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January 2013

OUTDOOR CONNECTION

Trumbull Lake restoration Driftbusters begin membership drive

Trolling on ice

2-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013

Trumbull Lake on its way toward restoration

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hen I first moved to northwest Iowa back in 1978, one of the lakes I would frequent, especially in the winter, was Trumbull Lake located south of Terril. The 1,200-acre lake was prime for catching jumbo perch in the winter, and during the summer, my son and I would fish it for northern pike. At that time, Trumbull Lake was also excellent for waterfowl. However, over the years Trumbull Lake began to suffer from poor water quality and a fishery that became dominated by common carp. Waterfowl use also significantly declined. Yet all you have to do is go back to 1916 when the State Highway Commission made this statement about Trumbull Lake. “Trumbull is a clear open body of water, five feet in depth. The beaches are covered in gravel. Fishing has always been considered good, and many big pickerel as well as quantities of smaller fish are

taken during the season. The shooting is good: the outlying sloughs and sheltered bays afford both shelter and feeding places for wildfowl.” Now, nearly 95 years later

STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR

the lake was nothing but a turbid shallow water lake that offered little recreational benefit to anyone. Then this past spring, with the support of area residents, the Iowa DNR began a partial water drawdown similar to one done a few years ago at West Swan Lake located southeast of Estherville. That drawdown helped bring back aquatic vegetation along the shoreline helping improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat at West Swan, and the goal

This map shows the immensity of the Trumbull Lake watershed.

was for that same thing to happen at Trumbull Lake. It wouldn’t take care of everything like a total drawdown would, but it would help. Low and behold, Mother Nature took over and with the drought-like conditions, an extended drawdown occurred, making it a dry lake basin, which, according to Mike Hawkins, Iowa DNR fisheries biologist headquartering out of the Spirit Lake Hatchery, gives the stakeholders the chance to totally restore the lake. Hawkins, who has been instrumental in working on several successful shallow lake restoration projects in northwest Iowa, says Trumbull Lake was on the long range restoration plan, but the recent drought makes this the right time. “Trumbull has an enormous watershed so we need to take advantage of this opportunity that Mother Nature is granting us to recharge the marshes and improve the lake by getting plants to return and to eliminate the carp,” noted Hawkins. The Trumbull Lake watershed includes 48,552 acres in a four county area: Clay, Emmet, Dickinson and Palo Alto counties. This is a 42 to 1 watershed to lake area ration, which is huge. With the huge watershed has come sedimentation issues. In 2012, the ISU Limnology Lab stated that 12 inches of sediment has built up on the lakebed since 1894. Bryan Hellyer, wildlife biologist for the DNR, echoed Hawkins’ assessment. “This could be a blessing in disguise. While things didn’t go as planned with the drawdown, we now have an opportunity to reset the lakemarsh system and go from a shallow lake with murky water and no vegetation to

Aerial view shows only a little sheet water left by late summer. Photo by Mike Hawkins

one that benefits waterfowl, shorebirds, and all kinds of wetland wildlife with emergent and submergent vegetation. That’s exciting.” At a public meeting held on October 23 at the Dickinson County Nature Center, Hawkins shared the vision for restoring Trumbull Lake. The restoration plans begin this coming spring. First, Hawkins noted, is the need to dig a channel in the early spring to keep the lakebed dry. This will give a greater chance for aquatic vegetation to take hold during the critical late spring period and for lake bottom compaction to occur. “Trumbull Lake has been in a dismal state for years. It has a history of some boom and bust cycle of fishing, but mostly poor fishing and poor water quality. What this project should do is improve the water quality and make the fishery more consistent,” Hawkins said. Water quality stats support the poor water quality statement. It all begins with an incredibly high phosphorus level that is typically more

than double that of other public lakes. Phosphorus is the leading cause of algae blooms that cause very poor water clarity, which in turn leads to a lack of aquatic vegetation (which help increase water clarity). “All of the information we have shows that Trumbull Lake was a healthier lake historically,” says Hawkins. “This project should push Trumbull Lake back in the right direction. Phosphorus will get locked up in aquatic plant life instead of algae and green water.” When all of the work is completed, Trumbull Lake will be carp-free for the first time since carp were introduced over 100 years ago. “We have eliminated all of the carp in the lake itself, and Round Lake, and we also surveyed the creek for signs of carp,” adds Hawkins. “Even though this project has gotten a jump start, we don’t want to forget the other important parts of a health lake,” says Hawkins. “For a lake to be truly healthy, its watershed (land

