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December 2012


A Pioneer Christmas 2012 Christmas Bird Count

Fish posture and strategy

2-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012

A little competition, a whole lot of fun Recycled Fish, the national non-profit organization of "anglers living a Lifestyle of Stewardship both on and off the water,” is offering ice anglers two “Hardwater Open Tournaments” in Iowa. The Okoboji Hardwater Open is in Northwest Iowa on January 12-13 and the Big Creek Hardwater Open is in Central Iowa on January 2627. The first day of both events is designated as prefishing day with an “Ice Bash” party and rules meeting that evening, followed by the tournament on the following day. Teeg Stouffer, who founded Recycled Fish in 2003, notes that each tournament offers anglers a unique look at the sport of ice fishing. “The Okoboji Hardwater Open is held in Little

Emerson Bay on West Okoboji. It’s known for its gin clear water, so anglers get the opportunity to actually see the fish they are fishing for. It is also an individual tournament with an entry


limit set at 65 anglers.” The target species is bluegills only, and competitors bring just 10 live bluegills to the scales. Meanwhile, the Big Creek Hardwater Open is designated as a team tournament. “Big Creek gives anglers the

opportunity to fish with a partner. Big Creek does not have the water clarity of West Okoboji, so anglers will rely on their flashers and underwater cameras,” said Stouffer. “For this tournament, teams bring in their best combination of five bluegills and five crappies.” Entry fee is $65 per individual at Okoboji and $65 per team at Big Creek. Top anglers take home more than cash. They take home the coveted “piece of ice” trophies, which have built-in bragging rights. The Optional Berkley Big Fish Pot is an additional $5. The winner at the Okoboji Open will take home the entire pot plus $250 in Berkley and Fenwick merchandise, while the winners at the Big Creek open will take home the entire pot plus $250 in

Berkley and Fenwick merchandise for each angler. “Recycled Fish is excited to return to each body of water with these tournaments,” said Stouffer. “Our goal is to make a weekend of it for the anglers and the community. These events help fund our mission – to engage, educate and equip anglers to be better stewards of our waters both on and off the water. Saturday is the pre-fishing day, and we will serve all contestants a hot lunch around noon, right on the ice, provided by one of our contestants, Mike Wanser, owner of Wanser Auction Service in Nebraska. That evening, everybody comes together for the Ice Bash, which includes rules and safety, but it also features a silent auction and a bunch of door prizes. Nobody leaves empty handed!” Sunday, of course, is the big day with inspection starting at 6:30 a.m., with the tournament beginning at 8 a.m. All fish must be caught and brought to the weigh-in station by 2 p.m. Contact information: B e n Leal, Tournament Director Email: (402) 9333443 A look at each tournament

“Although there is money involved for the top teams, the anglers really covet the trophies awarded to the top three. With the trophy, the anglers get their own ‘Piece of the Ice’, “ notes Stouffer. Little Emerson has been the site for the Okoboji Hardwater Open for the last seven years. Initially, northwest Iowa guide Ryan Hale ran the tournament, but Recycled Fish took over four years ago. “We usually have between 50-60 anglers.” Last year 32 anglers brought in 10-bluegill limits

with only .02 of a pound separating the top two individuals. Josh Lowe from Brewster, MN had a weight of 5.74 pounds, while Blaine Fopma from Sioux Falls, SD had 5.72 pounds. The Berkley Big Fish award went to John Grosvenor from Spirit Lake with a .84 – ounce bluegill, while Brett Sichmeller brought in a.82-ounce bluegill for runner-up. Meanwhile, a warm winter led to unsafe ice conditions for the Big Creek Hardwater Open in 2012. In 2011, 18 teams brought in five bluegills, but only 5 teams were able to bring in 5 crappies. Dave and Justin Humpal from Monroe, IA took first place with a 10fish weight of 5.1 pounds, while Michael Riley from Des Moines, IA and Tim Elliott from Des Moines, IA took second place with a 10fish weight of 5.0 pounds. Big fish weight was .70 ounces. Stewardship

