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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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Shallow water walleyes love crank baits By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.
WEBSTER, S.D. | I don’t think there is a more fun way to catch walleyes than by casting crankbaits on spinning tackle.
And the best time to do that is right now. The big female walleyes have recovered from the rigors of spawning and are back in the shallows, feeding up big. Find a windy shoreline on the right lake, and you’ll have action to dream about.  The Webster area is full of lakes and sloughs that fit the description of the “right” lake.
Last week, Gary Howey, of Hartington, Neb., and I met with Cory Ewing, of Waubay Lake Guide Service, to film a segment for Howey’s “Outdoorsmen Adventures” television show and to get fodder for our newspaper columns.
We’ve fished with Ewing a number of times over the years, and that guy is so tuned into the fishing here that every trip has been an exciting fish catching experience. This trip was no different.
Although the lake that gets the most attention right now is Bitter Lake, an overgrown former slough that is currently South Dakota’s biggest natural lake, we chose to fish a 200-acre nameless slough with no boat ramp. Ewing met us at Perebooms Cafe in Webster with his 16-foot boat in tow. I knew then we were heading for the boondocks.
As we motored out of town, Ewing told us, “We need that wind to blow. That will bring those big fish into the shoreline.”
We dropped the boat trailer over a 3-foot drop to reach the water and before long we were casting the shoreline.
“There’s some really nice walleyes in here,” Ewing said. “And there are lots of northerns and some perch.” [Read more…]

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Red River Channel cats on the bite By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. | It was the Mother of All Cold Fronts that swept through Grand Forks, N.D., and other parts north a couple of weeks ago.

“The river is up about 13 feet from where it was a week ago,” Brad Durick told me over his cell phone. He was on the Red River with noted outdoor photographer Bill Lindner and staff, doing product still and video filming.

Gary Howey and I were pounding down the interstate on our way to Grand Forks after flying out of Ontario’s Carroll Lake. We were to fish with Brad the next day.

We had battled the effects of that cold front for the past week, all the way from Lake of the Woods to the Ontario fly-in. For the next few days the sun would be shining and we hoped the catfish, for which the Red River is noted, would be in a biting mood the next day.

As it turned out, they were.

The tip of Brad’s Rippin Lips catfish rod took a heavy dive and stayed down while the Rippin Lips 8/0 circle hook did its work. I picked up the rod and began battle with the channel cat.

It was a 10-pounder and like all his brothers, he fought to the end before we finally got him in the net.

“That cold front dropped the water temperature several degrees,” Brad said, “and that slowed the fishing. It was really great before.”

But the fishing was bouncing back and the next rod dipped with the bite of a 4-pounder.

Durick is widely known throughout the cat-fishing world. He is now a full-time cat-fishing guide on the Red and also can arrange trips on North Dakota’s Devils Lake. He is also a nationally recognized fishing educator and outdoor writer. He is the author of the 2013 self-published book, “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code.”

Prior to the cold front, the Red was running very low. The area had received little snow so there was no runoff, kind of unusual for this area.

In fact, in 2011 the river was at near flood stage the entire year. Now, with the river running 13 feet higher than earlier this year, Brad says the level is just right for good cat fishing.

“We just need it to warm up a bit,” Durick, a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, said.

We had launched Brad’s 19-foot G3 aluminum boat at the Grand Forks boat ramp and headed downstream, which is north on this side of the divide. We hadn’t run very far before Brad pulled above a river hole just off the main current and dropped his Cat River anchor (made in rural Hinton, Iowa, by the way) over the side.

With all three of us licensed to fish, we could put out two rods each. Each rod was rigged with 30-pound test mono on Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reels. A no roll, 2-ounce sinker rode above a swivel and a 2-foot leader of mono ran to the hook. The rigs were baited with cut sucker pieces. [Read more…]

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A versatile angler can catch fish anywhere By Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal.

Versatility is the key to successful fishing.

How many times have we heard that? Yet, do we really understand what that means.

Let’s envision a “dyed in the wool” walleye fisherman. At the end of his tunnel vision is that silvery fish with the big eyes.

He’s out on a good multi-species lake and trolling crank baits across the flats looking for his favorite fish. Problem is, crank baits aren’t producing. So, he begins drifting with jigs. Nothing there, either. It’s gotta be a live bait thing, he thinks, so out comes the bottom-bouncer rods, and he begins trolling spinners and crawlers along the weed line.

Where are those walleyes?

Bottom-bouncer rods go back in the box and out comes the slip bobber rods. He anchors on a reef, baits up with leeches and begins watching bobbers.

It’s been a long day. He has three 14-inch walleyes in the live well. He loads his boat and goes home thinking, “Boy, good thing I am a versatile fisherman.”

Problem is, he ain’t. [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…]