Crappie, Northern, & Walleye

What a trip. It happens a couple of times a year if you go often enough, and this was one of those times. Checking the weather for Webster, SD high pressure was prevailing with winds from the west to southwest not over 15 mph. This was perfect.

I left Wednesday evening with my wife and we had a really strong south wind blowing us north. Arriving at Webster the wind was really stiff and the lakes we drove by on our way in were really rocking and rolling.

Up early Thursday, we grabbed some minnows and crawlers and headed to Waubay Lake. The wind was not a factor at this time, but it switched to the northwest and really began kicking up the waves. By noon, I was done fighting with boat control and we headed in for lunch and paid a visit to Sportsman Cove. The forecast had changed and was for stronger winds in the afternoon. So with that in mind we headed to Pickerel Lake.

Pickerel Lake is a beautiful body of water. It is long and narrow running north and south so we could hug the west bank and be out of the wind. Immediately we started picking up crappie, and they were really nice slabs about ten to twelve inches. The walleye we picked up were really small, less than fifteen inches and we threw them back. To my amazement, we were getting smacked by small northern and this went on all afternoon. When this started to happen, I took a pair of pliers and bent down the barb on the hook. I wanted to get them off as easily as possible. I have never lost fish doing this. We were pulling red and white spinners with a minnow attached. The northern were really aggressive. The walleye would just mouth the bait and you would just feel a slight tug on the line. The crappie took hold like food was going to be rationed the next day. We picked up a nice limit of crappie and one northern was kept that was a decent size.

Friday looked like it was going to be a good day. A little ripple was on the lake. At the boat ramp I met two gentlemen from Aberdeen, and they told me where their favorite spot was on the lake. So we followed them over. I had never fished the south shore much. We found some outstanding structure and graphed lots of fish. Immediately we started catching small walleye in about eight to ten feet of water. This was shallow for this time of the year. I moved out deeper and worked back and forth into the bank in eight feet and back out to fifteen. We were getting some action. Then it just plain shut off. The lake went totally flat, and there was not a breath of breeze. This is unusual for this part of South Dakota. The temperature rose into the 90s and there was not a cloud in the sky. We broke for lunch and headed back to the motel for a short nap. The rest of the afternoon, we stayed off the lake. However, several of the guests staying at the motel came in with some nice fish. You don’t catch anything unless you go.

Saturday morning the wind was brisk out of the south, so we headed for a location near the boat ramp. I had never fished there before, but the people at Sportsman Cove gave it a strong recommendation. What a call. The wind was around 15 to 20 mph. We drifted into about six feet of water and back out to 15. Then we started the process over and over again. We started fishing around 7:30 AM and were done with a day’s limit of walleye each by 10 AM. All the fish caught were sixteen to eighteen inches in length and made really nice filets.

We folded up and headed for home.

Good fishing, good hunting. Hank

Websites

When I am not fishing, hunting, going to sport shows or scouting out a new area or lake, I like to review websites posted by the various states. My three favorites are Iowa, as I am a native. I fish and hunt along the Missouri River bottoms. I review South Dakota because I fish the glacial lakes. Nebraska is referenced a lot as I hunt waterfowl, upland game and deer in the state. These are not listed by rating. I like them all equally well. The site I am looking at a lot depends on my interests at the time.

Iowa has an excellent article about aquatic hitchhikers and I always follow their suggestion in keeping my boat and live wells clean. The article below is reprinted from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Website http://www.iowadnr.gov/.

Zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil are two aquatic invasive species that have spread across Iowa by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets and on other equipment used in the water. Bighead and silver carp are two other aquatic invasive species that have been spreading their own throughout Iowa Rivers. With recent flooding, these nuisance species have been able to swim around dams that otherwise blocked their movement.

“Public action is the key to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Kim Bogenschutz, DNR aquatic invasive species program coordinator. “Boaters and anglers can unintentionally transport aquatic hitchhikers if they do not take the proper precautions to prevent their spread – inspect, clean, drain.”

Inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment and clean them of any visible plants, animals or mud before leaving a water body.

Drain water from the live well, bilge, transom, motor and bait buckets before leaving a water body.

