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JANUARY 2017 ESTHERVILLE NEWS Find this publication online at under ʻSectionsʼ


Time to hit the ice






he Iowa Great Lakes is an ice fishing destination for both Iowa anglers and outof-staters. After all, there is great walleye fishing and panfishing (perch, bluegill and crappie). If an angler is interested, there are also shallows teeming with largemouth bass that will readily attack smaller panfish lures. However, there is one species that is most often overlooked: northern pike. Mike Hawkins, Iowa DNR Biologist at the Spirit Lake Hatchery, agrees saying, “Both Big Spirit Lake and West Okoboji have excellent pike populations. It is really an untapped resource.” The good news is this. If you like fishing panfish in the weedy bays of Big Spirit and West Okoboji, you are also in pike waters. After all, weeds + panfish = pike in the vicinity. The process is really pretty simple. Find the weeds, find the panfish…the pike will be cruising the area. First of all, it’s about location. Not all weeds will contain fish, and there are a lot of weedbeds in these lakes. However, areas to choose on Big Spirit include Anglers Bay and Hales Slough, while top bays on West Okoboji include Big and Little Emerson Bay, Little Millers and Millers Bay, North Bay, Smiths Bay and Haywards Bay. Now that’s a lot of territory to cover, but you can actually cut this down by season. Anglers Bay and Little Millers and Little Emerson are the first areas that freeze over. So, those are the areas you target first. Then as the winter progresses, you can hit the other bays if things have slowed down. This really becomes the best of two fishing worlds, because you can fish panfish and northern pike at the same time. The water on


West Okoboji is most often gin clear, so you will get to see everything that comes through below the ice. I remember a friend of mine visited me from Kentucky and since he had never been ice fishing, he wanted to give it a try. His first comment as we drove on to the ice on Millers Bay was “This is cool.” It was later followed by “Oh my” when the ice cracked right beneath my shack and water moved in the hole. However, the best was when I heard him exclaim, “Will you look at that!” Soon the head of a big pike was under my hole, while the tail was just entering his hole! “Holy cow!” Needless to say, the panfish are an indicator. If they suddenly disappear and don’t come back, you can bet a pike is sitting off to the side! Mobility is a key for success for both panfish and pike. The first few times out, it might take digging lots of holes and moving around until you find the pattern. It seems that once you find the fish (and if there is little to no angler activity around you), they will stick around for a while. Sometimes, the fish will move 20 yards away to the end of the weedbed or maybe a little deeper. If nothing is happening, I will check those close spots out before I move to another weedbed or even another bay.

On the Cover: Ice fishing has begun in earnest across northern Iowa. The inch of rain on Christmas Day melted the snow on the ice, and once colder temperatures returned, turned everything to slick ice. This helped immensely with walking out to fishing areas. Anglers are encouraged to use ice cleats to protect themselves from falls! Be careful on windy days to anchor portable shelters down, especially in open spaces where there is no protection from the wind. Some anglers have reported being in their shelters and a strong gust of wind has sent the shelter (with angler inside) sliding across the ice! Also, be careful of points and seams that occur as the ice shifts. Photo by Steve Weisman

The results of targeting both bluegills and northern pike on the same fishing trip. Photo by Kevan Paul

Game Plan Early in the season, you might set up as shallow as 3-4 feet or up to 10-12 feet of water. It all depends on the weeds and where the panfish are located. Plus, if the ice froze crystal clear, you might have to move out to deeper weedbeds so as not to spook the fish. To speed up the process, after drilling several holes, I will use my underwater camera (Vexilar Scout) to search for both bluegills and pike. The key, obviously, is to set up where the fish are! Most anglers will use one rod to work panfish, and then put a tip-up out for a pike. However, if you pay the fee for a third line, you can double up and add a second tip-up. Size varies, but in the shallower waters, but they usually run anywhere from 25 pounds. The rig A friend of mine, guide Kevan Paul, owner of Kevan Paul’s Guide Service ( and a Clam pro staffer, spends a lot of the winter putting clients on both panfish and northern pike. Here is his strategy. Typically, Paul sets out a series of tip-ups trying to pick areas where pike will be cruising around searching for an easy meal throughout the day. He will spool the reel with 20-pound braid and then use a Bigtooth Rig made by Clam Outdoors with a chub for bait. “With the clear water, I like the gold blades the best, but I also

