Disaster Strikes

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My wife and I arrived back from our vacation to Japan mid November.  It took me just 24 hours to get my clock turned around and I was ready to hit the blinds and pound the ducks.  I found what was going on hard to believe.  The corn was out and the weather all the way up to North Dakota was mild with predominantly southerly flow.  What a disappointment.

Anyway, after keeping in close contact with my friends in the club, we learned that a day of northerly winds was forecast with cooler temperatures.  This would only last a couple of days then switch to the west, and back to the south.  A hunter has to do what he has to do.  What was interesting was generally in the early part of the season a north wind would fill all three blinds.  This time, there was a lot of discouragement and only a blind and a half showed up.
Temperatures were still above freezing, but the north wind was strong and gusty and the birds would be hanging over the decoys as they would turn into the wind.  This would be excellent shooting.  
Shooting time came and went and there was no migration to speak of.  This was a major disappointment.  It seems I am using this word over and over again.

Just for a little history about this outstanding duck hole.  I joined the club 16 years ago, and usually this time of the year when I walked to the blinds, there would be 40 acres of quacking ducks.  They would all jump at once.  We would all get into the blinds and wait for their return.  Some came back, and at shooting time there was a really nice harvest.  Others went out to feed.  The ones coming back from feeding would have corn stalks and mud hanging off their feet.  Well fed birds are thirsty birds and here they came for a drink.  This was a duck hunters dream.

Part of this, some believe, was the fact that the farmers in the Dakotas were now growing corn and a friend of mine who farms in our area called the seed they planted 90 day corn.  They have a shorter growing season up north than we do in our area and the hybrid developed was for the northern states.  When corn had worked it’s way to $7.00 per bushel the farmers went into the corn business.  Unless there was an early snow covering the ground after harvest, the birds hung around.

Second, some believe that the reserve at De Soto bend had changed the type of game it attracted.  Many years ago the managers would cater to waterfowl at the museum and there was a viewing area built where visitors could come and watch the birds.  Besides snow geese, the reserve would hold a couple of hundred thousand mallards.  What would the birds do but feed in the surrounding fields and our pits are only 20 miles straight north as the crow flies.  The farmers that farmed the fields on the reserve owned by the government were required to leave one third of the harvest on the ground. This would keep a lot of birds around.   Corn is cocaine to a mallard duck.

The new manager several years ago began managing the reserve for deer.  Waterfowl was not a primary goal and the birds kept going without the banquet on the ground waiting for them.  Recently, that has changed again and in checking reports at De Soto it was holding at one time up to fifty thousand mallards.  However, with the nice weather up to the Dakotas, nothing came down.  I called several times and asked the people at the reserve where the mallards were.  They said they were in the Dakotas.  I told them we were waiting for the migration, and they said they were too.

Anyway, one can always hope. 


Good Hunting Good Fishing and Good Luck,  Hank.

Bad Reports From the Boys in the Blinds

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My wife and I left for Japan on October 29th for a fifteen day tour of the country with our favorite tour company Odesseys Unlimited.  You can look on line and see what the trip was all about at their website to see the fantastic experience we had with Odesseys.

This should have been right at the start of the migration and I would probably be missing some of the best duck shooting that takes place.  My good friend John kept me well posted as to what was taking place and as it turned out Japan was a good place to be during the first two weeks of November.  My cell phone carrier has a free service world wide if you enroll in it and it is texting.  You can text and receive text messages anywhere in the world providing you are enrolled.
With a 14 hour time difference from Tekamah, Nebraska needless to say, I got messages sometimes at 2 AM in the morning Japan time.  What are friends for, and the word was for John to text me anytime, and he did frequently. My wife and I both enjoyed his messages, because it was more than what was going on at the blinds, but what was taking place in the Omaha area and especially with the weather. We were never out of touch with home.

My son was more aware of the time time difference and kept the text messages to when we both were awake.  
What was starting to develop in southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska was a lot of high pressure areas with warm temperatures and southerly flow.  These weather patterns extended north.  With all the nice weather farmers were able to get into the fields and get their work done.  That means harvesting and there would be plenty of leftover corn in the fields for the birds to feed on.  Plus open water and plenty of sand here and there for them. What more can a duck ask for. 
The reports coming to me in Japan showed little activity and no migration.  There was good movement on small ducks, pintail, gadwall, teal, and widgeon.  Very little mallard activity was taking place.  The smaller ducks eat just as well, but when it comes to dinning on wild ducks, we like the big northern mallards.   Still one has to keep an important point in mind; ” a bad day hunting is better than a great day at work.”  In a weeks time when you add up all the small ducks that were shot, the numbers did not look too bad.

