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We Have Been Waiting for This Season

 

The Aspen trees are in full bloom with the coming of fall.

It is here.  The season hunters have all been waiting for, “Fall.”  It arrived September 22nd, and one of the first signs is the turning of the sumac.  Fishing is really picking up now and will be good through October, if you can put up with the cool to cold weather and the windy conditions that go with it.  I have one friend that fished South Dakota and had outstanding catches of walleye and perch.

We who live in the northern hemisphere have probably all noticed longer days and shorter nights in the summer and the opposite in winter. This phenomenon occurs because the Earth’s axis is not straight up and down at a 90 degree angle, but it is instead tilted a bit.

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It’s Never Over Till It’s Over

 

We needed one more fishing trip up to Lake Francis Case before calling it quits, and this day was day two.  The month of June was a beautiful month and the severe heat was coming that we all experience during July and up into August.  The fish keep feeding, it is just that they go deep and seem to be more spread out.  Anyway this is the feeling of the guide we have fished with for several years.  He was born, raised, and worked in the area all his life.  He is no stranger to Lake Francis Case. 

This was day one of the trip. Continue reading

Walleye Fishing at Its Finest

My wife said she would make the trip with me to Platte, SD to fish on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River system of dams and lakes that provide some of the finest walleye fishing in America.  Her only requirement is for good weather and she will even tolerate windy days.  Cold and wet is a no go situation. 

Just as you enter the town of Platte, you are greeted with this antique sign in outstanding condition.  Plus, there is the original gas station.  I showed that pic to some friends and they said the sign if in good condition is worth some change.

The lodge put us up at the new pheasant lodge they had just purchased.  Pam had never seen this before and was astounded this first class hunting lodge was on the prairie of South Dakota and no one knew about it.  Great rooms and we had the entire run of the lodge.  There was another couple there and we visited with them about the fantastic setting of the lodge.  We did supply our own meals, and our local grocery store deli has pre made meals that supplied us with all we needed. A micro wave was available so we are set with meals.Continue reading

 

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Pam and I after a gator harvest.

