Page 1






Snow Geese BREAKING the

Turkey Curse

Bluegills at the

Buzzer Increase your

Rattle Reel or Bobber SUCCESS

Walleyes The Bottom Line

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 1

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 3

Featured Section

HUNTING No Luck with Toms

Turkey Curse ...................................................................... 6


Tips on Buying a

Pierre, SD..........................................18-19

Late Season

Walleye: The Bottom Line Missouri River Walleye Tips......... 20

New Compound Bow.............................................10 Turkey Success............................................................12 The Turkey Archer’s

Missouri River Basin/Lake Oahe...24


Lake Oahe.............................................26


Lake Francis Case & Lake Sharpe........................................28

Spring Snow Geese.................................................16 and Maybe More

Glacial Lakes....................................... 30

The Hottest Trend in the Dog World:

Shed Hunting................................................................62

Missouri River......................................34 Sauger & Walleye

FISHING Missouri River Walleye

The Bottom Line..........................................................20 Missouri River

Sauger & Walleye......................................................34 Springtime in the Minnesota

Driftless Area.................................................................36

EDITORIAL Be Ready to Help in a Cardiac Emergency ............................................... 66

Choosing Your New Boat...................................40 ...Wisely

The Monster of Beaver Dam

Once in a Lifetime.....................................................46 3 Simple Tips To Increase Your

Rattle Reel or Bobber Success.......................52

Featured Section


Bluegills at the

Turkey Curse........................................... 6


Buying a Compound Bow.............. 10 Late Season Turkey Success......12 The Turkey Archer’s Choice........14

Cover Photo:

Courtesy of Bowhunterplanet

SECTIONS Central & Northern Minnesota................32-33 Fin & Feather Chef..............................................50-51 An Angler’s Paradise Ontario, Canada................................................ 60-61

Photo: Tammie Priem Schreiber HSM Outdoors

Magazine Team

CEO/PRESIDENT: K.A. Lesnar MANAGING EDITOR: Paul Nester OPERATIONS MANAGER: Hosea Bennett COMPOSITION MANAGER: Catherine Krause Composition: Dan Brauer, Jesse Bierman, Rosti Voznyuk, Dawn Giedd

Marketing 605-274-2640 Paul Nester -

Contributors Jerry Carlson Dennis Foster Josh Hagemeister Len Harris Scott Richardson Brian Schumacher Marc Schwabenlander

Garett Svir Ted Takasaki Shantel Wittstruck

HSM Kevin Dahlke Tammie Priem Schreiber

BHP Dave Thomas

expressed within are & those of the authors and do -A notpril necessarily P4ageThe 4 •opinions Midwest Hunting Fishing - March 2017 reflect Midwest Hunting & Fishing Magazine. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.

Note from the Editor Well our ice fishing season has been good this year, but the early warm weather could put us on open water earlier than normal. I am always ready to get the boat out and hit the open water. In the next couple of issues, we are going to focus on specific species of fish. In this issue, we gathered some information on the walleye. Our May/June issue will be all about the Smallmouth Bass, which is growing in popularity in our region. We have another great midwesthuntfish trout fishing story on the Driftless Area. This is an amazing area right in our backyard. Also • Like our page! check out the “Once in a Lifetime” story, I couldn’t put this story down until I finished it. • Post your photos Spring Turkey season is here and we have a few stories on late ice. & much more! Enjoy the issue and I will see you on the water in May. ~ Paul

4005 S. Western Ave - PO Box 5184 Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5184 Sales: 605-274-2640 - Fax: 605-335-6873 •


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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 5

Page 6 6 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

Tammie Priem Schreiber

Turkeys, some say that they are a dumb bird, well, if that holds true, then I must be a complete idiot, as I’d been trying to hunt one for several years with no luck. I’m not really sure how many years I have tried, as I have lost track after 4 seasons. It wasn’t due to lack of persistence, because believe me I hunted hard. I tried everything from old decoys, to the newest and latest, greatest decoys, with real turkey tail feathers. I tried calling and sitting quiet, I tried sitting in a blind, running and gunning. I even tried reaping (where you hide behind the decoy or fan and move closer or have the tom come to you). Some videos of this type of hunting are pretty intense, but I was up to trying just about anything to fill that tag. My best success was reaping a few years previous. I had two hens come right next to me; so close I could’ve reached over and pet them. But no luck with the tom, he wanted nothing to do with me. I began to wonder if maybe I was just turkey cursed. Maybe I was cursed, but I wasn’t ready to give up that easily. Last spring, good friends of mine, Tim and Cathy, gave me a call and said that I “HAD” to come down to their place and turkey hunt. They had turkeys practically in their backyard every morning. I’ve known Tim and Cathy for many years and we’ve been taking quite a few hunting and fishing trips together, so I knew that even if I didn’t fill my tag, that we’d have a great time together. We talked several times before finally getting a weekend that would work for all of us. The dates were set, and I was pretty pumped up! Cathy would text me several pictures in the coming weeks of birds in their driveway, birds in the woods, birds on their trail cams, birds everywhere. I tried not to get too excited, because I’d been in this situation many times in the past. There would be several good birds on the property I was going to hunt, but when it was my time to hunt, they had moved on and were nowhere to be found. Deep down though, I couldn’t help but feel, and hope, that this year would be different. Finally, the time had come. I packed my gear (ok, I admit it, I’d had it packed for several days before because I was too excited), we got in the truck and headed down to Wyoming, MN. My husband was driving and Cathy and I continued to text back and forth as we drove down. Apparently there were several birds getting ready to roost and Tim and Cathy were watching them to see exactly where they were headed. I teased Tim and told him to “sing them a lullaby” and get them to bed.

Within a few hours, we were at their place and my excitement was at an all-time high. We spent that night talking and getting a game plan for the next morning. Finally, we decided we’d better try to get some sleep. I’m not sure why we even went to bed as I was so nervous, but crazy excited. I kept getting up and checking the time on my cell phone. I was positive that my alarm wasn’t going to go off and that I’d over sleep. Finally, I must have dozed off because I was woke to “beep, beep, beep” at 4am. I quickly got dressed and quietly went downstairs to meet Tim. It had been decided that Tim would sit with me in the blind, as he was a really good caller, something that I haven’t perfected yet. We grabbed my bow and headed into the dark to the blind. Tim got a couple decoys set up about 10 feet from the blind. He was using a hen and a Jake, for him, that’s what works. Who was I to argue? I was up to try just about anything and had to trust Tim that he knew what these birds would come to.

Now, the wait would begin.

Sitting in the darkness of the blind, listening for the gobble of a big tom or the soft purrs of a hen, waiting for the sun to rise. Every now and then, Tim would give a “chirp, chirp, chirp” from his mouth call to see if we could get the birds to respond. Every once in a while we could hear a faint gobble, but the boys were being pretty quiet. As I was scanning the field to my right, Tim poked me and said “Look”. To our left about 200 yards, there were some hens. They were scratching at the dirt and pecking at what I was guessing was bugs. Birds! Yeah! That was a good sign! Pretty soon there were a total of 6 turkeys. Slowly they parted, with some heading to the left and a couple heading in our direction. The two heading in our way were both jakes and I was completely ok with shooting a Jake; I just wanted to get my first bird under my belt. They continued our direction, but at about 60 yards, they decided to veer left out of our sights and my life. My heart dropped and I thought well, there goes my opportunity. Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 7

Tim called softly and we waited, hoping that maybe one of the jakes would come back. “Tammie look,” he pointed back out into the open field where the other birds just were. I smiled as I watched a beautiful tom strut and show his stuff. This was something I had wanted to see for so many years! He’d fluff his tail feathers and proudly displayed the colors of his fan were glistening in the sunlight, watching him made my day.

As I continued to watch him strut in awe, he all of a sudden started heading our way and not slowly! He was coming in on a string! “Hurry up! Get your bow!” I quickly grabbed my bow and got into position. That turkey practically came running to us. Holy buckets! This was going to happen! My heart was racing! I slowly pulled my bow back and was waiting for him to turn broadside, nope, he continued to come straight on. 40 yards, 30 yards, 20, I decided it was now or never. I placed my pin directly in the middle of his chest and released my arrow. I knew I’d made a great hit as the bird hunched up. He stood there, took a couple steps and was now broadside, slowly rocking back and forth. “Nock another arrow, “Tim frantically whispered. I knocked a second arrow and let another release. The bird dropped! All of my emotions came pouring out! Tears flowed down my cheeks and my hands were shaking from the adrenaline, the release that many hunters can understand. Tim and I hugged each other and celebrated that I had finally done it. We walked up to the bird, I placed my hands on his body and said a little prayer of thanks. I snapped a quick photo and sent a text to Darrell and Cathy, who quickly came down. More tears of excitement and lot of hugs in congratulations were given. As we got ready for some photos, I was in complete awe of this bird’s beauty. All of the brilliant iridescent colors on each feather. People say they are ugly, but I disagree. They are stunning. I am blessed beyond words to have finally taken one of these magnificent birds with good friends by my side. Finally my curse had been broken, and maybe, hopefully, my second bird won’t take quite as many years.

Tammie (Rt), with friend Tim (Lt), shows off her beautiful tom.

Photo credits: Tammie Priem Schreiber HSM Outdoors

Page 8 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 9 Having a hard time picking the right bow? These bow selecting tips should help with that decision.

Are you trying to decide on a new compound bow? Everyone has a hard time picking the right bow; I get questions all the time, which is better, which do you like more, which is better for hunting. With all these questions, the guide below will help you look at your selection in a different way. When asking friends and family what to buy they tend to lean towards the brand they know or have heard of. Let’s face it, if you have not heard of a brand you are more likely not to try it. You also might not be willing to spend your hard earned money on it. However, what you could be missing is at risk.

I hope these definitions help you choose the right bow. Pick all of the qualities you need first, then start looking. Happy Hunting – Dave Thomas



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PRO PREMIUM GRADE – HIGH LEVEL ALUMINUM, HIGH LEVEL CARBON Page 10 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 10

Let’s say that, marketing set aside, which of the current bow companies (Bowtech, Mathews, Diamond, Darton, Athens, Limbsaver, Prime, Quest, Parker, Obsession, Bear, PSE, Hoyt, Mission, and Xpedition) produce bows that get the job done? ALL OF THEM! Yes, you heard me right every bow on the market shooting 55lbs and up will take your game down. We have tested most the bows in the archery industry and out of all of them we have not had one that would not get the job done in the field. Let’s start with the most basic question; price, what is your budget? That is the first step, you have to have a full budget price in mind. This includes bow, sight, rest, stabilizer, quiver, arrows, broad heads, field points, release, peep, case, kisser, target and any extras. SPEED or COMFORT - Once you have a budget in mind, the next step is deciding if you want the fastest bow on the market in that price point or the most comfortable. Let’s look, for example, at the Pro Series market bows. The PSE Full Throttle vs. the Elite Synergy. The PSE is boasting 370FPS, while the Elite is around 335FPS. However, if you shoot these bows you will notice a major difference in the back wall and draw cycle. You will also notice a major difference in grip and overall feel. So back to the question—do you want SPEED or COMFORT? FIT - Length changes many things when buying a bow. In my experience, the longer the bow the more accurate and forgiving. Now, I can’t say that is always the case but from my experience that holds true. So that being said, are you looking for a longer bow? This would be 36”- 40” axle to axle. Usually when you get a longer bow you move up from 4.1 to 4.5-4.8 LBS for bare bow weight. You also have to consider brace heights. Brace height is the distance from the handle to the string. Normally for speed bows you will see a 5” to 6-1/2” brace heights. For bows that are slower in speed 340-300 FPS you will use 6-1/2 – 8” brace heights. If you have not guessed it yet, the longer the brace height the more forgiving a bow. What is forgiving mean? That means the bow gets the arrow out of the bow faster meaning that any movements you make as the archer are less dramatic.