that drains to the lake) must be healthy.” According to Hawkins, that takes landowners practicing good land use practices, key wetland restorations and addressing bank erosion in drainage ditches. “Most watershed work begins long before work at the lake takes place, but Mother Nature didn’t care about our schedule!” So, as the lake restoration takes place, conservation professionals from the four-county area will discuss the incentives and programs that landowners can participate in to help ensure the project’s long-term success. The restoration plan includes allowing the lake to slowly refill beginning in June, which will allow the new vegetation to get a good start. If conditions are right, the timeline for completion looks like this. “We would like to have the water levels come up as the vegetation grows and have the lake full by late summer. Stocking yellow perch and northern pike will begin in the spring of 2014.”

Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013-3

Oh, Deer…

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hen requests for deer feces started filling-up my inbox, I began to question my profession. Why do my colleagues seem so interested in deer poop? Not only were there requests to collect deer feces, but I was asked to bring the “packages” to a conference. At the conference, I learned what all the excreta was about. CWD or Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. An abnormal protein referred to as a prion alters brain function and leads to a loss of appetite, extreme weight loss, excess urination, drooping ears and head, and loss of body functions. The effects of CWD have been compared to Mad Cow disease. Unlike Mad Cow disease, CWD has not affected humans. Neurological studies have

JENNA POLLOCK EMMET COUNTY NATURALIST

not proven whether transmission to humans is possible. Humans share the same protein that has been affected in deer. That same protein has been injected into mice to test whether humans may contract CWD and so far none of the mice carrying the human protein have acquired CWD. In 2002, CWD was identified in the white-tailed deer populations of Wisconsin. CWD spread to the remaining states that border Iowa. Not until 2012 was CWD identified in Iowa.

A white-tailed deer at a hunting preserve in Davis County (Southeast Iowa) tested positive for the disease in July. Pottawattamie County also had a deer test positive in a breeding facility. The deer from Davis County and the deer from Pottawattamie County were traced back to a breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County where a deer tested positive for CWD. Transmission of the disease is believed to be transmitted through consumption of the abnormal protein. Because deer are herbivores, they consume this protein through grazing over contaminated soils. Infected deer may carry the abnormal protein for a long time without showing any symptoms. The disease appears to remain dormant until a threshold of abnormal protein is reached. Why all the hubbub about deer excrement? The prion

(abnormal protein) is excreted by infected deer and can be found in their feces. Excrements of deer have been tested to determine at what level a deer becomes infected and how it is spreading across Iowa. Why do some deer become infected while others do not? Soil type may have more to do with transmission than the amount of prion excreted. Clay soil contaminated with an infected deer’s feces may prove more detrimental than a different soil type. Researchers believe that clay soil carrying the abnormal protein stays in the digestion system longer allowing more time for protein uptake. While much remains unknown about the transmission of CWD in deer, for the past decade people have continued to hunt and consume deer without any detrimental health effects to

humans. This may be explained by the fact that many hunters don’t consume the brain matter, eyes, spinal cord, or bone matter where the prion collects en masse. We may observe a rise in CWD across the state, but Iowa DNR and the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship (IDALS) and state veterinarians are prepared to limit exposure. For the past decade over 42,550 wild deer and over 4,000 captive deer have been tested and monitored to survey CWD. Hunting conditions in Northwest Iowa remain unaffected by CWD. Another disease that affected deer this fall is Epizootic Hemorrghagic Disease (EHD) or Black Tongue. The disease is spread by a biting midge. A deer usually dies within 36 hours after being bitten. Symptoms include high

fever and the heart, lungs, diaphragm and other internal organs will weaken and hemorrhage. The deer seeks water to combat the fever and hemorrhaging. A deer that dies from EHD or black tongue may be found along a river or creek. EHD is spread at water sources where the midges hatch and deer gather to drink. During dry years, like 2012, more deer are forced to share water areas thus increasing the number of infected deer. Heavy frost helps kill the midges that spread EHD. Rain also reduces contamination rates by providing more watering areas for deer to disperse to. While deer numbers may decline during drought years, deer numbers usually rebound within two years. If you’re interested in learning more about CWD or EHD, visit the Iowa DNR website.

