We Have Been Waiting for This Season

 

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

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

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

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It’s Never Over Till It’s Over

 

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

This was day one of the trip. Continue reading

Walleye Fishing at Its Finest

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

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

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

How Sweet It Is

Here it is.  The chariot that will carry us to glory and lots of walleye.

This is South Dakota.  Weather in this state is chaotic.  The blow out period moved the low pressure out, and this is generally not good for fishing.  We still had a high overcast, but the wind came up and began to blow.  This is where an experienced guide shows why we pay them for this service.  We went fishing in the big Lund as it made its way up the lake.  The guide had been in this type of weather before and knew where to go.  Twenty minutes after launching we moved into about 4 to 6 feet of water and started to fish.  It did not take long and we picked up a couple of keepers. Continue reading

Hammering the Walleyes

Here it is, boys and girls, the Berkley Flicker Shad that we caught the majority of the Walleye.  Just click on the picture and go to Bass Pro and buy several in case you lose a couple. 

The reservation was made in February of this year to fish our favorite lake on the Missouri River.  Lake Francis Case is the large, gently winding reservoir behind Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River in south-central South Dakota. The lake has an area of 102,000 acres and a maximum depth of 140 feet. Lake Francis Case covers just over 100 miles and has a shoreline of 540 miles.  With all that shoreline, this reservoir is a regular walleye factory. Continue reading

Big Score, First Day, First Hour

 


 

 There he is doing his job.  The Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy getting ready to suck in the big toms.  They see this little guy and they come right toward him to kick the living daylights out of him. Read on.

This was almost like poaching.  Never in my life have I had such immediate success. The opening sentence should be the weather was cold, the wind was blowing, and it took me 30 minutes to find a suitable place and it was over in fifteen minutes.  There is more.  Continue reading

Fall Fishing Lake Francis Case

 God does not charge time spent fishing against a man’s allotted life span. 

Old Indian Provberb

Last spring Pam and I went up to Platte Creek Lodge and fished for walleye on Lake Francis Case.  The lake is part of the Missouri River series of dams that stretches from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota all the way into Montana.with the final lake at Canyon Ferry Dam.  We fish with a guide that is a native of South Dakota and has fished the river all his life.  His boat is outstanding and all the gear, bait, and know how, is included in the price.  Plus, he is a joy to be with and is so accommodating to his customers and guests.  That makes for a really exciting and great trip. 

 

These are the keepers we caught.  South Dakota has a 15″ minimum and we threw back a lot of shorts.  From the time we hit the water this nice series of eaters took three hours. 

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Idaho Elk Hunt

 

 As I sat in the lodge and looked up, it felt like he was staring at me.  The lodge has a real nice wall hanger. For some this is what an elk hunt is all about.  For us it is all about the meat.

 Last January I made plans to make, what seems to be, an annual pilgrimage to Idaho and hunt elk on a sheep ranch.  Having been there before this is gentleman hunting at its finest and at my age it is the best I can do.

We have enjoyed wild game for many years as have many of our friends.  One couple not only enjoys game, but they enjoy a homemade adult beverage made from grapes to accompany a meal of well prepared game.   They are also excellent cooks and a week before the trip, there was a familiar voice on the phone saying, “I have a case of exquisite liquid made from grapes.  It is yours for my yearly ration of elk meat.”  We can hardly wait and the time table was laid and, of course, it is contingent upon a successful hunt. 

We have made this drive before.  It starts from Council Bluffs to Rock Springs, Wyoming and is 755 miles.  With stops it is a full 12 to 13 hours.  It is very weather dependent as east of Laramie is the Sherman Hill Summit that reaches an elevation of over 8,640 feet.  We want to cross this spot in the daytime and hopefully when the sun is out.  Driving in the clouds east of Laramie is not fun and it take some time to break out, but not until you get to Laramie at an altitude of 7,220 feet.  After that it is smooth driving to Rock Springs.  