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  We needed one more fishing trip up to Lake Francis Case before calling it quits, and this day was day two.  The month of June was a beautiful month and the severe heat was coming that we all experience during July and up into August.  The fish keep feeding, it is just that they go deep and seem to be more spread out.  Anyway this is the feeling of the guide we have fished with for several years.  He was born, raised, and worked in the area all his life.  He is no stranger to Lake Francis Case.  This was day one of the trip. We go through Sioux City, Iowa on the way up and have driven this road for the last 35 years as we made our way up I-29 to fish in the many outstanding lakes of South Dakota.  This is the first time, that my wife and I both remember, there was no construction on the Interstate through Sioux City.  The second thing about the trip is the city or the state posts a video camera along the shoulder to trap speeders.  You have to be aware as you drive up or down the interstate though the city as there is only one warning sign, and then bang you are on it.  We learned the hard way as I sent the community a couple of times some money.  Along I-29 is a monument to Sgt Charles Floyd.  Charles Floyd died on August 20, 1804, after becoming violently ill the previous day (likely peritonitis caused by a ruptured appendix). Clark wrote, “we Came to make a warm bath for Sergt. Floyd hopeing it would brace him a little, before we could get him in to this bath he expired, with a great deel of composure, haveing Said to me before his death that he was going away and wished me to write a letter— we took Buried him to the top of a high round hill over looking the river & Countrey for a great distance Situated just below a Small river without a name to which we name & call Floyds river, the Bluffs Sergts. Floyds Bluff— we buried him with all the honors of War, and fixed a Ceeder post at his head with his name title & Day of the month and year Capt Lewis read the funeral Service over him after paying everry respect to the Body of this desceased man (who had at All times given us proofs of his impatiality Sincurity to our­selves and good will to Serve his Countrey) we returned to the Boat & proceeded to the Mouth of the little river 30 yd. wide & Camped a butifull evening.” Floyd would be the only member of the Corps of Discovery to die during the expedition. Today, part of a 23-acre park, a 100-foot obelisk of heavy Kettle River sandstone marks the final resting place of Sergeant Charles Floyd Jr. After all the years of driving by this monument, we stopped and visited the park and the monument. . This was day two of a great fishing trip and after yesterday, we were ready to hit it hard for another day.  We requested that we stay at the pheasant lodge Tom and Nova had recently purchased.  We were the only people staying there this second night and had the run of the lodge all to ourselves.  Next morning was absolutely outstanding.  A light breeze from the southwest and a high overcast.  Meeting the guide at 7 AM we were on the lake by 07:30.  The lake was really starting to fill up as there was a holiday coming on the weekend.  Straight out from the landing the guide found the submerged river bank on the west side of the lake.   Again, we fished in 50 feet of water, letting out lead core line and trolling at a speed of about 1-2 mph.  My favorite is the Berkley Slicker Shad and that is what the guide was using again today.  Studies have shown that walleye will single out small shad even when they have other forage available to them. That partly explains why, since its introduction just a few years ago, the Berkley\u00ae Flicker Shad Crankbait has become one of the most popular. It did not take long.  We started to pick up walleye.  Again we were catching a lot of shorts.  Shorts are fish less that 15 inch in length, the minimum set for Francis Case.  That is a good thing as this is a really fertile lake.  Then wham, you catch a keeper, with most of the keepers in about the 17 to 19 inch range.  These filet out really well and fit in the pan nicely. We never measured the fish, but it was the biggest
My wife said she would make the trip with me to Platte, SD to fish on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River system of dams and lakes that provide some of the finest walleye fishing in America.  Her only requirement is for good weather and she will even tolerate windy days.  Cold and wet is a no go situation.  Just as you enter the town of Platte, you are greeted with this antique sign in outstanding condition.  Plus, there is the original gas station.  I showed that pic to some friends and they said the sign if in good condition is worth some change. The lodge put us up at the new pheasant lodge they had just purchased.  Pam had never seen this before and was astounded this first class hunting lodge was on the prairie of South Dakota and no one knew about it.  Great rooms and we had the entire run of the lodge.  There was another couple there and we visited with them about the fantastic setting of the lodge.  We did supply our own meals, and our local grocery store deli has pre made meals that supplied us with all we needed. A micro wave was available so we are set with meals. Totally vacant, but Tom and Nova have purchased a pheasant lodge ready to go.  First class lodging and Tom and Nova will provide an outstanding pheasant hunting experience. We teamed up early with our guide and his boat and off to the lake we went. The weather was perfect with a light SW wind and ripple on the water.  I prefer total dark overcast and a heavy wind of at least of 15-20 mph.   We were fishing in 50 feet of water trolling lead core line with counting reels.  Two rods per person is allowed in South Dakota and on the outside rods that were really long, we let out 130 feet of line.  The two inside rods we let out the line to 85 feet, but 20 feet up the line we added a 5 ounce weight.  