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On ta rget!

Scholastic Clay Target Program started in Emmet County BY RICH JORDET

The Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) is a team-based clay target shooting program that is changing the lives of grade, middle and high school students nation-wide and in Iowa. Through organized clay target shooting, kids are learning lifelong skills such as

gun safety, teamwork, respect for self and others, mental focus and self-discipline. SCTP has more than 10,000 participants nationwide. In Iowa, the Scholastic Clay Target Program has joined forces with the strong tradition of Iowa high school trapshooting programs to establish a spring shooting season for organized trap, skeet, and sporting clays. Starting in March, teams are led by certified coaches, practices are conducted and local matches are held with

neighboring teams. All of these activities lead up to the Iowa High School and SCTP Championships each May and June. In our area, there are currently teams in Kossuth County, Dickinson County and Palo Alto County. This spring the Emmet County Clay Busters team was started. We currently have 17 members. This past Saturday we had our first shooting practice, and all of the team members broke targets. Trapshooting is a relatively expensive sport and the

Emmet County Chapter of Pheasants Forever has stepped up and donated money for ammunition, shell pouches, eye and ear protection and team shirts. Even with this generous donation the team is still in need of funding and any donations to support our team would be greatly appreciated. For more information on this exciting new program, contact either Rich Jordet at (712) 2608011 or Ike Peterson at (712) 2602888.

The Emmet County Clay Busters hold their first practice at the Izaak Walton League grounds. Photo submitted




GREAT LAKES MARINE GETS READY FOR BUSY SPRING This is the time of year that many boaters are in the mood for a boat change, and Great Lakes Marine Service and Sales in Spirit Lake has all of the bases covered. Shane Kendall, who with his wife Christa own Great Lakes Marine, is excited for the boating season to finally arrive and to showcase the family of Skeeter Boats and Premier Pontoons, two lines that continue to lead the boating industry in innovation and customer satisfaction.

Skeeter performance fishing boats “When it comes to fishing, Skeeter Boats has a line-up of boats that can meet what our customers want. Skeeter is a leader in the industry as far as fit and finish and durability. They are an all composite fiberglass and completely 100 percent wood free,” notes Shane. The Multi Species Series of boats ranges in size from 18’ to 21’ and their rugged deep V hull is designed to handle a wide range of fishing and water conditions. Boat control is crucial no matter what type of fishing,

and to meet those demands, Skeeter engineering has designed the “React” keel, which ensures maximum control on trolling runs.


“The React keel has put trollability and boat control back into the hands of the angler,” says Shane. In addition, Skeeter has responded to the increase in using long trolling rods by designing rod storage lockers that will handle one-piece trolling rods up to 14’ in length. “In the entire line of Multi Species Series, Skeeter has designed their boats to meet all of the demands of today’s anglers.” Great Lakes Marine has the entire Multi Species Series from the WX 2000T tiller model all the way to the WX 2190 designed to handle 300 hp. Of course, when the lakes


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Shane Kendall holds a 14ʼ trolling rod that can easily fit into the rod storage locker of the WX2060. Photo by Steve Weisman

are open, demo rides and Premier has everything drives are offered. from the luxury models, to the touring models and then Premier Pontoons “You’ve come a long the fish and cruise models. ways, baby!” That phrase “Premier is producing pondefinitely describes what toon boats to meet the has happened to pontoon desires of a wide range of boats over the past few customers,” says Shane. years. Leading this “boating Once again, Great Lakes culture” revolution has been Marine has a wide range of Premier Pontoons. Once models on display that are again in 2013 and for the available for a test drive. 10th time, Premier Ride and Drive Days Pontoons received the CSI “Go west, young man,” Award for Excellence in was a popular phrase back in Customer Satisfaction. the 1800s that encouraged Since becoming a Premier people to migrate to the Pontoon dealer in 2010, frontier in search of a better Shane has seen a huge life. movement of boaters mov- Well, lots of anglers will ing from boats to Premier be heading west to Pontoons. “We actually Chamberlain on April 11have two groups of boaters 12 for the 14th annual becoming Premier owners. Cedar Shores Walleye The first is the ‘baby Tournament on the Missouri boomer,’ that is finding that River. Already, the tournait’s getting more and more ment is filled with 130 difficult to get into their run- teams. about. The second is the Shane and Christa, along younger family that is look- with their sales crew at ing for a leisure/fishing pon- Great Lakes Marine are toon.” heading west, too, for their

