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Sioux Empire Edition

April 2021

by Bob

Jensen Mike Frisch with a walleye that ate a jig

The recent warm weather has anglers excited, and some of the most excited anglers are those who like to chase & catch walleyes. All across Walleye Country, anglers who enjoy catching walleyes are getting ready to get in or on the water. In rivers that are home to walleyes, anglers are already after them. Regardless of whether a lake or river is being fished, many of the anglers chasing walleyes will have a jig tied onto their line. There are a few things that we need to consider if we’re going to consistently catch walleyes on jigs early in the open water fishing season. Following are some of those things. In smaller rivers, many anglers like to get in the water to catch walleyes. A wading approach can be very productive, and in fact, it might be the only way to get after walleyes. Across much of the Midwest, the smaller rivers that are home to walleyes are too shallow for a boat: A wading approach is the only way to fish for them. When wading and casting, a jig with a piece of plastic is often good. You'll be casting and slowly retrieving the jig. In many small rivers there are so many rocks that a dragging retrieve just isn't practical: You'll get snagged too much. Go with an 1/8th ounce Crater Jig tipped with one of the smaller Rage Swimmer plastics and swim it just above the bottom.

You'll still get snagged every now and then, but not as much from dragging a jig and minnow. A minnow imitating color is good, but a brighter color will be better if the water is stained. Experiment with colors until you hit the right one. In many states, it’s legal to use two lines for fishing. Some states even allow three lines. If you’re fishing from an anchored boat or a dock, it’s very productive to use multiple lines. Because the walleyes are usually shallow shortly after ice-out, fishing from an anchored position will be good. You can cast to an area and effectively work it over without spooking the fish. Put a slip-bobber with a small jig and a minnow out there while you cast a jig/plastic or jig/minnow combination. Continued on next page





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Continued from the cover

Fathead minnows are preferred in some areas, shiners in others. You'll want to be sure to have plenty of the preferred minnow on hand. If the bite is as good as it often is this time of year, or if you're fishing around rocks or casting the jig/minnow combo, you'll use a lot of minnows. Again, plastics can do an outstanding job. They’re available in a lot of colors, shapes, and sizes, they stay on the jig longer than a minnow, and require no care. Sometimes though, the walleyes want the real deal. In the spring, if you’re fishing from a boat, have some minnows with. In the cold waters of spring, the take will often be light. You’ll feel just a bit of weight. This is when a softer action, super-sensitive rod really is appreciated. Lew’s has several spinning rods in various models that do an outstanding job. A 6’6” or 7’ medium-light rod is preferred by many who cast jigs for shallow walleyes. 6 pound test line is preferred in areas where snags aren’t much of an issue, but 8 pound test will be better if a good number of snags are present.

When fishing a river, you'll want your jig to be moving downstream. Fish that are willing to feed will usually be facing upstream, so if your jig is moving downstream like an injured minnow or bug, the fish that are facing upstream will be able to easier see the jig approaching.

For the next several weeks, a jig will be the go-to bait for walleye anglers almost anywhere that walleyes swim. Tie a jig onto your line, put it in front of a walleye, and chances are good you'll get bit.

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Going on a

By David Parker Photo: Jim Thompson

Director of the Outdoor Campus

If you have never gone turkey hunting, it is something you must try. Growing up as a kid, we never really had turkeys in the northeastern part of South Dakota, so I didn’t get into turkey hunting until I was in High School and have been hooked ever since then. There is just something about hearing a gobble of a large tom turkey and seeing him come strutting into your decoys.

Here are a few of my personal tips and tricks on how to be successful To get started turkey hunting all one really needs is a turkey permit, shotgun, a turkey call and a decoy. In South Dakota, youth hunters are guaranteed a turkey permit, where adults must apply by lottery to receive a permit. Turkeys are easy to fool with a simple box call, which imitates the sounds of a hen turkey. I have seen beginner hunters with only minimal time practicing have success calling in a tom turkey. Lastly, I prefer to use a full strut tom decoy along with a hen decoy as well, though you can have success calling in a turkey without a decoy. I also always face the tom turkey decoy facing towards me. That way when the jealous turkey comes, he will face off with the decoy and his back will be towards you giving you an opportunity to raise your weapon and have a successful harvest. If you are interested in learning more about ice fishing safety or some other outdoor pursuit check us out online at gfp.sd.gov/education/ or give us a call at 605-362-2777

• Scouting Always go and check out the area you plan to hunt before your hunt. Look for tracks, feathers, droppings etc. Also look for a roost tree. Turkeys will roost every evening in a tree and if you are lucky enough to locate that special tree, that will greatly increase your odds of success. • The early hunter gets the turkey In my experience of chasing turkeys, they seem to gobble a lot while they are on the roost tree in the early morning. I like to get to my hunting area well before sunup and just listen for gobbles. This will let you know where the turkeys are located at and allow you to set up closer to the roost. • Don’t over call Once you get a turkey to respond to your call be sure to call sparingly and not too long. Calling too much and too loudly can deter a turkey from coming to investigate. Turkeys have exceptional hearing and eyesight as well.