The plug was my favorite for walleye and that is the Berkley Flicker Shad.  The guide seemed to like the darker colors best in chartreuse and similar.  He also liked smaller lures in the two inch category.  Studies have shown that walleye will single out small shad even when they have other forage available to them. To buy click on the following link (https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/berkley-flicker-shad-crankbait)         The big Lund used the electric trolling motor in the front to steer and the kicker on the rear to push us forward.  The guide wanted the boat in a certain depth and the trolling motor kept the boat in the depth.  Around his neck was a small control device where he could change the depth the boat was running.  This is gentleman's fishing and totally hands off.  All you have to do is sit back and wait for a hit on the rod.  The speed of the boat was around 1-2 mph.  How sweet it is.  I should have felt guilty about how easy it was catching fish, but I didn't because as a former owner of three different boats spread out over 36 years, I can remember when I got skunked. Sold my boat two years ago before the Pandemic.  Crestliner 18 ft with a Yamaha 90 and an 8 on the back. Then I went and gave all my fishing equipment to the Boy Scouts.  Still have the truck. Besides the equipment the most important item was our guide.  He is a native of the area and has spent his life fishing on Francis Case and knows where to go on this enormous reservoir.  People frequently call him up on the phone to find out where to go searching for free advice.  Always courteous but somewhat vague, we pay for his expertise and they are not.  At first all we caught were shorts.  A short is a fish less than 15 inches and Francis Case is a really fertile lake as we caught a lot of them during the first hour of fishing.  An old walleye fisherman once told me, "When all you are catching is small fish, that is all you will catch in that area".  It was time to move.  When you have to manage two rods with lead core line out to 130 feet, you have a lot a hauling in to do.  I used to fish primarily with ultra lights pulling bottom bouncers, and you could tell immediately what you were pulling in, but with the length of line out you did not have that feel until the fish was closer to the boat.  After an hour we moved. At a new location we
Here it is.  The chariot that will carry us to glory and lots of walleye. This is South Dakota.  Weather in this state is chaotic.  The blow out period moved the low pressure out, and this is generally not good for fishing.  We still had a high overcast, but the wind came up and began to blow.  This is where an experienced guide shows why we pay them for this service.  We went fishing in the big Lund as it made its way up the lake.  The guide had been in this type of weather before and knew where to go.  Twenty minutes after launching we moved into about 4 to 6 feet of water and started to fish.  It did not take long and we picked up a couple of keepers. We fished two rods on each side of the boat and with the rocking and rolling, it was work to stand up.  I sat down in a chair behind the windscreen and kept my eye on the two rods I was responsible for.  We fished with Berkley Flicker Shads in dark colors about two inches in length.  We let out 30 feet of line on the inboard rods and 5o feet of line on the outboard rods.  Anyway, this was what the line counters said.  Boom, boom, shorts were all we were catching and on the rough ride it was tough to land one and get rid of it.  We moved. A location that was out of the wind turned into a magic spot.  Wham! The walleye hit with ferocity and we started hauling them in.  We fished for 30 minutes.  After a location switch out of the howling wind and in a sheltered area, the fish gods smiled on us.  We were hammering walleye, and they were keepers.   It did not take long and I had one more fish to pick up to make the limit. We did this in less than three hours. Now comes the proverbial old question.  How many times have you had to fish and fish to catch that last fish to fill out the limit?  I love South Dakota, and as I sat and stared  at the hills and prairies that surround this magnificent reservoir, it happened.  The outboard rod bent way over and the pull was on.  There was no wiggle or fight, and it was like I was dragging a concrete block to the boat.  I said to the guide, " I have got something."  He grabbed the net and moved between me and the fish and then yelled "Good grief, it is huge.  Keep your rod tip up."  Suddenly the fish let loose and began to fight.  I moved over to my left so I could take a look and "Moby Dick" threw the lure.  Well, it happens to all of us.  It took an hour to finish and catch the last fish to complete our limit.   Good Walleye water with just a little ripple. Rather than stay at the main lodge, the owners put me up at River Hills Lodge.  Built years ago, this is a 5 star pheasant resort is for gentlemen hunting.  Here is where I want to hunt pheasants.  The lodge can only be described as one of a kind from the unique atmosphere designed to mimic an 1890's western town, to the spectacular views of some of the most stunning pheasant habitat in the world.  In the middle is the hotel and on the right is the saloon. The owner who built and owned the lodge passed away and the estate continued to keep the lodge totally maintained and preserved.  All the new owners had to do was open the doors officially.  What is most interesting is the new owners were the managers of the lodge for years until the owner died and the estate closed it.  These people know how to run a resort for hunters. As you enter the resort area this magnificent statue is there Not only will I be fishing South Dakota, I will be hunting Pheasants at this lodge when it is officially open.   Click on the book and buy from Amazon.  Makes a great gift, and I need the money Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank