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Missouri River Pierre Area Fall Fishing By Gary Howey

    Paul’s lure had just come to the bottom and as he raised the bait off the bottom, his rod dipped towards the water indicating a bite.

  On this trip, we were fishing with guide and good friend Paul Steffen, Steffen Brothers Guide Service on the river below Pierre.

   Team Member Larry Myhre and I had arrived the day before, stopping by the South Dakota Missouri River Tourism office to talk with Karen and Jenn, Paul as well as checking in with several other friends in the area.

  We would be in Pierre a couple of days filming another of our Outdoorsmen Adventures television shows, which meant, no matter what the weather we were on the water as  we had to be back on the road Friday afternoon because of prior appointments back home.

    Fall, when fish instinctively pig out, feeding heavily prior to freeze up when their metabolism will slow down and they have to make it through winter, relying on the fat reserve they built up during the fall.

  The plan was to locate an active pod of fish and using jigs and live bait rigs to put enough fish in the boat to make a show.

  Because the big lake, Oahe would be windy on the following day, on Thursday, Paul thought we should go down river to fish for walleyes and try trolling on Oahe Friday morning.

  The rain was coming down as we headed south out of Pierre; with Paul indicating, that there had been a good jig bite, not too far from the Farm Island boat ramp.

  It was later Thursday morning, when we launched the boat and made the short run from the Farm Island boat launch to  where on a recent trip, Paul had located a good size pod of walleyes.

    Paul made one or two passes through the area, locating the fish, marking them and our drift on one of the three large Lowrance locator/GPS units on his boat.

   Then, closely watching the locator brought the boat back on the same line we had drifted on the earlier passes, in, around and through the depth, the walleyes were holding and once through that part of the river, go back up and do it again.

  Using his Minnkota Ulterra bow mount, he maneuvered the boat giving all three of us an opportunity to work our baits down through the deeper hole and then back up into the shallower water on the backside of it.

  What was different about this trip was that we were jigging with Jiggin Raps, a minnow shaped bait that has a hook sticking out of either end along with a small treble hook on the bottom of the lure. The eye to attach it to your line is in the middle at the top of the lure. The baits fished as you would any other jig.

  When you bring your rod up quickly, it shoots out in different directions, resembling a wounded bait or game fish. As the bait drops, with a tight line, it slowly descends to the bottom, touches down and then this jigging motion continues until additional weights felt. 

  Paul set the hook on the first fish as soon as the bait hit the bottom, the fight the fish was putting on, was that of a short fish, less than 15-inches.

  Because, I was new at using this presentation and not used this bait often in open water, I kept an eye on how Paul was working the bait. Keeping a tight line, he followed the bait down allowing it to tap the bottom, then ripping it skyward, several feet, and as before, following the bait back down to the bottom. [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…]