After Rock Springs it is only a mere 320 miles to the ranch in Idaho.  Now that does not seem so bad, but is almost a full days drive as you travel from Rock Springs to Jackson, Wyoming and then over Teton Mountain Pass.  Now as a flat lander, this is a challenge.  Going up is not a problem, but on the other side the road is narrow and winding going down hill.  We go so slow and pull over frequently to let the locals pass.  They all wave with one hand and a finger in the air.  It must be a form of greeting.  

The Aspens were in their glory and as I cleared the pass this view was captured.

 

The Aspens interspersed with the pines made a great pic

At the ranch, we were greeted by the same people that have worked there over the years from the cooks to the guides, the manager,  and the lodge dog.  After settling in and shooting the rifle on the range, it was dinner and plans were made for the next morning. 

The lodge is just as good looking inside as outside.
This is what Gentleman hunting is all about.
 

We all have met a person several times that we really hit it off with and this is the case with our guide.  When the reservation was made he was requested, and it was a pleasure to hunt with him again. .  His son also guides at the ranch.  

We have a lot in common.  I hurt too when I get up in the morning or when I sit too long.

 I was amazed this year at how the ranch looked.  The sage brush had really grown and this made it very hard to spot an elk.  When they are feeding on the grasses their bodies are hard to spot and you have to look for the antlers sticking up above the sagebrush.  In some cases the sagebrush was almost to my shoulder and I am 6’2″ tall.  We were hunting the first week in October and it was unseasonably warm.  The ranch is located about 75 miles southwest of Yellowstone at an elevation of about 5,000 feet.  We did not expect this kind of weather.  

Looking out across the ranch.

 

That is Pam standing in the sagebrush.  In spots it is over her head.

We drove along the ridges, then stopped and began glassing the areas below to the hill across the valleys.  Our requirement is a young boy that does not have a low slung belly or any type of sway in his back.  Also, I do not shoot big racks.  I already have a bull that scored 380, and this is big enough for me. Our guide took us over to a spot on the ranch where he had spotted some young bulls.  

You work the low country first, then move up to higher elevations.  The elk are really hard to spot in all the sagebrush.

 With the  warm weather, we felt they would be feeding and then stop around 10 to 11 a.m. to chew their cud. Elk have 4 stomachs like a cow.  Then we would have a really tough time finding an animal till in the afternoon when they started grazing again. I had spotted a couple in a group of bulls that met what we were looking for, but our guide had said no to those animals as they had a broken antler. Pam said to him, “The people in Iowa will not know the difference.”  With that in mind we continued scouting the ranch.  

This old boy was way out there and thanks to telephoto lens we got his pic.  Notice how his back has a slight sway to it and his belly is a little low slung.  Beautiful rack, but you cannot eat horns and with his age, he is a little tough.   
Here is another jewel in the crown.  He is definitely a wall hanger, but check out the belly and the back.  He has had a lot of testosterone course through his veins and arteries. 
 
After a leisurely lunch we headed back out onto the ranch.  Our guide had another place where he had seen some elk.  We scouted the area all afternoon but saw nothing.  Tomorrow was another day.  We headed out before light the second day and moved over to the area where the small group of bulls were sighted.  The grass mixed among the sagebrush plants was plentiful and we worked to find them.  

Looking the group over, Pam spotted a good looking boy off to one side.  He was about 300 yards out and we were not noticed.  Moving down hill somewhat crouching among the sagebrush plants, we got within 200 yards and had a good view.  A light breeze was in our face, and with that, we had meat to take home. 

Not a big rack, but respectable.  But, look at that nice big body.  All the guides said the same thing that he was a good choice and will eat well.

 

Ready for the skinning

The lodge recommends Matt’s Meats in St. Anthony, Idaho to process the animal and they do a great job and will work with you on cuts.  We like our burger in half pound packets and the two tenderloins divided into thirds.  We used to do roasts and steaks, but all the people we give meat to prefer the burger and so do we.  You have so much versatility from just plain burgers to casseroles and other dishes.  

Ready for the processor.  Hanging weight was 381 pounds.

