A couple of weeks ago, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Larry Myhre and I spent some with guide Kent Hutcheson time probing the waters of Lake Sharpe for walleyes.
We were hoping to hit the Pre-spawn or tail end of the spawn, which usually occurs when water temperatures hit forty degrees and ends when temperatures warm up past forty-five degrees.
Because of the strange weather we’ve had this spring, the walleyes had a tough time finding ideal spawning temperatures and the pre-spawn and spawn occurred differently than it had in past years.
In preparation of the spawn, walleyes should be stacked up in areas adjacent to rocky points, areas with a lot of wave action as the waves oxygenates the eggs and prevents silt from covering the eggs.
During the pre-spawn the spawn, we looked for the fish to be located in the deeper water along rip-rap areas or areas with fist size rocks. They were there, but the major part of the spawn had already occurred, with those fish using the area the smaller males, still hanging around hoping to find a female that hadn’t dropped her eggs. [Read more…]
Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
There’s a fish swimming in most of South Dakota’s lakes, rivers and reservoirs that has often been described as “the fightingest fish that swims.”
Yet, like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield was fond of saying, “it don’t get no respect.”
You see, the smallmouth bass is, indeed, the fish most likely to stretch the memory coils out of your monofilament that has sat dormant on your reel’s spool all winter. A two-pounder will demand your full attention, and will probably jump at least two feet out of the water, more than once.
However, this bronze rocket has the misfortune of swimming in water where the walleye is king. This is the land of $60,000 boats pulled by $60,000 pickups by guys hoping to land a limit of four walleyes measuring over 15 inches. None, most likely, will measure greater than 18 inches on most days and weigh less than a pound an a half.
They are fishing for sport and food. Sometimes I wonder which holds the most importance.
If they have the misfortune of hooking a smallmouth, a wave of disappointment washes over them. More than likely the smallie will go into the live well to keep the walleyes company, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Smallmouth are darn good eating, too. OK, I’ve let the cat out of the bag.
Bass fishermen will label me as a heretic. They don’t keep bass. They release them to fight again. It is a matter of principle with them. You’ll never see limits of smallmouths hanging on steel hooks bolted to two by fours with the proud anglers standing behind them smiling as they display their success.
That’s walleye company. It’s a prelude to good eating.
And, it was the lure of walleyes that drew Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and me to Pierre, South Dakota, a couple of weeks ago. But it turned out to be one of those times when you go to a walleye fight and a smallmouth fight breaks out.
“You’ll probably catch some smallmouth here,” our guide Kent “Hutch” Hutcheson said as he eased the big Ranger up onto a rocky flat projecting off Lake Sharpe’s east shoreline just south of the West Bend boat ramp. He should know. He’s been guiding here for over 30 years.
Sure enough, Howey’s rod tip bounced and the fish tore off line in a frantic run toward shore. I grabbed the camera, flipped on the switch and caught the smallie leaping out of the water some 30 feet away. The red “Record” light was on and through the dim viewfinder I saw the fish leave the water throwing spray six feet across on either side of him.
“I’d rather be lucky than good,” I muttered to no one. Getting that jumping fish on tape was pure luck, and I’d be the first to admit it.
With the smallie in the boat and unhooked, we took some quick pictures and released him. There would be bigger ones, we knew. [Read more…]
It looked as if it would be a tough season for Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Josh Anderson, Hartington, NE. and I as we tried to film Josh’s first archery turkey hunt.
Our first set up (Plan A) was in the field the birds had been using last year, but this year, they decided to do their thing in a field below.
Our second set up (Plan B) was in the bottom where the gobblers were strutting this year: where we relocated a ground blind in amongst the trees along the creek. When the sun rose, the birds pitched out into the field east of our blind, refusing to come to the west.
Then the birds changed their pattern, moving west of the blind and not coming east, so we relocated the blind to the west field (Plan B).
(Plan C) Happened a few days later, where they moved back to their old haunt, so we grabbed my blind and stuck it in the ground just west of where they were roosting, I called in a nice gobbler, but the bird spotted Josh bringing his bow up and high tailed it back to the east.