November 14th was still a long way off and there was plenty of time for me to get into some excellent mallard shooting as the weather turned up north and would begin driving the birds out of the Dakotas.  I have always had my best mallard shooting late in the season and the later the better.  It would be good providing there was not a total freeze over of our lake which was hard to do.  When the weather stays above freezing, we just turn on the bubbler and keep the water moving to maintain an open hole.  We always have some open water.
That freezing cold weather is the reason we invest in all that thermal gear for the outdoors.  Sitting down in a heated blind swathed in thermal underwear and drinking hot coffee is what Gentleman Hunting is all about.   
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank


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An Elk is in the Freezer

Gander Mountain

We have meat for the winter along with plenty of people who enjoy wild game.  Just recently a friend asked when I was going hunting as he and his wife want to dine on some fine fresh elk.

The original plan was to hunt Axis deer at High Adventure Ranch.  After lengthy research, it was discovered that this was not the animal for my family and friends.  It was really nice of the ranch to accommodate me with a different date.  They were totally booked in October and November was not any better.  Thank to the ranch manager Monty Pitts, he told me to come down the end of September and he personally would guide me on a hunt.  I really appreciated him doing this for me, but this is the service provided by a company that goes out of it’s way so that the hunter is taken care of.

My lodging at the Ranch

A days drive down to St. James, where I spent the night and the next morning I was down at the ranch.  Meeting with Monty he asked,  what do you want to kill, elk or deer?”  I told him last year they had put me on a spike that had lost one of his antlers in a fight and it was outstanding meat.  The ranch wanted him removed as he could not spear another elk if they go into a disagreement especially during the rut.  I told him I wanted another meaty spike or a maximum of a 5 x 5, that looked good and meaty.

Up on a ridge top this is what you will see.  It is close, and it was warm.

This is typical of what you will see.  Notice how dense the timber gets.

The rut was just starting and the bulls were gathering around the cows.  Also, the bulls were developing a really bad attitude, and so we wanted to be careful as we prowled the timber looking for the right animal for me.  We spent the morning checking heavy timber on the ranch as we looked for an elk with a good set of horns and nice and meaty.  I saw some really big elk in the timber and tried to get as many pictures as I could.  Anytime you saw some cows, there were some really nice looking elk and big ones with a rack that would complement anyone’s game room.

There is a nice looking bull that would have been an easy shot, but there are better.

We spent the morning prowling and stalking and still did not find the one I wanted.  I had never been at the ranch this time of the year and there was limited ground cover as the ground was very rough with gravel and grass.  The timber formed a canopy over the ground floor and as usual you had to look through the standing timber to locate an animal.

After lunch we headed to another spot on the ranch and we found the one I wanted.  A 5 x 5 with a herd of cows, but he was way out of their class as there was some really big bulls nearby and those bulls were not going to let him get close to the ladies.  Monty glassed the area and he was moving slowly down off the ridge between the timbers.  I moved in a straight line toward him keeping a tree between his head and my body.  It was dead calm and so he did not wind us, and he just slowly moved in among the standing timber.  When I got to the big tree he was still visible and his right front should was between standing trees not more than 30 yards away in a straight line. I could not see his head or his rump.  Putting the cross hairs on the sweet spot the round was sent on its way.  Monty was standing off to my right and behind me and said good shot.  The elk turned around and fell.  The 300 win mag again did its job.

A nice young bull with a respectable rack plus he is meaty.
We got him transported down to the location of the barn and coolers.  I like to have my harvests gutted of course, skinned and allowed to hang overnight in a cooler to allow rigor to set in. This time there was not room, so he was skinned and deboned and the meat placed on the trays in one of the big walk in coolers.  Also, my two coolers were place in the cooler to chill them down and help hold the meat cold.  The next morning we would pack the coolers and cover the meat in ice and I would check on it once when I gassed the truck somewhere in Missouri.  
The meat made it all the way home and I checked on it once, added more ice at home, and took it all the the processor the next day.  I have my burger mixed with 15% pork and this time I did a dumb thing.  I kept the tenderloins whole instead of cutting them into one inch steaks.  The plan is to have people over and I will bake a tenderloin as I have done before.  It is outstanding. 
There he is, already for skinning.  Look how nice and meaty this boy is.
The skinning is done.  Now it is time for the de bonning.
There he is all that is left after the skinning and deboning.
Late that afternoon, I was sitting down at the lounge area and Monty stuck his head in the door, and said come on quick, we have found something that is really unusual.  It was a calico deer.  He moved all around the timber and we drove over some maintenance roads to get a good picture of him.  Very unusual color pattern, but the proof is in the picture.
There he is.  Look at the rack first then the hide and the coloring on him.  He was discovered while I was there. 