• Patience Patience is something I lack, but patience will allow you to be successful while turkey hunting. Turkeys spend all day traveling around scratching for food and if there are turkeys in the area, they will come to your calls eventually. • Have Fun Just being outside, hearing & seeing turkeys is a successful day to me. Harvesting a bird is a bonus. Don’t become frustrated if success doesn’t happen right way.

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Spring is a glorious time in the north country. Although I always find it hard to put away my ice fishing gear, I do relish the days when I can get the boat in the water and search for spring panfish. With the gamefish season closed at this time of the year, there is little doubt that panfish are king. Many anglers that scoff at the thought of targeting panfish when the walleye and bass seasons are open will make every effort they can to spend those warm spring days on the water. Over the years, I have developed a list of spring panfish haunts that have produced fish for me on a consistent basis. Although every year is a little different and the timing changes with weather and ice out, panfish pretty much have the same routine year after year. Their migration to the shallows to gorge themselves on the invertebrates that are emerging from the mud is all part of their pre-spawn ritual. Depending on the weather conditions and water temperature, this prespawn activity can last for some time. Knowing that lakes don’t all warm up at the same pace also helps extend this early panfish bonanza. The small bodies of water and quiet bays are always the first to turn on. Bigger water and some shoreline areas will come next. As always, I am concerned with my equipment and presentation techniques. Having long rods that allow me to cast far from the boat is critical. I also make use of heavier floats that aid in the ability to make long casts. There was a time I utilized small, feathered Flu-Flu style jigs for the business end of my presentation. A few years back, I started to experiment with plastics. Last year, I never tied on a feathered jig at all. From my experience, I found the plastic consistently outperformed the feathered jigs. I also learned that there were many different styles, shapes and colors that the fish liked. Brown, pink and red might have had a slight edge in the color preference.

The author holding a prize crappie

“From my experience, fish like certain colors, shapes & sizes of plastics. Brown, pink & red have a edge. The jigs are same as my winter fishing. Also the same soft Maki plastics. Part of plastic success has to do with the invertebrates that the crappies and bluegills are foraging on in the shallow water. The plastic definitely has a bug-like appearance”

ry By Jer


As for the specifics on the jigs, many of them are the same ones I use for my winter fishing. The plastic is also the same with a variety of the soft Maki plastics being hard to beat. I believe that part of the success of the plastic has to do with the invertebrates that the crappies and bluegills are foraging on in the shallow water. The plastic definitely has a bug-like appearance. Although I would occasionally tip the jig with a wax worm, I found that it usually was not needed. I did notice that bluegills were more interested in the wax worms than crappies. If you are strictly targeting gills, the wax worms will give a little extra incentive. I also learned that this presentation worked well into the late spring. Spawning crappies and gills devoured the plastic and made the catching easy.

Target crappie & gills with soft Maki plastics that look like bugs

Spring panfish angling is very popular with anglers. Not only is it a way to get the kinks out of the boat launching routine, it is also a very enjoyable way to spend some extra time on the water and pick up a meal of fish in the process. I also believe that having the correct rod and reel combination makes the process of hauling in feisty panfish a real treat. Even though they may not compare to the antics of larger fish, they are still a lot of fun to catch.

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Air Fryer Fish Tacos


By Tablespoon Kitchens Ingredients: • 2 Tbsp sour cream • 1 Tbsp mayo • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped • 1 tsp lime juice • 1/4 tsp salt • 1 1/2 shd green cabbage • 1/4 c thinly sliced red onion • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning • 1 egg • 1 Tbsp water • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs • 1/2 lb skinless white fish fillets • 12 mini tortilla taco bowls • avocado, radish, cilantro, lime Directions: In med bowl, mix cream, mayo, garlic, lime juice, salt. Add cabbage, red onion; coat. Cover; keep in frig until serving. Cut 8” round of parchment paper. Put in bottom of AF basket. In shallow dish, place seasoning. In another dish, beat egg, water. In 3rd dish, bread crumbs. Coat fish w/mix; dip into egg, coat w/ bread crumbs, press. Place fish on parchment in AF basket. Set to 350°; cook 8 min. Turn; 4-6 min. or until fish flakes with fork. Cut into bite-size pieces. Divide cabbage among taco bowls. Top with fish, avocado, radishes, cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Air Fryer Fish • 8 (28oz) fish fillets • 1 Tbsp olive oil • ½ tsp paprika • ¼ tsp grd pepper • ¼ tsp onion pdr • tartar sauce