According to Stouffer, the Recycled Fish “On Ice” Tour presented by Ice Team is about living a lifestyle of stewardship for our waters. All of the Recycled Fish “On Ice” Tour events – including the Hardwater Opens – help bring the Stewardship Ethic to life across the Ice Belt. Stewardship by definition is: one who is in charge, manages, attends to. As anglers, it’s important for each of us to become a steward, a manager, an attendant. Our waters belong to all of us, and as stewards we defend them. Protect them. Recycled Fish is the force that ties us all together, providing resources and education on how to become better stewards. Stouffer notes that Recycled Fish is the only

Winners of the 2012 Okoboji Hardwater Open presented by Scheel's took home more than cash. They earn the bragging rights that come with a "piece of ice". The top four finishers (L to R) were Josh Lowe from Brewster, MN, Blaine Fopma from Sioux Falls, SD, Travis Bell from Harrisburg, SD and Lon DeBoer from LeMars, IA. Photo submitted

non-profit organization that talks to all anglers everywhere about the problems facing all of our waters. There are great species specific groups (Trout Unlimited, B.A.S.S. Conservation, Muskies Inc.) and great watershed groups (Great Lakes United, James River Basin Partnership, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance) but no organization for all anglers everywhere about the problems, and how we can solve them. “None,” he points out, “Except Recycled Fish.” Over 14,000 anglers from all 50 states and 20 countries have taken the Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge and joined Recycled Fish. It’s free at the Recycled Fish website, and at Recycled Fish events across North America. “Everybody wants to do the right thing, if they know what the right thing to do is. We have a Stewardship on Ice booklet that has become the playbook for ice fishing ethics,” says Stouffer. To learn more and become a steward, go to

Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012-3

A pioneer Christmas: then and now The taste of a delectable sugar cookie, the sound of sleigh bells and carolers, the feel of snow crunching underfoot, the scent of a holiday meal- all these visceral images come to mind when I think of the Holidays. In truth, the holiday rituals we practice today are not all that different from years past. Perhaps our decorations have become a bit more grandiose (giant, inflatable lawn ornaments), the meal a larger spread, but we’re still capable of fostering the merriment of Christmas joy in the eyes of a child. With the Emmet County Conservation Foundation’s annual Christmas on the


Farm celebration coming up on Saturday, December 8th from 1-4pm at the Peterson Point Historic Farmstead located just south of Wolden Park and the Emmet County Nature Center, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on Pioneer Christmas traditions past and present. In the 1800s, many cabins didn’t have room for an opu-

lent Christmas tree. Interior decorating focused instead on hanging garland and handstrung berries. Stockings were hung over the hearth. Whether these stockings were hung depended on whether one had a spare sock to hang. Come Christmas morning, presents were found in the stockings instead of under the tree. Would a stocking worth of presents suffice human contentment today? These gifts encompassed more thought, time, and energy than a gift purchased from any department store. Cornhusk dolls, wood-carved toys, embroidered hankies, knitted scarves, gloves,

socks, mittens, and hats were crafted with patience and great care of raw material. Fresh fruits, cookies, and candies were a rare treat found on Christmas morning and represented a bountiful year. The degree of celebration took careful planning. With only half the winter concluded, families had to decide what fruit and vegetables preserves could be sacrificed for the holiday spirit. Fresh game, often in the form of roasting venison, was celebrated as much as any gift. A Pioneer Christmas was a reflection on the success of the year, managing what could be spared, and deep-

seated appreciation of family and friends. Maybe those feelings aren’t so different from the holidays we hope to enjoy this year. As we move into the holiday season this year, I encourage mindful preparations. If giving cards and gifts, take care to present something unique to be cherished. Try to avoid gifts with packaging that can’t be recycled. Instead of purchasing expensive rolls of laminated giftwrap, use newspaper, old maps, and reused bags to wrap gifts. Treat this time of year as a time to appreciate everything in life instead of turning the holiday season

into a time of wishing, wanting, receiving, and giving to gloat. Get into the Holiday Spirit by attending Christmas on the Farm on December 8th. Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Then warm up with hot cocoa, hot cider, treats, and holiday music. Natural ornament crafts will be available for the kids, as well as sustainable holiday craft ideas for adults. From all of us at Emmet County Conservation, we wish you a happy and healthy Holiday Season! For more information about Christmas on the Farm, contact me at (712) 867-4422 or email me at