Clean and dry boats, trailers and equipment. Before transporting to another water body.

Spray/wash your boat, trailer and equipment with high-pressure and/or hot water; or dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days.

Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Never release plants, fish or animals into a water body unless they came out of that water body.

It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species in Iowa. The fine for violating the law is $500. Signs are posted at public accesses to remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and to identify infested waters. More information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the 2010 Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet.

I just got back from a three day fishing adventure. There will be more on that trip next week.

Good fishing, good hunting and good luck. Hank

SKUNKED

My friend and long time fishing companion, Les from Council Bluffs, called me and said the weather in Webster SD was good for Friday and Saturday. He studies the weather, so I just took him at his word.

Driving up to South Dakota was anything but good on Thursday. The wind was howling out of the south and we were making excellent gas mileage with all the wind on our tail. I was assured that by morning it would breezy, but nothing like we had blowing us north.

We were up early and headed to Sportsman’s Cove to get some bait and information about what was taking place on the local lakes. These people do more than sell fishing and hunting products. They provide great information on where to fish, how deep, and what baits have been hot. The wind was more that just a little brisk. It was getting really windy. The good news was that it was out of the west. That was a good sign. The decision was made to launch at Kango Access boat ramp on the west side of Lake Waubay. The lakes are surrounded by hills in this area. That would provide protection from the blast that was building up. From the boat ramp, we moved southeast along the shore line and started working in 10 to 15 feet of water. Not so much as a tap. We moved out deeper, but then we were getting into the high winds and boat control was really difficult. It was not impossible, but almost.

Straight east of the boat ramp was an island, and we headed to the east side of it. The lake was really starting to rock and roll and the wind was really gusty. Moving to the east side of the island we were protected from the blast. We worked again in 10 to 20 feet of water. Not so much of a tap. Jigs and spinners were worked tipped with a minnow, crawler, or a leech. No luck. As the wind had really worked up the lake, it was decided to head back closer to the west bank and work it again. We traveled 300 miles and did not want to be defeated so early in the game.

By noon, we decided to throw in the towel, grab some lunch, and take a nap. We hoped the wind would blow itself out. We could then work more of the lake than just two spots. We also stopped at Sportsman’s Cove and there were no reports of anything being caught or many boats out. There were no other vehicles at Kango Access. That made us the only boat on that end of the lake.

Late afternoon, we headed up to the Grenville Access on the northeast section of the lake. It was decided not to put in there as it was really windy, and the lake was rocking and rolling. The decision was made to go south to Antelope Lake.

Antelope has horrible access, but there have been some really nice fish caught there, and mostly in the evening. Wind should be a minor factor as long as we did not try to get out on the main body of water. This is a small lake, and I have never seen another boat on it before. Several years ago I visited with a gentleman and his wife from northern Iowa, and this was their favorite lake. I have done well there at times in the past, but it is not always hot.

The lake has a long finger that leads from the main body to the boat ramp. Close to the ramp is fallen timber. We wanted to stay out of the timber and fish along the opposite side of the finger. The water drops right off to about 10 feet. It was too windy on the main part of the lake, but this was the best spot. We worked out from the boat ramp to the main body, back and forth. We trolled out to the main lake and then back along the finger. We worked this spot for about three hours and then folded. We did not get one strike.

Back to Waubay Lake, we put in at Kango Access again. We repeated the process we had done early in the morning. I did not have one strike. Les claimed he had several. We quit for the day and decided to go to Pickerel in the morning.

Pickerel runs north and south and it is an outstanding crappie lake. I have caught a few walleye on it, but I go there mainly for crappie. The lake is deep and clear. It is surrounded by beautiful homes. A good access is available at the north end and we would fish the west side and somewhat out of the wind.

We started out and worked the boat into the shore and back out into the lake about 200 yards. Depth ran round 5 to 10 and 15 to 20 feet. We kept our lures off the bottom and looked for suspended fish on the graph. We wanted our lures in the zone where the fish were suspended. For four hours we fished away, changing lures, changing colors, changing baits, and did not catch a thing. By noon we both were done, and beat from the wind.

I do not catch fish every time I go, but we still had a great time on the lake enjoying nature. There is always another day.

Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck. Hank

Lake Rathbun

The weather check was on the first part of the week. None of it looked very good, and then on Tuesday the forecasts started to change in my favor. I was looking at Webster, South Dakota and fishing Waubay. I also looked west to Nebraska and thought of Lake McConaughy northwest of Ogallala, Nebraska. The one goal I have this year is to fish that big reservoir. My wife is from Sidney, Nebraska and every time we go out, I always remark that we need to get on that lake. It holds a lot of big walleye.

The plans started to unravel as the week moved along. By Wednesday, The forecast for Webster was turning against me with high winds starting Thursday evening and through the weekend. Lake Rathbun turned positive with the forecasts. This will then be the lake of choice based on the weather starting on Friday.

My wife and I drove over Thursday night and were on the lake by 6:30 AM on Friday morning. The wind was out of the southwest and was a bit brisk, but not strong enough to effect boat control. I headed to the southwest corner of the dam and started out in 5 to 10 feet of water. Nothing happened, so I moved out to 10 to 20 feet and S turned all the time. I tried to maintain a slow troll and just wanted the spinner blade to turn over gently. Nothing happened. I pulled in the bait and sprayed it with some walleye attractant. My wife sprayed hers with some crappie spray. We continued to work up along the bank. The wind picked up, but boat control was not a problem yet. We had been working now for 3 hours and just a few soft hits. The wind was not a factor yet, but it was getting a bit brisk.

I need to change the subject. I just hate big reservoirs. I know you can catch big fish on big reservoirs, but that does not change my attitude. The problem is the wind. Maybe it is because I fish in South Dakota a lot where there are big bodies of water. I have never been caught out on one of those lakes when the wind became so strong that only a battle ship could hold its own, but I have heard the stories. Plus, it always seems like I have to go so far to find the right area across an open expanse of water. When I was younger I was bolder. Smaller lakes and reservoirs are my cup of tea, and it is easier to find the structure. The disadvantage is the smaller bodies of water have a lot of pressure.

Now we will go back to the original story. We needed a break so headed back to the boat ramp to re-think our strategy. Plus the coffee had gotten cold, and I was hoping to meet some of the local fishermen. There’s always a local person by himself needing a hand with his boat. I always stop, help out, and get some facts about the lake. It just so happened there was a gentleman coming in with a nice stringer of walleye and a few crappies. He shared his experience, where to fish and how to fish. Our how was fine, but not the where.

After re-stocking our coffee, we headed to the new where. It was opposite on the lake where we had been fishing. Moving into 15 feet and back trolling against the wind, we had a nice slow speed on the outbound leg. We then let the boat drift on the in bound leg towards the shore. Back and forth, I tried to stay in 10 to 20 feet of water. We worked the area until 2 PM and picked up some nice size crappie and one walleye.

There is one important item when fishing Rathbun. You are required to call the hatchery and report any tagged walleye. The number is 641-647-2406.

We took the rest of the day off and went over to the new Honey creek Resort to scout things out and have dinner in the evening. It is an outstanding resort and is geared for the whole family.

Next morning, we were out early just as it was getting light. We went immediately to the spot where we had some action the day before. I stayed with a crawler and a spinner while my wife switched to a red and white jig tipped with a minnow. We worked starting in 5 feet of water and S turned out to 20 feet working our way up along the bank. It did not take long. We started picking up some pan sized fish that were keepers. By 11 AM we had our daily limit of walleye, plus a few crappies. Then it just plain shut down. The wind was light and variable at first, but picked up to 10 to 15 out of the west as the morning moved on. This was about the time we helped the local fisherman with his boat. He knew when to quit.

Rathbun is a really big body of water which is clean and fresh. We will certainly come back.

Good fishing, good hunting and good luck. Hank.

Working with the Weather

I studied the weather maps all week. (Is there anyone out there that can direct me to a decent website that has good or at least somewhat good forecasts?) I planned the weekend around the weather as I wanted to go up to my favorite walleye spot at Webster, South Dakota. The name is Lake Waubay. I think there are about 30 lakes within a 30 mile radius of Webster. Regardless of the wind, and it is usually windy, you can find a body of water that is workable. My plans were to leave Thursday evening and be on the lakes first thing Friday morning.

