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Jigging- The Method that works on all Game Fish By Gary Howey

  When I do my seminars throughout the upper Midwest, I talk to a lot of anglers and at one, I had several anglers tell me that they either had trouble fishing a jig or had not used them much as they did not have the time needed to learn how.

  I told them, fishing jigs is not bait used just for species, as they will catch all species of game fish, from panfish on up to lake trout. 

  For me, I do not believe there you will find a more effective piece of equipment in your tackle box or bag an angler can use!

  It surprised me to see that some folks felt jigs used for only one or perhaps two species of fish.

  Jigs are such a versatile tool, that they will catch any game fish that swims!

  Some anglers think that a jig has to be jigged, on the bottom, raised, lowered, and used only when fishing from a boat.

   Jigs are baits that, all anglers should have, no matter what species you fish for or how you fish, as they work when fished from boats, the shore or through the ice.

  If you want to make them more effective, add to them, add a plastic body, night crawlers, leeches, and minnows or fish them plain!

 They come in all sizes, colors and designs.  Bulk them up with marabou, squirrel tail, buck tail or plastic to make the jig drop slower and during cold-water fishing, many anglers simply use a plain jig tipped with a minnow or even a wax worm.

  When fishing smaller jigs, those used for panfish, you can jig them, working them up or down off the bottom, or jigged vertically, cast along the edge of the weeds or suspended under a slip bobber with a piece of crawler, worm or small minnow, making them a very effective method of taking a wide variety of panfish.

  Walleye anglers use jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce, depending on where they fish, the amount of current and the depth they are fishing. They attach minnows, leeches or crawlers to entice walleyes that at times can be very finicky.

  Those looking for bass use a jig & pig combination, with a trailer, which can be plastic like Berkley Gulp, Power Bait, or a pork rind to take both smallmouth and largemouth bass during the toughest of conditions. [Read more…]

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For Better Fishing Fish Water Releases Gary Howey

  When I was a guide and tournament angler, I needed to use everything I could to help me catch fish when fishing was tough.

  There were numerous things affecting the bite, shutting the bite down or making it extremely hard to get a bite. 

  Some of these things were cold fronts, heavy winds, no wind, cold-water temperatures, angler pressure and bright sunny days with high daily temperatures.

  In order to allow me to be one-step ahead of the competition, I was always looking for the thing that could give me the edge over other anglers when it came to catching fish.

  Before heading for the river or lake, there was always one thing I made sure to check out and that was to look in the local newspaper to see what the water levels were and discharges coming into the the body of water I was fishing.

  When a release was scheduled, especially a major release, I wanted to be on the water.

 It sure bet when a release was scheduled or a change of water coming down the river, baring any natural disaster, the fishing would start to pick up and the next week or so could be some of the best fishing of the season.

  The heavier the release the better the fishing, but even the smallest change in the discharge could trigger the fish.

  I wish I had figured this out years before as it would have saved me a lot of time and made many of my trips much more successful.

  You do not need to be a NASA scientist to figure it out as has to do with common sense, one thing that others and I sometime did not use enough.

  Water releases can and will trigger fish, especially below a dam or spillway.

  Look at the overall picture and you will see why fishing would pick up below these areas.

  First, you have a huge volume of deep water held back behind the dam or spillway and that deep water is holding and hiding fish of all sizes and species as well as other aquatic life.

 When the gates opened up, there are thousand of gallons of water drawn forcibly through the turbines or gates, bringing with it, the fish and other aquatic life that were above the dam, flushing them downstream.

  The influx of water through the turbines and through the gates brings the gamefish, baitfish and other aquatic life from the lake into the river below, pushing heavy current downstream.

  With the water release, it is the ringing of the dinner bell to those fish living downstream and to those carried with the water from the lake, as they will quickly move up, taking advantage of the injured and wounded critters coming through the dam. [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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Late Winter-Early Spring Walleye Tactics By Gary Howey

  It may have not arrived as quick as we had hoped it would, but there is no doubt that winter is winding down.

  This year, we had one of those winters like the ones I used to see where I grew up back home, in Watertown, South Dakota when the snowdrifts were up to my waist. 

  When the cold winter weather did finally arrived, and the ice finally became thick enough to walk on, the winter fishing was good on some bodies of water, but now the ice is departing quickly in our area.