Stewardship Tip – Match your tackle to your quarry BY MARK OLSON STEWARDSHIP TIPS EDITOR

Editor’s note: Each month the Outdoor Connection tab will feature a column by Recycled Fish, a nonprofit organization founded by Teeg Stouffer in 2003. Originally a Catch and Release education organization, it is now a national movement of anglers who live and promote a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water. Have you been in a position where fish will come to your bait quickly or check it out several times before leaving? Ice Team member and renowned guide Jim Hudson has, and he notes “when fish are moving aggressively, coming in two or three times, and you are seeing this from multiple fish – it’s time to hunker down and downsize a bit.” When targeting larger lake trout, Hudson will use 1/16-ounce jigs or small spoons such as the Forage, Buckshot, or Macho Minnow. Since he is chasing larger fish, Hudson

uses tackle that can handle the quarry he is seeking even when using small jigs or spoons. He uses a stouter rod and Berkley’s NanoFil. Even though he uses 10-pound test, the line still has a very thin diameter for “stealth purposes.” Selecting a line with a beefier test illustrates one of our principles of SAFE Angling: Use a rod, reel, and line matched to the fish This will allow for a timely landing of fish. Using a rod, reel, and line of appropriate strength for the fish you are seeking is responsible conduct. It allows you to catch, control and land your fish safely. When you use gear that is too light, you run the risk of extending the fight and exhausting the fish. A fish builds up lactic acid during a fight and, without the proper amount of oxygen, may not recover properly. This could lead to delayed mortality. This is especially important on the ice

where you may have a limited amount of space to resuscitate your fish. With many of the technologically advanced fishing lines, an angler retains the stealthiness of lighter tackle while maintaining the advantages of a stronger line. Using a line that will allow you to land your fish in a timely manner will reduce the

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amount of lactic acid that builds up in the fish’s muscles, which, in turn, will allow the fish to recover more quickly and improve post-release survival rates. After all, if we let 'em swim, we want to know they live, right? We are more than sportsmen, We Are Stewards.

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4-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013

TACKLING TOUGH WALLEYES BY JASON MITCHELL

Editor’s note: Jason Mitchell hosts the popular outdoor program, Jason Mitchell Outdoors which airs across the Midwest on Fox Sports North and Fox Sport Midwest. In addition, Mitchell has earned a renowned reputation as a top walleye guide on North Dakota's Devils Lake often guiding well over 250 days on the water and ice each season. Slow rolling walleyes that do not accelerate up to the lure and just nose in can be frustrating. Anybody who has spent any time fishing for walleyes can relate to times when the fish almost appeared timid. Too high of a lift or too hard of a pound results in a sediment cloud as a hard tail flap scoots the fish away, when fish are turned off… we can actually scare them at times with lures. Some days, walleyes might bight during peak times and than get turned off as the sun gets higher, other situations that shut down a bite might be a change in weather or fishing pressure. These fish can still be caught and an angler can still salvage a great day on the ice if you make some adjustments and really know how to read your Vexilar.

There are a few ways to tackle these tough critters; honed down jigging techniques and dead sticking. The key with jigging in this situation is getting the lure to bob or rock in a slow swimming motion. Small spoons like Northland Tackle Forage Minnows are excellent. Another go to weapon is actually one of my favorite panfish jigs… the largest size Hexi-Fly. Swim the lure like you would for panfish. Using the small, subtle stuff also requires some lighter action rods and lighter three to six pound test line so that the rod tip loads up slightly. The bights are often distinguishable by just some extra weight or the absent of jig weight, that feeling of nothingness. The ultimate rod for this situation is our popular 28 inch Jason Mitchell Meat Stick which is a sanded glass blank that features a feather light tip that quickly loads to some serious backbone for setting the hook. Pair that rod with four pound test Bionic Braid so that you have more leverage on the hook set with less stretch. When working the jig up or down, slow is the game. Slowly swim the jig up but a killer move on these fish is a slow free fall back

down. With the Hexi-Fly, I like to tip them with just a minnow head or sometimes a gob of wax worms. With spoons, minnow heads are an option but I picked up a really useful trick from Ice Team Pro, Jeff Andersen on Mille Lacs a few winters back. Andersen often pinches the minnow off about half way back so that the air bladder causes the minnow to ride horizontal on the hook. Andersen theorizes that on really tough bites, the horizontal minnow is easier for fish to inhale when they nose up and flare on the minnow. I have used the half minnow trick since with great success on tough fish. The other option is dead rods or set lines. Again, the soft tip of the 28 inch Meat Stick makes the rod a good dead stick weapon. Jigs with a wide gap hook like the classic Northland Fireball are tough to beat. Ice Team Pro, Keith Kavajecz showed me a wrinkle in the dead rod game recently on Lake of the Woods that was deadly effective for him. Kavajecz dead hooks a large minnow through the skull and than hooks a small minnow alive on top of the dead minnow. There is something to that The author, Jason Mitchell shares a few finesse tactics that can trigger reluctant walleyes on a tough bite. Photo submitted

Turn to WALLEYES, Page 5

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Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013-5

WALLEYES, Continued from Page 4 big/small minnow combination through the ice that really triggered reluctant fish. Besides adding bulk, the dead minnow adds weight and really limits the mobility of the smaller minnow so that the whole package can only roll and squirm in place. When a fussy walleye moves in, the minnow can’t swim away. I have also pinched off the tails of minnows and have had success with that. Making the minnow a slow easy target is one strategy, the other strategy is to use lively shiners, chubs or rainbows in an attempt to trigger an aggressive response. When trying to trigger aggression with live minnows, a plain hook and split shot is still often the ticket. Some folks use small treble hooks with success but my best set up remains a size four long shank Aberdeen hook, taking the minnow and knicking the hide right behind the gill on the side of the minnow with the hook point facing towards the head of the minnow. That particular hook has enough bend and shank where the minnow doesn’t tear off very easy and the batting average with hook sets on fish seems better. If you are missing fish with dead rods, one trick I would often share with people when I was guiding was to simply set the hook with the reel. When the rod tip drops, pick up the rod and spin the reel handle until the rod really loaded and than lift up on the fish. With dead rods, another trick that can work well at times is to hang the minnow a few feet higher than where the fish are coming in. The higher minnow can be seen from further away and when a fish would raise that high to look the minnow over, they typically ate it. All of these techniques and tips can work wonders for tackling tough walleyes. Typically, these tactics are a last resort when more aggressive tactics fail to produce fish. Often, we look for fish and break down water with aggressive tactics but sometimes need to switch gears when times are tough. Passive or subtle presentations can compliment the more aggressive fishing strategies when conditions dictate.

DRIFTBUSTERS PREPARE FOR MEMBERSHIP DRIVE BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR

Snow, yes! That was the collective feeling of snowmobilers across northwest Iowa as the first real snowfall of the year accompanied by strong northwest winds filled area ditches. Then came the 27th and another 2-3 inches of fluffy snow arrived. After last year’s pretty much “brown” landscape, the snow brought a sense of hope this would be a “good snowmobile” winter. With all of the excitement about the newly fallen snow, the Emmet County Driftbusters, the local snowmobile club, will be holding its annual membership drive on Jan. 7 at J & K Snowmobiles in Estherville from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. According to Tyson Enerson, Driftbuster leaders are hoping that the snow will get snowmobilers fired up and interested in joining the club. The club’s mission is to promote snowmobiling, bring people together to enjoy the sport and the camaraderie that comes with it. Looking on the Emmet County Driftbuster facebook page, one of their members said during one of the recent snows, “It’s snowing, yah! Keep it coming!” Enerson said, “Our January 7 get-together will include lots of talk about snowmobiling and ideas for club activi-

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The Emmet County Driftbusters annual membership drive will be held Jan. 7 from 6-8 p.m. at J&K Snowmobiles in Estherville Photo submitted

ties this winter. We encourage anybody interested in snowmobiling to come on out. We’ll have chili, chicken noodle soup and sandwiches.” Cost for an individual membership is $25, while a family membership costs $30. The membership drive is extremely important notes Enerson. “We currently have around 25 members. The

more members we can get, the better opportunity there will be for us to get funding for adding new snowmobile trails and improving the existing trails, along with money for a groomer.” An activity that has been popular in the past and will again be offered this year will be a youth ride. In the past, the club members have ridden

down to the Emmet County Nature Center, ridden trails down there and topped it off with a barbecue. “We want to get kids interested, so we encourage adults to bring their kids ou,” said Enerson. “We also invite those who are between 12-15 and have their snowmobile education certificate to join us.“

6-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013

Riled-up water and shallow bluegills BY MARK STRAND

From one section of a lake to another, winter water clarity differences can be detected, says Dave Genz. Subtle, but noticeable. Riled-up water leaves clues about possible presence of shallow ‘gills. More and more, this series of ice fishing articles will feature the latest thoughts and theories developed by Dave Genz as he spends darn near every winter day on the ice somewhere. No one ever has, or ever will, fish as much through the ice in as many different states and provinces – and nobody will ever have the impact on the sport that Genz has had. What sets Genz apart goes beyond the sheer number of days, weeks and months he spends seeking and catching

fish through the ice. He’s a one-of-a-kind talent, blessed with the instincts and creativity of an inventor, the tenacity of a real-world tester. Dave’s theories are worth hearing even in their early stages, but he usually doesn’t bring something up until he’s seen it happen enough times that he’s starting to rely on it. Such is the case with his latest discovery leading him to shallow-water bluegill bites. Conditions for Shallow Gills In his book, Bluegills!, Dave described his simple and surefire method of predicting bluegill location. Water clarity and weeds are everything, he says. No matter where they’re found, the

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most important factor controlling bluegill location is water clarity. Think of all bluegill waters as clear, dirty, or something in between. If the water is dirty, there can be some shallow weed growth, but usually only extremely shallow. Often, if the water is dirty, there are few or no winter ‘gills in shallow water. If the water is clear – even relatively clear – there can be good weed growth in shallow water. In some fisheries, you’ll find winter weeds standing upright down to 8-12 feet. Those are the prime candidates to hold shallow-water bluegills in winter. But even if weeds are dying, laying down, perhaps only rising a foot or so above the bottom, they can still

provide effective cover and abundant food. Whether nice bluegills are using shallow water and available cover depends on several factors. Here’s a huge one: anywhere ice remains for more than about a month, and snow piles up on that ice, limiting sunlight penetration, formerly good shallow weeds can die off, water temps can become too cold, and oxygen levels can dip to the point that bluegills and other fish scoot on out to deeper water. But where the potential exists for bluegills to be holding in shallow weeds, how do you know for sure that they’re there? The traditional plan has always been to drill eleven million holes

in the ice, look down into them, fish your brains out, keep moving, take a breather when you can’t do it anymore and find what you can find. But what if there was a way to make an initial assumption about whether ‘gills are currently using shallow weeds? If you could make an educated guess about that, you could go forth with more confidence, knowing that there are likely rewards to be had if you stick with the shallow water. It would give you more energy to drill those eleven million holes, which would help you avoid giving up before you find a good pod of nice biters. The Riled-Up Water

Theory In his travels, Genz has seen a connection between waters with varying clarity from one section to the next, and the occupation of shallow water by big bluegills. “Something I’ve experienced quite a few times now,” he begins, “is noticing a difference in water clarity from one end of a lake to the other. I can think of numbers of lakes where this has occurred. It might be a lake that’s two miles long, and you have one whole end of it that’s a big flat, relatively shallow. Based on the clarity of the lake as a whole, you know what to expect when you start drilling holes (and Turn to BLUEGILLS, Page 7

Be safe out there If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words, “There is not such thing as safe ice,”…I’d be a rich man. But if I heed those words, I’ll also be a safer man. I’m not one of those guys that can’t wait to get out onto the ice. I watch the ice carefully for weeks to see how the lakes freeze before venturing out. I got wet once up to my waist. Far enough to know I don’t ever want to have my entire body immersed in freezing cold water. To avoid that unpleasant experience, I live by a few rules on the ice. Never be the leader. Follow the leader. However, just because someone has driven their 4-wheeler or truck out before me doesn’t mean it’s safe for me to follow. Always drill your way out onto the ice. Never walk or drive where you haven’t drilled. Stay away from points. They are classic areas where

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currents can degrade the ice from underneath. Or sun shining through onto a sand or rocky point may cause the ice to melt dangerously thin. I always take a path way out around shallow points that I know stick out into the lake. Stay away from pressure ridges. Ice breaks easily on the low side of the ridge. I was fishing near a pressure ridge once when a 30+ foot chunk of ice broke. As the ice sheet corrected, my shack and I and a friend flew at least 6 inches in the air. Had we been closer, we could have been sucked under the ice with no escape. Always carry a minimal amount of safety equipment.