will use red. If it is shallow water, shallower than 10 feet, I will not use a leader, but in deeper water I will use a 3-foot Flurocarbon leader (20 pound test).” Paul takes the chub and takes one treble hook and gets one of the hooks secured just under the skin just behind the dorsal fin on one side. He does the same thing with the other treble hook on the side. To help attract the pike, Paul will clip the tail off where the tail meets the body of the chub. “This gives a ‘blood’ scent trail, and if a pike is in the area, it’ll come to the chub.” It’s not necessary to get the bait on the bottom because pike often cruise up off the bottom. Handling the strike The Bigtooth Rig is a quick strike rig, so Paul stresses not to wait a long time to set the hook. “When the flag trips, get over there and lift the tip-up out of the water. Let the pike take the line so they don’t feel resistance. At the same time, strip off some extra line just in case the pike makes a big run. Set the hook when the fish is making a run and work the fish toward the hole. If we are keeping pike, I will have a gaff handy in case, but if not, we’ll get it coming up the hole and then grab it under the gill. Just make certain to be careful. I suggest having a glove to protect your hand.” Paul does one more thing to heighten the northern pike experience for his clients. “I will have a tip-up ready with an already

hooked lively chub in a bucket of water. When we see a pike enter our fishing area, we’ll take the chub and put it down the hole. This will often trigger a response from the pike. What a rush when you see it take the bait!” As the season goes Things will change as the ice season goes. “By mid-season, I often find the bigger pike moving into deeper water, say a rock pile or a deep weedline up to 20-feet or so. It’s here that we get the chance to catch pike over 10 pounds.” At late ice, things change again. Pike are getting ready to spawn, often times spawning beneath the ice. In preparation, they will move to areas where water is flowing into the lake. Taking a chance Want a challenge? Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It’s happened to me many times. As I work my panfish rig, say a Clam Dingle Drop tipped with silver wigglers or wax worms, I often have northern pike come into view. If I really work them, they will slowly move toward the bait, sizing it up. Many a time I have pulled the bait away just as the pike opens its mouth to inhale the jig. I then drop the jig on its head to see if it will leave the vicinity. However, if I am in a daring mood, I will let the pike suck in the jig and carefully lift the hook until the line is taut, trying to see if I can move the pike toward the hole without making it take off in a screaming run! If they haven’t figured out that they are really hooked and I can get the head toward the hole, I’ve got a chance. If they do run and the line doesn’t get across their teeth, I will back reel and go with them. Luck, obviously, has to be with me! Northern pike up to 5-6 pounds have come up the hole this way. Yes, I do get broken off, but wow is it a rush when it works out! No doubt about it! The northern pike are plentiful on both Big Spirit and West Okoboji. They are great fighters, and they also make great table fare. That is a perfect combination!



Walleye on Demand


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Editor’s 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). More information can be found online at BY JASON MITCHELL


ver the past decade, aggressive search tactics for walleye have been trending across many fisheries, particularly large bodies of water where the sheer acreage can be daunting. The lures combine with the mobility and mentality, which allows anglers to cover more water. Rattle baits, flutter spoons and swim lures can all be effectively used to find walleye and finding fresh fish is half the battle. One key element of breaking down water and finding fish through the ice is making sure that the fish can also find you. This aggressive style of fishing isn't just snapping or ripping a lure to trip an aggressive reaction from a fish, which sometimes happens. More importantly, you increase the amount of water you cover because fish can see you and react to you from much further away. A high lift with a flutter spoon for example might pull fish in from twenty feet away or more. A hard pound with a rattle spoon might create enough noise, flash and water displacement to pull fish in from several feet away. Ring the dinner bell. So often however, there is a difference between finding fish and catching fish. Typically, the methodology of covering water and eliminating dead water to find fish is a matter of sampling as much water as possible with the time allotted so you can spend as much time as possible where there are fish. As a rule of thumb, some of the first walleye you pull off the spot can sometimes be the most aggressive fish... if you are fishing through fresh ice. As you pull a few fish off the location, the fish typically get less aggressive. The longer you wear out your welcome on a spot, the harder the fish get to catch. This decline in productivity often aligns with less competition. When fish are competing against each other to eat, these fish make you look good. When there are fewer fish on a location, there is less competition.