“Great Lakes Marine and Skeeter Boats Ride and Drive Days” that will be held April 11-13 at the Cedar Shore Resort. “We will be bringing our entire line of Skeeter Boats and have them on the water at the Cedar Shores Marina for people to ride and test drive on the Missouri River,” says Shane. That means the WX2190, the WX2060, the WX1900, the WX1850, the MX2025, the MX1825 and the WX2000T will all be on the water and ready for a test drive. According to Shane, this will be the perfect test place. “Skeeter boats are built to handle big water in all kinds of weather, and this is the perfect place for us to showcase what Skeeter boats can do.” In addition, several corporate and design engineers will be on hand during the Ride and Drive Days, included Jeff Stone,

President and CEO of Skeeter Boats. “It is exciting to have them here to share their expertise.” Shane and Christa are hoping that this becomes an annual event for Great Lakes Marine Sales & Service. “We would like to do this annually here at Cedar Shores. We want to turn this into an annual spring on the water boat show!”

Fish Fest Shane, Christa and the gang at Great Lakes Marine will head west one more time in April at the Fish Fest hosted by Scheels Sporting Goods of Sioux Falls, April 27-29. “We will have our full line of Skeeter Boats and a selection of Premier Pontoons on-site for the three-day event.” Hours include Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p. m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.




Estherville Lincoln Central first-graders recently nmade a visit to Fort Defiance State Park to learn a few lessons about nature. Photo submitted

Sounds of the park ‘spring’ us ahead


he Estherville Lincoln Central firstgraders made their “winter” visit to Fort Defiance State Park on the Spring Equinox. The first grade classes have visited Fort Defiance throughout every season. They use their five senses to detect differences between the seasons. The “winter” visit was rescheduled due to snowstorms and unseasonably cold temperatures. Luckily, the students were able to experience the winter season on a beautifully sunny, all-be-it cold spring equinox. The visible change the park has gone through over the seasons wasn’t the greatest difference the students noticed. Instead, the youth focused in on the sounds of the park. In late summer and early fall they heard cicadas sawing, crows cawing and squirrels chattering. For their winter visit, they noticed the silence. The park asleep in winter slumber. It’s difficult to take groups full of energy around the Whitetail Ridge trail and drone on about signs of winter. Especially when we’re all aching with anticipation for spring. The liveliness, the greenery, new life whether feathery fellows hatched from eggs or the little fluff balls scurrying about the forest floor. We’re waiting, not so patiently, for the spring! That’s when we hear a scuffle in the leaves. Out of the corner of our eyes we spot a tumbling ball of fur rolling end-over-end. Then quickly, they dart up the tree. Nestled in the “v” of the tree we spot a chipmunk. Nearby we hear his brother, irate, chewing him out for stealing his acorn. We watch for a bit until our laughter sends the chipmunks

racing for cover. We follow deer trails through the snow and measure big paw tracks on the trails. If you believe the first-graders, the tracks belong to a lion. Upon closer inspection, we realize they are from a member of the dog family. Perhaps someone brought their large pet dog for a walk on the Whitetail Ridge trail? The story isn’t nearly as exciting ENNA as our imaginations were conjuring images of lions OLLOCK so we don’t rule out the EMMET COUNTY lioness roaming freely NATURALIST through the park. We’ve had our eyes trained on the tops of trees where fluttering calls ring out, but our eyes are never quick enough to spot the culprit calling for spring. Then one student shouts, “What’s that?!” We all look to a nearby trunk to see the spiderman bird scaling the tree trunk, forwards and backwards he climbs. The nuthatch flutters, blue wings flashing in the sunlight. Then another call catches our ears and we turn to look into the sun. High up in the tree we spot the one all a twitter. His bright red feathers flashing between the branches as he preens. The cardinal sits for us and chatters. We all get a chance to take in the sight, but we’re still hoping to spot the bird that tells us spring has returned. Our senses are dulled to the winter birds. Enough of owls, nuthatches, juncos, black-capped chickadees, and cardinals. We want a sign of spring. No flowers to smell. We miss the minty Beebalm flower from our summer visit. A few wild ginger leaves poke through the leaf covered forest floor, but moss is the prevalent greenery. We feel the mossy carpet covering tree trunks and rocks sensing the frost



beneath our feet. We’re discussing the mammals and amphibians awaking from hibernation when she returns. Over my shoulder, the children point, “Look!” The Robin looks at us, bows and flies away. A short glance at the future and what is to come - the spring! We go off the beaten path to inspect some bones, and test our balance crossing a fallen

tree trunk. We are content with our winter findings, but we’re eager to return in the spring. How quickly will the foliage spring up from the ground to cover the forest floor? How much life will have awakened and returned to the park? What will we hear? We leave Fort Defiance, content for now, but eager for more knowledge to be revealed in the final season.