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LENGTH - SIZE OPTIONS: • SMALL (25”-30” Axle to Axle) • MEDIUM (31”-34” Axle to Axle) • LARGE (35”-40” Axle to Axle) The length of a bow is usually determined by what you want to achieve with the bow. Many bow hunters I know that hunt in tree stands prefer a MEDIUM type bow. Many archers that hunt and shoot 3D targets prefer LARGE bows. SMALL tends to be very tiny and is great for spot and stalk or long journeys. In my opinion I would choose a MED for most deer hunting applications. WEIGHT - How heavy do you want your bow to be? Are you looking for a heavy steady type bow or a light moving bow? Lots of archers add weight to a light bow to stabilize it, but it is really against the purpose of buying a light bow when you think about it. So the question for you is heavy or light? Generally people who do lots of walking or overnight packing trips prefer a lighter bow. COLOR – Most bows are available in Black and camo. Which camo pattern varies among archery companies. If you choose black, you can get that in most any brand and it generally works well in both ground blinds and tree stands. Black also blends very well with any accessories even camo.


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When spring rolls around, the snow has melted away and those that take to the woods, are getting very excited. The reason being, Turkey season is underway and that brings about another new hunting adventure to many. There is a freshness in the air and seeing the woods coming to life once again gets any outdoors person excited. There is that overwhelming feeling, when you are hunkered down in the spring woods and off in the distance, you hear that gobble of a Tom turkey. If I had to pick one season of the year to hunt, it would definitely be turkey hunting. The intrigue of calling them to you with the use of a variety of calls and tricking them to coming into your set of decoys—there is nothing in my mind that is more exciting and rewarding. But, even after hunting for a number of seasons, I still get very excited when opening day comes around, but I am a bit more excited, when the last week or two of the season comes. In my mind, there is a good reason why I find this time to being more fun, there are less obstructions getting between me and Mr. Tom. By the last week or so of the turkey season, we are finding that many of the breeding hens have been bred by the local Tom’s. At the beginning of the season, these male birds are fixated on the numbers of hens in the area. If there is a good population of hens, more times than not, the live female birds are going to be more attractive than our calls and decoys. Unless you are fortunate enough that the number of hens in the area is low, as that will work to your favor in calling and fooling Mr. Tom Turkey. So with that being said, this is why I like the later part of the season. Many times, the hunters thin out some as well and that opens up more areas for chasing these birds. And our calling seems to be more effective in this time of the season. The property that I hunt is private land. The adjacent land owner does not allow hunting, which gives these local birds somewhat of an oasis too speak of. The birds typically roost next door and have a fairly similar pattern that they follow each day, and by hunting them with regularity, you can start to pattern their habits. The location that we setup in most frequently is a small field, with a concealment area of a couple of trees and low brush that were left in the back part of the field about two thirds down. The left side is the non-hunt able land that they roost and come from. To the right, is a gnarly thicket that they typically will stay clear of and behind is a creek bottom. Being able to sit inside of this concealment area leaves a direct sightline for the decoy spread that is out in front of us and openly visible to any lurking turkeys in the middle of the field. On this particular morning, there was quite a few birds sounding off in multiple directions, but the ones that interested me were coming from the land next door. They had a distance to travel and were responding very well to the box calls I was using. There were two birds coming towards me, so I had switched to a diaphragm call to give them a different sound than what I had been calling with. By switching calls, it felt like it reassured them. There were more hens in the area and they kept getting closer. There is a thicket with a stone wall separating these two pieces of land and these birds arrived at that edge and went silent. I knew that they were close and softened the calling some, and after what seemed like an eternity, these two birds appeared onto my field. One was a young bird and the other was a fully mature Tom that was in full strut. The younger bird walked right next to the older bird but was a lot more edgy, so you had to watch your movement and also the calling pattern. As they approached 10 yards shy of the decoys, the young bird was getting me worried that they were going to flee, so I took aim and dropped the older Tom shy of the decoys as the younger bird ran to the edge of the field and started gobbling again. With my heart racing and hands shaking, I went out to take a look at my trophy with the beard measure 11 inches and weighed in at 22 pounds. This was my first turkey that I have shot and it was a very exciting hunt to say the least. Turkey hunting to me, is one of the finest hunts that you can do. Their senses are very strong, so paying particular attention to everything that you do definitely is in your favor. I like hunting throughout the whole season, but really enjoy the last week or so, because to me, late season seems to put the hunt a bit more into your favor.

Page 12 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 12

With my heart racing and hands shaking, I went out to take a look at my trophy! The beard measured 11� and he weighed in at 22 lb. This was my first turkey and it was a very exciting hunt to say the least.

If I had to pick one season of the year to hunt, it would definitely be turkey hunting.

I like turkey hunting throughout the whole season, but really enjoy the last week or so, because to me, late season seems to put the hunt a bit more into your favor.

Photo credits: Kevin Dahlke Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 13 HSM Outdoors

Life is full of choices. If you’re hunting turkeys with a bow, you’ve already made a choice to either expand your hunting opportunities in the spring, as most states have longer or earlier archery seasons, or go against the grain of the mainstream gunpowder crowd altogether. Whether you are using a longbow, recurve, compound or crossbow, your next choice is where to aim when letting that arrow fly. Photo credits: Marc Schwabenlander, Faded Camo


BROADSIDE – at the base of the

wing, straight up from the leg. This will enter the vitals & potentially break a wing and/or a leg.

FRONTAL directly above the beard

REAR – (non-strutting) on the midline

to break the spine and enter the vitals, exact aiming point depends on the turkey’s position; (strutting) the center of the tail feathers. Page 14 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

Head/Neck Shot Without a doubt, this is a deadly choice if you make the shot. That bird will drop in its tracks when the broadhead slices through the head or upper neck. So why don’t we end the conversation right there? I have never ventured into this arena, mostly for one reason. The arrow set-up is unique. It takes money and time to ensure you will hit your target. You can’t just take your deer hunting arrow, spin on one of these specialized head-shot broadheads and be on your merry way. What was that I said? Specialized head-shot broadheads? Yup. There are many out there and all are a little different, some have fixed curved blades (Flying Arrow Tom Bomb), some have fixed straight blades (Arrowdynamics Guillotine, Magus Bullhead, Bloodsport Wraith Turkey Loper, etc), some have retractable blades for transport (Muzzy MORE), and some are true mechanicals (Deadringer Kill Switch), but they all essentially have the same concept: Long, thin blades that give a 2.5 to 5 inch cutting diameter. All that blade provides a great opportunity to connect with the head and neck area for quick, clean kill. Unfortunately, it leads to one of the downfalls of this choice, too. Hit anything (branch, grass, decoy, blind, etc.) with one of those blades and the shot will fail. The other part of the equation is the arrow. Since these broadheads have so much surface area flying through the air, they are prone to planing. Most manufacturers recommend using a full-length arrow and feathered fletching (3 or 4) instead of the small plastic vanes most of us use for our deer hunting set-ups. Some people even go to the extreme and use flu-flus.

Muzzy 3 Blade

Deadringer’s Freak Extreme 2.5

Getting this set-up perfected can be difficult and certainly takes some time, effort, and extra cash. The other part of the equation is your target. For those of you who have observed turkeys, they are constantly moving their head! Body Shot For those who are big game hunters, this seems like a nobrainer choice, but it certainly isn’t comparing apples to apples when we look at a shot to the vitals in a turkey vs. a white-tailed deer for example. The body shot will give you a bigger target compared to the head/neck shot but not drastically. The vitals on a tom are roughly the size of a softball, and they won’t be moving erratically like the head. Unlike a deer though, you don’t need to wait for a perfect broadside or quartering shot on a turkey. Aiming points, depending on the position of the bird, are what gets difficult with a body shot. As the bird turns your aiming point of course must change to hit the vital area. But another major factor is when toms are strutting, their body conformation changes and the position of their vitals moves as they are going in and out of the strut position.

With body shots, you can use the same set-up as you do with deer hunting. Your arrow is fine, but a broadhead might not be the best choice. I’ve effectively killed toms with a small diameter fixed blade like the Muzzy 3 Blade that I had used for deer hunting the fall before. The problem with this type is that it is designed to penetrate and pass through the animal. This is great for deer, but for turkeys you want something that is going to put more kinetic energy into bird and/or have a greater cutting diameter. I’ve recently used the Steelforce PhatHead Feather Duster which is a small diameter, cut on contact head with razor sharp edges and notches cut in the edge to create forward facing teeth. This one and others like the Bloodsport Wraith Turkey Body Shot fall into the category of broadheads that are meant to take all of the energy the arrow is carrying and hammer it into the bird. The Feather Duster proved effective on a giant Minnesota Eastern tom last spring. Slightly quartering away at about 20 yards, the arrow hit the head of the femur and the pelvis and entered the body cavity. The bones were broken, but the broadhead stayed strong and intact. As it went through the feathers, it collected them in the grooves which slowed down the arrow but still had enough power to break through the bones and enough sharp edge to cut into the vitals. The other option is to use a large mechanical broadhead. Really any one will do the trick, and the benefit simply is to give more leeway to a shot that is slightly off the mark. With a target that is about the size of a softball, having a broadhead with a bigger cutting diameter will give you more room for error in your shot placement. The first two heads that I previously mentioned both have killed birds for me but are only a little over an inch in diameter. For some reason, I like to try new things even if old ones work, so this year I’ll be Killmor Turkey Broadhead using the Deadringer’s Freak Extreme 2.5. Cabela’s There’s nothing magical about this head, but as the name implies, it’s a mechanical with a 2.5” cutting diameter. Putting these two types of broadheads together is an interesting hybrid from Cabela's called the Killmor Turkey Broadhead. This is a mechanical with a 1.5” cutting diameter but it also has forward facing blades in the front to slow down the arrow. I think the product description says it best: “This broadhead sports a cut-on-contact tip that slices through feathers and bone without deflecting. The two spurs crush through bone and shred vitals while creating a drag effect, ensuring all of the arrow's kinetic energy is dumped into the bird.” I don’t know, maybe I’ll try this one instead... Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 15

If you head south, it’s possible to partake in late season goose hunting for species other than snows. For mixed bag opportunities, hunters will put out Canada geese decoys along with their snow goose spread

For those of us that are waterfowl junkies, we look for every opportunity to partake in our passion. For many, the spring snow goose migration is a way of extending the goose hunting forays into another season. The snow goose migration typically brings geese northward once we reach the month of March. This migration movement takes wintering geese from the warmer climates north to their Canadian nesting grounds. For those that have witnessed this migration, they will verify that it is nothing short of impressive and somewhat humbling. It is a spectacle that is hard to put into words. Even though March is the month that is usually associated with snow goose hunting, for hunters that are anxious to get a jump on the spring migration, there are some opportunities that are available if a person is willing to travel. Two of the very early destinations I have hunted include Arkansas and Kansas. As many of us have observed in recent years, there are geese and ducks that will stick around in the North Country for most of the winter. These birds will tolerate cold and snow provided they have access to open water and food. The same is true in other states. Although the bulk of the snow geese move way south, there are areas that will hold snow geese for the entire winter. Moving water and large impoundments rarely freeze during a normal winter and the geese take advantage of it.