 

We have harvested deer, caribou, buffalo, moose, Arkansas razorback pig, and gator.  We still like elk the best. 

Good hunting, good fishing and good luck, Hank


 Click on the pic and buy my book from Amazon.  In these times it is a good entertaining read and makes a great gift.  Stay Safe.  Hank

Life of a Golf Course Goose

 

A sentry on duty

 We have the good or bad fortune of living on a golf course fairway. Canada geese also make the golf course their home, and they are a really exciting bird to watch beginning in the early spring and throughout the year.  I hunt waterfowl, but not the Canada goose as it would be like hunting my neighbors.  The golf course has everything the Canada Goose needs.  There is plenty of food as the fairway is composed of grass that attracts their palate.  The fairway has a large body of water along one side, and there is a sand pit.  Food to eat, water to drink and to float around on, and sand for their gizzards are all they need.  

The grasses on the golf course are very digestible and the layout of the course is very open and allows the birds protection from predators.  They can see a problem coming at a great distance. They are also somewhat protective of their territory.  There is one exception and that is the golfers.  They move off to a safe distance generally about 20 feet and continue their constant grazing as the golfers play through.

Morning on the golf course.

The property lines between the golf course and our back yards are very discernible.  We plant blue grass which is considerably darker and longer than the grass on the golf course.  Golf course grass is generally bent grass, and is shorter and a lighter color and more dense.  The geese will graze right up to the grass line separating the two properties and rarely cross over into back yards.  The other item might be that when they get close to the houses they do not have that much protective space. 

This spring we counted five families on the course each one having from 4 to 10 babies.  One family stood out as the mother sat on a nest right opposite our home along the lake.  She sat and sat with nothing happening.  Neighbors we talked with were all worried whether she had any eggs alive in the nest.  

Here she sits on her nest.  Everyone was worried about her and we were worried the golfers might disturb her.  They ignored her and played on through. 

 

That is dad out floating around.  He stayed right close to her and if a golfer got close he went toward him/her. 

Then it happened.  We got up early one morning to see how mom was doing and there they were.  Ten little puff balls running around but staying close to the parents.  Mom and dad were very attentive and kept them all together.  

The little devils were running all around and it was hard to get a picture of them all together.
 
Mom and Dad with the chicks in the low spot.
 
Mom dad and the family out for breakfast.

They grow really fast and soon we could not determine whose family we were looking at.  As they got bigger it was hard to count as they scooted around the golf course.  

That is two families out for stroll.  They walked between houses, across the street, to the pond in the next neighborhood.  Amazing!

This is a family of eight.  Not the one we initially watched.
 
Another morning on the golf course

We had five families on the golf course and as I indicated earlier family size ranged from 4 to 10 goslings.  As they grew it became harder to distinguish families when they were all on the golf course.

There is our 10.
 
They grew at an outstanding rate.  This is one of the first families. 

 

A couple of visitors showed up one morning.  We did not see them go for the geese as they come periodically to fish.

Eagles fly in from the river and perch on the roof tops waiting for a fishing opportunity.
 
That is a family and it is amazing how fast they grow then start flying.
 
Families.
 
We caught them again one morning walking between the houses down to the next pond.  A snow goose has hung out with them all spring and summer. 

We are close to the end of October and we generally have Canada geese flocked up and occupying the fairway we live on from the T box to the hole.  But not this year, but the year is not over.  

Look for my next two posts.  I just got back from an Elk hunt in Idaho and a fishing trip on Lake Francis Case in South Dakota.  Now to start duck hunting.  It is a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

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Goodnight!!!

The Catching Never Ends

 
Platte Creek Lodge and Guide Service. 
 

