2017.
  • The largest number of mussels will be found in depths shallower than 10 feet.
  • In some areas of the US, mussel densities have reached 700,000 individuals per square meter.
  • Mussels typically attach firmly to hard surfaces such as rocks and pipes, however dead shells will wash up on shore…sometimes in great numbers
  • Mussel shells are extremely sharp and can easily cut human feet, legs and hands as well as the pads on dogs’ paws.
  • Beaches with zebra mussel shells pose no higher disease or pollution concerns than other beaches and the water is still safe for swimming.
  • To avoid injury, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks suggests that users who plan to enjoy the beaches at Lewis and Clark wear water socks, swim shoes or sandals to prevent contact with shells.

Stay educated, stay informed and help current

 

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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…]