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Fishing pressure plays a huge role in how fish react to you. So many of these aggressive search and destroy tactics have originated and shined on large bodies of water because they allow you to stray away from the fishing pressure and allow you to find your own fish. As you move from search mode to catch mode, we are typically forced to make a lot of adjustments. These adjustments could be as simple as adapting to a fish on the screen in that we are often fishing much differently when we are not marking fish. When we are not marking fish, we are playing the lure so that we can hopefully reach distant fish. When a fish shows up, we often have to change the cadence to trigger the fish. Knowing when to change up your

cadence and how to react to fish you see on the Vexilar separates great anglers from average. So often as walleye come in on the presentation, they stall out as they reach the lure. If a fish lunges at the bait and misses or overshoots the lure or if a the presentation falls behind a stalled fish, the lure disappears and this is the worst thing you can have happen when trying to trigger a fish. These fish basically drift off swimming away from the lure unless they turn around and turning around a fish that is facing away from the lure and getting a second or third chance only happens when the fish are on. When the mood is mediocre, you don't get to screw things up. You get one chance. Turn to WALLEYES, Page 7

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Where land and water meet BY STEVE WEISMAN OUTDOOR EDITOR


nother year has flown by. That seems to happen more and more the older I get! As we head into this New Year, I wish all of you best wishes for a great New Year! I hope that we Iowans can continue the push for more “best practices,” when it comes to conservation and water quality. Reflecting back Here in the Iowa Great Lakes, we had the opportunity to be part of a weeklong conservation effort culminated by the Okoboji Blue Water Festival on Saturday, August 13 in Preservation Plaza at the Arnold Park Amusement Park. Earlier in the week, a special soil health field day was held to showcase “best practices” in conservation on local farmland. This was followed by the Prairie Lakes Conference, the first of its kind in northwest Iowa. Over 160 people attended the conference, which was held at Arrowwood Conference Center and featured worldrenowned speakers that presented up-to-date water quality topics and issues that relate to all Iowans. According to John Wills, Clean Water Alliance Coordinator and a member

of the planning committee, “I think the Prairie Lakes Conference really brought clean water home. Many of the attendees were impressed with the quality of speakers and the information presented. We had a conference that many large cities would have been proud of but then again, for us it’s all about water.“ As for the Okoboji Blue Water Festival, to say it was a success is definitely an understatement. It has been estimated that over 7,000 people were in attendance that day to enjoy the conservation “fair” that included activities for kids, a line of tents housing water quality exhibitors, three fishing seminars and a Water Quality panel discussion. That evening over 5,000 enjoyed the Boz Scaggs concert. Individuals, businesses and municipalities all joined forces to help sponsor the festival through donations and as volunteers. According to Greg Drees, event chairman for the festival, "The inaugural Okoboji Blue Water Festival was a huge success. With 30 water quality exhibitors, clean water-themed kids’ and family activities, fishing clinics and a distinguished panel of speakers, it was a full day of raising public awareness of the importance

It was a perfect day for the first Okoboji Blue Water Festival. Tents lined the sidewalk at Preservation Plaza as 30 water quality exhibitors shared their support for clean water efforts. Photo by Steve Weisman

of protecting water resources in the Iowa Great Lakes and across the state. It ended appropriately with a celebratory concert on stage with the legendary Boz Scaggs, who acknowledged the striking beauty of the venue." Looking to 2017 The good news is this week long conservation effort is back for 2017. The

Prairie Lakes Conference Planning Committee has announced that the Field Day will be held on August 9, followed by the two-day conference on August 1011. The theme for the 2017 conference will be “Where Land and Water Meet.” Wills shared his excitement for the 2017 event. “When you pair the conference with the concert, which is the next day, we have a

week of education, fun and family activities that almost anyone can get something out of. We are in the process of contacting potential presenters for 2017 and will give updates periodically as the program comes together.” Drees is also looking forward to the 2017 event. "We will stage the second annual festival on August 12 with the goal of making

the event even better. We know how we can tweak the activities to be even more family-friendly, and of course we will remain true to the original message of water quality awareness. Committees are at work now to attract noted speakers to discuss clean water issues, and another big name musical act will again be the culmination of the festival."