Time for the 2012 Christmas Bird Count BY CAROLE LOCHMILLER BIRD HAVEN

The 2012 Christmas Bird Count is coming soon. This will be the 113th annual CBC sponsored by the National Audubon Society. The dates this year run from December 14 through Jan. 5. Local Audubon Chapters, nationwide, select a date within that time frame to count the birds in a specific area. The Northern Iowa Prairie Lakes Audubon Society will be counting birds in Dickinson County on Saturday, December 15. There are options for counting birds that day. You can stay home and be warm and cozy while counting the birds visiting your feeders, or you can join a group of birders led by Lee Schoenewe, who will be venturing out all over the county. This group will meet at the Hy-Vee in Spirit Lake at 7 a.m. Everyone will be divided into groups with an assigned area of the county so all birds will be counted. Don't worry if you're just getting into bird watching, there will be several very experienced people to go with you. This group will meet back at Hy-Vee at noon to tabulate their counts. You can also go out in the afternoon to help with areas not covered in the morning. I'd like to encourage anyone who has not done this before to join a group and be adventurous. You will learn a lot and have an enjoyable morning, while visiting areas

of our county that you may not have seen before. The view out your windows at home is one of the reasons you feed the birds. As we get deeper into winter, the birds around you will rely more on your help for providing plentiful food, cover and water. Make sure your feeders are full and the water source is clean and ice free. Pick a time to count, when there is lots of activity. We have checklists, here at Bird Haven that you can pick up or make your own list. Write down how long you counted, how many people counted and how many of each species you saw. It's as easy as that. Then you can call Bird Haven at 336BIRD (2473) and we will tabulate your numbers for you or you can e-mail Lee Schoenewe (lschoe@ ). The total number of birds counted in Dickinson County will be tallied and forwarded to the National Audubon Society and included in the national count where they are used by various organizations to evaluate the health of bird populations, help guide conservation, actions and track the movement of various species, etc. For results contact us here or watch for our January column. I remember when I lived in western Illinois, the best place to see Bald Eagles was the dam below Keokuk. Now we have them right here in our area and many people see them everyday. For those of you living in other counties, just contact the local

Audubon society for information on how to participate in the local Christmas bird count. We want to be sure as many people as possible participate in this national event. That is one of the ways national conservation organizations have tracked the resurgence of the Bald Eagle. Another example is the Eurasian Collared Dove, which was once just in Florida and is now all the way to Alaska. Cardinals have expanded their territory from southern states, followed rivers and are found in abundance in many areas (just not my yard). How many have seen a Great Horned Owl up close? I can imagine not too many. My day came two weeks ago when one glided through Bird Haven between the house and the store. I was sitting on the

west patio, enoying what I knew would be one of the last sunny, warm days until spring. The owl was only about 10 feet high and just about 5 feet from me. I was totally astonished at what I was seeing, and yes they are very huge. It landed in a tree west of the store. I went into the store to get the binoculars, but it flew away before I could grab them. That was a Lifer for me (first sighting of a particular species). There are a lot of various birds making their winter appearances and it is as exciting as Spring, well almost. Enjoy watching the bird activity and remember you helped create that activity to help the little feathered ones survive the winter. Merry Christmas!


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4-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012

The Ice Revolution in List Form An excerpt from Dave the first one to credit his for him as the actual fishing. real time, ice anglers could friends and associates for •We all know about the suddenly see their bait and Genzʼs new book BY MARK STRAND

This is the year we are documenting a story that gets glossed over but never told in great detail, the upheaval known as the modern ice fishing revolution. Close followers of the sport know that Dave Genz was the principal driver of this movement, but until now, the whole story was not written down, illustrated with images, and packaged together. A new book, Ice Revolution, gives readers a first-hand account of what it was like when the sport of ice fishing moved out of the “stone age” as Genz calls it. What follows is a sampling from a chapter that chronicles the revolution in list form. There are more elements than what we have space for here, but hopefully you will enjoy reading about the most amazing period in the history of ice fishing… As we look at the list of things that drastically changed about ice fishing over the last 40 years, virtually every one of them is tied to Dave Genz. In most cases, he was the one who came up with the idea, invented the breakthrough piece of equipment, or modified existing gear for ice fishing use. You might wonder how that could be – and Dave is