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Muskie seminar set for Friday, April 11 BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR

Looking for the chance to learn more about the art of muskie fishing? How about a free seminar put on by one of the most accomplished muskie tournament angler and guide in the Midwest? Oh, and it’s free and open to the public! The annual musky seminar sponsored by the Upper Great Plains Chapter of Muskies, Inc., is set for Friday, April 11 at the Pelican Ridge Club House. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the program commencing at 7 p.m. Featured speaker will be noted muskie guide and tournament champion, Spencer Berman. Berman started fishing muskies at an early age and was placing in tournaments by age 16. He continues to fish the Professional Musky Tournament Trail. In 2013, he won Team of the Year on the Professional Musky Tournament Trail and took second place in the World Championships. When not fishing tournaments, he operates Spencer's Angling Adventures and guides full time on Lake St. Clair in Michigan, where he focuses on muskies and smallmouth bass. Berman has landed 125 fish over 50 inches in the last two fishing seasons! According to Art Jones, secretary for the local chapter, “The seminar is focused on sharing his musky fishing knowledge of various techniques, including trolling, casting, jigging, and live bait presentations. His goal is to enrich his audience’s understanding of fish and fishing.” Berman elaborated on what he calls Key Factors to Catching Monster Muskies. “Specifically, I will cover the key that I evaluate every day on the water to determine how I should go about targeting big muskies.” In addition, two raffles will be held with prizes including rods, baits and a free week’s stay at Spring Bat Resort on Lake Vermillion. For more information, check the club website at "People interested in the Iowa

Great Lakes, involving youth in fishing, and muskie fishing can join our club for $35 per year. That includes your membership, a magazine, and entry into our club's annual muskie tournament,” says Jones.

About the chapter Iowa's first muskie club was started in 1968 and was called the Iowa Great Lakes Muskie Club. The club bought and stocked most of the original muskie fingerlings that were stocked in the Iowa Great Lakes for 3-4 years after the club began. In the mid1970s, the Iowa DNR took over stocking in Iowa lakes. The club was chartered into Muskies Inc as a chapter in 1978. Since that time, Chapter 29 has been active in the Iowa Great Lakes promoting not only the sport of muskie fishing but also many other conservation programs. Accomplishments include the following: n Helped pay for over-sized weight scale at Spirit Lake Hatchery n Paid for artificial weeds from Berkley & Co. and installed them in East Okoboji n Helped pay for muskie stocking on Iowa/Minnesota boundary lakes n Paid have educational muskie and pike displays put up at Spirit Lake Hatchery n Help with "Kids Fish Day" program at Spirit Lake Hatchery n Paid to instal lights at the East Okoboji boat ramp n Helped increase muskie restriction from 30" to 36" in the 1970s and to 40" in the 1990s n Helped with "Adopt a Fish" program at Spirit Lake Hatchery

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n Sent a youth to Camp Fish in Walker, MN for a week after winning an essay contest n Paid to have a fish ramp installed at Gar Lock slough n Donated to wild life organizations, including one to save bull rush areas on Big Spirit n Bought aerator for Spirit Lake Hatchery to keep a muskie rearing pond through winter n Helped DNR at Spirit Lake Hatchery with "pit tags" and "freeze dry branding" muskies n Held "Take a Kid Fishing Day" where board members took area camp kids fishing n Donated toward taking veterans fishing on Lake of the Woods n Installed signs with muskie and pike differences at ramps on the Iowa Great Lakes n Send Regional representative to the Muskies Inc International Board Meeting n Installed fishing line collections stations at access points on the Iowa Great Lakes