Fishing the Midwest TV set to begin 26th year! SHEFFIELD - Fishing the Midwest, one of the Midwest’s longest-running and highest-rated fishing television shows, has begun airing its 26th year of award-winning fishing shows. Fishing the Midwest will again be available for viewing on cable powerhouse Fox Sports North (Saturday mornings at 11 am) and Fox Sports Midwest (Sundays, 9:30 am & Mondays, 8:30 am) from December 17 through year end, and continuing for the first 10 weeks of 2017. In addition, Fishing the Midwest will be available on a variety of network affiliates and other carriers across the Midwest as well. Fishing the Midwest travels to good fishing destinations close to home where its viewers can also travel to experience similar fishing successes. “We had outstanding walleye fishing on Clear Lake, Iowa, Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, and Lake Francis Case in South Dakota among other places while filming episodes for the coming season,” stated Mike Frisch, the show’s co-host. “In addition, we had maybe our best day ever for big smallmouth bass on Lake Kabetogama in northern Minnesota!” Highlighting the good fishing across the Midwest is one of the Fishing the Midwest’s goals. The other is to provide viewers with helpful fishing tips that they can use on their fishing trips. “Again, this year, we give our viewers practical, easy-to-master suggestions on how to catch the walleyes, bass, and panfish that swim in lakes they fish,” added Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest’s founder and other co-host. “We want to help our viewers catch more fish, and the 2016-17 episodes should do just that.” To learn more about Fishing the Midwest, including viewing a list of all stations and viewing times for the coming TV season, visit In addition, weekly episodes of Fishing the Midwest will be available for viewing on the Fishing the Midwest FACEBOOK page.





ost people that know me, know that I want some snow in the winter. As long as it is going to be cold, I like to have snow for winter outdoor activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Snow cover is actually important for wildlife and even plants. Snow acts like a thermal blanket, insulating the ground, keeping the frost from going too deep, and providing a sheltered environment for some animals that stay active during the winter. This place under the snow is called the “subnivean zone”. The word comes from the Latin words for under (sub) and snow (nives). Dead leaves, branches and fallen logs hold the snow up, creating an open space that is used by small animals. Some of these animals also make their own tunnels into the snow. Snow traps heat from the ground, keeping this zone at or near freezing, while above the snow, it can be much colder. The deeper the snow, the more protection it provides. Have you ever noticed mouse tracks in the snow that disappear into a small hole? Many small mammals like mice and voles spend most of their winter under the snow, eating seeds, plants and the bark on bushes. These animals create a series of tunnels in the snow as they move around. Entrance holes also work like ventilation shafts, bringing fresh air to the layer under the snow. This tunnel system under the snow gives the small animals some protection

from predators, but fox, coyote and owls all have a great sense of hearing which helps them pinpoint a “meal” to pounce on from above and grab. Weasels are small enough to actually follow some of the tunnels in the snow in search of a mouse to eat. Some very small animals like springtails, often called snow fleas, can also be found living in the snow. There are even a few kinds of fungi in the soil that can adapt to the cold and survive under the snow. Warmer winters do not necessarily mean warmer temperatures for those who live down under. When the air temperatures are warm, the snow is not as deep. Warmer air temperatures also cause the snow to be wetter and heavier, causing compression and therefore, less insulation. It is winter in Iowa and we should better appreciate snow. Here’s to a great holiday season. As they say “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”.