  With warm weather that we have know, many anglers are beginning to get on the water below the Missouri River dams and chasing walleyes where the ice has receded in open water of the river.

  The fishing has not been what you call fast and furious, but for those anglers who have patience, have taken some good fish.

  This time of year, when water temperatures are cold, you have to understand the way a fish operates in cold water and change your fishing methods accordingly.

  When water temperatures start to cool, the metabolism of the fish slows down; they will not move much, so they do not need to eat as much. 

  Everything in their world has slowed down to a crawl, winter, and early spring walleye anglers will have to do the same with their fishing presentations.

  Slow is good when it comes to cold-water angling!  At times, just letting your bait drag along the bottom will take cold weather walleyes.

  Since the walleye and sauger move less, they use less energy and eat less and this is one of the reasons that you will want to downsize your baits this time of year.

  You will want to go with lighter line, from four to six and at times even two-pound test depending on the area that you are fishing and the bite. 

  When using lighter line, make sure your  drag is set properly, you want it set tight enough so your drag doesn’t release when you set the hook, yet tight enough that you do not break the light line when hook setting.

  No matter when you are fishing, you want to let the rod, “its action” put the most pressure on the fish and with your drag correctly set; your rod can do the fighting for you. [Read more…]

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Using Highly Visible Line To Catch More Fish Gary Howey

  As we grow older, we find that some of our senses are not quite as acute as they were in our younger years and being successful in the outdoors may become a little tougher.

 It could be your hearing or perhaps your vision. Several things are available that will help to improve these things, such as hearing devices like the Walker Game Ear products and a set of prescription glasses to help to improve your sight.

  Even with prescription glasses, if you are an angler, you may have done your best to make your line invisible to the fish, by using a clear or green line, which at times is almost invisible to you.

  Over the last several years, I have found that by switching to a more visible type line allowed me to detect more bites and catch more fish.

  One reason for this is that with some of the clear lines, you may not detect the bite where the fish does not grab the bait and run with it but comes in at the same level sucks the bait it.  When this happens, your line coming out of the water will move, ever so slightly to the side, indicating a bite.

  If you are not a line watcher, one who continually watches your line or have a highly visible line, you are going to miss many of these subtle bites.

  That is why I fish with a highly visible line, I know what you are thinking, can’t the fish see that type of line better? Yes, they can, but in the turbid, dirtier water we fish down here at the tail end of the South Dakota Missouri River impoundments, you are not able to see your lure or your line once it gets past ten inches to a foot.  Moreover, when the line gets down to the fish, the line color may be invisible and not a big deal.  If I believe the deeper water is clearer, I will tip my line with a six to eight foot of a Fluorocarbon leader.

  When I will be heading to a lake or river where I know I will be fishing clearer water, I will grab my reels; I have loaded up with line for fishing those kinds of conditions. All of these rigs spooled up with the lightest line I believe I can get away with, all of the reels filled with some sort of highly visible lines such as Berkley’s XL or XT.  Their different Hi-Vis colors like the  Fluorescent Blue, Blaze Orange, Solar, Sensation or Trans Optic which is clear under water, yet turns gold in the sunlight  or  Fireline in Flame Green

  I have found that if I use some of these highly visible lines, that I can see every movement, even a slight tick when a fish bumps my bait, it helps me to detect even those subtlest of bites. [Read more…]

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Multi Species, Multi Lakes & Mega Opportunities It’s Alexandria, MN. By Gary Howey

  The bobber rig on the end of my line was about to reach the boat, when a dark shadow, a huge muskie rose up from the depths, paying little attention to my 1/16 ounce jig and leech as it slid by my lure and into the cabbage weed in the deep water.

   It was a “BIG” fish one that appeared to be at least 36 inches long, not a giant on this lake, but one any angler would love to tangle with.

   Our guide Joe Scegura indicated the waters around Alexandria, MN. offer some of the best opportunities for anglers to catch a trophy muskie with one exceeding 50″ not uncommon.

  We had headed north on Tuesday, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre, Sioux City, IA, videographer Garrett Heikes, Wayne, NE. and as we worked our way up, Larry who had fished these waters before, clued us in on what we might expect. The fish found there, the lakes he’ fished and of course all the big fish he had taken there.

  Within a short drive of Alexandria you’ll find more lakes than you could count, most having excellent fish populations.