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Safe hunting year in 2013 DES MOINES - With no fatalities, 11 injuries and six cases of property damage, Iowa hunters matched a record low in 2013; continuing a decade long run of safe hunting seasons. That 17-incident year tied 2008, though ’08 did register a gun related fatality. Still, when any incident could result in tragedy, the goal is ‘zero’ across the board. “We continue seeing a trend of selfinflicted incidents. There were seven this year. That has stayed pretty steady over the last four, five years,” reviews Megan Wisecup, safety education programs coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. “It gets back to basic firearm handling. Point the muzzle in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger, until ready to shoot. And take an extra minute when crossing obstacles to unload.” A jacket drawstring….a handgun falling from a truck…thick brush on a creek bank. Each triggered a gun to fire in 2013. Linn, Marion and Floyd counties each recorded two 2013 incidents. The others were spread among 11 central, eastern and northcentral counties. The key to the long term drop can be traced directly to many Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons…in

mandatory hunter education classrooms and outdoor safety courses. “Back in the 60s; we were seeing over 100 incidents and up to 20 fatalities a year,” underscores Wisecup. “Hunter education--voluntary since 1960—became mandatory in 1983. Since then, we have seen a drastic drop in the numbers of hunting incidents.” There were 11,505 Iowa students certified in 368 classes 2013. The 10 hour sessions, usually spread over two or three days, teach basic understanding of hunting regulations, first aid and ethics, as well as safe firearm handling, and wildlife understanding; all under the watchful eyes of nearly 1,300 volunteer instructors. “We like the traditional classes for younger students; those 12 up to 16 years old,” outlines Pat Jorgensen, recreational safety officer for the DNR, in eastern Iowa. “They get a lot more hands-on type learning; live firing, a safety trail with ‘shoot/don’t shoot’ scenarios. They handle firearms in a safe manner.” The classes and emphasis evolve over time. For instance an ‘online only’ course is now available for adults; recognition that work schedules and juggling family commitments don’t always leave two or

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three days in a row to sit through a class. Even the areas of emphasis are updated through the years. With upwards of 50,000 archery deer hunters, now; a noticeable climb in tree stand falls—some fatal—brings special attention to tree stand safety. “We focus more on putting up stands; carrying equipment up and down the tree,” says Jorgensen. “Using three point contact climbing (meaning three hands/feet are in contact with the ladder or stand at all times), too.” And the emphasis on safety continues in the stand. A decade ago, most tree stand hunters slid a single strap around their waist…if that. Now, full body harnesses are recommended. “Still, people are not always properly wearing them. That has resulted in injuries…and death,” warns Jorgensen. There were two fatal bowhunting falls in 2012. In upland game or deer hunting, firearm hunters are wearing more blaze orange than years past. The minimum might be a ‘torso covered’ (deer hunting) or an item ‘at least 50 percent blaze orange,’ (upland game), however, instructors stress that more is always better.


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Computers that can no longer compute. iPods that won’t keep the beat. Walkmen that have taken their last step. Televisions that have broadcast their last Late Show. When these items make a hasty departure from our homes, they become electronic waste. And e-Waste is a problem for our waters. Consider televisions and Cathode Ray Tubes. They contain lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, and flame retardants. In a landfill, these chemicals combine with rainwater, as well as the chemicals found in other waste, to produce a toxic cocktail known as leachate. Quite honestly, most landfills are well-engineered and are sealed to protect the surrounding groundwater. However, liners have failed in the past and they will fail in the future. Leachate from landfills eventually will find its way into our groundwater. Ultimately, it will poison our fish. The best solution is to reuse old electronics. Donate electronics that are still in usable condition to your local nonprofit or church. Computers that are only a few years old but are still in working order can be very useful! Sell used electronics on craigslist (old computers are in demand for use as linux servers these days). Garage sales pop up like crocuses in the spring. Hold a garage sale and peddle your used electronics. If your electronics are not serviceable, recycle them. Be careful, however. The processes for separating and recycling reusable components from e-waste is complicated and, if not done properly, may release contaminants into the environment. Recyclers need to know what they are doing. Look for recyclers who are ISO 14000 or e-steward certified. Reducing e-waste is one more way we can be more than sportsmen. We can be stewards.