That evening after an outstanding dinner, Monty told me that the big bulls would come down out of the wooded hills in the evening and hang around in the pastures.  There they would bugle and fight.  It was a sight to see.  I did not get any pictures of anyone warring, but when I went to bed that night they still were bugling and grunting.

I drove over to the pastures and did not get out of my truck, but these are some outstanding pictures of some really big bulls.  I was advised not to get to close as the bulls were getting nasty and the ranch has had a truck attacked. 

A couple of nice big boys
Check out his rack.  I think he gets the cow of his choice.
A bull with his harem.
Next morning I headed back to Iowa after a great trip and experience at High Adventure Ranch.  Contact Monty Pitts at 1-573-743-6606 for more information.


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

The Teal Season is in Full Gear

September 3rd was the opening of the teal season in Nebraska.  The blinds were all ready and the lake was pumped full of water.  Now all it needed was hunters and the birds.  I did not make the opening day.  This information is from my good friend John and he gave me this report.

There was a total of 18 hunters.  I know of three that did not go, so that makes 21 and there must have been some guests.  The group met at the Big Chicken in Tekamah at 5:30 a.m. and were settled in the blinds by 6:30 a.m..  The temps were cool on Saturday morning so that  made it pleasant.  John did not indicate any mosquitoes were making a nuisance of themselves. There were no birds seen the first two hours.  On the third hour a group of 10 teal made an attempt to land in the decoys and five were sent to the freezer.  After that little flurry there was nothing and everyone went home.  I am going to wait a couple of days and get a good report on the birds in the area before going up to the blinds.

Day two of the teal season was cool, overcast and a beautiful morning.  I did not go to the blinds.  Checking this afternoon with my good friend John, only two people showed up at the blind this a.m., and John was not one of them.  Total bag for the day was 2 birds.  With that happening, I will probably wait until next week to go.  The forecast is for hot weather next week.  That is not good.

Week two of the teal season:  The weather has cooled off but we still have southerly flow.  I have had only one report of people going to the blind, and the only things they killed were mosquitoes.  They appear to be in abundance and with light breezes, they hang around a lot.  On the one day that I got a report, there were no birds harvested.  I am going to continue to wait.

The hunting club’s owner gave a reception at the Bryant House in Tekamah, and all of the hunters showed up.  It was good to see everyone not in the camo, and meet everyone’s wife.  After pleasantries were passed around, the guys got down to the current season and needless to say, the results have not been good.  A close friend and I planned on going regardless of the temperature on the coming Friday, and when Friday came it was terrible.  Thursday night the Tekamah area had 6 inches of rain, and I was not going to go up there and battle the mud. The old Missouri River mud is tough on vehicles and clothing.  I want no part of it.  Four hunters were brave enough to give it a try and 4 birds were harvested.  They killed more than their limit of mosquitoes.

This is day 15 after the Teal season started and there still has not been a good harvest.  Secondly very few birds have been seen.  The lake was partially drained after a 6 inch rain at Tekamah to get it down to a decent level and two hunters went  to give it a try.  The weather has been in the high 50’s at night and the low 80’s during the day with light southerly breezes.  The two hunters had the good fortune to witness two teal streak by the blind five feet off the water.  One hunter said they went by so fast that he thought they would break the sound barrier.  The other hunter said they went by faster than Grant took Richmond.  No one said if they got their shooting irons to their shoulders, but one can only assume that they watched the fly by.  That was the action for the day.

The season has now ended on September 18th.  Needless to say, this was the most dismal shooting season I have ever heard about at the blinds.  Warm weather and rain plus a lack of bird migration just plain made it a failed season.  At times no one even bothered to hunt the lake and there was not regular reporting of any action.  When people did go, few shots were fired and there was not much noise from neighboring blinds.  Anyway, it is called hunting, not shooting. As one of the club members said, “the mosquitoes will suck the blood right out of you.”  I am glad I did not go.


 Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck, Hank


Meat, Meat, and More Meat

For my family and friends the ultimate goal is the meat.  This is what the thought pattern always is in the back of my mind while stomping around in the mountains, woods, or valleys somewhere in north America.  The hunt, of course, is how this goal is accomplished and is always extremely enjoyable whether I harvest something or not.

This year my plan was to hunt Elk with Bob Barlow owner of Barlow Outfitters in Wyoming.  The plan fell through when I did not receive a tag on the drawing that takes place every year.  I just did not have enough points to make the area I wanted to hunt.  There is another type of license that is more expensive, and with the point system I will have to purchase the general tag.  I always have a back up plan should this happen.

In the meantime, some research was done on different types of deer to hunt in North America either on a free chase basis or a hunting preserve.  Two of this type of animal came to the fore front of the research and they are Fallow Deer and Axis Deer.  How do they taste is the question?  Before investing money on one of these hunts, I need to know as I have mouths to feed, and people will be waiting for their ration of game.  Plus, my wife and I need to fill the larder for the winter with fresh healthy low cholesterol high protein game.

I was once told by a guide that Fallow Deer was one of the finest meats he had ever eaten. With that in mind it was time to check this statement out with a study on the Internet.

There are a lot of really good and entertaining articles on hunting and dining on both species.  On Fallow deer the general consensus is to hunt them when they are in the velvet and before the rut.  After the rut has started they will get a little gamey.  Overall the animal is very well recommended.  I did not find any states that had a Fallow Deer season.  Several people rated the meat in line with the Axis deer.  That tells me Axis is maybe a better tasting animal.

The fallow deer  is a mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. This common species is native to western Eurasia.  It was introduced into Britain and Ireland by the Normans in the 11th century for hunting in the royal forests.  This exotic has now been introduced into 93 Texas counties, primarily in the Edwards Plateau region. In addition there are private game ranches throughout the country that have available exotics for hunting and a person has a lot of choices for this type of hunt.

The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. Adult bucks are 140–160 cm (55–63 in) long with a 85–95 cm (33–37 in) shoulder height, and typically 60–100 kg (130–220 lb) in weight; does are 130–150 cm (51–59 in) long with a 75–85 cm (30–33 in) shoulder height, and 30–50 kg (66–110 lb) in weight. The largest bucks may measure 190 cm (75 in) long and weigh 150 kg (330 lb). Fawns are born in spring at about 30 cm (12 in) and weigh around 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). The life span is around 12–16 years.

Only bucks have antlers which are broad and shovel-shaped (palmate) from three years. In the first two years the antler is a single spike. They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut bucks will spread out and females move between them, at this time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.

Agile and fast in case of danger, fallow deer can run up to a maximum speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) over short distances (being naturally less muscular than other cervids such as roe deer, they are not as fast). Fallow deer can also make jumps up to 1.75 metres high and up to 5 metres in length.

Axis Deer are prevalent in Texas and the best way to hunt them is on an Exotic Game Farm.  Again the consensus is to hunt them in the velvet.  Females come into estrous several times each year, usually only lasting about 3 weeks per cycle.  Gestation lasts from 210-238 days and females usually have 1 young at a time.  Approximately 80% of Texas fawns are born from January to mid-April.  Females can be reproductive from age 2 to 15. I also read an article that recommended to hunt them in late August and early September to get the best tasting meat.

Introduced in 1932, axis are by far the most numerous exotic in Texas, with a population estimated at around 40,000, of which some 6,000 are free-ranging.  Axis venison is widely considered one of the most tasty of all wild game venison.  It is extremely lean and lacks much of the irony,”gamey” taste that is often associated with most venison.  The mild meat contains less than 1% fat on average.

The axis deer also goes by the name chital.  It is a moderately sized deer. Males reach nearly 90 centimetres (35 in) and females 70 centimetres (28 in) at the shoulder; the head-and-body length is around 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). While males weigh 30–75 kilograms (66–165 lb), the lighter females weigh 25–45 kilograms (55–99 lb). Exceptionally large males can weigh up to 98 to 110 kg (216 to 243 lb). The tail, 20 centimetres (7.9 in) long, is marked by a dark stripe that stretches along its length. The species has distinct color differences between males and females.  The males are larger than females, and antlers are present only on males.

 Grazers as well as browsers, the chital mainly feed on grasses throughout the year. They prefer young shoots, in the absence of  tall and coarse grasses which can be nibbled off at the tips. Browse forms a major portion of the diet only in the winter months-October to January-when the grasses, tall or dried up, are not palatable.