We need to talk a little bit about fishing at Webster. It is beautiful country. Moderate temps prevail and there is no humidity. But there is one thing that can ruin a fishing trip to Webster, and that is the wind. It is unpredictable, and it can get really windy there. I have seen it so bad that not one boat would get out on Waubay Lake. I would rate the lake as a five star lake, but you are only going to be successful about 50% of the time. I have gone up there in the past, fished with a close friend or my wife, and each of us caught 100 walleyes a day a piece. None of them were big, but we caught a lot of fish. The other 50% of the time, I got skunked or just caught a couple for 3 days that were keepers. The lake is totally unpredictable, and in my opinion is it 100% weather dependent. Back to the old saying, wind from the east, fishing is least, wind from the west, fishing is best. The other part of fishing the area is the weather is totally unpredictable. I left on a trip last year with my wife, and she only likes to fish in really nice weather, and it rained for 2 ½ days. God bless her, she stayed right out in it and got skunked right along with me. After it cleared, she hammered the walleyes, thank goodness.

So it was with great hope that I checked the weather Thursday evening, and it had changed from 3 beautiful days to 2 days from hell, and one not so bad. I cancelled the trip before I got going.

My next choice was over to Lake Rathbun in southeast Iowa. Lake Rathbun is a crappie and walleye factory, and I have not been over there for several years. Checking the weather, it looked good, and so I decided to go early Saturday morning, fish for two days and come home with my limits of crappie and walleye. (The best laid plans of mice and men.) Friday night, Council Bluffs was smacked with heavy thunderstorms, and when I got up and looked at the forecasts, the Rathbun area was going to have the same thing. Trip cancelled.

Sunday morning was beautiful. After lunch, my wife and I headed over to Lake Manawa. I generally do not fish this lake in the summer during the day due to heavy pleasure boat traffic, but the wind was from the west. We headed to the west bank, and with a red and silver spinner, I attached a leech and back trolled out to where the no wake zone ends. Around the entire lake is a no wake zone of 80 to 100 yards, and that is where we fish. I boated small fish, had a lot of hits, but put nothing in the live well. Still for four hours, it was fun and the weather was outstanding. I am going back Wednesday evening providing the wind is from the west. This time it will be serious business. Check out the photo section, I have put some pictures of Lake Manawa on it taken today.

Wednesday evening the wind was from the northwest and the forecast was calling for rain in the evening and wind shifting to the northeast. Right after dinner, I hooked up the boat and headed over to Manawa. On the lake by 7 PM, I headed to the southeast corner and along the area that used to be tin can dike. It was a bunch of old wrecked cars, but has now silted in. Just off the bank the water drops quickly down to about 5 feet and that is where I fished. I picked up two 16 inch walleyes, and had some good hits, but then it shut off.

I immediately headed over to the west bank and fished right along the buoy line, and then S turned into the shore. It was getting dark and so I moved closed to the bank. The water temperature was a little on the warm side. I picked up another fish around 9 PM, and then called it quits. The wind shifted to the northeast and I knew it was over.

This lake will shut down with the warmer lake temperatures, and I will have to head over to Rathbun or up to Waubay.

Good fishing, good hunting and good luck. Hank

Its Fishing Not Catching

Good success generally brings more success. With that in mind, I planned to go back to Lake Manawa and hammer some more Walleyes. The ones I caught the previous week were not big, but nice size in the 16 to 18 inch range. Those filet out to be a nice eating fish. I reviewed the report from the Iowa DNR, and they talked about pulling shad raps along the west bank. I have never had much luck pulling plugs, but for many it works and they catch a lot of fish. You cover a large area and I always feel like I am bypassing a lot of fish, not that they would hit, but it feels that way. The bait shop told me to fish after 7 PM. Now the week before I had fished really early in the morning and was successful, but I thought it over and decided to follow their advice.