(Plan D) On our last scouting trip, the birds weren’t in the field we had hunted, so we changed tactics, moving to a new area, as we worked our way in along the edge of the tree line several Toms gobbled north of an open field. We quickly set up the blind, tucking it in amongst the plum bushes, doing our best to brush in the front of the blind, slid out of the area and came back that evening. With our decoys out in front of the blind, we patiently waited for those Toms that had gobbled at us earlier to respond to our calls. Nothing no gobbles and no sign of the birds, it looked like we would have to come up with a better plan. We tried using Plan A & B and had blown right through Plans C, D, so it was time to get serious and go to Plan E.
(Plan E) We would be to quietly sneak into the trees around midday, pull the blind and relocate it to the north side of the grove where, in the past we observed several Gobblers and hens feeding the open secluded open ground.
It was late afternoon, as we snuck into the blind, putting out our decoys and started calling. We would be using the Big Three, calls that always seemed to get a response from a gobbler, my box, slate and diaphragm calls. Since we weren’t sure how close the birds might be, I begun calling with my slate, calling quietly, throwing in a few purrs, the sound a hen makes when she’s contented and when she’s mating. We waited, waiting for the gobbles to ring out across the valley; we waited and waited and waited.
Getting no answer, I raised the volume of the call, putting more pressure on the striker and picking up the pace, still no response.
Perhaps, because of the gusting winds, I wasn’t getting enough volume and my call wasn’t reaching the birds upwind from the blind.
I picked up my box call, applied pressure to the paddle and quickly slid it across the edges of the box call, increasing the pressure on the paddle and volume as I waited for the thundering response from an old Gobbler. As before, nothing, we knew the birds were using the area, perhaps our moving of the blind had spooked them, but there still was a lot of time before sundown.
I tried all three calls, with no response, which really didn’t surprise me as in the past Gobblers had them come on in stealth mode, silently, strutting, tail feathers spread, their chest puffed out with their wings dragging on the ground. [Read more…]
PIERRE, S.D. | If there is one thing you can count on about Lake Sharpe this time of year, it is that it will kick out walleyes. Early spring means “eaters,” those 15- to 18-inch males that take up residence on the rocky flats where the big females move in to spawn.
If you hit it right, the fishing can be phenomenal. Be a few days early or a few days late, and it is another story.
Oh, you’ll catch fish. And you shouldn’t have any trouble catching a limit of four walleyes over 15 inches. But you will have to work for them.
That’s what happened to us late last week. Gary Howey of Hartington, Nebraska, and I fished with longtime friend and fishing guide Kent “Hutch” Hutcheson, who has been guiding in the Pierre area for over 30 years.
When Hutch picked us up at the Ramkota Hotel, our headquarters for the next few days, he told us the walleyes were at the end of their spawn and finding fish might be tough. He had fished the Cheyenne River on massive Lake Oahe the previous day and reported the fish were there but finding them was not easy.
After some conversation we decided our best bet might be the West Bend area of Lake Sharpe, the 80-mile-long reservoir to the south that stretches from Big Bend Dam just above Chamberlain to the Oahe dam just a few miles north of Pierre.
When Gary and I crossed the bridge spanning across the river from Fort Pierre to Pierre, we noticed a lot of boats working the sandbars just downstream. I took a quick count and came up with 26 boats.
“Doesn’t anybody work anymore?” Gary said. We used to see this kind of pressure on the weekend, but this was during the week.
It was the same at the West Bend boat ramp. Over 20 rigs were parked in the parking lot and three more boats were ready to launch.
As we eased out of the small bay that protects the ramp, I counted 15 boats working the big, long sunken reef or island that lays out across the bend. But Hutch wasn’t heading there. He abhors fishing with a bunch of boats and pointed the bow downstream to one of his hot spots a few miles away.
When we got there, three boats were working one hump and another was awfully close to where Hutch wanted to fish.
“I used to have this spot all to myself for years,” he said. “But things have changed.”