Recipes are abundant for each of these deer and are too numerous to list here.  This is a matter of taste and if you want to hunt these animals. As for me, I am going back to High Adventure Ranch and harvest a young elk.

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank



Scouting a New Opportunity

Gander Mountain

For the last twenty years I have fished the Glacial Lakes around Webster, South Dakota.  When I first went up to the region it was very common to catch a really nice mess of walleye, a few nice size northern, and a perch or two.  Depending on the time of the year we would land a few really big crappie.  I primarily fished one lake and that was Waubay, although some of the other lakes in the area were also worked with good to outstanding success.

Fishing in the area is just not the same as it once was.  Sizes are way down, and it is seldom that a northern is picked up.  There are northern in some of the other lakes in the region, but we don’t catch them anymore on Waubay.  There may be other fishermen that are still hammering them, bit we do not.

I am not going to quit going up there.  Just the opposite will take place.  I will stay longer when I go north to fish and work more lakes, but I won’t be going up as often.  Instead, I am going to start hitting some of the lakes in Nebraska.  Nebraska is populated with some really nice lakes and reservoirs,  and they are not fished heavily.  One such lake is Johnson Lake just south of Lexington, Nebr.  It is really easy to get to and all a fisherman has to do is travel along I-80 to Lexington, and go south out of the town towards Elwood.  Motels are in abundance in Lexington along with restaurants, so there is not an issue on where to stay or eat.  Camp grounds are also available at the lake and they belong to the state so they are very well maintained.

Sunset at Johnson Lake

Campers will find electrical hookups, non pad sites, showers, modern restrooms, dump station, water, picnic tables, grills, shelters, vault toilets, boat ramp, fish cleaning stations, swimming beach and accessible fishing piers. Johnson Lake campground offers 2 campgrounds. The main campground on the south east side of the lake has 82 camper pads with electrical hook-ups and an additional 30 non-designated campsites. Campground is shady and located close to shower facilities. It has a sandy beach area and plenty of picnic areas. The Inlet campground located on the west side of the lake has 31 camper pads with electrical hook-ups and 10 non-designated campsites. It has a boat ramp and excellent bank fishing as well as a handicap pier. For those golfers there is an 18-hole golf course close by.

Early on a cool Saturday morning, my wife and I headed out to check it out and look at the facilities available.  A highway travels completely around the lake and along the shoreline are year around homes and what appeared to be summer homes.  At the entrance to the highway surrounding the lake is PortSide Express. (308-785-8040)  They can supply your fuel needs along with camping supplies and groceries plus they have bait.  Seven miles farther south in Elwood is the Red Barn, and they also have bait.  Along the east side is the Captain’s Quarters boat docks and ramps.  This looked like a good spot to put in and there was plenty of parking for your vehicle and trailer.  We did not stop to see if there is a fee to put in and use their facilities.

The second spot was at the north end of the lake at the LakeShore Marina.  There is a good boat ramp there and they have a limited supply of bait. There is no fee to launch your boat. At the same location is Waterford House.  A good restaurant is located at this location.

Moving south we found a public use area operated by the State of Nebraska Game and Parks.  What is really nice is the cleaning station at this location.  A good boat ramp at this location with plenty of parking for your vehicle and trailer.  This is owned and operated by the state and you will have to pay a use for for the day of  $5.00.  You can buy a season pass at one of the local stores for $25.00.  Portside Express licenses and permits.

I could not find a topo map of the area and will continue to look as it is our intent to fish the lake in the early spring.  The lake is best known for the white bass and walleye fishing, yielding hundreds of Master Angler fish over the years.  The best time of the year to catch white bass is during spawning from late April to mid May.  After spawning is over, white bass are most frequently found along the shore line and near the outlet canal on the northeast side of the lake.  From mid-summer to late September, the white bass move into deeper water in pursuit of shad and other small fish.

Walleye fishing is at its best in the spring when they spawn near the rocks on the dam’s face.  In late May and June, walleye can be found on the flats and areas where the lake’s bottom drops off into deeper water.  This lake has it all the game fish like flowing water through it, gravel, rock and sand shoreline.

We intend to fish the lake come next April.  For more information on the Johnson Lake area contact the Johnson Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at johnsonlake.com or e-mail: chamber@johnsonlake.com.