Next evening the wind was from the northwest. That’s ok, a little strong, but that’s ok. I had no idea what the situation was with the moon. Keep in mind, my goal is to fish high pressures when the wind is gentle and southwesterly. I also want a full to almost full moon. I have no idea if this makes any difference, but it really sounds good. There was a low overcast, but the weather maps did not show any frontal movement. As I got to the lake and launched the boat the wind picked up in velocity, but I would be along the west bank and S turning from 2 to 5 feet of water pulling spinners.

After I reached the area I intended to fish, the wind really picked up and was blowing right out of the north. The lake was starting to white cap, and the boats that were there were heading to the boat ramp. Now I must tell a story about a good friend. He and I went on several trips over several years fishing the Canadian side of the BWCA. When it got windy, he got excited. He loved the windy weather and the more so the better. Born and raised in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota, this man was a really hard core walleye fisherman. He grew up fishing walleyes. He fished with an open face reel, kept the bail open, and laid the line over his index finger. The minute there was a tap, he let go of the line, waited a couple of seconds, closed the bail, and set the hook. To this day, my son fishes just like him. e set the hook He He would set the hook on a lot of snags, but he set the hook on a lot of soft biting fish. He would stay and hammer an area even if we got one hit. The boat would be pitching while he stood back trolling into the wind. We ran the bilge pump a lot.

I began to back troll up the west bank of Lake Manawa using a spinner and crawler. Last week I used minnows, but today I put on a crawler. The wind picked up some more, and it was spitting a little rain now and then. The drops stung the face, but I was determined to catch fish. Boat control was getting a little difficult, and the ability to S turn into the bank and back out was not working so well. It seemed the wind had moved more northeasterly. This was a really bad sign and was totally against my basic principle. Wind from the east, fishing is least. Wind from the west, fishing is best. I stuck it out.

Now for another story that is totally unrelated. When I was a young man, my son and I would go up to northern Manitoba and fish every other year. We fished with a native guide. He ran a boat either wide open or at a snail’s pace. When we were at the snail’s pace, it was time to fish. Wide open, forget it. He would not stay in an area very long. He would arrive at a spot wide open, throttle back and say, “ Fish here.” If we did not get a hit within 15 minutes, it was reel up and wide open again to another spot. When we were on top of the walleye, he worked the area back and forth until it was exhausted or we had limited out. He had guided for some of the TV fishermen and told me it would take 4 to 5 days to film the 20 minutes we saw on TV. They wanted the smaller fish as that provided more rod action. They got skunked on several days.

Anyway, I was not having any luck. I was halfway up the west side of the lake, and not one hit. This was a bad idea, and it was getting worse. The wind moved more to the northeast and I had to put on a rain suit. It was time to face the facts. This was a bad idea, and I was not going to catch a thing. There is always another day, so I folded up and headed for home. It was 9 PM. If you have an interesting story to share or pictures, e-mail them to me, and I will post them on the site.

Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck,

Hank

Catching Walleyes

I used to fish a reservoir in central Kansas. The bait shop owner was not an early to rise person, and merely put out all the bait and left a covered coffee can to deposit the money. We helped ourselves, put the money in the can according to what we took based on the price list and went fishing. One day, I ran out of bait as the fishing was hot. I drove back into town and met the owner for the first time. I asked him about his method of doing business and if he was concerned about being cheated. “Good grief no,” he said, “fishermen are liars not thieves.”

It took me 50 years to figure out one thing I consistently did wrong. Do not fish after a low pressure has passed. Wait a couple of days. You should want the winds to calm down somewhat and switch from the east to the south to southwest. The old rule “Wind from the east fishing is least, wind from the west, fishing is best.” Another item I used to never pay any attention to was the moon. When there is a full moon, fishing is best. I have no idea who told me this, but periodically it seems to work. This was the case on the weekend.

I have never had great success fishing Lake Manawa south of Council Bluffs. When I was a boy growing up it was the place to go, but the lake silted in making it very shallow in spots. Talking with the DNR at the winter shows, they always told me there is great walleye fishing in that lake. Since I live close, driving over for a couple of hours was handy whenever I had some spare time. Early morning or late evening I would sometimes pick up a walleye or two, some crappies for sure, maybe a bass, a wiper, and usually a drum. The decision was made. I am really going to get serious and go hammer that lake till I catch a nice limit of “eyes”, and I am going to do it in the morning. Tall order.