2017 bald eagle watching events DES MOINES – Bald eagle watch days are held across the state during January through early March. Here is a list and date for each event. The closest one to us in northwest Iowa is the OʼBrien County Eagle Watch. n Clinton Bald Eagle Watch, January 7 n Quad Cities Bald Eagle Days, January 6-8 n Mississippi River Visitor Center, Arsenal Island, Saturdays & Sundays, Jan. 7 - Feb. 4 n Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch, January 21 n Keokuk Bald Eagle Days, January 21-22 n Muscatine Bald Eagle Watch, January 28 n Coralville Bald Eagle Watch, February 4 n Des Moines Bald Eagle Days, February 10-11 n Effigy Mounds Bald Eagle Watch, February 24-25

n Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch, February 26 n OʼBrien County Bald Eagle Watch, March 4 – This event is the only one of its kind held in northwest Iowa. The event will be held at the Prairie Heritage Center at 4931 Yellow Avenue, Peterson, IA. It features an elevated deck for excellent viewing opportunities. A special program will be held at 2 p.m., with Christina Roelofs from Saving Our Avian Resources bringing a live bald eagle to the event. Those who attend are encouraged to bring a camera and take advantage of this amazing opportunity to see a majestic bald eagle from an armʼs length. Roelofs will talk about the birdʼs special adaptations and give other information about their current population status. For more information call Charlene Elyea at 712-295-7200.


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Report highlights progress and long-term challenges of Iowa stream nutrient monitoring DES MOINES — A 2016 report of Iowa’s water monitoring efforts for nutrients highlights both the complexity and long-term value of evaluating nutrient levels in Iowa’s lakes, streams and rivers. Developed jointly by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, with the support of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa IIHR— Hydroscience and Engineering Center, the report is the first of its kind in Iowa and includes a comprehensive list of surface water monitoring efforts specific to nutrients. The report was developed in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and is available at underneath the heading "Supplemental Documents." “Iowa has a comprehensive water quality monitoring effort in place that is supported by a variety of partners. Monitoring results were central to identifying the practices highlighted in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and have provided valuable information as we have established priority watersheds. It continues to be an important part of our efforts as we work to increase the pace and scale of practice adoption needed to improve water quality,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said. Water monitoring can be used for a variety of purposes and look at a broad range of parameters. This report focused specifically on the numerous water monitoring projects for nutrients in place across Iowa to better under-

stand the water quality status of streams and rivers. The report discusses the complexity of nutrient monitoring and practices; for example, when changes are made within a target watershed, water quality improvements will likely be visible sooner in smaller watersheds compared to a larger watershed. Therefore, current monitoring efforts target a variety of scales, including: n Large Watersheds: (approximately 950,000 acres, or about 2.5 counties in area). This includes Iowa DNR’s fixed-station network that monitors 60 sites across the state and the University of Iowa’s IIHR – Hydroscience and Engineering management of 45 realtime monitoring stations. n Small Watersheds: (approximately 22,500 acres, or about 16 per county). Several initiatives have been developed, including 18 projects with the Iowa Water Quality Initiative focused on targeted small-scale watershed areas. These focus on helping farmers implement proven conservation practices and monitoring to confirm their effectiveness. n Paired Watersheds: Two ongoing projects in Iowa look at similarly sized watersheds where one receives targeted conservation practices and the other does not. Water monitoring at the outlet of each watershed examines the collective impact of conservation practices. n Edge-of-Field Monitoring: The Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University and a number of other organizations conduct monitoring at the edge of farm fields through farmer collaboration and on research sites.

This scale of monitoring is used to inform, target and prioritize implementation due to ability to implement practices that can have a measurable effect in a shorter time frame. Even with the extensive network of water monitoring efforts in place, measuring changes in natural ecosystems presents several technical, scientific and policy challenges. The report outlines several of those complicating factors, including legacy nutrients, lag time, limitations of conservation practice data, extreme weather events, locations of monitoring sites, importance of long-term data collection and variable precipitation, and stream flow. “While challenges exist, we believe continued nutrient monitoring is critical to understanding what Iowa can do to be successful,” said Chuck Gipp, DNR Director. “All partners involved in developing this report know the value of long-term evaluation and are committed to continuing with a science-based approach to nutrient reduction in Iowa waters.” The Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a research- and technology-based approach to assess and reduce nutrients, specifically nitrogen and phosphorus, delivered to Iowa waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. Monitoring Iowa streams provides insight into measuring water quality progress and the reduction of surface water nutrient loss. The Nutrient Reduction Strategy aims to reduce the load, or amount of nutrients, lost annually from the landscape. According to Gipp, this report serves as a means to improve understanding of the extent of current nutrient monitoring networks in Iowa.