The trick to working a mixed bag of geese is adjusting the amount of movement.

A sunrise in a snow goose spread is a bit more special.

Photo credits: Jerry Carlson

Page 16 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 16

If a person makes a trip south early enough, it is possible to partake in late season goose hunting for species other than snows. In these locations, Canada geese and speckle bellies are open into February. Because this is before the implementation of the Conservation Order, unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are not allowed. Due to the mixed bag opportunities, most of these early hunters will put out Canada geese decoys along with their snow goose spread. These birds commingle naturally and will not be spooked by seeing a mixed spread when they come in. Some hunters utilize a mixed spread all the time, even when targeting snow geese under the Conservation order in March. The trick in working a mixed bag of geese comes in adjusting the amount of movement in a spread. Canada geese do not like as much decoy movement as snow geese do and it can be tricky to find the right combination that will work for both. Calling is another issue in the mixed bag season. Snow geese and Canada geese sound very different from each other so hunters must be able to call and communicate with each by using their hand calls. This means two different sets of calls will be needed. Watching geese work a spread is something waterfowlers never get tired of. Whether a person hunts the Conservation Order period or goes early to wrap up the final days of the regular goose season, there are some great late winter and early spring hunting adventures that can significantly extend the hunting opportunities for waterfowl junkies.

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 17


FIND YOUR GREAT FISHING PLACE IN PIERRE Walleye is king along the Missouri River in Pierre, South Dakota. It’s the most commonly caught fish in the region, drawing anglers from all over the world. However, more and more people are also searching for—and catching—the smallmouth bass, especially on Lake Sharpe.

Page 18 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017


LAKE SHARPE, which starts at the Oahe Dam north of Pierre, is one of four Missouri River reservoirs in South Dakota and has been dubbed by many in the state as one of the best places to catch smallmouth. During May and early June, the fish are spawning and moving to the shallower waters, making them ideal catches for shore anglers. After spawning season, the bass move in late June and July to the flats of the river to feed. That’s typically when walleye anglers can also hook a smallmouth. Farm Island State Recreation Area is perfect for the casual angler that just wants to spend a few hours fishing. Docks and fishing pole rentals make it easy to be “gone fishin’.” Lake Sharpe also has an abundant population of white bass, which can average 14 inches or more and really give anglers a challenge. You’ll find high concentrations of white bass in April, May and June, which is also spawning season. Local anglers suggest working the upper third of the reservoir, especially along the shoreline with jigs, plastic tails and small crankbaits. But be warned–the red meat on a white bass is not very tasty. Local experts suggest cutting out all of the red meat from the white fillets before preparing it. However, you could skip the hassle and let the chefs in Pierre prepare your plate. Many local restaurants will cook up your catch and pair it with seasonal veggies and sides.

PIERRE also offers anglers an abundance of other amenities like comfortable hotels, plenty of dining options, stunning scenery and state history and museums. While the thrill of walleye fishing may be what gets you to travel to Pierre, it’s the smallmouth bass that will keep you coming back for more. See more fishing adventures and places to stay at


By Dawn’s Early Light.

Get More from the Shore.

The Heat is On. Don’t be shy to hit Lake

Moving water gets fish

As the sun rises, the bass

Smallmouths move to

Sharpe in the summer.

swimming—from small prey

go deeper. Larger small-


The warmer water temp-

to predators—triggering a

mouth bass like to feed

waters during the months

eratures speed up a

feeding frenzy. That means

in shallow water and low

of May and June to nest

smallmouth’s metabolism,

great angling action.

light. You can increase

on the hard bottom. This

forcing them to feed more

your odds of reeling in

is the best time of the year

aggressively. We say give

a keeper if you hit the

to snag smallmouths from

’em some bait.

water before 7:00 a.m.

the shore.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 19

WALLEYE: The Bottom Line

is a member of the perch family, and is native to most of Canada and to the Northern US. Other common names for the species include pickerel, walleyed pike, marble-eye and walleyed pike perch. The walleye name stems largely from their glassy, silvery eyes and comes from the fact that the fish’s eyes point outward, as if looking at the walls. The walleye's skin color can vary with water clarity, but usually appears olive green-brown on the back and upper sides fading to white on the bottom. Young walleyes will sometimes have dark vertical bands on their back extending down their sides. The dorsal fin is almost clear with the last few membranes being black. The bottom lobe of the tail fin has a characteristic white tip. Page 20 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 20

The walleye's low-light vision and sensitivity to bright light play a large role in its behavior. They usually feed in shallow water at dawn and dusk. Walleye are fish-eaters, preying heavily on yellow perch, which cannot see as well as the walleye in low light and thus are easy prey at night. With daylight, walleye move into the shadows of cliffs, boulders, logs and even heavy weeds. Lacking this cover, they seek shelter in deeper water. Walleye remain more active throughout the day if turbidity, wave chop or clouds reduce brightness. Walleye may suspend over deep water to feed on open-water species.

FUN FACTS Walleye can reach 31 inches in length and 20 (rarely 25) pounds of weight. Females are larger than males. Walleye see the world in the shades of red and green due to lack of blue and yellow pigments in their eyes. Their excellent eyesight facilitates navigation in murky and dark waters. Walleye have a well developed lateral line which detects even the slightest vibrations in the water and facilitates detection of their prey. Walleye have thousands of taste buds on their lips. Walleye can travel 50 miles during the night to find food. Spawning season takes place during April and May. They migrate toward the shallow waters and spawn during the night.

Walleye spawn over rock, rubble, gravel and similar substrate in rivers or windswept shallows in water 1 to 6 feet deep, where current clears away fine sediment and will cleanse and aerate eggs. Male walleye move into spawning areas in early spring when the water temperature may be only a few degrees above freezing. The larger females arrive later. Spawning reaches its peak when water temperature ranges from 42 to 50Âş. A fivepound female deposits more than 100,000 eggs. Neither parent cares for the eggs in any way. After spawning, walleye move to feeding areas. Walleye are a "coolwater" species, preferring warmer water than trout, and cooler water than bass and panfish. As the preferred forage fish become larger and more abundant during the summer and walleye need to spend less time hunting food, walleye commonly spend more time in deep, cool water, away from bright light, where they are most comfortable. WALLEYE

No spots on dorsal fin Dark area at base of dorsal fin

White spot on bottom of tail

Males and females swim above gravelly bottom and release eggs and sperm cells. Females can produce up to 600,000 eggs per year. Juvenile fish migrate to deeper water where they live until they reach sexual maturity, at the age of 3 (males) to 5 (females) years, and are ready to spawn. Walleye can survive more than 20 years in the wild. Females live longer than males. The walleye is the state fish of Minnesota, Vermont and South Dakota and the official fish of Saskatchewan. More walleye is eaten in Minnesota than in any other jurisdiction of the United States

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 21

Choose the right line


Trolling or Drifting Minnows are a must

By using a light fishing line, you’ll get less resistance and drag when using a lure. This lets the walleye suck in the lure more easily and prevents you from getting a short strike. Remember, walleye inhale their prey most of the time and if that flow is prevented you’ll get a short strike.

Probably one of the most productive techniques for walleye fishing. Early in the year, try the cast and crank method by either swimming the jig steadily or adding tugs or twitches and keeping it close to the bottom. During the summer months, vertical jigging works when walleyes are congregated in a specific spot. Tip your jig with a minnows or crawlers.

Minnows are one of the best live baits to use to catch walleye, especially when the water in cool and clear.

When fishing for walleye from a boat you need to remember that walleye can detect when a boat pulls up, especially when it’s gas powered. Instead try coasting into your walleye hotspot from 40‘ to 50’ out. You don’t want to give yourself away!

Scent Matters

The presentation of your bait/lure/jig is very important, but so is the scent. Do your best to avoid getting man made and unnatural scents on your rig, this can easily tip off a walleye that something isn’t right.

Size of Bait

One of the toughest times to catch walleyes is during a significant mayfly hatch. To increase your odds, use what guides call a mayfly rig—a small spinner with a portion of a night crawler on a small hook. Cast the rig out and let it sink, then retrieve it slowly, experimenting with depth until you find the strike zone; walleyes often hit mayflies as they're on their way to the surface to emerge. Keep the rig small; mayfly larvae are rarely longer than an inch.

Mix it up

The rule of thumb for jigging is to use minnows in cold water and night crawlers, leeches or soft-plastics as the water warms. The best bet is to try all types until you find out what they are feeding on.

Trolling Crankbaits


Use a nightcrawler, leech or minnow on a spinner harness on a bottom-bouncing rig. Bouncers in the 1-2 oz. range are most popular among walleye anglers, allowing them to troll 5-20’ depths at modest speeds of 1-2 mph. Troll upstream and cross-current on a river and troll or drift on a lake and make sure you stay close to the bottom.

Stealth is Vital

Use a Slip Bobber


When walleyes suspend at a certain depth on a piece of structure (rock pile, or submerged hump) the slip bobber rig is highly effective by presenting the live bait at a preset depth, putting the bait right in front of them.

This method has become extremely popular, and is sometimes used exclusively. Speed is the most important factor. Slower speeds work generally in the spring & fall when their food source is low. In the summer when their food source is high it might take a more aggressive speed to get them to bite. The best approach on the speed you troll crankbaits is to mix it up until you find the speed they like that day.

Page 22 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 22

References: Wikipedia, Minnesota DNR, and many Pro Staff writers that enjoy sharing their knowledge.

Walleyes swim in schools, find one, you usually find others. There are many tactics to catching walleyes, here are a few tips we found from fisherman in the Midwest that might help.