The weather could not have been more perfect. Southerly flow with light to moderate southwest winds was forecast. There would be just enough breeze to put a good ripple or light wave on the lake. Really windy days are tough on boat control even if the wind is in the right place. A full moon was present. The bait shop said minnows was the first choice and crawlers the second. I am really going to do this right. The plan was to be on the lake by 4:30 AM, and this is a tall order.

Next morning at 3:30 I was up, got the coffee going, grabbed a roll, hooked up the boat, and headed to the lake. What a beautiful morning. It was crisp, but not cold. A light breeze out of the west, and a beautiful full moon glistened across the lake. It can’t get any better that this. I am on the lake by 4:30.

I started pulling spinners S turning into the shore then out to about 2 to5 feet of water. I had some soft hits but nothing showed any appetite. I was working the southeast bank and decided after 30 minutes to move. Next I worked the south bank west of the boat ramp. Again, I stayed with the spinner, chartreuse and orange with a minnow, and S turned in and out working 2 to 5 feet. There is a deep hole that goes down to 8 to 9 feet northwest of the beach, and I worked it also. I picked up several crappie, but they were small and so lived another day. After 45 minutes, I moved to the west bank. This area has rip rap, and some points sticking out into the lake. There is some weed and sunken timber close to the bank, and I got hung up a couple of times. I adjusted my distance from the bank to stay as close to the bank without getting snagged. I had a couple of hits, but nothing really strong like a hungry feeding walleye. This bank stretches north and south about a ¾ mile. I switched to a red and white spinner and put on a crawler. I also sprayed the bait with fish attractant.

That did it. I picked up two keepers one right after the other off one of the points. The fish were not big, but about 16 inches, and a walleye that size filets outs nicely. Thirty minutes later, I picked up another and then a couple of really small fish. I kept working south along the bank, but moved out to a little deeper water. As it begins to get light the action close to shore stopped and I focused more out from the bank. By full day light, I picked up one more fish, and I was done for the day. Time 7:45 and it was time for breakfast.

If you have a story or pictures you want to share, e-mail them to me and I can put them on the net for everyone to enjoy. Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck. Hank. Code HJ3ZDG8PSSN5

It is time to go fishing

It is time to go fishing, and I have been out a couple of times, but the weather has not been favorable. Low pressure had moved in with light rain, fog , mist and winds from the east. As the old saying goes “ A bad day fishing is better than a great day at work.” So I reviewed one of my favorite websites produced by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and I found two good articles to share.

Iowa Fisheries experts Share Best Spring Fishing Spots Through Interactive Web Map

One of Iowa’s best kept secrets is the excellent fishing that takes place here with each spring. Now, the secret of where to fish this time of year is easier to access in a new interactive map created by the Iowa DNR.
The map features 50 top fishing spots, identified by DNR fisheries experts. By clicking on a point on the map, web visitors can find details on where to fish, types of fish to be caught, and tips to be successful.
“We often hear that people wish they knew the best places to fish, and we hope this typ of map is helpful,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of DNR fisheries. “We have hundreds of lakes, ponds and streams in Iowa, and fishing this time is a great opportunity for both new and expert anglers.”
According to Larsheid, chief of DNR fisheries, spring is the peak time for fishing because the fish will be aggressive as they prepare to spawn and lose some of their natural wariness. They are also close to shore making them accessible to those without a boat.
The map, created using Google, can be found at http://www.iowadnr.gov/fish/map.html.

Good Fishing Expected for Holiday Weekend
Spring fishing is nearing its peak as water temperature holds in the middle 60s for many water bodies in Iowa. Crappies, bluegills, largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish and bullheads are all active and close to shore.
Barring any wild swings in the weather, the Memorial Day Weekend should offer some excellent fishing for a variety of fish species.
“I couldn’t think of a better scenario for the upcoming holiday weekend. If the weather holds, fish will be close to shore and ready to bite. This is what we all wait for,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau. “Make sure the rod and reel are part of any weekend plans.”
The period from late May and early June is an excellent time to take kids fishing because many species are spawning and do not spook as easily. Larscheid said anglers can increase their catch if they use small tackle. Keep the bait small, too.
“The biggest problem we see is anglers using too heavy of line, and large bobbers and hooks,” he said. “Use as light of tackle as you can. I would suggest using four pound line, a bobber the size of a quarter and a size 8 hook.”
The Iowa DNR issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays, but the report can be accessed anytime by going to http://www.iowadnr.gov/ then click on Fishing Report. A tutorial will guide the registration process. There is a new feature that allows users to select what information they want to generate by species or water body.
Good hunting and fishing. Hank.