2017 NATIONAL PHEASANT FEST & QUAIL CLASSIC DATES SET ST PAUL —‚ Billed as the largest gathering of upland hunters in the nation, the 2017 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic is set for February 17-19 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The weekend is presented by Federal Premium Ammunition and hosted by Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend. Whatever your passion-whether it's pheasants or quail, conservation, bird dogs, shooting, cooking wild game, or passing on our hunting heritage to the next generation, Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic has something for everyone! An early bird offer is being extended until December 31. For $195, you can get a full weekend all access pass, which

includes admission all three days, the Bird Hunter’s Banquet on Friday evening, the Conservation Luncheon on Saturday, the National Pheasant Fest Banquet on Saturday evening and all seminars and registration materials. If purchased separately, the cost would be $240. Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic is a trade show that will focus on wildlife conservation, upland game bird hunting (pheasant and quail), dog training, and wildlife habitat management and restoration. In connection with the trade show, Pheasants Forever will hold seminars on habitat improvement, pheasant hunting, shooting sports, wild game cooking, dog training, and conservation and lots more!





and ice. Sodium chloride, as well as calcietʼs face it folks, weʼve been um chloride and potassium chlopretty luck this year when it ride, two other deicing agents, can comes to cold weather and contaminate fresh water and pose having to deal with ice. But, in true a health risk to humans and fish. Mother Nature fashion, weʼll end These deicers can, moreover, act up having to deal with more than as desiccants (drying agents) on our fair share here in the coming salt intolerant vegetation. weeks. Whatʼs that ole saying…in Many deicing agents use urea, a like a lamb out like a lion. Winter is compound synthesized from far from over and deicing our cars, ammonia and carbon dioxide that sidewalks and streets will be a part is used primarily as a fertilizer. If of our winter chores. urea remains on top of the soil, it Sodium chloride has been used will break down rapidly and the effectively as a deicer since the ammonia will escape into the air. If 1940s. It melts snow and ice form- urea enters the watershed through ing a liquid brine that seeps down- runoff, though, it can contribute to ward and contacts paved surfaces. algal blooms, which, unfortunately, The brine spreads outward break- here in Iowa have all but become ing the bond between ice and cold common place in the summer surfaces. This makes it possible to months. physically loosen and remove Consider using CMA: Calcium whole sheets of compacted snow magnesium acetate (CMA) is a relRECYCLED FISH PROGRAM DIRECTOR


WALLEYES, Continued from Page 3 When a fish comes in hot and then just disappears, so often the fish simply overshot the lure and missed. Often the best way to turn around a fish is to raise the lure and pound the lure hard enough to where they can feel it. Your cadence has to become aggressive again but in a tight window. Higher lifts create a lot of flash and can be seen from further away but they also create the greatest risk of swinging out and falling behind the face of a fish when they get close. Usually, lifting a spoon up four feet and dropping it down fast is not a good move when there is a fish on top of you. The triggering moves become tighter and you want to keep the lure in front of the fish, you don't want that lure to disappear. So often however, many anglers at this point don't do enough and the fish don't react to the lure. Most of the time, we have to keep the lure moving. Stops and stalls will definitely trigger fish, but they are usually momentary moves that follow movement. One of the greatest and most common mistakes many anglers make when attempting to trigger a walleye with a lure is letting the lure settle too much between strokes. Imagine a jig stroke and than the lure settles to the bottom of the stroke and hangs. The

longer the lure hangs, the more the lure turns. On the next stroke, the lure comes off a different direction and this direction is unpredictable. One second the lure is six inches in front of the fish and than the lure shoots towards the fish disappearing... game over. Here's a little secret that will help you catch a lot more walleye this winter. Don't let the lure settle at the bottom of the jig stroke. Start your up stroke before the lure settles so that the lure dances and the cadence and direction of the dart or swing becomes locked in to one direction and becomes predictable. The target becomes much easier for fish to hit. Remember that walleyes don't back up that well and they need room to turn around, this is why staying in front of the fish is so crucial. This is perhaps the most important reason for changing the cadence and adjusting the lure as the fish closes the distance. This is why finding fish can be different than catching fish. The moves that pull fish into the cone angle from 20 feet away often have to change as a fish gets close and this understanding of how to use tempo and cadence to find fish while reading your electronics to adapt and trigger fish will help you catch a lot more walleyes this winter.