Casting from Shore

Spring and the fall give the best opportunity to do your fishing from shore. Walleyes have the feed bag on and are very aggressive during this time. You can use a jig and a minnow, or now try the new plastics that are available with a slow retrieve, or crankbaits also will work well.

Slow Death Rig

Created by Dave Spaid, this technique uses an S-shaped hook, a leader and a bottom bouncer. This unique hook used with half a nightcrawler and creates a spinning presentation at slow speeds. This rig has many new versions, with beads, floats and plastic blades. Many believe the plain death hook method is the best.

Fishing for walleyes has become a big sport in the midwest. From the Missouri River system to the Glacial Lakes in South Dakota, to Devils Lake and the rivers of North Dakota and to Lake of the Woods, the rivers and the thousands of lakes in Minnesota, some of the best walleye fishing in the world is right out our back door.

The walleye has become the most sought after game fish in our area. They are fun to catch, and besides that they taste great. Knowledge is the key to becoming a great walleye angler. Every time you have a chance, take the time to learn from articles and stories written by Pro-Staff writers, and make sure you reach out to them and thank them for helping you become a better angler. By keeping less than your limit and releasing some fish especially large fish – you will perpetuate the quality of your own fishing and that of other anglers. Catch-and-release fishing whether voluntary or required by special regulations - will help keep our walleye fishing as great as it is.

WALLEYE LENGTH TO WEIGHT CONVERSION CHART Length (inches) Weight (pounds) Length (inches) Weight (pounds)

Photo credit: Jared Wittstruck shows off 2 walleyes!

14 14.5 15 15.5 16 16.5 17 17.5 18 18.5 19 19.5 20 20.5 21

1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.6 1.8 1.9 2.2 2.3 2.5 2.7 3.0 3.1 3.4

21.5 3.6 22 3.9 22.5 4.2 23 4.5 23.5 4.8 2 5.1 24.5 5.4 25 5.7 25.5 6.1 26 6.5 26.5 6.8 27 7.2 27.5 7.7 28 8.1 28.5 Midwest Hunting 8.5& Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 23

WHERE The Walleyes Are

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 25

Held in place by the Oahe Dam on the Missouri River, Lake Oahe is a long, narrow reservoir that spans 370,000 acres, making it the fourth-largest man-made lake in the United States. The reservoir winds its way through the Missouri River Valley for 231 miles, with countless bays, coves and points that provide some of the best walleye fishing in South Dakota. While the upper portion and midsection of the lake provides abundant keeper walleyes, the lower section from the dam to the Cheyenne River generally produces the larger fish. The lake has more than 50 parks and Recreation areas that provide great access, accommodating both the shore and boat anglers. While fish are caught all year on the lake, the peak months usually are May and June. There are plenty of campgrounds, lodges and motels at all the access points on the lake.

WHERE The Walleyes Are

P 26 age 26 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 27

These bodies of water are sometimes referred to as THE WALLEYE FACTORY As soon as the ice comes off in the spring, THE BITE IS ON! Both Sharpe and Francis Case become prime destinations for anglers from across the Midwest early in the season because the water stays open and anglers can experience great fishing out of a boat long before many traditional walleye fisheries open. Great walleye fishing is available to anglers on both Sharpe and Francis Case as early as February. March and April are often prime months to experience lots of action for walleyes. In early spring the weather is always changing— it can be cold and rainy one day and 60º the next, but the fishing is always good.

Far Left Photo credit: Allen’s SD Fishing & Hunting

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 29

Over the past 20 years a succession of major snow melts in the early 1990s helped many of eastern South Dakota’s waters swell. Small sloughs that once stood alone joined together to create new fisheries, while the more established lakes in the area grew larger and deeper. Now hundreds of lakes have the depth, structure and habitat to sustain healthy populations of gamefish. The walleye has made these bodies of water home. During high water years flooding occurs sending the fish into connecting waterways, now the walleye can be found in the river systems, small sloughs and the newly formed big lakes. Some of the big walleye waters are Lake Thompson and Lake Poinsett in the central area, to Waubay and Bitter Lake to the north.

WHERE The Walleyes Are


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Fishing reports at


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Minnesota fishing vacations are some of the best in the United States. From Central Minnesota known as Lake Country to the Brainerd Lakes area and north to Lake of the woods, you will find thousands of lakes to fish. Anglers keep 3.5 million walleyes every year. Nearly twice as many people fish for walleye in Minnesota as for other species. And they spend nearly twice the amount of time on the water. Typically, the Minnesota Walleye opener coincides with the Mother’s Day weekend. It is always set for two weeks before Memorial Day, most often the second Saturday in May. The exact dates are regulated by Minnesota law that requires two weekends between the Walleye opener and Memorial Day weekend so you can always predict the season opener by working backwards from Memorial Day. Early season is the best time for all around action, shallow water flats contain most of the bait fish and post spawn Walleyes remain in these shallow locations until water warms and bait supplies become more available in deeper water. During the fall more trophy caliber fish are caught than any other time of the year. The fishing is good but the scenery with the changing colors makes for a great day on the lake.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 33 33

Missouri River Sauger & Walleye Rivers can be a difficult challenge for those who are beginning walleye anglers. Water level, clarity, and water temperatures which change depending upon the unpredictable weather patterns are all lessons needed to learn. Rising water one day and falling water the next.  Clean, then dirty and clean again. Rising temperatures will trigger fish movement upstream, toward spawning areas then back again.  In addition, severe cold fronts can put a halt to the action.   Even with these challenges, spring time walleye and sauger action can be excellent. After years of fishing the Missouri River system, we would put it up against many of the top walleye and sauger spots across the Midwest. There are few areas where there are chances of catching numbers and size.  Saugers are more prevalent in the upper reservoirs of the Missouri, such as Fort Peck and Sakakawea versus the lower pools like Oahe, Sharpe, and Francis Case. Although general locations for the two species are similar, there are noticeable differences in how each pool should be approached.  Focus on Current Seams Areas just below each of the dams on the Missouri are laden with current and current dictates where these fish reside. There is even some current downstream of the dams. Walleyes and saugers behave in similar ways. Understanding how fish adapt to living in rivers is the key to pinpointing location. Over time, walleye and sauger have evolved to conserve energy to grow and reproduce. As a result, walleyes and sauger gather behind any natural or manmade current break that offers place to rest, to ambush food or both. Movements across long straight river stretches are followed by rest stops at river bends where water slows on the inside turns. A good river map will pinpoint those spots quickly. Look for hard bottom areas loaded with gravel, rock, and clay.  Saugers can be caught in many rivers and reservoirs across the Midwest.  They are identified by the patches of darker scales on their sides and dots on the fins. (Photo Credit: Ted Takasaki) Page 34 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 34

What you’re looking for are eddies, which are areas of slack water created by current breaks. They can occur on both the upstream and downstream sides of points. They can be upstream and downstream from neckdowns where the two shorelines pinch together. Current also slows on the upstream and downstream sides of islands. Eddies form when current from a tributary or a feeder creek or factory ischarge meets the faster moving water of the main river. 

No matter what forms an eddy, the critical place to note is the seam where faster moving water meets the slower water. Fish can hold just inside the slower water on one side of the seam and ambush food as it moves by.

Jigs, bottom bouncers and rigs, trolling crankbaits on leadcore – are all tactics which work great for catching walleyes and saugers in rivers. Everyone has a favorite approach. A key tactic is trolling with bottom bouncer rigs. You can slide along the edges of the channel, through any eddies, and even work downstream.  Slow troll at about the speed of a slow walk on shore. Try putting enough weight on your bottom bouncer so that you can stay on the bottom with about a 45º angle between line and water’s surface. Attach a 4’ leader to a floating, shallow running crankbait, a bead in front of a single hook, crawler harness, or a floating jig head.  Trolling upstream with your bow mount along with the gasoline kicker and a 3-way double crankbait setup is another great option. A 3 to 5 oz. bell sinker is attached to the dropper. A 3’ to 5’ leader goes to a crankbait clip for the first floating lure. A foot leader is then tied to the rear split ring of the front lure and leads to a crankbait clip for the second lure. Use shallow running, short billed crankbaits. Mix up colors. The clips make changing easy.

Bluff banks are critical areas on the Missouri. This is where the old river channel swings in tight to shore. Walleyes and Sauger will migrate along the old river channel and collect on the deeper sections along the bluff banks. Precise reading of good sonar can also pinpoint transition areas between hard and soft bottom where fish gather because of the wider variety of food available at spots like those.

Try trolling with leadcore line on the flats of the river (typically across from the bluff banks) and when the debris in the water is scarce. Use medium-action rods and spool 18-pound leadcore on large line-counter reels that enable baits to be returned to the effective depth. Try different depths until a fish is caught. Troll with different types of deep diving crankbaits. The objective is to get the crankbait to run 6” to a foot above the bottom. Jigs below the dam are an old river standby for good reason – they work. To slip downstream with the current, choose a jig heavy enough to maintain bottom contact and keep the line straight below the boat while it moves with the current. Tip your jigs with live bait or plastic grubs or shad shaped plastic. Braided line increases sensitivity to feel strikes and improves hooksets.  Trolling leadcore on the flats. (Photo Credit: Ted Takasaki)

Get current Throughout the walleye and sauger range, rivers are the places to be early in the year. You just might experience the best fishing you’ll have all season.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 35 35

As Temperatures Increase...

So Does The Fly Fishing Action!

Page 36 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 36

The Driftless Area of the American Midwest includes the areas of southwestern Wisconsin, southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, and northwestern Illinois. This area, having escaped glaciation during the last ice age, is noted for its beautifully sculpted topography characterized by deeply carved river coulees with forested hillsides reaching down towards valley floors. Here one finds an elaborate labyrinth of clear, cold, highly oxygenated limestone creeks that snake their way through rich, rural farmland. There are hundreds of miles of these spring creeks in southeastern Minnesota, many of them accessible through public fishing easements or by landowner permission. Stream improvement projects, such as lunker structures, root wads and rip-rap, which provide overhead cover for trout and keep spawning gravel clear of silt, are plentiful in the area thanks to conservation-minded landowners, fishery biologists, dedicated volunteers and the DNR. Vegetation thrives on the alkaline nutrients found in the water of these creeks and provides a habitat in which aquatic invertebrate insects flourish. Because these insects in pupal and winged form represent the principal diet of freshwater trout, the fish living in spring creeks have an ample food supply throughout the year. This aspect of spring creek ecology, combined with the advantageous water conditions, create an ideal environment for healthy and hefty local populations of trout creating some of the best trout fly fishing most anglers have never heard of. As winter begins to loosen its grip on the Minnesota Driftless Area, the ice, snow and cold of the season start to disappear causing most fly anglers to once again long for the stream. Fortunately, here in the Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota, spring consistently offers incredible fly angling opportunities. March, April and May are especially good times because one can avoid the heavy snow of winter and the thick, lush vegetation of summer. In spring, the minimal aquatic weed growth enables you to see the streambed and easily fish without catching weeds. This time also brings flattened bankside vegetation making walking and back casts much easier. Increased spring temperatures mean more and more insects are brought to the trout’s menu causing an increase in their feeding activity. Knowledge of the top Minnesota Driftless Area flies for spring and how to effectively use them will help you catch more fish on a regular basis. Of any season you fly fish, spring can be the one that is most dependent on fly selection. Varying water levels and clarity due to snowmelt, run-off, and rains will present challenges but carrying a well-stocked fly box will counteract these. Midges, caddis and mayflies are all heavy hitters in the fly selection game. Early spring will still bring midge hatches almost daily to southeastern Minnesota streams and at times even large trout feed on them. Cloudy, windless days when the water is clear are the best conditions for fishing these hatches. Most midges are either black or gray and a size 18 Griffith Gnat pattern works well. This classic midge cluster pattern, with its simple, buoyant design is irresistible to feeding fish.