Nebraska Turkeys

I like the way Nebraska sets up it’s licensing for spring turkeys for shotgun. The license is active on April 17th and is valid all the way to the end of May. Nebraska has a lot of turkeys, and the area north of Fort Calhoun is loaded.
I hunt from a farm that sits on top of a narrow ridge and drops steeply off on each side. 25 % is terraced pasture, 25% is dense timber, and 50% is planted in corn. The planted area has a creek running by it. This farm has it all for game. Water, cover, and food make this an ideal place to hunt deer and turkey. The south and east have timber and there is no hunting allowed to the east as it belongs to a nonprofit organization. Right next door, so to speak, is a grocery store. The area of pasture and woods is really tough walking and is similar to hiking in the mountains. On the photo page are some shots taken during the winter when I was up for fall turkey.
I have always found it interesting to hunt this location. Regardless of what I did last spring and fall, it is always different. It is not like the farm in Iowa. If one spot is bad, there is always another close by, and you are on level ground. It is not like scaling the Rocky Mountains when hunting at the Iowa farm.
There was rain the first few days of the week, followed by windy days. On April 26th I headed up to Fort Calhoun in the early morning. My plan was to set up at the southern most area of the farm along the fence line that borders the ground I hunt and the area of no hunting. I sat against a fence post with the timber behind me and open pasture to my front and either side. There was a small drainage dam just off to my left and it was full of water. I was exposed, but covered in my leaf suit. Deer came by 20 to 30 feet away, paused, looked, sniffed, and slowly moved off. Something was not right, but they were not sure what it was. The morning started off with lots of noise. Gobbling toms, and yelping hens all coming awake. Nothing came out of the woods. I gave a few calls, but no answer. Then off to my right two nice size toms appeared. I didn’t move, except for my hand on the call and gave off a couple of yelps. That caught some attention. I gave a cluck and purr several times. They liked what they heard and began moving slowly toward my direction.
I didn’t like the way I was sitting as I was right out in the open and the toms were close. My gun was laid across my lap. I had to pick it up, shoulder it, and swing it toward a couple of birds that would move at the slightest motion. (Now, I must change the subject and talk about movement. I am always amazed when driving down the interstate at the number of turkeys I see right along the side of the road. They pay no attention to the traffic, continue to peck away at the ground, and just totally ignore what is going on around them. When I see this again, I am going to stop, providing there is no traffic.)
The birds moved to about a 45 degree angle from me and started up the hill to my front. They were about 15 to 20 yards out. This was a perfect shot. I slowly slid my call to my left side and dropped both pieces. The turkeys started moving up the hill away from me. “Come back, come back”, I was thinking. “You need to move more to my left”. I moved my hands down cautiously and grabbed the call. I gave the toms some more cluck and purr. They liked it and turned more to my left and down toward me. I just knew, one was thinking, “ Where are you my darling? I am looking for you”. I eased the call again back to the ground and moved my hands to the gun. This was a lousy idea. I should have brought my tent blind. The birds moved back up the hill and were out at least 35 yards. It was now or never. But wait, another tom stepped out of the woods to my left. Off to my right came a group of hens. I should have brought my tent blind. The decision was made. Take the bird to my left, forget the toms out front. I pulled the gun up and tried to roll my shoulder into the stock, but the tom was moving quickly back into the woods. He was quick. That bird just escaped death. The toms up on the hill started running like the woods were on fire. The hens jumped up and flew right in front of me. This was a disaster. I should have brought my tent blind. It was 8 AM and I messed up two really nice shots. I should have brought my tent blind. The day was still young. There was more to come.
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank (outdoorswithhank.com)