Rope is number one on that list. I hate the thought of being on the ice when a friend or neighbor goes through and I can’t even through a life line. I have 30 foot of rope in the bottom of each of my portable shacks. I also carry a pair of ice picks or nails to give me a grip to get out if I do fall through. Another must have is a good pair of creepers or spikes on your boots. These will save you the pain of a fall. And possibly save you a trip to the emergency room with a broken bone or perhaps a concussion. I think a certain level of fear is healthy on the ice. A great deal of respect for the ice is critical to be as safe as you can be. Remember: “There is no such thing as safe ice!” Sponsors of JTG Expeditions include Great Lakes Marine and Skeeter Boats, Eagle Claw, Pure fishing, Ice Force, Otter, Dura Lift Boat Hoists and the Dry Dock Restaurant and Four Season’s Resort.

Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013-7

BLUEGILLS, Continued from Page 6 looking down them). “But if the bluegills are in there using those shallow weeds, the water in those places seems to be dirtier (than it is in other areas of the same lake). Even when the weeds are mostly down, the fish can be in there, using them, hiding in them, feeding in them. “The bluegills can be running around in what’s left of those weeds. They get chased in and out by the pike, and that riles up the water and causes it to be dirtier that it would be if those fish weren’t in there.” It’s not the difference between super clear and super dirty water, stresses Genz. The differences are subtle, but noticeable if you’re paying close attention. “That slightly lesser clarity,” he notes, “is a clue that shallow bluegills are in that lake.” Timing the Bite Once you know or suspect bluegills are using shallow water, pick a day with low barometric pressure to search for catchable fish. When those high-pressure, bluebird days come along and you’re squinting to see anything, “they bury down in the weeds farther,” explains Genz, “which makes them less accessible.” If you’re going to drill eleven million holes and hope to come away with a

HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN GIVEN NEW CHOICES FOR 2013 Iowa residents may begin purchasing hunting and fishing licenses for 2013 on Dec. 15. License fees remain unchanged for 2013. The last increase for a hunting license was in 2002, and for fishing license was 2003. 2012 licenses are valid through Jan. 10, 2013. Starting Jan. 1, hunters and anglers will have new licenses from which to choose, including: Bonus Line License – allowing resident and nonresident anglers to fish with one additional line (the regular fishing license allows two), for $12. Outdoor Combo License –annual resident hunting/fishing/habitat

When conditions are right – fairly clear water and available weeds – nice bluegills can be found in shallow water under the ice. A cutting edge clue Dave Genz has been looking for: riled-up water on shallow flats. Photo: davegenz.com

good catch, choose one of those softer, cloudier days of low pressure. Under those conditions, working hard across vast riled-up flats, your efforts are much more likely to be rewarded. Editor’s Note: Dave Genz,

known as Mr. Ice Fishing, was the primary driver of the modern ice fishing revolution. He has been enshrined in the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame for his contributions to

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8-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Jan. 4, 2013

TROLLING ON ICE BY BOB JENSEN FISHING THE MIDWEST FISHING TEAM

Most anglers know that trolling is an effective way to present a bait to fish in the summer. Trolling on the ice may sound like a strange thing, but once you understand what "trolling on ice" is all about, you'll understand why it's an effective way to present a bait to walleyes, perch, crappies, and anything else that you might want to catch. Here is how and why you troll on ice. I was first introduced to trolling on ice by Tony Roach several years ago on Lake Mille Lacs in central Minnesota. Tony is an outstanding ice-angler and guide who works hard to get his clients on fish. Mille Lacs is a huge body of water with lots of places to catch walleyes and perch through the ice, but you've got to be on the fish to catch them. Trolling on the ice increases your odds of showing your bait to more fish, and the more fish that see your bait, the better your chance of getting bit. When Tony hits the ice in the morning, he knows what area he wants to fish. With the help of a GPS and a mapping chip, he's able to see exactly where the bottom contours are. Then, keeping an eye on the map, he can drill holes along the edge of the drop-off or along or on any structure he wants to. After drilling some holes, he checks the depth of the area to make sure his holes are where he wants them to be. After confirming that the holes are where they should be, his anglers start fishing. The series of holes is considered the "trolling pass". Once you get your trolling