Photo credits: Brian Schumacher

The biggest hatches this time of year are the Blue Winged Olives (Baetis) and Black Caddis (Brachycentrus). These two insects hatch in large concentrated quantities and offer some of the best dry-fly fishing of the year. The Blue Wing Olives (BWO), also known as Baetis, are small grayish olive mayflies. They generally appear in late March and begin the armada of mayfly hatches, ushering in a couple months of unparalleled surface activity. Dismal weather invites the best hatches of Baetis, so look for them on cloudy, overcast, rainy days as long as the water temperature is over 40º F. On days when the air temperatures turn cold, the Duns (stage when the mayfly first emerges from the water) have difficulty warming their wing muscles and ride the current for extended periods resulting in easy meals for the trout. BWO Parachute dry flies (size 14-20) are parachute versions of the familiar and common Baetis pattern. Parachute flies make for easy visibility, particularly if there is a prolific hatch or in rougher water.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 37 37

Try BWO Parachute dry flies (size 14-20) when the BWOs hatch

Elk Hair Caddis dry fly (size 14 -18) Low profile represents many different stages

Dark Hendrickson Parachute dry fly (size 14 -20) for afternoon emergences

Sulphur Parachute dry fly (size 16-20) for early evening hatches

A drag-free presentation, where the fly floats naturally with the current, is critical.

Page 38 • Midwest 38 Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

Black Caddis (Brachycentrus) begin hatching as early as the middle of April and can last until late May, and offer some of the best surface fishing of the year. These insects, like Baetis and midges, hatch in most Minnesota Driftless Area streams. When Brachycentrus are hatching, trout take the larvae early in the day then switch to ascending pupae in mid to late morning. Trout rise aggressively to the adult caddis, which are usually on the water before noon. An Elk Hair Caddis dry fly in (sizes 14-18) in grey or olive, with its low profile represents many different stages of an adult. Fish it dead drift when trout are sipping spent egg layers at dusk or are picking off newly hatched caddis in spring conditions, but when the bugs are prolific, it's a great pattern to skate and twitch. For emergers, I have found incredible success by “yanking” it under as this often times coaxes a bulging fish that won't otherwise bite. Late March into early May, Dark Hendricksons begin afternoon emergences in faster stretches of water, with spinner falls (returning egg laying adults) later in the day. In addition to traditional Dark Hendrickson patterns, fish this hatch with a (size 14-20) Parachute Adams dry fly.

The Driftless Area of southeastern Minnesota consistently offers incredible fly angling opportunities in the spring.

Mid-May into June usually brings a drop in flows and clearer waters, which promote Light Hendrickson / Sulphur / Ephemerella invaria hatches in the early evenings. Call them what you want, but when they’re hatching, the fishing can be incredible. A Sulphur Parachute dry fly in (size 16-20) is easy to spot and rides low in the film where fish like to see their prey. No hatches occurring when you’re on the water? Fear not as 90% of a trout’s diet consists of nymphs, so you are more likely to catch trout on a nymph vs. a dry in most situations. Both the Bead Head Pheasant Tail nymph (size 14-16) and Bead Head Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear nymph (size 14-16) dead drifted slowly and methodically on a floating line with a strike indicator can be very productive. When nymphing, cover the water systematically. Begin first with short casts, then progress to longer casts before moving a few feet to start the process again. Presentation is probably the most important determinant of whether an actively rising fish will take your offered fly. A drag-free presentation, one where the fly floats naturally with the current as if it’s not attached to a fishing rod, is critical. A dragging fly, creating a trailing wake, will immediately alert the trout that it’s not the real thing. Always take a moment to plan your presentation strategy before you begin casting.

Southeastern Minnesota has an amazing and unique cold-water fishery, and it arguably holds some of the most fascinating spring creeks in the world. This Driftless Area has great appeal to the fly angler who values high quality streams, challenging yet superb fishing and of course beautiful surroundings. Therefore, when winter begins to fade and spring makes it triumphant return, seize the opportunity to explore and discover this area for yourself – I’m convinced, you won’t be disappointed!

Welcome to Minnesota’s

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 39

Enjoyment from putting your new rig to use and the satisfaction of knowing you have received what is best for you, at a fair price and from people you can trust to back up and service your investment is… always the desired outcome

In this article I will be conveying some of what I have gleaned over the years as it pertains to making one of (if not) the most significant of your outdoor investments. That being selecting the very best fishing boat to fit your personal needs and wants. Hopefully what I share makes picking out your dream boat just a little less stressful. After all, this should be a fun experience with anticipation building as you look over all the available makes, models and motors. With the advancements we have witnessed over the last couple of decades, today’s boats have become far from just a floating means of conveyance. Outfitted properly, they are now high horsepowered, finely tuned fish finding machines. They understandably also command loftier prices and buyer’s remorse is the last thing you will want to feel after plopping down your hard earned money. Enjoyment from putting your new rig to use and the satisfaction of knowing you have received what

Page 40 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 40

is best for you, at a fair price and from people you can trust to back up and service your investment is…always the desired outcome. This goal is very achievable given you do some basic research. The first thing you will want to have is a firm idea of exactly what you want the boat to do for you and your family/fishing partners. If you spend the vast majority of your time angling on smaller protected bodies of water with just one or two others in the boat, something in a 16 to 18 foot length and the 75 to 150 hp range may be plenty big enough for your needs. Either aluminum or fiberglass will provide a satisfactory ride given these parameters and the modest size will prove to be a bit more conducive to using the often more primitive ramps. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you regularly fish larger waters and wish to carry more in the way of passengers and equipment, a bigger boat would not only be favored, it becomes a necessity. Safety should always be your first concern. In my opinion, if you spend the majority of your time plying big open water, then fiberglass is not merely a preference, it is a priority. I fully realize I may get a dab of argument from the die-hard tin men out there. Go ahead and debate it if you like, but facts are facts. Fiberglass just flat out offers a smoother, drier and ultimately safer ride than aluminum when encountering treacherous waters. The material allows for considerably more flexibility in design to direct the water away from the cockpit coupled with the strength and rigidity to bust through the nastiest of whitecaps-while acting as a natural shock absorber. Please note that I am not disparaging aluminum as a building material. It has many great qualities and has the advantage of coming in at a lower cost than fiberglass boats. I personally run nothing but aluminum open and enclosed trailers as well as wheeled ice houses. It just has a few limitations in the extreme conditions associated with big water.

Photo credits: Dennis Foster With today’s high horsepower outboards, it is literally possible to shake rivets loose or even worse, cause structural damage. I feel it is just fine for boats that are not subjected to extreme conditions. It really comes down to understanding the qualities and benefits of each material and making the call for what fits your needs best. Fortunately, there are models from several manufacturers in either class that will get you to your destination and safely back. Plus, some are laid out to fish quite well in addition to carrying about everything and anything you may ever need in the way of rods and tackle.

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Another quick opinion that many would readily agree with is that one should always hang maximum or at the very least, near maximum rated horsepower off the back. Pardon the pun, but an underpowered boat literally ends up being a drag. Or worse. Should you find yourself in hazardous conditions, the lack of power can severely limit your handling options and quickly become downright dangerous. For a quick discussion on brand: You should seek a company with a proven record of innovation and a reputation for standing behind their products. Another consideration is attention to detail as reflected in the craftsmanship and consistent quality of fit and finish. After all, you could easily be talking about spending money equivalent to a new pickup purchase…perhaps more. You wouldn’t accept a spartan interior or cheap uneven molding and poor fitting compartment doors, etc. on your pull vehicle would you? Why in the world would you settle for anything less on your new fishing rig? After all, we only get so many days on the water, they had just as well be spent in something as nice as possible. I would further recommend doing some serious study on more than just the boat/motor package. There are plenty of reputable manufacturers with good to great models and motors to choose from. Look them all over, narrow your candidates and then select a good dealer. In my experience, this is the most critical consideration. While kicking tires in the showroom or dazzling you under the bright lights and busy atmosphere of a sport show, some salespeople may paint a quite rosy picture for you. That is all good and fine but when it comes time for scheduled maintenance or dealing with the occasional break down-where and who do you turn to? Now is the time for your dealer to represent you by standing behind the sale. You need help—not hype. This is the basis of an ongoing positive relationship. Believe me, the more professional and therefore successful dealers know this well. As with a ladder, any dealership is only as strong as its lowest rung. Although service techs are for the most part, out of sight, in reality and over the long haul, they become the face of the dealership. Do not be bashful about obtaining opinions on service from current customers. It would even be wise to meet some of the staff and take a walk around the shop. Clean, orderly and well stocked with sufficient tools and equipment is an instant confidence booster. If you find the shop to be small, under-lit, under-stocked, dirty and or cluttered, you may be quickly headed for disappointment.

Dennis Foster is a prolific outdoor communicator, guide, and tournament fisherman.

He welcomes input. Questions and comments can be sent via either of his websites. or

Other factors include having a good selection of parts and accessories on hand so as to help ensure you get quick, quality repairs and maintenance done right the first time. You also deserve fair pricing with accurate billing hours. Your boat is supposed to provide you with years of pleasure and dealing with those that make it become an expensive and ongoing problem can serve to quickly sour you. The guys in the shop are first in line and responsible for how this experience goes. But ultimately, it all reverts back to the business philosophy and integrity of the owners and management. This opens further discussion of what you should expect during the sales process from a good dealer. This starts from first contact. Is the person answering the phone or who greets you courteous and positive? Does the staff have the knowledge and take the time to explain all features and options? Will they offer to let you water test the model or models you are interested in? Is there enough inventory on hand to be sure you have had a chance to weigh all possibilities? As opposed to being relegated to what they have left on the lot and need to move.