By: Little Sunny Kitchen

• 1 c dry bread crumbs • ¼ tsp chili powder • ¼ tsp garlic powder • ½ tsp salt • lemon wedges

Drizzle w/oil; make sure that fish is well coated. In dish, mix bread crumbs w/ paprika, chili, garlic and onion powder, pepper, salt. Coat fillets in crumbs; transfer AF basket. Cook at 390° 12-15 min. At 8-10 min, open fryer; flip fillets, then continue cooking.

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• 3/4 c bread crumbs • 1 pkg dry ranch drsg mix • 2 1/2 Tbsp veg oil • 2 eggs beaten By: Karlynn • 4 tilapia fillets Johnston • lemon wedges Heat AF to 350º. Mix crumbs & ranch mix. Add oil; stir mixture until loose & crumbly. Dip fillets into egg, let excess drip off. Dip fillets into crumb mix; coat evenly. Place into AF. Cook for 12-13 min, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove & serve. Squeeze lemon wedges over fish if desired.

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Chamberlain/Oacoma will be a great host for the NWT Tournament Hear from the locals...

The NWT Walleye Tour April 29-30, 2021 Chamberlain/Oacoma SD Lake Francis Case

If you want to make some “reel” memories fishing Lake Francis Case will do the job! Some of the experts in our area such as Allen’s Guide service stated, “The largest walleye he has personally caught was 10.5 lbs.” Mike Allen said, “It is not unusual that Allen’s Guide Service will bring in over 100 walleye in a day.” Gary suggested using one quarter to one half ounce jig with shiner minnows, which can be picked up in Chamberlain or Oacoma. Gary also suggested a four-to-six-pound line using medium to heavy action rods. “Chamberlain-Oacoma is one of the premier areas to catch walleye between Lake Francis Case and the lower part of Lake Sharpe. Not uncommon in the core part of the to catch 75 to 100 plus fish per day. There is not a better place in the country to take your friends and family for a great time. In the early part of the season (March – April) fish can be little more temperamental, but the size is generally bigger. This is the most enjoyed time

of the year by our anglers. A person can consistently catch walleye using vertical or casting jigs. Regarding tournaments, fisherman, can slow troll lead core which might produce a big one! After spawning season, the action picks up, with much more consistency of 15 to 20 walleye. Bottom bouncers and crawlers are good. Anglers catch their limits daily. We can pull walleye from Lake Francis Case from March until the river freezes up.” -Mike Allen, Allen’s Guide Service Raymond Pickner who runs the Cedar Shore Marina said his favorite time fishing the Mighty Mo was when he pulled in 115 lb. paddlefish! Raymond also suggested in early spring north toward Crow Creek was a great area to pull in walleye. When you head into the Chamberlain and Oacoma area be sure to stop by Allen’s Guide Service and the Marina at Cedar Shore to swap fishing stories or ask any questions you may have.

Photo: ChamberlainOacoma Area COC

Hear from the NWT Pro's... “Chamberlain is a new place for most of the field,” said Bass Pro Shops pro Gary Parsons, who finished 10th in the Angler of the Year standings. “The end of April is usually right after the spawn, and the fishing should be steady. If you go too early in April, it can be hit or miss. At the end of April, it should be really good. Historically, Flicker Shads have been fantastic as well as jigs with plastics and jigs with minnows. Overall, it’s a great piece of tournament water, it’s very diverse.”

“I’m always excited, but this schedule is extra special,” said Simms pro John Hoyer, who finished first, second and first at the final three events of the 2019 season “I think Chamberlain is the wildcard this year,” Hoyer offered. “Not a lot of us travel to the Missouri in the spring. Personally, I’m not much of a reservoir fisherman, so it’s a good challenge.”