Gander Mountain


Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank


Visit to the Redlin Art Center, Watertown

We awoke on the third day of a three day trip that so far had been a total disaster.  Read over the two previous blogs.  Stepping out of the motel room there was not a breath of fresh air and the beautiful blue sky was cloudless.  Eastern South Dakota forecast showed little to no wind and clear skies with rising temperatures.  We had been totally burned to a crisp yesterday, and so it was time to grab breakfast at Perebooms and head for home.

After another excellent breakfast and fueling up the truck we headed out of town.  Pam then suggested we stop and visit the Redlin Art Center on the east side of Watertown, SD.  Every time we drive up and back on a fishing trip, we always say that we will stop the next time and visit the art gallery.  Next time had now come and we jumped off the interstate and tried to find a parking spot out of the sun.  When pulling a boat, that is not an easy task to accomplish.  The gallery did not open until 10 a.m, so we had some extra time to walk the grounds.

Terry Redlin was born in Watertown, South Dakota. He earned a degree from the St. Paul of Associated Arts in St. Paul, Minn, and spent 25 years in commercial art as a layout artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and graphic designer.  The Gallery was built in 1997, and is visible from I- 29 as you travel the interstate. Redlin’s painting “Winter Snows” appeared on the cover of The Farmer magazine in 1977. Two years later, he left his job as a commercial artist to paint full-time until his abrupt retirement in 2007.  At that time Redlin was placed in a nursing home due to complications with Alzheimer’s disease.  Terry Redlin died of complications from dementia in April of 2016.

To visit the art center on the inside and view some the outstanding pieces of art click on the following link or paste it into your browser.  https://redlinart.com/  In addition you can read an excellent writing about the artist and his life.

The Redlin Art Center

Entrance to the Art Center
Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

Gander Mountain


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Bitter Lake + Waubay

Gander Mountain

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After a good nights sleep, we were ready to hit it bright and early.  This time my wife, Pam, was up before I was because she wanted to get onto Bitter and catch a plethora of walleye.  The folks at Sportsman Cove had told us we would catch a lot of fish before we caught a keeper for us.  Apparently the state of South Dakota had removed the minimum on the lake and you can keep what you catch.  That is good and bad.  Anything smaller that 15 inches in our minds is not worth keeping.  You just don’t get much meat out of fish that small.

 We were at Casey’s quick stop by 6:30 a.m. for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, the next stop was Bitter Lake.  We used the access at the southeast end of the lake which is a fine ramp and dock the state has put in. The bad news according to the people at Sportsman Cove, was the lake was low and of course the state does not mark the boulders and partially submerged reefs.  Get a good topo map if you are going to fish this lake is imperative.  I do not have one.

There are two levels parking and when we got there, the bottom level was already full by 7:30 a.m.  So after launching the boat I had to park on the upper level.  People are so excited about having to wait a little as if they will miss out on something really big.  We took the advice of Sportsman Cove and started working down the south shore in 15+ feet of water pulling spinners as we trolled along.  Getting to an area of a sunken point, there must have been 30 boats in an area about twice the size of a football field.  This must be the place.  As I glassed the area, periodically I would see someone pick up a fish that was hardly worth bringing into the boat.  I had been told the state had stocked nine million fingerling a couple of years ago.  At the rate I saw people hauling in puny little fish, it won’t take long for this lake to be fished out.  There is a certain amount of natural kill that will take place, plus the small fish are subject to bigger predators. 

I have added a couple of X’s on the map to see where we went.  A number of years a go I had fished the northeast corner of the lake and had picked up some really nice northern.  The water is really clear and if the lake doesn’t get fished out this will be a real producer.

Pam was periodically getting her wish and would score a little fish which was promptly thrown back. With the boat traffic, I basically spent most of my time watching out for other boats and never caught a fish.  This was not fun for either of us.  The next thing we knew, the lake went flat and there was not a breath of fresh air.  A sun beating down on a flat body of water is not good walleye water and we weaved our way back to the boat ramp.  We still had to wait in line to get the boat out and wait our turn to get it on the trailer.  Pam said, “Let’s go back to Waubay.  We do not have all this kind of competition on that lake.”

In northern South Dakota the sky is a brilliant blue and the fluffy clouds just look whiter.  There is very low humidity.  The lake was flatter than a pancake.  We still launched at Kanago and moved to the south end of the lake.  Along some points that stick out from the shore in years past, we have had good luck. Not today.  We boated over to the first island off of Kanago access and worked all around it.  We did pick up a small perch.  We stayed close to the area, but that must have been an orphan.  All around the island, we caught nothing and did not have a strike.  The sun was getting a little hot and I had forgotten to put sunscreen in the boat.