Better yet, are Pro Staff available to take you out for a day on the water fishing? This lets you examine and discern every single aspect of the boat. In real world conditions. It also lets you pose pertinent questions to the folks whose living depends on the boat functioning at all times and in adverse conditions. This becomes even more important as the price rises in the higher end fiberglass boats. Once you have decided on the make and model, the next critical element to your ultimate enjoyment and satisfaction is getting her rigged right. This is imperative and attention to detail is critical. Mediocrity is not even remotely acceptable. Particularly with modern electronics. They demand that everything is hooked up correctly for them to perform their seemingly magic peering powers…properly. Power wires along with transducer and networking cables must be ran correctly to prevent any interference and not be in places where they can bind or catch on anything. Risking becoming nicked or cut. Sounds easy enough. But, is quite often neglected.

When it comes time for scheduled maintenance or dealing with the occasional break down— where & who do you turn to? Now is the time for your dealer to represent you by standing behind the sale. The professional and successful dealers know this well.



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Even with more sophisticated brands such as the Raymarine units I have been using for years largely becoming plug and play machines; they still must be plugged into the proper places to play well together. As many of us run multiple units, this becomes even more crucial. Done well, we have full access to the utterly impressive amount of information right at our fingertips. Traditional sonar has morphed into superior ClearPulse color chirp sonar complemented by both down and side vision capabilities. We also have amazingly accurate GPS chartplotters in conjunction with increasingly detailed background mapping from providers such as Navionics and others. My displays even utilize features such as SonarChart Live to instantly overlay and update our now personalized maps with up to the minute revisions. With this treasure trove of clues to the puzzle instantly at our disposal, we had just as well take advantage of it all. I personally have no quarrels with sharply tilting the field to my favor in a quest to catch more and bigger fish. A new boat purchase is a major commitment in not just money, but even more importantly, your precious leisure time. As most of us do not have near enough of either, picking the perfect ride is of utmost importance.

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Page 46 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 46

Photo credits: Len Harris

I need to begin with some history, before I get to the actual story. Two springs ago we had a huge flood in the southwest part of Wisconsin. Most of the streams were dramatically affected by this flood. Many streams were widened and others had holes where there were never any. The water finally receded and I decided to go look at my streams to see if any of them were fishable. Most of the bigger streams were still chocolate milk. I decided to take a look at a couple of my brookie streams. I remembered one stream in particular that I had been fishing with a friend at a huge beaver dam. The beaver dam was still intact. I remember this outing because my friend Frank had a decent sized brookie on and all of a sudden the water erupted under the brookie and a huge almost ‘flush of a toilet’ happened under the brookie. The brookie was sucked under and the pole was bent in half. Whatever had the brookie was big and dove towards the bottom. The action ended as quickly as it began. There was the brookie floating on the top of the water. The brookie was still hooked. We brought it in and took a photo of the 10 inch brookie close-up. It had teeth markson the entire length of the fish. We decided it had endured enough injury for the day and popped it back in the beaver dam hole. Frank and I did NOT see the would be brookie stealer but we both knew it was large. That beaver dam grew in legend that year. Frank and I went back numerous times and never hooked any trout. Not a single trout. It was really odd. Prior to having that brookie almost stolen, we caught many brookies in that area.

We finally gave up and decided the brookie stealer had moved on. This spring we had even a bigger flood. I did my traditional look-see after the water went down. Again, the bigger streams were dirty—no fishing. The memory of that big fish trying to steal the brookie from Frank came back to me. I knew where I was going. Hello Big Beaver Dam Hole. The floods had completely knocked out the dam. The once 100 yard long and 8 feet deep beaver dam hole was about 3 feet deep now. I was really disappointed because I figured the Monster of The Beaver Dam has surely moved on. I walked downstream first and all of the remnants of the beaver dam was down there. I did a 180º and went up stream. Far in the distance I could see some action on the water. I dismissed it at first as the beavers trying to rebuild their dams. The closer I looked like minnows scurrying into the shallows with a big wake behind them. It was still a good 80 yards ahead of me. At 40 yards I could see that those weren't minnows in the shallows...they were good sized brook trout and they were being chased into the shallows by an enormous trout. The trout's back was coming out of the water as it chased the brookies into the shallows and ate any of them that got too close. My camera was out but my point and shoot digital didn’t have a good enough zoom to capture the carnage from this fish. I needed to get closer. I took 4 more steps and the action turned off. The big fish must have felt me walking, trying to get closer. I told this story to quite a few anglers and they just smiled and nodded their heads and said: “Ya....right...An enormous trout chasing brookies in the shallows.” To them it was just too much of a tale to swallow. I tried to talk a couple of them in to stalking the trout. They all had better things to do. I tried for this fish a minimum of 50 times this year. I had not even a whisper of a bite.

Len Harris with the male Brown Trout, 30” long and 10.2 lb.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 47

Hex pattern fly

About a month later my buddy Joe Chadwick and I went back to the beaver dam to fish. The beavers had repaired their home and the massive beaver dam was back in its full glory. Joe and I fished it hard for 3 hours. No bites. We moved on. We walked back downstream to my truck and took a look at the beaver dam one more time. There was no action. The beavers had made many runs to make entry into the beaver dam easier. They were hidden in tall weeds. I was leading the way back to the truck. I told Joe to be careful of this one beaver run. Joe must have not heard me and he stepped in it and tumbled down the bank into the beaver dam. I asked him if he was OK and he just barked out “Why didn't ya tell me there was a run here?” After I stopped laughing at Joe treading water in the huge 8 feet deep beaver dam...I noticed a huge wake going up stream. Joe falling in the water had spooked the brookie stealer and now it had shown itself to us again. Joe and I went back another 20 times to try for the big trout. I always let Joe have the hole first because he said he had discovered the trout by falling in and he should have first crack at it. We did NOT catch anything. Not even a tiny brookie. We decided we needed to try some different tactics. On the way home I told Joe that big trout turn into nocturnal feeders when they get really big. This one fell in to the big category. We decided night fishing was in order.

Page 48 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

We went back and pruned some of the willows and did some practice casting in the light of day to make sure we could cast properly during the night time hours. The path to the beaver dam was manicured and any holes were noted so we would not fall into them during darkness. We looked for a good battle position on the water's edge and an easy place for netting. We went to Cabela’s and got 2 headlamps. So now...What were we going to use to catch this Leviathan? We decided to be prepared for many ways to tempt this trout. We were going to time our assault on it during the Hex hatch. The Hex were late this year because of the major flooding. A trip to a local fly shop was in order. We got a couple Hex patterns and a couple mouse patterns. We strung up the 5 weight fly rod with a 3x leader and the Hex emerger pattern. We had heard of hex hatches in the area. We also got out a spinning rod and put 8 pound fireline on it and a size 6 eagle claw with a small split shot part way up the line. We decided if one method failed we would try the other. I stopped at the local Kwik Trip and got a dozen night crawlers and went fishing for chubs. I caught 6 chubs and cut off their tails about 1” up from the tail. So now we were ready. Night crawlers and chub tails and a readied fly rod. We also had some size 9 floater rapalas in rainbow color (they don't make brookie color). The alarm rang at 2:00am. I picked up Joe and off we went for our night time adventure. I parked the truck quite a ways from the normal parking spot. I wanted to have every possible advantage. We walked slowly to the woods edge. I put on my headlamp. I told Joe to leave his off. The approach to the hole seemed like it took an eternity. I turned mine off also quite a ways from the hole. Joe wanted to get right in there with a chub tail. I told him we needed to look and listen for a while. We actually took a seat for about 10 minutes. We both looked at each other had the same time. Joe said “What the heck was that sound?” I told Joe it was a slurp sound. I had read about the sound in many fly fishing magazines. I had never heard the sound myself. We sat there a little longer and the sound got closer to our battle station. I handed Joe the fly rod and said have at it. There was a hex hatch going on and we had stumbled on it.

It was actually quite intimidating casting in the pitch black. I told Joe to cast towards the slurping sounds. Joe asked me how he would know when to set the hook? I told him to set after he heard the slurp. The first cast in the large beaver dam was off target. Joe put his second cast near the sounds. It seemed almost instant...there it was...the Slurp sound. Joe set it hard. The fish went directly to the bottom and hunkered down. It did a figure 8 a couple times. I don't think it knew it was hooked. Then it realized it was hooked and went screaming upstream at Mach 8. There was another small submerged beaver dam up there and I was worried the trout would get entangled in the beaver dam. I yelled at Joe “Turn it!” “Muscle it!” It can't get into the other dam. The reel on the rod was just screaming and the rod was bent in half. Joe was kinda like a deer in the headlights. He froze. He yelled “I can't control it!” I told him to take one step in to the water and invert the fly rod and stick it directly in to the water. I told him to keep the rod bent over. He didn't understand me. He wanted more explanation. I just yelled “Just Do It!” He followed my directions to the letter and the trout turned and came back down stream. Joe was reeling for all his worth. He had it in the main beaver dam again. It was showing no signs of getting tired. It was Joe's turn to yell. “Get in the @#$%&! water and net that fish!” I told him it wasn't ready to be netted. Joe said: “I don't care...Get in there.” I took 3 steps out and I was at the top of my chest waders. I told Joe to get it closer to me so I could net it. The trout swam by me and I made a half hearted netting attempt. I had not even seen the fish yet. I thought I better give it a try while it was near me. I tried and I missed. Joe was yelling. “If you cause me to lose this fish I will never talk to you again!” I took one more half step out and the water was even with my waders. I told him he had to get it head up so I could see it to net it. He kinda brought it to the surface. I went deep under the fish and brought

it to the surface with the netting action. The trout would not fit in the net from the side and the net got tangled up in the line. I was certain I was going to lose this fish. I dropped the net on purpose and the line came free from the net. I recovered the net. I decided I was going to go in up to my neck and net this thing. I took one big step forward and went deep...almost to my neck and made a lunging deep netting attempt at the fish. I got it in the net by sheer luck. I lifted the net over my head and walked out of the hole. I did NOT know how big the trout was. It felt heavy so I assumed I had scooped up some mud with the trout. When I got to shore I turned on my headlamp. Joe met me at the shore. We just stared in disbelief at what was in the net. A small stream trout in these parts is considered big at 20”. This thing was way beyond that. I snapped a couple photos and we measured the male small stream brown trout with a tape measure and a digital scale Joe had brought. It measured an eye lash over 30” and weighed 10.2 pounds.


