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)