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Targeting rivers for early season walleye success BY JASON MITCHELL

Editors Note: The author, Jason Mitchell hosts the popular outdoor program Jason Mitchell Outdoors, which airs on Fox Sports North (9:00 am Sunday) and Fox Sports Midwest (8:30 am Saturday) Mitchell has also two seminars in the Iowa Great Lakes area in the past year. More information can be found online at Some of the earliest open water walleye fishing opportunities occur each season on river systems and flowages or bottleneck areas that open up because of current. Open seasons and open water are necessary and there are so many good early season fishing opportunities. The Mississippi River, Rainy River, Fox River and the Missouri River all come to mind. Each of these fisheries is drastically different with different terrain features, different forage and ultimately different fishing strategies. While there are differences from one fishery to the next, there are also many similarities. The beauty of fishing rivers is that fish location does get dictated by current… or a lack there of. Across the board on a variety of river systems, we find some really big walleyes on shallow current seams. Current seams are obvious current edges that form where faster water meets slow water. Often when trying to dial in river locations, there will be a pattern as to how fish are positioned in the current. If there is a general rule of thumb most of the time, it is this. Most walleyes will not be in dead water very far away from current and will also not be in the primary flow where the current is strongest. The sweet spot is often that edge or seam where the faster water meets slow or dead water. You can often feel the boat getting pushed in or out of this seam where you either come to a stop when hitting the dead water or get pulled through when you hit the fast water. Often, catching walleyes is a matter of getting the jig in the groove and then chasing

after the jig with the boat or rod in order to keep the line vertical. Of course there are always exceptions. We have found fish way up in real slack water a considerable distance from any current, especially big fish up shallow when the water is warming up. There are other occasions when the fish are holding in stronger current or darting in and out grabbing at food that sweeps by. Slipping the current to keep the presentation vertical is also not the “end all presentation” on river systems either. Don’t overlook dragging jigs upstream or hovering back and forth cutting across the current seam. In most current, you will have to use a heavier jig if you don’t chase the jig. However, these different boat-maneuvering options can be the ticket some days. My favorite strategy for fishing isolated current seams is to cast or pitch my way through it because I feel like I can find fish faster and contact more fish with a cast. Where fish are positioned in relation to current flow is a moving target. I feel like I can look through a lot of water in a hurry by pitching and finally, I have a lot of confidence for big fish especially in shallow water. Drifts that enable me to pitch up into shallow water and then work back towards the deeper water underneath the boat really do cover a lot of bases at once. This general rule of reading moving water and putting together the pattern is pretty universal but what can change drastically from one body of water to the next is the terrain and structure that causes these breaks and changes in current.

Patterns that keep reappearing Across the Midwest, fishing with several top walleye anglers…what becomes interesting to me as an angler is that several patterns or rules of thumb often keep reappearing. Different water, different day and different angler but same story. For example, despite the popularity for braid and super lines, many

Plastic fluke tails, paddle tails and ring worms have dominated the river fishing scene in recent years. Pictured is the Impulse Paddle Tail Minnow. Photo by Jason MItchell

top river rats still sing praise to the virtues of monofilament for some jig fishing applications. Easier to break off after becoming snagged and easier to see were a few common reasons. However, the ultimate reason is how fish react to the presentation itself. Whether pitching jigs out from the boat or fishing jigs below the boat, monofilament gives the jig some subtleness and fluidness in the water that early season walleyes often prefer. The other factor many top river anglers debate is the fact that early in the season when the water is still cold, the fish can hold on the jig without such abrupt resistance. In other words, you can feel fish more quickly and the fish can feel you when using braided line or a super line and at times, that can be a disadvantage. If there is a general trend that really shows up on river systems it is this…many river rats still prefer monofilament and stiffer rod actions than anglers fishing still water on natural lakes or reservoirs. A perfect rod action we designed for pitching jigs in moving water is the Jason Mitchell Pro Walleye Series JM721MS, which

is a seven foot, two inch medium fast action blank. Classic structure and big fish spots on rivers can also be surprisingly universal. Wing dams, for example, seem to attract and hold walleyes regardless of river. Stretches of riprap are always worth checking. Log jams also seem to have a universal appeal, as big walleyes love wood. Clam beds also have a certain mystique. Across the Midwest and beyond, one theme often keeps repeating. Some of the biggest walleyes caught each season are often caught in shallow water. This big fish pattern keeps repeating from one river to the next. Often these big fish are alone and these shallow patterns produce far fewer fish than the mainstream channel patterns that are often responsible for producing numbers of fish. You won’t find piles of fish up shallow necessarily, but when you are looking for one big bite, many top river anglers agree that one big bite will often come out of less than three feet of water. Pitching jigs tipped with either hair or soft plastic has dominated the river scene for several years. For faster current, both hair jigs

and ring worms fish very well. Paddle tails and fluke tails with more bulk often get preferred when fishing slower water. For casting and working a jig back through the seams where the current can change in velocity dramatically, I feel that I am usually much more successful if I error on the side of heavy in regards to jig weight. Most days, I feel like I catch more fish if I use a heavy enough jig where I can still maintain bottom contact when the jig gets swept into the faster water. This also allows me some flexibility where I can drag or move upstream with the jig and also detect bites by watching the line. If the jig is too light where it is getting swept up off the bottom or if there is a lot of bow in the line caused by current, bite detection becomes much more difficult. Walleye bites taking place on river systems right now offer some great fishing opportunities. Catching more river walleyes this spring is all about reading current and understanding current. Once you learn how to read water, you cannot only identify key locations that typically hold fish and also repeat productive patterns.