having a big hand in it – but the story of the revolution clearly bears this out. Most things happened one at a time, and the march took place at a measured pace, but when viewed from an historical perspective it can appear to have happened overnight. It certainly helps when somebody lives in interesting times, and over the period of his adult life, Dave was able to put emerging technologies to good use. In this case, it’s also one of those chicken and egg deals, because by coming up with ideas for things that didn’t exist and pushing the rapid revolution of the sport, he literally forced most of the advancements to take place. Judging by the state of Genz’s several garages, the revolution, in his mind, is still going on. It’s common to pull into his driveway in the middle of summer and find him sweating in his work shop, cutting and bolting things together in various configurations, new ideas for ice-fishing setups for the coming winter. Fish Traps strewn across the floor, pieces of gutter and angle iron and bags of hardware, and though he denies it, you get the idea that this part might be as much fun

Fish Trap, the shelter that sets up with a flip of the wrists and becomes a mobile sled with another flip of the wrists, helping you remain on the move until you catch fish. But to fully appreciate the impact Genz has had on ice fishing, a list of the revolutionary pieces of gear, adaptations of existing gear, and methods that he brought to the sport, or chiefly influenced, places things in perspective. ■ Adapted flashers (and other sonar) for use on the ice. His first ‘Ice Box’ was a homemade creation of wood and hinges. One day, while tinkering with an early flasher fitted into the wooden box, he watched as the signal representing his small ice jig came on the display. As he saw the jig lower in real time, “I knew right away that this was a big deal,” Genz said. “I knew that I wanted that all the time.” This development changed ice fishing forever. After realizing that lures show up much better when the transducer is pointed straight down, Dave came up with the idea of glueing a leveling bubble to the top of the transducer. Because a flasher updates its display continuously, in

follow its movements, no matter how fast they jiggled it. They could also see the signals of fish coming in to inspect the bait. That meant, for the first time, that you could literally watch a fish’s reaction to your presentation. Genz dubbed the ice-specific flasher a “mood indicator,” meaning you could tell whether fish seemed aggressive, lethargic, or somewhere in between. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this. It was one of the biggest breakthroughs of the ice revolution. Right after putting this part of the system together, Dave began talking about how ice anglers actually have advantages over those fishing from a boat – because of the stable platform (the ice) they are fishing from, and how much easier it is to keep a lure and the fish on the same sonar screen. It was the first time such a claim could be made on behalf of ice fishing. ■ Pioneered the importance of mobility, using improving augers to drill lots of holes. After becoming convinced that ‘the first drop down a new hole’ was crucial, especially to daytime success, even early

A younger Dave Genz smiles with a dandy bluegill, seated in an early Fish Trap, holding one of the first graphite ice rods. His wooden flasher box is beside the hole. A new book, Ice Revolution, chronicles the story of how this ancient sport was brought into the modern age we now enjoy. Despite the obvious age of this photo, you can see that the breakthrough tools have not changed that much over many years of refinement. Photo submitted

spoon augers were used to keep on the move. Mobility remains one of the most commonly used buzzwords in modern ice fishing. It was Genz and his friends who started pushing for it, many, many years ago.

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This movement toward mobility, by itself, changed the fortunes of daytime ice anglers. It was no longer accepted that you had to wait around until the prime time around sunset, or be on the Turn to GENZ, Page 5

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Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012-5