  The main structure on the lakes would be cabbage weed as well as some rocks, with good visibility down to twelve feet or more; these lakes hold walleyes, muskie, crappies, pumpkin seed panfish as well as northern pike.

  We’d be fishing with Joe Scegura, jsguideservice.com a, lunching from the east shoreline and as Joe headed up to park the truck and boat trailer, we spotted several species of fish working in and around the dock, a good indicator as to the number of fish found in the lake.

  Joe who had been on the water the previous day showed us some photos of the fish his groups had taken from this lake using slip bobber rigs.

  Slip-bobbers are unlike the standard bobbers that snap to the line as they have a hollow stem going through the bobber, with your line running through that stem, allowing the bobber to slide on your line.

  Slip bobber rigs are a simple set up, we used a small 1/16 ounce jig tipped with leeches or minnows, with the size of the jig you use can be smaller, use one you’re comfortable with, a clear leader leading to a swivel. It’s tied to the main line; Berkley Fireline, a small bead, Thill slip bobber slid up the line and a bobber stop attached to the line, which is generally, a small knot that slides through the guides on your rod.

  The weather reports weren’t very good, with thunder storms predicted that afternoon, so we were anxious to get on the water, and as we motored across the lake, Joe kept a close eye on the locators.

   As bad weather approaches, fish seem to sense them ahead of time and have a tendency to feed heavily before the storm, and because of this, we should be looking for some great fishing.

Author Gary Howey with guide Joe Scegura with one of the numerous walleyes took using slip bobber rigs while fishing the one of the many lakes in and around Alexandria. MN.

  I fired my slip bobber rig towards the outside edge of the weeds, my bobber hit the water, came to rest against the bobber stop, stood up, wiggled a bit then darted to the side before disappearing underwater as the fish attempted to dive deep into the cover of the cabbage weed bed.

Reeling up the slack, I felt the additional weight on the line; rearing back setting the hook hard, and if the way the fish was fighting, was an indicator, it appeared to be a good fish.

  As the fish came close to the boat, it let us know it wasn’t ready to give up the fight, peeling off several yards of line as it dove back under the boat.

   Gaining on the fish, I worked it towards the net, where Joe scooped up the nice 21 ½-inch walleye, one of the many fish we’d land on this trip.

 The weather we were facing, overcast skies and slight wind cutting the light penetration, allowed the fish to move shallow to feed, with the wave action allowing us to float our rigs into the wed line ,as Joe held the boat well away from the water we were fishing with his bow mount.

  Moving from one location to another, looking for the big fish, we were working the weed bed openings, when Larry’s slip bobber disappeared, he set the hook connecting with another decent walleye. While this was happening, Joe fought a fish up front, as I was fighting one at the back of the boat, our first of numerous doubles and triples we had on that day.

  A light shower moved in and didn’t last long, just long enough to force us to don our rain gear. The shower passed with the storm clouds moving away, with the sun coming out, which slowed our walleye action. In several hours, wed landed numerous walleyes with the two largest a 24 ½” and a 20″ fish. 

  As the sun moved higher in the sky we moved to different part of the lake to fish shallower water hoping to find some crappies.

  Garrett was the first to spot the huge schools of minnows using the area and then the crappies and other predator fish lying in ambush in the weeds.

  If you can spot the fish, they surely can see you, so fishing clear water required that you position the boat out and away from the fish, making long casts in front of where they’re located and let the wind drift your rig to them.  There were all kinds of fish in this part of the lake as we landed crappies, other panfish, walleyes, both large and smallmouth bass, as well as northern pike in the short period of time we fished that area.

  We called it early, as we needed to do some filming at the Arrowwood as well as some sights in Alexandria as well as to pack for the return trip the following morning.

  As we headed back, Joe had mentioned to and Garrett that there was a good smallmouth lake not far from where they were and they decided to do a late afternoon- early evening smallmouth bass excursion to another lake. Even though the wind picked up, they were able to boat several big smallmouths with the largest in the 20″ range.

  We caught all of our fish, numerous species in a short period of time with Joe putting us on the right spot, with the right rigs.

  The Alexandria, MN, area offers Multi Species, Multi Lakes & Mega Opportunities for both open and hard water fishing, visiting and vacationing and is an area all of us plan to return to in the near future.

  More information on all that the Alexandria, MN has to offer is available at explorealex.com.

You can contact Guide Joe Secgura at (320) 260-9056 or on line at jsguideservice.com.

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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…]