Spring is arriving although a tad slow for many. Across the street are 3 "Royal Star" Magnolia bushes that I've been watching their buds swell for the last couple of months. Along the way, the stems of dogwoods have been getting redder. And now the grass is getting green--barely green but still a good hint of green. Birds have been singing about the pending arrival of spring for a long time. Chickadees have been happy little birds for weeks. Their morning call pierces the cold most mornings long before we think spring. It's a 2 note very clear call. Many years ago I ask Lee Schoenewe about the call I heard every morning. I always remember his answer, "The Chickadees are saying -Where are you?" Listen and you'll hear them talking to each other from various locations. That's about the only bird call that I can imitate, but try it and they will answer you back (at least in my mind, I think they do). Just as the birds are preparing for nesting season I hope you are doing your spring chores to help them. At this point in time, Wendell is cleaning Wood Duck boxes. The boxes need to be opened up, cleared of all debris and new nesting material such as cedar chips added. The Wood Ducks are here, so this is a don't put off 'till later job. Any other nesting boxes that you have and maintain also need a spring cleaning. Our customers are very diligent about telling us what they see and hear both on Facebook and in person. One of our customers just told me he saw 4 Bluebirds west of Spirit Lake on March 26. That is a good start to the really colorful birds arriving. Last year the Purple Martins arrived at Bird Haven around April 7. I know Wendell is hoping they slow down their northward journey until the weather is

Red-winged Blackbirds make a stop at one of the platform feeders at Bird Haven. Photo by Wendell Hanson

warmer and more stable. Wendell cleans all of his gourds in the fall and stores them inside which makes his spring Martin chores go faster. He has already begun hanging them up. Diligence in keeping sparrow nests out of the Martin houses is an extremely vital step in being a good landlord. To the lady who called about a month ago to see if it was time to put out jelly and nectar for the orioles----be patient for about another month. Orioles and hummingbirds arrive at about the same time, in early May. The important thing to remember is to be prepared. We don't know the exact date of their arrival and it varies from year to year but they arrive hungry and you want your yard to have all the ingredients to entice them to visit and stay. Remember that Orioles eat oranges particularly when they first arrive as the oranges contain an enzyme important to breeding. I'm one of those people who can't discard a pretty and inform-

ative magazine. Being a charter subscriber to Birds & Blooms--I have them all. The April/May issue has a cover with a happy male cardinal and a title to make me look inside right away: "Attract America's cutest birds". Turns out they had an online subscriber survey to find a Top 10 list, which I somehow missed. Friends of mine might think I "stuffed the ballot box" with #1. I've omitted those of the top 10 not in our area. #1-Northern Cardinal #2-American Goldfinch #3-Snowy Owl #4-Indigo Bunting #5-Rufus Hummingbird (ours is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird) #6-Cedar Waxwing #7-Mountain Bluebird (ours is the Eastern Bluebird) #8-Bald Eagle #9-Baltimore Oriole Turns out the editors had submitted a list of birds for subscribers to select from as their favorite but there was a BIG omission and it was declared the

write-in winner. The BlackCapped Chickadee had been omitted. Oh My Gosh! Those of you who patiently listened to my stories of the Chickadee family in a nest box on one of my Burr Oak trees last year will hopefully hear stories again this year. With so many oak trees in my yard, I know there were always nests around, but to actually see the activity was a joy (yes-we have chickadee nest boxes at Bird Haven as well as Bluebird boxes, wren houses, etc. that are all locally built). Although the Snowy Owl is not a year round resident, it makes us all share the news when one or more are spotted in our area during the winter. Making a Snowy Owl from a pine cone and cotton balls was the craft project at a Daisy (K-2) Girl Scout meeting where their leader, Tess had ask me to do the program. My Snowy Owl is residing at Bird Haven. After all I was a Girl Scout once upon a time, too. Celebrate the Coming of Spring!