GENZ, Continued from Page 4 ice at dawn, in order to put together a good catch of fish. ■ Created the first modern ice rods from broken graphite fly rods. Eventually, largely through Genz’s design concepts, these evolved into rods built from the ground up to perform like long rods in miniature. The light weight and incredible sensitivity of these rods ushered in a total transformation of ice fishing techniques that did not rely on bobbers. ■ Genz developed the idea of making ice-specific jigs that were small, “but fished heavy for their size.” This concept was driven by the invention of graphite ice rods and the use of flashers. The designs were tinkered with until it was discovered which ones both fished well and showed up best on a depthfinder. After all, if you had this depthfinder that could help you see the fish’s reaction to your presentation, it was important to be able to see the jig on the display at all times – while keeping the sensitivity (or ‘gain’) set as low as possible. His designs are still being made today by leading lure companies. ■ Driven by evolving graphite ice rods and specialized ice jigs, Genz and his friends pioneered a jigging method they called ‘pounding’ (and variations of it), teaching ice anglers to create intense vibrations by rapidly making minute movements with their wrist. The triggering appeal of pounding makes it the most universally-used presentation in the sport to this day. It remains the go-to method for Dave and most other top ice anglers. ■ Dave and his family, along with several close friends, were key figures in popularizing the use of multi-colored maggots, originally called Eurolarvae, for ice fishing. Dave and Rick Johnson met Englishman John Gilman at Vados Bait in Minnesota. They saw the potential for ice fishing, even though it was being touted for open-water applications. The Genz family ran a small company, Midwest Direct Live Bait, that was responsible for getting these now universally-used live baits into widespread use in key ice fishing states. 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 the sport. For more fishing tips and information on the new book, Ice Revolution, go to

One more cast


It’s not often anglers get to see a rainbow trout like this. It’s even more rare to see a trout like this caught in Northwest Iowa. Leave it to my son Calvin! For the past few years the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has stocked trout in Scharnberg Park in near Everly. They have stocked them in the fall and again in the winter for the ice fishermen. Late this fall, the DNR dumped 2000 pan-sized trout into the lake along with two giant brood stock fish. So for the past few years my son Calvin and I have been going to Scharnberg park to fish trout. It’s a great family activity because they are relatively easy to catch and you can see them swimming around in schools just under the surface…so they are easy to target. Calvin loves chasing them around! He sees a school then follows them around the whole lake casting his hand-tied hair jig with a piece of red worm under a small bobber just in front of the school. He typically catches his limit of 5 keepers then catches and releases a bunch more!

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Calvin Grosvenor proudly holds his 26-inch rainbow taken at Scharnberg Park. Photo submitted

On this beautiful fall day he had caught a bunch of fish over a two or three hour period...the day was ending and it was time to go home. I packed up and carried our gear to the car. I looked down to the lake and noticed he had run all the way around to the other side. Feeling a bit irritated that he had not followed me up to the car, I drove around to the other side and honked the horn and yelled down to

the lake “Let’s GO!” Calvin replied, “One more cast. I can see the big one!!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that one, I’d be a rich man. Moments later I heard a commotion and saw everyone running toward my son. I knew what had happened. Calvin had hooked the big one. Fortunately someone close by had a landing net and helped him get the monster rainbow trout to shore. It was a once in a lifetime

rainbow. Over 26 inches long and very fat. I’d have to guess at least 10 pounds or more. After a quick photo, we turned her back in hopes that another youngster would get the chance to catch his/her fish of a lifetime. I have a feeling I’m going to hear “One more cast” a few more times. Scharnberg Park is a place you might want to think about as the ice thickens and becomes safe for ice fishing.

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6-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012

Fish posture and strategy 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. BY JASON MITCHELL

When you watch fish on an underwater camera, you can usually tell if that fish is going to eat just by how the fish is postured. Let’s take walleyes for example, walleyes that are in attack mode typically have a different posture… the fins are up and the back is arched. All fish including bluegills and crappie have that posture

where they mean business. The fish are cruising and alert. These are the fish that make us look good as anglers and there are often key windows through the day where you get this activity. On the flip side, the fish that are not cruising that have their fins tucked tight to the body are much more difficult to catch. Not very often, but every once in a while I have observed mass migrations of fish where schools of fish moved through about the speed of a slow walk with tucked in fins. These fish appeared to be traveling from point A to point B and were interested in nothing as a trigger. It felt like I was fishing with something that was invisible no matter what I tried. Than, out of the hundreds of fish that swam through, one fish came by