Moving the boat again, we headed to duck island and worked it for an hour.  Nothing happened.  Next stop was school bus point.  The bus has been gone for years, but I can remember when there would be 15 to 20 boats working the area and all catching nice size fish.  We stayed for 45 minutes, then called it quits.

The next stop was straight out of the Grenville access.  There is a U shaped area with a reserve on the south of the U.  There are usually fish inside the U between 10 to 20 feet and I have always picked up a walleye.  Sure enough, I caught two, and they were keepers.  It was 5 p.m. and we were both burned up from the sun and the flat lake.  It was time to throw it in.

Now I have fished this lake for 20 years.  Boating back to Kanago access, we went by way of duck island and Breski bay.  That would put me at the north side of the access. If you stay along the edge of the south shore you can miss all the reefs.  I should have gone south and then using the houses as landmarks on the shore turn west, then northwest to the landing.  This time I went down the north shoreline.  I thought we were deep enough.  Bang!!. I hit a sunken reef with the motor and we were in about 1 foot of water.  Taking a gaff, I pushed the boat off the reef where we could get the motor down. Fortunately, I was going somewhat slowly.  Out of the lake we could see as we spun the prop, and the prop shaft was bent and the prop was all chewed up.

Insurance will cover it, and I have an appointment with a dealer to check it all out and see the extent of the damage, and get it fixed.  My friends, there are rocks around Kanago access.  If I had been going at a good rate of speed, I could have done some real damage.  Just the same it was four numbers worth of damage.  I may have said some discouraging words, but mainly thought them to myself.  I do not have a stainless steel prop, so that saves some money.

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck.  Be sure to stay off the rocks.  Hank


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Back to the Glacial Lakes

We studied the weather patterns for two weeks waiting for another opportunity to travel north to Webster, SD and fish the glacial lakes.  With numerous lakes within a 30 mile radius of the town, we can always find good fishing on one of the lakes if we are patient enough and the weather cooperates.  The first item is something I have trouble with, and the second item is totally out of my control.

While we were burning up in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area, the temps in northern South Dakota were in the low 60s in the evening and middle 70s during the day.  This is good weather and it means the lakes will not be warming up too much.  Now, I just needed to pick a three day pattern that looked good with not the usual South Dakota blow that bends over the trees and whips up the lakes.

We found it the third week of June and the storm patterns had moved east.  For a three day period it looked really good.  The winds were forecast in a southerly pattern and the temperatures were stable.  With no frontal activity this would be a good time to hit it.  My wife and I hooked up the boat, loaded up with snacks and took off.

I need to touch on the motel situation.  The old Holiday Motel is now Boomers and the rooms have been totally remodeled.  In addition, they have built a new building right next to the highway, and it looks like it will be really nice.  Fish cleaning was to be done down behind Perebooms restaurant in the fish house they have there.  I would call for rates, as there is wide variance between the three place I stay.  Circle Pines is the cheapest, with Boomers (the old Holiday) next.  Then the Galley is the highest, but really nice and they have a great fish house with freezer.

Up I-29 the next morning we made the trip in the normal 5.5 hours, checked in at the motel, and then down to Sportsman Cove for some advice and bait.  Bait is also sold across the highway at the station next to the A & W.  The prices here are a little cheaper, but there is no advice given or recommendations.  We pay the extra just to get the advice.

The advice today was to go to Bitter, but also Waubay was recommended.  We decided to go to Bitter tomorrow and so it was off to Waubay and Kanago lake access.  Wind was out of the north and a good chop was on the lake.  We headed south out of the access and then east to avoid the the hidden reef.  (The next blog will have a lot more on the hidden reef.)  We headed to the first island and started fishing on the northwest side in about 10 to 15 feet pulling chartreuse spinners each tipped with a minnow or crawler.  We picked up little fish and they were promptly thrown back.  Moving out to 15 to 20 feet, a couple of keepers were landed in the 15 and 16 inch range.  The fish were not smacking like feeding fish, but all of a sudden, our lines got heavy almost like our lures had run aground.  Waiting at least 10 to 20 seconds, then doing a hook set would produce results.  Sometimes we pulled up a bunch of weed or moss.   We also picked up a large mouth bass and some small mouth bass.  I am really disappointed that South Dakota put bass of any kind in this lake.  My experience is that when the bass move in, the walleye move out and your walleye fishing diminishes.  Fishing today is not like it was 20 years ago when I first started coming up to the glacial lakes.

We fished over closer to Breski Bay and picked up a couple of walleye after about 60 minutes of working the area.  Keeping only fish that are 15 inches or greater we would catch some hungry walleye and we had to do a lot of sorting.

You will need a magnifying glass to see all the spots I have marked on the map.

A couple of weeks ago, we had worked around Duck Island and had really hammered some nice fish.  The plus side was we caught a mess of nice size white bass the eat really well when you skim off the red meat before you cook it.

These are a little small, but we caught a lot of them.  White bass seem to be plentiful on Waubay.  Skim off the red meat after filleting and you have a good tasting fish.

We started in the 10 foot to 15 foot range around the island, but caught nothing and did not even have a strike.  Moving out to the 15 to 20 foot level was really productive, and the fish seemed to be hitting the lure instead of mouthing it.  We also added either Power Bait or Bait Alive in the spray bottle.  That seemed to help and the hits were strong. Trying to stay in the depth range, we tried to stay within 50 – 75 yards from the island as we moved around it.  We went through a time period where we were picking up a fish about every 10 to 15 minutes and culling out the smaller ones.  Finally we had a limit for the day of four walleye apiece and it was only 6 p.m.  That would put us off the lake by 7 p.m., fish cleaned and packed by 8 p.m., and then dinner at the Galley Steak house.

This was really a good day, and we were looking forward to hitting Bitter Lake tomorrow.

Good fishing, good hunting, and good luck.  Hank


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Three Days of Walleye, Forget Day 3

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We awoke early and headed into Webster to grab some breakfast at Pereboms Restaurant.  The plan for the day was to fish till noon on Pickerel lake.  This is a beautiful lake and one of the original glacial lakes.  Clear deep water makes this body of water a real sleeper.  The people at Sportsman Cove never recommend it, but I always see a few boats working the various shoreline and points.  The lake is surrounded by upscale homes and it looks like some of the people live there year round. At the north end is a state area with excellent ramp and dock, however, you must pay a fee to the state of South Dakota.  It is only $5.00 unless you have a season pass to the state parks of South Dakota.  Sometimes I do, sometime I don’t.

The other area is at the south end of the lake.  The dock and ramp are both adequate, however, the water is very shallow in this area and a person has to be on guard to avoid hitting a submerged rock.  You do not need a state pass at this location, and the parking is limited.

The north end of the lake always produces some nice crappie.  We have also caught some decent size northern.  Taking out the Y bones produces an outstanding fillet so we will take all the decent size northern we can.   We have never caught walleye at the north end of the lake.  With a north wind, a person wants to drift down the west shoreline to catch some really fine crappie.  A plus is you get to admire some really fine looking real estate.

Here is a good link to follow to see how to take out the Y bones.

We have never fished the south end when there is a north wind.  With a strong south wind, the south dock on Pickerel is somewhat out of the wind and the bays are relatively sheltered and a fisherman should be out of the gale.

The boat ramp is at the tip of the south end of the lake.  It does not show on the map.  There are a lot of reefs and submerged rocks on the south end but once you move out to the edge of the main lake the fishing gets really good.  This is a beautiful body of water and the people at Sportsman Cove hardly ever recommend it.  Give it a try on your next trip.  Nice size northern caught at the north end.
There was no one at the south location when we put into the lake.  We motored out slowly to the lake and were met by a gale.  This was not what we had planned.  Moving into the wind we positioned ourselves somewhat out of the wind and made an attempt to fish.  Boat control was just not possible at this location.

From here we motored slowly over to the south shore and were somewhat more sheltered.  The only problem was we were in shallow water.  When I say shallow, it was ten to fifteen feet and we wanted to fish in deeper water.  It was way too windy as we moved out from the shelter of the trees on the bank into the deeper water.  Boat control was really tough, and my wife Pam was not happy with this location.  When we go fishing, she wants to fish, and not get banged around on rough water.

We tried to get closer to the shore, but had no luck, and there was no way we could handle the boat in the deeper water.  We gave up and headed back to the dock.  Crossing a section of open water, this small lake was really churned up and we were glad to be back at the dock.

We had been on the water a total of two and a half hours and that was enough for both of us.  It is South Dakota and you can always depend on the wind blowing.  The issue is from what direction and how fast.

Good Fishing, good hunting, good luck.  Hank
Gander Mountain


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