Results of the 2012 Christmas Bird Count BY LEE A. SCHOENEWE

Mr. Walleye Gary Roach trolls on ice to cover more area and to catch more fish. Photo by Bob Jensen

pass set up, it's just a matter of moving from hole to hole until you find a hot hole. Put the transducer for your sonar in the hole, drop a bait to the bottom, and watch for fish life. If you don't see something within five minutes, "troll" to the next hole. A stop at the bait shop on your way to the lake is usually a good idea. Get some minnows or snacks or something and ask about hot baits. Try to get an idea what baits have been working the best. Let's say you hear that Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons have been producing. That's not unusual: Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons usually do work. Let's also say that you heard that the Golden Perch color has been best. You might as well start with a Golden Perch Buck-Shot Rattle-Spoon in the appropriate size.

Editor’s Note: Here are the results for the Northern Iowa Prairie Lakes Audubon Society’s (Dickinson County) bird count held on Saturday, December 15 in conjunction with the National Audubon Society’s 2012 Christmas Bird Count. This year’s count was a record 73 species well past the prior record of 67. A welcome rain overnight mostly subsided by daybreak and mild temperatures with light wind, some fog and open water on West Lake Okoboji and several other lakes as well as the Little Sioux River and Milford Creek attracted lots of birds. Snow and cold to the north brought a new push of waterfowl migrants, and we had 23 species of ducks and geese including, for the first time ever, all five goose species. High counts of 41,340 Canada Geese, 597 Cackling Geese plus six Snow Geese, five Ross’ Geese and one Greater White-fronted Goose gave us the quintuple. Other waterfowl singletons were Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Widgeon, Northern Pintail, and Green-winged Teal. There were eight Trumpeter Swans with one at the north end of West Lake Okoboji and just for Christmas, seven “swans a swimming” at Miller’s Bay. Other notables were: ■ 33 Greater Scaup ■ 1 Gray Partridge (although I still haven’t seen one this year) ■ 1 Horned Grebe ■ 1 American White Pelican ■ 1 Double-crested Cormorant ■ 2 Rough-legged Hawks ■ 1 Red-headed Woodpecker at a feeder ■ 2 Northern Shrikes

While the waters of Smith Bay filled with Canada geese prior to the recent freeze, the species was still prevalent in the area during the 2012 Christmas Bird Count. Photo by Steve Weisman

■ 1 Horned Lark (found in the open countryside) ■ 3 Harris Sparrows ■ 1 Yellow-headed Blackbird ■ 37 Common Redpolls (all in the field) The only real misses that could be considered were American Kestrel, Rusty Blackbird and Song Sparrow. A Common Loon hanging on at Spirit Lake this past week expired as ice covered most of the lake including the loon’s location. Thanks to Carole and Wendell at Bird Haven for coordinating the feeder count this year and to the intrepid field parties for braving damp and drizzly conditions to find the good birds that were out there. Merry Christmas to all, and may the birds be with you in 2013!!

If fish come in and look at but don't bite that bait, try a different jigging action, slower or faster. Try pounding it on the bottom. Sometimes that gets the fish's attention. If that doesn't work, try a different color. If that doesn't work, try a different size. Still nothing, try a completely different bait, maybe something with a slower or faster fall. Most anglers, when trolling on the ice, use a www.motorinnautogroup.com portable shelter for their "boat". The portables from Frabill are as good as it gets. They're comfortable to fish from, and they have lots of room so you can get plenty of equipment in them. If you want to catch more fish this winter, try trolling on ice. Once you do, you'll see why this approach is so effective. A Member Of The MOTOR INN AUTO GROUP Estherville • Spirit Lake • Spencer • LeMars • Algona • Webster City • Knoxville

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January 2013 Outdoor Connection