B OATER REMINDER : PULL THE DRAIN PLUGS Des Moines - Judging by the inquiries at late winter outdoor shows, anglers and boaters are getting ready for spring. One of the most-asked questions at the DNR booth was about a new regulation requiring drain plugs to be pulled as a boat leaves a ramp. That regulation went into effect last July, so it did not make the 2013 regulations booklet. In the 2014 version, the regulation change is summarized on page 3, but is explained more fully on page 24; “Drain plugs and other water draining devices must be removed and/or remain open during transport. If you want to keep live bait when leaving a water access, you must replace water in bait containers with tap or bottle water.” Anglers leaving with fish are recommended to put them on ice, whether in a cooler, a bucket or a live well (plug must still be removed and/or opened). The new regulation is to avoid spreading invasive species from one body of water to another; through residual water inside your boat or vegetation which remains attached to your boat, motor or trailer. Enforcement was ʻsoftʼ last summer. It will step up this year. Invasive species could range from vegetation such as Eurasian watermilfoil or brittle naiad to water dwelling animals such as zebra mussels—or even minnows purchased elsewhere. Once introduced into another water body, the unwanted species can spread throughout, often with few or no natural predators or vegetation to control the spread. That crowds out native species; disrupting the ecology of the lake or stream… as well as fishing and other recreation. Is it worth the extra few seconds to pull a drain plug or clean that aquatic plant trailing from your boat motor? It can cost a couple million of your license dollars…and three or four years of your fishing recreation to draw down a lake, kill out the invasive species, renovate it, restock it and wait for fish to grow back to catchable size.




Try different stuff this year BY BOB JENSEN


I was going through one of my ice-fishing lure containers the other day and said to myself “I’ll be putting this stuff away before too long.” It seems I talk to myself more and more lately. Anyway, too much of the time we get locked into ideas that some lures are made for ice-fishing, some techniques are for bass, and some weather conditions might be best for northern pike. While those ideas have merit, there are times when we need to be more open-minded. Make this fishing season the one where you do things a little differently. Take those ice-fishing lures for instance. If a walleye or crappie or perch will eat them through the ice, why wouldn’t they eat them in open water? Well, they will! The Puppet Minnow was designed for ice-fishing, and it does a great job through the ice for several species of fish but mostly walleye and perch. However, for several years now we’ve been using Puppet Minnows for walleyes in open water. I most like to use them in open water

To see the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest TV, visit

FISHINGTHEMIDWEST.COM Also visit FACEBOOK.COM/FISHINGTHEMIDWEST when the walleyes are deeper. I fish it straight up and down mostly because it was designed to be fished straight up and down below an ice hole. We just hover over the school of fish and lift and drop the Puppet Minnow with either and Impulse Minnow Head or a real minnow head attached. I’ve heard of some folks trolling larger Puppet Minnows with good success. Again, these are the folks that think differently than others, and these are the folks who catch a lot of fish sometimes. Consider smallmouth bass: Most of the time we use artificial baits for smallmouth, and most of the time the artificial baits work well. However, when the smallmouth get finicky, try borrowing a technique from

This smallmouth was a sucker for a sucker on a live-bait rig. Not always the best way to catch smallmouth, but in this situation, it was the only way we could get them to bite. Photo By Bob Jensen

1907 18th St. Spirit Lake

the walleye world. Tie on a live-bait rig and tip it with either a leech or a nightcrawler. Put that rig down in a smallmouth neighborhood and you’re going to get bit. In the fall, go with a redtail chub instead of the leech or crawler. When a smallmouth gets near that chub, you’ll know about it. The chub gets very nervous and wiggles so much you can feel him wiggling. Smallmouth bass will respond very favorably to this walleye presentation. What about color? Too much of the time we develop favorite colors of jigs or crankbaits or whatever, and it’s understandable why and how we develop those feel-

ings. But when your favorite color isn’t working, try something else. Maybe you’ll want to try something close to your favorite color pattern, or maybe you want to go way out there. It doesn’t matter, just try something different when you’re not catching them doing what you’re doing. The best time to try something different is when the fish are biting. If they’re eating what you’re using, use something else for awhile. You never know, you just might find yourself with a new favorite technique or a new favorite color. When you do that, you’re expanding your fishing horizons and you’ll be a more successful angler more often, and that’s a good thing.

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