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Whiskered Wonders-Channel Catfish By Gary Howey


Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to tangle with a big catfish knows how powerful a big cat is.

  They’re not the prettiest fish in the water, but they are plentiful, fun to catch and great eating.

Cats are bottom-hugging creatures, spending most of their time either on the bottom or close to it.  Their eyesight is not very good, so they depend on their sense of smell and taste to find their food.  The barbells protruding from their upper lip are covered with taste receptors, as are their lips, helping catfish to locate a meal.

In the upper Midwest, you’ll find three species of catfish: the Channel, Blue and the Flathead.

In this column, we’re going to be talking about the Channel catfish.

Channel catfish are the most abundant fish species in our area and are found in most rivers, ponds, small lakes and reservoirs.

You’ll find them below the dam at Gavin’s Point and throughout the Missouri River system.  Look for channel catfish in deeper holes below the spillway, behind the rubble below the turbines and in snag-infested areas adjacent to deeper water.

They’re opportunists when it comes to what they eat; feeding on just about anything, they can get their mouth around.

I hold two line-class world records for Channel Catfish, which were taken on cutbait, which is no more than a piece of flesh cut from a Sucker and Goldeye. If you are going to use cutbait, be sure to leave the skin as this makes it harder for the fish to pull from the hook and with the skin attached, the bait will stay on your hook longer

 They will also take worms, Bluegills, Bullheads, Shad entrails, chicken or turkey liver, stink baits and about anything else, you throw at them. [Read more…]


Close encounters of the turkey kind By Larry MYHRE

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

There’s nothing quite like sitting in the dark with your back against a tree in the turkey woods. The whippoorwills are in full throat, their lashing cries piercing the darkness with a cadence only that bird can make.

A barred owl sounds off in the distance and the turkeys answer with exciting gobbles. My heart begins beating a little faster, and I can’t help but send out a tree yelp on the slate call. It is answered by more thunderous gobbles.

There’s a hint of rose along the eastern skyline, but here, deep in the timber, it is as dark as Hades on a bad day.

On the walk in, a coyote had suddenly appeared on the trail ahead, he looked over his shoulder, tongue lolling. Then he trotted off, unconcerned. Was it real or just a figment of my imagination? No, the encounter was ghostlike, but it was real.

Later, I startled a pair of deer, does I think, on the trail. I heard a snort and caught the flash of white from their rumps as they bounced away.

In that hour before dawn, the woods are alive.

I’ve encountered all kinds of wildlife in that darkness. It is springtime and wildlife species are on the move. For most of them it is a time of travel. It might be migration time or movement from winter to springtime habitats. The urge to reproduce is strong, and many lose their secretive manners to wander boldly about.

Every outdoorsman thrives on that hour before daylight experience, whether it is a deer hunter on stand or a waterfowler listening to the marsh wake up or a predator hunter waiting for shooting light before sending out a series of injured-rabbit cries. I’ve been there for all of that and, believe me, nothing matches pre-dawn wildlife encounters like turkey hunting.

Take, for instance, a morning I had in Missouri a few years ago. We have barred owls in our area, but nothing like Missouri. Missouri is barred owl country. There must have been a dozen of them sounding off in this valley.

It was a wild and raucous wailing of male owls trying to attract a mate. I listened to them and couldn’t help but join in. If you think all there is to a barred owl vocalization is the “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all,” that we are taught to shock gobble roosting toms, guess again. They have a kind of laughter pierced by shrieks and cries and choreographed vocalizations far beyond “who cooks for you.” And the springtime mating season is when you will hear that expanded vocabulary.

If you have a good barred owl call, as I do, you can join in on their conversation and often bring them to you. [Read more…]


Watertown Mourns the Loss of Native Son and Artist Terry Redlin

Terry Redlin, one of the country’s most widely collected painters of wildlife and Americana, died Sunday after a nine year struggle with dementia. He was 78 years old.

The only child of Alfred Redlin and Dora (Stein) Redlin, Terry Avon Redlin was born just north of Watertown, South Dakota on July 11, 1937. At the age of 15, Terry lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. It was at that time that the State of South Dakota offered him a scholarship through a program for students with disabilities. Terry graduated from Watertown High School in 1955. He married Helene (Langenfeld) Redlin in 1956.  The couple moved to St. Paul, Minnesota where Terry used his scholarship to attend the St. Paul School of Associated Arts. Upon graduation in 1958, Terry was hired by Brown & Bigelow in Minnesota as a playing card designer. His career as a commercial artist and illustrator culminated in the position of art director for Webb Publishing Company, also in Minnesota. It was there that Terry decided to venture into the world of wildlife art. In 1977, Terry published his first open edition print, “Apple River Mallards.”  In 1979, he left his position with Webb Publishing to concentrate on painting wildlife.

His 30 year career as a wildlife and Americana artist included many artistic accomplishments and accolades. In 1990, he was voted “America’s Most Popular Artist” in a nationwide poll of art dealers. He held that title for nine consecutive years. In 1992, he began releasing the first of eight images in his “America the Beautiful” series.  In 2004 he released seven paintings entitled “An American Portrait,” a tribute to veterans and their families. Based on the death of his brother-in-law, Charles Langenfeld, who was killed in action in Vietnam, the series was nine years in the making. [Read more…]


South Dakota State Record Smallmouth

The fish, a female full of eggs, was 19 inches long and had a 19-inch girth.

“I’ve never seen anything so fat. It was so fat its eyes were bulging. It was a freak,” Held said.

Held caught the fish on a swim bait with a jig head, using an Alabama rig. Not legal in all states, but allowed in South Dakota, an Alabama rig allows an angler to fish with multiple hooks on one line.

“Basically it imitates a school of bait fish, like perch,” Held said. “I started the morning using jerk baits and then switched to the Alabama rig. I caught the fish on the second cast with the rig.”

To say Held caught the fish in a very brief space of time is not entirely accurate. The two had been scouting, studying and fishing Horseshoe Lake for three years. They began after reading that the previous state record was caught in the lake in October 2013. [Read more…]