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Ingredients: • 4 walleye fillets • 2 eggs, beaten • 1/2 C. flour • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder • 1 pinch salt • 1/2 tsp. black pepper • 2 C. crushed saltine crackers • Oil for frying • 1 lemon, in wedges Directions: Remove all bones and skin; cut fillets into smaller pieces. Place beaten eggs in bowl; set aside. Combine flour, garlic powder, salt, & pepper in separate bowl. Pour cracker crumbs into another bowl. Heat oil in deep-fryer or large cast-iron skillet over med-high heat to 375º. Dip fillets in flour mixture, then in the eggs, and then in the cracker crumbs. Set aside. Test oil—it will crackle & pop when a cracker crumb is dropped into it. Carefully lower 2 fillets into hot oil. Cook until browned, about 3 min. per side. At 3 min., turn fillets with tongs. Transfer plate on a paper towel; repeat until all fillets are cooked. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

Ingredients: • 2 eggs • 1 Tbsp. water • 1/3 C. dry bread crumbs • 1/3 C. instant potato flakes • 1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese • 1 tsp. seasoned salt • 4 (4 oz.) walleye fillets

Directions: Preheat oven to 450º. Grease a baking sheet. Beat eggs & water together in a bowl until smooth; set aside. Combine the bread crumbs, potato flakes, and Parmesan cheese in separate bowl with seasoned salt until evenly mixed. Dip walleye fillets into the beaten egg, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until fish is opaque in center and flakes easily with a fork, 15 to 20 min.

Ingredients: • 2 Tbsp. dry breadcrumbs • 2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp. dried basil leaves • 1⁄2 tsp. paprika • 1 dash pepper • 1 lb. perch (or other lean fish filets) • 1 Tbsp. margarine, melted • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley Directions: Move oven rack to position slightly above middle of oven. Heat oven to 375º. Spray rectangular pan,13” x 9” x 2” with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients except fish, margarine, and parsley. Brush one side of fish with margarine, dip into crumb mixture. Place fish, coated sides up, in pan. Bake uncovered 15 to 20 min. or until fish flakes easily with fork. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Page 50 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

Ingredients: • 3 lb. turkey breast, cut into strips • 4 Tbsp. flour • 1 tsp. onion powder • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper • 2 tsp. paprika • 1 tsp. sage • 2 Tbsp. canola oil • 1/2 cup dry white wine • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned & sliced • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped

Directions: Heat oil to med-high heat to brown the turkey strips. In resealable bag, add flour, onion powder, pepper, paprika and sage together; shake to mix. Add turkey strips; shake to coat evenly. Brown turkey strips and lower heat while adding wine, mushrooms and chives. Cover; simmer for approximately 45 min.

Ingredients: • 1 wild turkey breast half • 8 oz. zesty Italian salad dressing • 8 oz. white wine Directions: • 1 small Reynolds oven Mix Italian dressing and wine together. Pour mixture into a 1 gallon size zipcooking bag lock bag. Add turkey breast and marinate overnight, turning breast at least • Creole seasoning once. Drain off marinade & discard. Sprinkle turkey breast with seasonings. • Lemon pepper seasoning Place in oven roasting bag. Melt butter in the olive oil and add to turkey • 1⁄2 C. butter breast. Place roasting bag and turkey breast in a 9”x 5” loaf • 2⁄3 C. olive oil pan. Bake at 350º for 1 1/2 hours.

Ingredients: • 1 wild turkey breast, cut into strips • 1 C. buttermilk • 1 tsp. garlic powder • 1 tsp. onion powder • 1 C. all-purpose flour • 1-2 tsp. seasoning mix • 1 C. panko bread crumbs • 2-3 C. peanut oil

Directions: Mix the buttermilk, garlic powder and onion powder together in a large bowl. Soak turkey strips in the mixture for at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight. Spread panko bread crumbs out on the surface of a large plate and sprinkle with seasoning mix. Dip marinated turkey strips into the seasoned bread crumbs and coat generously. In a large cast iron skillet or pot, heat the oil to 375º. Fry turkey strips until golden brown. Do not fill the pot! That will cause the temperature to drop too low and the turkey strips will not fry properly. Cook in several batches, if needed. Allow the strips to cool on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 51

Photo credits: Captain Josh Hagemeister Page 52 • Midwest 52 Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

Perhaps one of the most utilized and familiar tactics used by today’s modern ice angler is that of the rattle reel and or bobber and minnow combination—As simple as it sounds, there are 3 key factors that will help you put more fish on the ice than your buddies when using rattle reels or bobbers. Split shot placement, hook placement on the minnow, and the minnow itself is where it’s at! Split shot placement (or its distance from the minnow) is extremely important—and must be mastered. The good news is that is also applies to any bobber situation— hard or soft water! Ever been in a Turkish prison? Ever been in a fish house (or a boat) where one angler is out fishing the others 3 to 1? If your answer is ”no”, then you’re lying—lol. It’s the classic everybody has the same bait, the same color lure, the same line variety, the same depth, the same…you get the drift. But did anyone in the group take note of how far the distance between the minnow and the split shot is on the “hot rod”? Probably not. The fact is, that little detail can be a deal breaker in the numbers of fish you will catch. It is important to match the activity of the minnow to the mood or feeding attitude of the fish. How many times have you witnessed on the Vexilar or AquaVu a fish cruising up to the bait, waiting for a second then sinking slowly away all the time the bobber and minnow is cranking out the Indy 500 in the hole. Odds are the minnow had a leash that was too long so it was able to swim away from an inactive fish as it approached your minnow and “kinda tried” to eat. Time to adjust the split shot placement and shorten the “leash”to restrict the minnow from dodging death. Last I checked, It is much easier to catch a dog tied to a tree on a short leash verses a long leash, correct? Especially if you’re not in the mood the play keep away. I start with an average of 7 inches of “leash” in between my minnow and split shot and adjust the distance from there. Now if the fish are fairly active, a 7”-10” leash will typically work fine. But of course that only happens 10% of the time, so typically I start at 7” then move the split shot 1/2” at a time closer to the hook until bites are produced. On average, a 4”-7” leash will catch the inactive or lazy fish. The shorter the leash, the smaller circle the minnow can swim to potentially escape from being eaten. Here’s some basic math; a 4” leash equals an 8” circle the minnow can swim; a 7” leash equals a 14” circle the minnow can potentially swim. So with that in mind, putting your split shot 12” from the bait might not be that good of an idea in general. When the fishing first begins, make sure everyone varies their “leash” le ngth and bait depth a little but make sure that everyone has the same size/ weight of split shot on their line so that it is easier to work as a team and figure out what the best distance actually is. The reason for equal weights is that all of the minnow are “anchored” the same.

The first question you should ask the angler who caught the first two or three fish is: “How far is your split shot from your hook?” The second question should be: “How high off the bottom is the bait?” The third question I like to ask is: “Where or how are you hooking your minnow?” Huh? Yup, that’s what I said. Is the minnow hooked in the lips? In front of the dorsal fin or behind the dorsal fin? As a basic rule, avoid hooking the minnow through the lips while ice fishing with a rattle reel or bobber. It’s my personal professional opinion that hooking the minnow in front of the dorsal fin is better than the “traditional” behind the dorsal fin. The reason is that it is much easier for the minnow to actively swim around on “the leash”. I compare it to tying a rope around your waist (in front of the dorsal fin) verses around your ankles (behind the dorsal fin or close to the tail) and trying to run 100 yards. It’s obviously easier to run with the rope around your waist. This of course keeps the minnow happy and healthy much longer, which helps keep your dialed in presentation more tempting. On that note, picking the right minnow is not to be taken for granted. I tend to choose a minnow that is medium sized (for the species that is being used). I avoid the monsters or the tiny minnows—the same goes for leeches. Oops, wrong season. I also aim for the minnows that are jumping out of the minnow scoop or jumping out of my hand multiple times. If the minnow is hard to catch or grip because it’s out of control—that’s the minnow I want. Give the lazy minnow to your buddy and start placing your bets, LOL. Let’s face it, not all minnows are created equal. Time on the hook will separate the good minnows from the bad minnows quickly.

I start with an average of 7 inches of “leash” in between my minnow and split shot and adjust the distance from there.

53 Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 53

Pay attention to the activity of the minnow via bobber movement, line twitching, or via underwater camera. If you notice your bobber or rattle reel line not moving around much, ditch the dead beat minnow and replace it with a new minnow pronto! Also, if you have to “wake up the minnow” by jigging the line—ditch the old minnow and get a new one. There is no time for wimpy minnows. One of the downfalls and success killers while fishing in a sleeper fish house overnight is not getting up occasionally to put new minnows on the hook—that’s a free tip by the way. So what it boils down to so far is that a good starting point for an effective rattle reel or bobber minnow combination is: A lively medium sized minnow hooked lightly in front of the dorsal fin, with the split shot placed 7” up from the hook. Remember, that’s just a starting point. Trial and error along with detailed observations of what’s working will quickly help you deduct what is needed at the time to capitalize on the fishing situation at hand. I bet you will never look at a rattle reel or bobber minnow combination the same again. Good luck out there, be safe, and be nice to everyone on the ice. Captain Josh Hagemeister, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service. 218-732-9919, 320-291-0708

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It’s the end of the fourth quarter, you’re down by a 10” bull gill but there is not much time left on the clock. Luckily oxygen levels have increased, plankton blooms are now large, and even without much for living weeds the shallows are alive with life again. The mid-winter doldrums are behind us and due to the increase in oxygen levels, aggression levels are high. The lake accesses are now usually empty as many anglers have put ice fishing gear away in anticipation for the first open water adventures of the year.

Here are some tips to help you hit that last season winning bluegill at the


Photo Credits: Garett Svir


BUZZER Page 56 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017


By Garett


Go North

When scouting new water at late ice focus on the northern end of lakes. This area is receiving the most sunlight penetration and will have the largest plankton blooms starting the food chain. Some of my favorite areas to look are shallow flats adjacent to black bottom bays. Unlike during mid-winter healthy weeds are not necessary to hold fish shallow this time of year. If you do find living cabbage or coontail in these areas you will most certainly experience some spectacular fishing. If the shallow flats are void of life start following the most direct routes to deep water on your lake map. You may have showed up shallow before the fish. Use the process of elimination to continue your search. Anglers that fish memories can have good outings and bad outings. An angler with a strong process of striking out and finding fish by eliminating unproductive water and working through seasonal migrations will succeed more often than not. Doing things like finding warmer water, pinpointing spawning and black bottom feeding bays, looking for green weeds with an underwater camera, and drawing some direct routes to deep water near these areas will lead you to late season success.

Be Stealthy

Fishing in the extreme shallows successfully requires a certain level of stealth. When searching for giant bluegills I will often drill holes before the sun rises. Another great advancement for fishing the shallows has been the drill auger. My K-Drill, from Ice Fishing Today, hooks up to a cordless drill and allows me to be quiet and continue to make moves throughout the day. The entire set up weighs only ten pounds and rips through about one inch of ice per second. If moving through the frozen tundra with the speed and stealth of an arctic ninja is your goal, give the drill augers a try. Try to limit any additional noise when searching for shallow bulls. Last year on a late ice adventure, I was sitting in my Clam carefully working two giant bluegills for what seemed like an eternity. All of a sudden both fish scattered just seconds before my fishing partner showed up at my window to ask how the fishing was. We were both somewhat surprised how simple footsteps would spook these fish through over twenty inches of ice. We did however learn an important lesson on limiting whatever noise possible when fishing shallow water.