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with a different more alert body posture and struck the lure. So there are times when moving fish are not aggressive fish and I can only guess that some environmental trigger causes fish to make a big move where they just don’t stop to eat. Most of the time however, the fish that are cruising have the attitude to eat, alert and ready. Understanding this posture and understanding what triggers fish to move should play a major role in your strategy as an ice angler. This is why a Vexilar is so crucial to success on the ice. No other electronics give you the intimacy of that raw analog signal that lets you visualize the posture of the fish. Typically, there are windows of activity that often center on sunrise and sunset where fish just roam more with that aggressive

posture. Now consider this, fish that are moving are much easier to catch with much less effort. The reason being is that the fish come to you. If you are set up where these fish are going to move through, they come below you and just as importantly, after you catch a few fish from a school, a new school swims in to replace the fish that swam off. Take walleye fishing during the prime time witching hours of sunrise and sunset on so many lakes. At that period of time, you can be set up on a good spot and fish will move through. After that period is over, fish quit roaming and you quit seeing fish because no new fish are coming in. Same thing can happen with bluegills where fish are straying away from weeds and roaming through edges and troughs but as the sun gets higher, they quit cruising and start to tuck into the weeds. During the prime windows, you can find fish much easier because you can cover a lot more water just because you don’t have to drill so many holes to see if any fish are around. Pick any spot and pick out the key locations on that spot. You don’t have to drill many holes just to see if anybody is home. When I am looking for walleyes during the early morning or evening hours for example, I can drill a handful of holes on the prime inside turns, fingers and the top of the structure and know in a short while if there are fish around and my mindset is to make big moves and check as many spots as possible during that window. I don’t move five yards at a time or drill holes all over the place. Surgically check the prime locations and jig aggressively to pull fish in. Remember this however, big moves might find fish but

The author Jason Mitchell with a beautiful walleye caught during the midday with a Northland Tackle Macho Minnow by drilling several holes across a location and fishing it through after the peak bite was over. Photo submitted

small moves catch fish. When you find fish by sampling as many spots as possible, you are going to typically catch fish during the prime windows by sitting on the key spots and fishing the traffic that is swimming through. Once this ends, you have to fish a spot through. Now is the time to shred up the ice with a lot of holes. Drilling a lot of holes through an area at this time accomplishes a few things; you can hop around and put a lure near a fish that is no longer cruising. If the fish doesn’t come to you, you have to go to the fish. What also happens is that the activity will often move fish just enough to create some activity. Again, don’t disrupt the flow during the prime win-

dows by drilling a lot of holes, either drill your holes ahead of time or drill a few holes precisely. When the sun gets high however and the activity slows down, you can often pick up a lot more fish by making a lot of small moves and fishing spot through. Typically, you catch a fish here and there. What often surprises me is that walleyes in particular often don’t slide down into deeper water and become inactive like many people think is the golden rule. What I have found is that they often just quit cruising at the same depth they were active so don’t start out sliding deeper, drill more holes through the Turn to FISH, Page 7

Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012-7

FISH, Continued from Page 6 depth and zone that you caught fish during the prime time as a starting point. After you fish this zone through than slide out and down. Another assumption many anglers make is that inactive fish need a very passive presentation. Here is what I have found; jigging aggressively often turns fish around. Passive and presentations work don’t get me wrong and my go to way for catching walleyes during the day is to downsize to really small lures but what so often happens is that you can drop down right next to a fish and the fish is pointed the wrong direction where the lure is not in front of the fish. When you really pound that lure hard above the fish, you can often get the fish to move and turn enough where they can than see the lure. That is why pounding and lifting works so well when fish drift off your presentation. So often at that point, you are behind the fish where they can’t see you and the only way to turn that fish around is through vibration. Understanding these windows of activity and having some strategy in how you fish a spot through as the day wears on can really improve how many fish you catch and this mentality and strategy is widely universal applying to many different species of fish on a wide variety of water.

Save Bristol Bay 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. BY BEN LEAL RECYCLED FISH PROGRAM DIRECTOR

No place in the United States offers anglers from all over the world such a variety of opportunities to catch trophy fish as Alaska. Aficionados of both hard and open water frequent this great state where angling opportunities abound. World-class, abundant, an angler’s paradise; these are just a few ways to describe the recreational opportunities that the rivers and streams in the Bristol Bay watershed provide for anglers of all types. Alaska’s Bristol Bay is the place you’re thinking of when you’re thinking of the world’s greatest salmon fishery. It is the last place in the world where wild salmon still make gigantic, healthy runs. Not supplemented by hatcheries or precariously computer model managed to keep from tipping into

extinction like in the Pacific Northwest, but giant wild runs that support a vibrant commercial and sport fishing industry. These Bristol Bay salmon drive a sustainable global food supply – and the way of life for a native people. There are trophy rainbow trout, arctic char and grayling, and under-sung species like northern pike and lake trout. Those vibrant fisheries support a thriving ecosystem that includes grizzly bears, moose, caribou and bald eagles. Not to mention a strong commercial and sport-fishing economy, and a way of life for native Alaskans that stretches back for centuries. Pebble Mine threatens this amazing place. The Pebble deposit is a storehouse of gold, copper and molybdenum located in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushagak Rivers, the two most prolific of Bristol Bay’s river systems. If Pebble Mine were to be built, this gargantuan open-pit mine, the largest ever built in North America, would pose a nearcertain risk of polluting Bristol Bay. We could lose the world’s last great wild salmon stronghold, which supports 14,000 jobs and an annual $500 million commercial and sport fishery. This is not

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just an Alaska issue; Pebble Mine would devastate the tourism-driven economy, created by sportsmen from around the world who travel there to fish and hunt. Alaska

needs the help and support of anglers in the lower 48. As part of the Recycled Fish “On Ice” Tour, we are raising awareness for Bristol Bay and the risks posed by

Pebble Mine. Please raise your voice to support Bristol Bay right now. Learn more and sign on against Pebble Mine at

8-Estherville (Ia.) Outdoor Connection, FRIDAY, Dec. 7, 2012


Just as in open water fishing, there are a few really good guidelines for ice-fishing success. Keep these ideas in mind and you'll be more successful on the ice in the early, mid, and late icefishing seasons. Here we go! Location: In any type of fishing, you need to fish where the fish are. In open water, we troll or keep moving while we cast. When you're ice-fishing, you need to keep moving also. The electronics used while ice-fishing are remarkably sensitive. They'll show you if there's a fish down there. If nothing looks at your bait in a couple of minutes, it's time to move to another hole. With that said, we'll sit on a hole a little longer if we're fishing shalCrappies can be very color selective. low water. Shallow water fish are Experiment with colors until you determine usually spookier than deep water what color they want. fish just because they're so close Photo submitted to the angler.

It usually works well to pop a few holes right away: Different anglers have different definitions of what a "few holes" means. Some will drill three or four holes, others will make fifteen or twenty holes. Whatever is your style, get those holes drilled right away, then let the area settle down. When you're fishing shallow water or on clear ice, if possible, drill your holes where snow covers the ice. The snow will muffle angler noise a bit, and will also camouflage angler movements. A little detail, but it can pay big dividends. When dealing with shallow water fish, fish from a shelter if you have one. If you pull the shelter over you, it will hide your movements. The fish will see a dark blob(the shelter) above them, but they won't be able to see you moving in it. Frabill shelters are black, so they really hide

your movements. Now let's get a line in the water. Another idea that applies to open water as well as ice-fishing: If the fish aren't eating what you're offering, offer them something else. If you see them on your sonar come in and look but not eat a couple of times, you need to do something different. Go to a larger or smaller bait, or a different color, or give your bait a different action,,,do something different. Some fish can be very color sensitive. If you know that you're using a bait that the fish specie you're after likes, try a different color. he newer plastic baits are becoming the go-to bait for a lot of ice-anglers because they give you lots of color options. Also, some of the new plastics are very tasty to the fish, as they will hold on to them a lot longer than earlier generations of plastic. Many of the Impulse line of plas-

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FISHINGTHEMIDWEST.COM tics are the perfect shape and size for ice-fishing, and the fish hold on to them a lot longer, giving the angler more time to set the hook. Last thing about ice-fishing enjoyment: You've got to be comfortable. Cabela's Guidewear bibs are appreciated because you can kneel down right on the ice or in slush and stay dry. Frabill also makes an outstanding selection of outerwear that will keep the chill off. If you're not comfortable, you're not going to enjoy your time on the ice, and with today's clothing options, there's no reason to be cold. And, if you keep these ideas for ice-fishing success in mind, there's no reason not to catch a few fish. All you have to do is get out there.

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Outdoor Connection December 2012  
Outdoor Connection December 2012  

Outdoor Connection December 2012