atively new, salt-free, melting agent made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid. It causes little damage to concrete or plants and is used as an alternative to salts in environmentally sensitive areas. Although it is more expensive that sodium chloride and urea; CMA is an effective deicer that has a low impact on the environment and to our fish. Why it is important to the fish: Researchers have found that CMA is biodegradeable in soil and has poor mobility making it less likely to reach groundwater. Moreover, CMA does not adversely affect zooplankton, daphnia, bluegill, and fathead minnows at the expected maximum runoff concentration (1000 ppm). Sodium, in comparison, can be toxic to some of the sensitive populations of native fish in concentrations of 500 ppm, chlo-

rides can be toxic to trout in concentrations of 400 ppm. If you are replenishing your stock of deicer, we would encourage you to try CMA or other alternative environmentally friendly products. One of the best deicers we have is probably already in the garage and is in the form of a shovel. Though they donʼt completely remove ice from sidewalks and driveways, early snow removal helps prevent buildup that can lead to ice. If you need to use some form of deicer, try using less of it or even use it in conjunction with cat litter or sand which can add traction, reducing the amount of deicer you use and is nicer to your lawn and cement. Remember that as stewards of our waterways, fisheries and environment, our lifestyle runs downstream. Tight Lines!






Mike Frisch and a Big Stone Lake Perch. Perch this size are typical in Big Stone Lake. Photo by Bob Jensen



here are so many outstanding ice‐fishing opportunities across the Midwest, but one location that has become a favored destination of mine and of many others is Big Stone Lake in west‐central Minnesota. Actually, the east shore of the lake is in Minnesota, the west shore is in South Dakota. Big Stone is a wide spot in the Minnesota River. It’s an out‐ standing fishery whenever seasons are open, but lately the perch bite on Big Stone under the ice has been getting a lot of attention, and there’s a reason for that: The perch are plentiful and abundant. You may have to look around a while to find them, as perch can wander quite a bit. Once you find the area they’re hanging in though, action can be fast. My first ice‐fishing trip of the year in 2014 was to Big Stone. We arrived at Big Stone in mid‐afternoon during a warming trend. We were told that the bite had been good, but it was coming in flurries. The perch would move in and we would catch them, then they would move on, only to come back in twenty or thirty minutes. We drilled a bunch of holes in eight to ten feet of water. We fished a hole longer than we usually would, because we knew that the perch would eventually come through. However, after ten minutes of not seeing a fish on the sonar, we moved. Fished again for ten minutes, if no action, we moved again. Finally, we found a group of perch, and they were biters. We used eighth ounce Buck‐Shot Rattle Spoons: The new UV Pink Tiger was the best. Some of us tipped the spoons with spikes: I used an Impulse Minnow Head. The Impulse caught fish as good as the live bait. I caught more fish per bait, and got my bait back down to the fish quickly. However, when the fish were really hot, I caught them with nothing on the spoon. Those are aggressive fish! On my most recent trip to Big Stone we tried a variety of baits, including #3 Chubby Darters. They got the fish’s attention bet‐ ter than anything. When we first got to a new hole, we would pound our baits on the bottom. In the underwater world, this pounding really gets the fish’s attention. Pound the bait three or four times, then lift it a foot or so above the bottom. Pounding disrupts the bottom and creates a little cloud of silt or whatever the bottom is made of. You want your bait above the cloud so the fish can see it. Some of the fish would come off the bottom and look at the bait. If they didn’t take it, we lifted the bait higher. Many of the perch were three feet off the bottom when they hit. When the perch became conditioned to the Chubby Darters we switched to eighth ounce Buck‐Shot Rattle Spoons again and usually caught a few more. Big Stone is like any lake as far as technique. Keep moving until you find the fish, and then keep trying different bait colors, sizes, and actions until you find what the fish want. Once you do, the bite will be on and you’ll quickly learn why Big Stone Lake is such a favorite among ice‐anglers. Visit or call 320‐839‐3284 for ideas on lodging, bait, rentals, and all the other things that can make an ice‐fish‐ ing trip to this hot perch fishery successful.

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Outdoor connection 71  
Outdoor connection 71