Wow, Wow, and more Wow!  It just can’t get much better than this.  My guide and I hit the lake really early. With this fantastic weather, the lake would be packed, and it was a Saturday. Pam backed out and said , ” I am sleeping in in this morning, but be back by lunch.”  It is like people have been locked up so long and needed to get out and with this weather and lake conditions, it was time to go, and catch some walleye. The wind had moved southeasterly with a front about 100 miles out.  The beautiful weather was going to change and we needed to get on it before the front arrived and the conditions changed. The wind was forecast-ed to switch to the east with low clouds, mist, and rain.  Been there, done that, and it turns off.

We got to the boat ramp before anyone else got there,  and that helped a lot getting on the lake.  On the water the guide hit the pedal and off we went flying across the water to another fishing spot he knew about.

 
Looking out the back of the boat, and this is what 50 mph looks like as we sped across the water. 

 

Looking out over the bow of the boat.  This machine really flies and it does not take long to cover a lot of water.  The white box with the red handle is a box holding crawlers or as we say in Iowa, worms. Around the edge of the box is a liner for ice and that way the bait is kept cool.  

We pulled up to the first spot and began fishing.  Immediately the action started, but we were throwing them all back as we just could not catch a 15 inch fish. I had not hammered fish like this in years. The rods used were light action and were long, but it still felt like we had a really decent size fish.  I think I mentioned in the previous blog that this lake should be a really hot spot for legal fish next year.

Spot one we fished for about 30 minutes along the face of the drop off starting from the point and working along the bank.  What was really interesting was that we were so close to the edge of the bank and still fished in 10 to 12 feet of water. 
 
It was time to keep moving.  It was not for not catching fish, it was for not catching legal size to keep.  Again, the big motor was fired up and off we flew across the lake to another spot.  Decades ago, my son and I fished Canada waters with a friend from northern Minnesota.  He always said when you pick up small walleye, move, because that is all you are going to catch. 
 
 
Notice the house along the bank.  The question I asked was how can a person build a house or cabin along ground that belongs to the government by way of the Corp of Engineers.  Apparently it was built about the same time the reservoir was completed and just got grandfathered in.  The guide wants that house and if I win the lottery, I have promised I will buy it for him.  Neither one of us will lose any sleep over it. 

I have fished and hunted with a lot of guides, and I have never had one that was not good.  I have really enjoyed his company, plus harvesting a lot of  game and enjoying the outdoors. We fished really hard at this location as we  had success there before, but today it was fleeting.  We did not catch a thing.  It happens, and it is called fishing, not catching. Onward, upward, and ever forward.  There is always another spot along this wide and meandering lake.

 
This was really interesting and it was the only place where we saw this geology.  Notice the color of the water.  It is similar to the color of the rocks.  As you moved out away from the bank the water darkened up to the color of the rest of the lake.  Depth at this level was around 15 feet.  It was at this level we caught keeper fish.  I am forwarding this picture to a geologist and have him tell me about the rocks and the layers.  Interesting. 

 

We were not limited out yet, but had two more fish to go.  All of a sudden it shut off.  I have seen this happen before, but have no explanation for it.  The only thing I can think of is walleye are finicky fish and something turns them on and then turns them off.  The wind did go down and the late went flat.  I did not like that environment and neither did the guide. We moved to the east side of the lake. 
 
 
The graph and trolling motor moved us along the bank in 15 feet of water.  Then the cattle that were up on the bank came down and paid us a visit.  We caught no fish here, but as we moved by they all stood and stared at us as some waded into the water. 
 
 
We continued down the east bank.  Where the grass was standing, we finished out our limit and it was only 11 A.M.  The graph displayed 10 feet of water and we were about 10 feet from the grass line. I did not get a picture of this, but we both agreed the bait fish were hiding in the tall grass and the game fish were working that weed line.  We had a great time catching and pitching.  Some of them were bigger than what we had in the live well. 
 
Pam and I each came away with a possession limit of Missouri River Walleye.  We might come back this fall.  The best part of this trip was my wife was fishing with me again and enjoying herself.  A really great motel that was like an upscale hotel in a big city made the difference. 

 

 
I just put this picture in because it was such beautiful scenery.  Picture Lewis and Clark going up the Missouri River and seeing this rise in the land. 


 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

 

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