Hosting the NWT Tournament, April 29-30

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Lake Francis Case Profile

By Nick Harrington

Lake Francis Case is a Missouri River reservoir located in central South Dakota from Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson to Fort Randall Dam in Pickstown. Francis Case sits below Lake Sharpe and above Lewis and Clark Lake. The lake is over 100,000 acres and over 100 miles long while reaching depths of over 140 feet. Francis Case is known as a “walleye factory” and for good reason. Each year, the lake consistently produces excellent bags of walleyes and has found itself in the national spotlight numerous times. From touring events to tv shows and every angler in-between, Francis Case is famous for consistently producing excellent fishing.

Fish Community Though walleye are the primary species anglers target, Francis Case is home to an excellent sauger population, white bass reaching 15 inches and larger, strong smallmouth bass fishing and a largely untapped channel catfish fishery. A special paddlefish season also takes place in May on the lake for anglers fortunate enough to draw tag. Other species found in Francis Case include yellow perch, black crappie, freshwater drum, goldeye, common carp and other sucker species.

Forage The main forage base that keeps this strong walleye fishery fed is gizzard shad, but shiners, various minnow species and juvenile white bass, yellow perch and freshwater drum all provide a food source for the walleyes as well. You can expect the bite to be based around shad abundance. In spring, the bite is often excellent as there is minimal forage in the system. As summer rolls along, fishing slows down as the schools of shad become more and more abundant. In fall, fishing generally picks back up and walleyes will concentrate on areas the shad are seeking refuge.

Regulations Walleye/sauger regulations on the lake features a 15 inch minimum, except during July and August. The daily limit is four fish, with up to one over 20 inches. There is no closed walleye season on Francis Case, except for an area between the I-90 and railroad bridge in Chamberlain. The “Dredge Hole” is closed from December-April, reopening May 1. It is also important to note zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case in 2019. Boaters are reminded they must pull their plugs every time after they load up and only put them back in once they are ready to launch. Do not transport any lake water from minnow buckets, coolers or any other storage devices.

Nick Harrington Guided trips, information & tips for anglers of all skill levels!

midwestliprippers.com nick.harrington.outdoors@gmail.com Call/Text: 402-689-9947

Walleye Fishing Most winters, the waters below Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson will remain open. If the lake does freeze up, it is usually for only a few short weeks. As ice goes out, anglers will flock to the lake. Francis Case often provides some of the first open water opportunities of the year and generally fish are willing to bite as well. Initial action takes place directly around Big Bend Dam. Several boat launches provide access to the lake, which generally is open for a good distance below the dam. Boats will often concentrate in the flowing waters below the tailrace or around the ice sheets near the stilling basin. As the lake continues to open up, Crow Creek becomes the epicenter of action. Crow Creek is a large feeder creek and features expansive mud flats. Look for fish along the channel edges, in the sunken timber or along those large mud flats. Crow Creek is a fantastic action spot and frequently produces limits for anglers. The area draws heavy attention from anglers, but is large enough to support numerous boats. Once more open water becomes available, the Chamberlain area will feature the bulk of the action. The rocky shorelines along town become a favorite for both boat and shore anglers. In the evenings, a strong pitching bite yields limits to anglers from shore or from the boat. Trolling lead core or vertical jigging along deep water areas also can produce well for boats. Cedar Shore Resort and American Creek Marina offer large marinas that allow heavy boat/trailer traffic and protected areas to launch and load. As the season progresses, fishing efforts will continue to move downriver. The White River features large flats that are popular for anglers. This is another large tributary, although it can make the river below the inlet exceptionally muddy. Further downstream, the Platte area will begin to produce excellent fishing as well usually about May. The fishing continues to be hot through the summer months. Around this area, Francis Case begins to act more like a lake, as opposed to the upstream section that has more river aspects.

The summer fishing continues to take place down through Pease Creek all the way to the North Point area just above Fort Randall Dam. This area features the deepest water and therefore generally the coolest water. As fall rolls around, the fishing begins to move back upstream. The bridge pillars along the Platte/Winner Bridge near Platte and the various bridges in the Chamberlain area all produce good fishing as shad slide out deeper and escape the current. This movement is sparked by a fall drawdown, that each year drains the lake down 15-20 feet. This creates storage space for the spring runoff that will come next year. All fall, you can expect good fishing along the shorelines. Shore anglers enjoy fishing around the Chamberlain area and also in the Big Bend tailrace. The flats you fished in the spring and early summer will also continue to produce fish as well. Francis Case features several hazards including submerged timber, sunken islands and large waves. If you are unfamiliar with the lake, it is highly recommended you book a guide trip. Not only will this get you on fish the fastest, it will ensure you have a safe trip as well.

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