Small Moves Mean Big Success

Bluegills often have certain routes they follow to escape predation and to feed. A few feet can make a big difference. Remember the old adage that big moves find fish and small moves catch fish. Once I’ve located some shallow late ice giants, I will make a series of micro moves often moving only 5-10 ft. You will be surprised how much this will increase your success rate. For instance last year on a late ice adventure we had located a patch of green cabbage that came right up to the surface. We found bluegills stacked up in the holes directly surrounding the large cabbage patch. Ten feet away on the drop off leading to deeper water we found the crappies. I fished a tournament on Lake Okoboji in Iowa a few years ago and watched winning bags of fish come from specific feeding lanes when anglers only feet away didn’t have a fish in their bucket. While making small moves and sight fishing will teach you a lot about their movements, a camera will shorten the learning curve exponentially. In extreme shallow water the cone angle on your flasher becomes very narrow thus limiting your information to right before fish are in your line of vision. A camera can be quickly deployed, turned, and then picked up and brought over to the next hole. This will provide great information on where to move next. It will show you fish, condition of remaining weeds, bottom composition and sometimes even the food source.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 57

Search Baits & Deal Makers

When I’m in search mode at late ice, I typically set out with a heavier rod and some bigger baits. I simply want to locate fish. Once located you can then figure out what it takes to get bit on that particular day and downsize to small tungsten and light rods. The problem with searching while using micro presentations is that it often wastes time. While in search mode you want something that will get down to the fish quick and show up from a long distance away. When fishing shallow electronics don’t often tell the entire story so spending a few moments at each hole may uncover what you’re looking for. One particular search bait that has produced fantastic results for me these past few seasons is the Northland Tungsten Silver Spoon. The compact design and small hook on this bait makes it a panfish favorite. Pair this with the flash and vibration that this spoon offers and you have the perfect search set up. The days are growing longer and getting warmer, soon late ice will be upon us. Quick fishing trips after work are now an option. Many days you may have the lake to yourself. While many may choose to spend the days preparing their boats for warmer days ahead this writer longs for a few more meals of skin on bluegill fillets. Be safe and don’t miss some of the great opportunities left in this hard water season.

Doing things like • Finding warmer water • Pinpointing spawning and black bottom feeding bays • Looking for green weeds with an underwater camera • Drawing direct routes to deep water near these areas will lead you to

late season success

The author Garett Svir is the owner of Slab Seeker Guide Service, and specializes in pursuing trophy bluegills.

Simple footsteps can spook bluegills, Limit noise whenever possible in

shallow water

Page 58 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017

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The newest and hottest trend in the dog world is shed hunting, finding deer antlers. Most shed hunting dogs are also bird dogs. Shed hunting can be particularly valuable for those wanting to know what deer have made it through the season, especially the older mature deer. It is also important so that you may see what other deer have made their way to the area you hunt. You can start training a dog/pup for shed hunting at any age. Work on hiding the sheds, early on, in the house or in the yard. Start at home. Different rooms. When starting out it’s okay for the dog to watch. Let them see you place it. Use the key word “Find your bone.” Shed hunting does not have any effect on a bird dog. A shed is never going to compete with a living, breathing bird. There will be times where your bird dog may lose focus because they are on a bird. It’s okay. Don’t scold them. Just wait, remind them you’re not looking for birds and let them come back into focus on looking for those sheds. Does a shed hunting dog have to be a hunting dog? No, but being an established hunting dog has it’s advantages. Make it a positive situation. Younger pup? Start with a smaller, lighter shed for practice. I suggest starting off with something that does not have any tines. This will keep them excited and interested in finding that shed and not be taken back by an injury from the shed, which in turn could shut down their interest all together. If you have a larger shed, saw off a portion for your dog/pup to train with and build up their confidence. Once you’re dog has established picking up the smaller, lighter shed. Choose a larger shed that is not too sharp and that has a couple of points. If you need to shave the tines down a bit to help prevent any potential injury while practicing I highly recommend it. Again, you don’t want your dog/pup to be taken back by injury from the shed, which in turn could shut down their interest.

Shantel Witt stiff out som struck & Zoe e sheds

Provide a level of excitement for your dog. Tell them “Good job.” Don’t take the retrieve immediately. Let your dog enjoy their “prize.” Show them it's their prize and they can keep that retrieve. Give treats and reward them. It is best to create and use a different command. I suggest “Find your bone.” If you are a bird hunter and commonly use “Hunt em’ up” do not use the same command. They will learn to know the difference. Stick with “Find your bone” when shed hunting and “Hunt em’ up” for any upland bird hunting. If your dog is a pup, or a younger dog, it is okay for them to check on the antler. But as they get older and have more and more interest in the sheds, I would advise getting away from using it as a chew toy and for them to retrieve and bring back to you. If you have a young puppy that might not be fully trained to retrieve, I recommend using a check cord to help that dog retrieve. A check cord should be used as you would reel in a fish; like reeling in a 100lb fish on 1lb test. You don’t want to discourage your dog by giving them a firm tug. Ease your pup in. Use the rope gently and encourage them to come back to you.

Photo Credits: Koby Wittstruck

Page 62 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 62

Sight recognition is also important. Imprint the shed. Silhouettes work great for visual recognition. Place the silhouette out in front of a shed. Remember to praise. Once your dog/pup has established finding the shed at home now it’s time to move on to an open field. Soccer field, football field or cut alfalfa field. Something with cut grass. They’ll establish a pattern of feeling confident: finding and bringing back the sheds. Bird dogs tend to use their nose. It’s important when shed hunting to understand that your dog has to use their eyes. Shed dogs use the combination.

As the dog becomes confident, you then want to get them ready for the real world shed by eliminating our smell. Scent eliminators are available to get the scents off of the shed. Use rubber gloves. Rubber boots are also important when setting out sheds for your dog to find because they will follow your foot scent. Pushing them to use their nose. Scent is very important. Birds provide scent. They are warm, alive and radiating with scent. Shed antlers, being a cold item, their smell is not going to be radiating from them. Most people think that sheds have an odor. In fact, the only part of the antler that has an odor is the waxy ring around the base of the antler. When they come off fresh they provide just a little bit of smell. There is a product in the market that can be extremely useful. It’s called Rack Wax. It is a rack based scent. When you are training your dog/pup to find sheds, I recommend using the rack wax not only on the base but the entire shed. Broadcast the scent as much as possible. Don’t forget to rub the wax going up the tines as well. This will help the scent to be picked up with the wind.

Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 63

Zoey responds to positive praise with a hug.

Sheds can be easily compared to fishing and what I mean is fish tend to not be scattered but found in the same areas. Sheds will typically be found in one area whether it be where they are bedding down or feeding. Find their food and water source areas. Do some scouting to find the areas where deer are spending their time. During the cold months deer typically don't move much more than these resource areas. Take a ribbon along, if you find a shed, place the ribbon on a nearby branch. Get your dog, put them in a position where they will find that shed. Bring wax along in case your dog is not able to smell the shed. When they are away searching, and cannot see you, rub a little on the shed to help them find it, boosting their confidence. Bring a training shed along with you when scouting for sheds. The reason why I suggest doing this is so that if you are out and unable to come across any sheds, you can use the training shed to set your dog up with a “prize” to bring home at the end of your shed scouting mission. Have fun, give praise and practice, practice, practice. Happy Shed Hunting!

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 • Page 65

Be Ready to Help in a

Whether you’re out in a field, at a lake, or out and about in town, you’re not always thinking about what to do in an emergency. Many of us might be too afraid to act in the face of a life-or-death cardiac arrest scenario, but immediate help can mean the difference between life and death for a cardiac arrest victim.

Doing hands-only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and

using an automated external defibrillator (AED) can more than double the victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association. In fact, for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the victim’s chances of survival decrease by 7–10 percent. “We tell people it’s better to do something than nothing,” said Jim Sideras, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief. “If you do nothing the person could die, but if you take action with a defibrillator that’s going to make a difference.” Sideras estimates that someone uses an AED in Sioux Falls about once a month. Avera Health has one of the largest public access defibrillator programs in the United States and has partnered with organizations such as Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to get more AEDs into more locations. Currently, there are over 2,000 AEDs located in churches, schools and businesses throughout the Sioux Falls service area. Many more are located around the health system’s regional footprint. While you may have walked passed the box many times in your workplace, church or fitness center, most likely, you’ve never had to use one. If you do, Kym Osterberg, RN, an Education Coordinator at Avera Heart Hospital, said the defibrillators are easy to use and add that gamechanging help needed in an emergency. “AEDs today prompt you every step of the way with directions,” Osterberg said. “They’ll tell you if a shock is advised, help you know where to place the pads and when to not touch the victim. The most important thing is to act and get the person’s heart beating again.” Additional tips for AED use – sometimes called “Knowing your AEDs” include the following steps: Remember to not touch the victim when the AED prompts you not to. If a person collapses outside in the snow or rain, it’s OK. Just be sure to dry off the area on the chest where the pads go. You may not know that hair can sometimes interfere with the shock. There is actually a razor in the AED box for quick hair removal. If the AED says, “Check pad placement,” press on the pads to help them adhere to the chest better. If the AED still says, “Check pad placement,” there should be a second set of pads in the box. Remove the first pair and use the second pair after removing the hair. Nicotine patches or other medical patches should be removed before using an AED. Just wipe the area down where the patch was before applying the AED pads. If you see a lump near the upper chest area, it could be a pacemaker. Be sure not to put the pads on the pacemaker. Hands-only CPR involves compressing the chest 100-120 beats per minute. This can be done when an AED is not available or between shocks with the device. Page 66 • Midwest Hunting & Fishing - March-April 2017 2017

Here’s what to do if someone collapses from cardiac arrest 1

Call 911 or have someone else call.


Kneel at the side of the victim and place the heel of one hand in the center of the victim’s chest. Place your other hand on top and interlock fingers.


With your arms extended directly over your interlocked fingers, begin chest compressions. Compressions should be 2 – 2.4 inches deep for an adult. Make sure you allow full chest recoil after each compression.


Compress at a rate of 100 – 120 beats per minute. Use the “Stayin’ Alive” chorus as a guide.


Continue until help arrives.


Switch with another person every two minutes if possible.


If an AED (automated external defibrillator) is brought to you, power on the AED and follow the prompts. Chest compressions can be done in between prompts from the AED but must stop when the AED is preparing to shock.

Remember the Bee Gees and their song “Stayin’ Alive”? You can perform hands-only CPR to the beat of their song, “Stayin’ Alive” to keep the proper pace with compressions. You can also become certified in hands-only CPR through the American Heart Association. Perhaps the most important step is to see your doctor before heading out. Get your ticker checked and remember: No trophy buck or staterecord fish is worth your life. So be heart healthy and heart smart before you hit the trail.

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