Bizarre first-person account verifies existence of miracle lure

January 7, 2019

By Larry Myhre

(Editor’s note: This story is copyrighted, trademarked and otherwise protected from use by morning radio talk show hosts desperate for fresh topics.)

Perhaps you have heard about “The Fabulous Ice Fly.”

As the story goes, a Minnesota ice angler years ago formulated a recipe for a home-tied fly which he used to decimate the panfish population of many lakes.

The whole thing was a huge scandal which, unfortunately, was not reported in the sporting press because a score was not involved.

However, the sudden disappearance of panfish in hundreds of Minnesota lakes caused the DNR to spring into action. It took only twenty years for them to place restrictive possession limits on bluegills, perch, crappies and, amazingly enough, rock bass.

To escape prosecution for plundering the resource, the angler moved to Sioux City where he thrived in obscurity and tried, in vain, to give up low pursuits such as fishing, drinking and stealing monofilament from anglers who leave lines unattended.

I, too, considered the whole thing just a rumor until the late 1970s when I actually met the guy on a night crappie trip to Brown’s Lake.

It was mid-February, and so cold that I occasionally reached inside my parka to sip from the flask of bourbon I kept there for just such emergencies. Suddenly, I noticed my bobber getting lower and lower in the water.

No, it wasn’t a bite. Incredibly, the water level actually seemed to be dropping.

I was about to reach for the flask again when I heard someone screaming and splashing.

Yes, splashing. The ice had gone out just east of the boat ramp. Someone was in the water.

To make a long story short, I saved his life. His name, however, must remain undisclosed due to newspaper confidentiality rules. While we warmed up in my car with the heater full blast he told me the story of the fly and, to show his gratitude, gifted me with three of them.

Larry Myhre’s Fabulous Ice Fly

Being a fly tyer, it was easy for me to replicate the flies and before long word of my success on the ice spread as far as Hartington, Neb., where Gary Howey, at the time editor and publisher of the Outdoorsmen newspaper and who now, through a series of typos and other unfortunate turns of events, has become a television producer, began begging me shamelessly for the flies.

To appease him I sent a few flies with the following letter based on my conversation with the fisherman and months of my own investigative reporting resulting in verification of certain facts.

Howey rushed the letter to press without my permission, giving new life to this doubtful tale and causing much anguish among his more sensitive readers.

Dear Gary,

These are the fabled ice flies. They were invented in 1968 by a man named Lawrence Beam (no relation to Jim) who used them to, literally, fish out a lake in northern Minnesota called Lac de Pisces. In fact, the poundage of bluegills which Lawrence removed from the lake caused the water level to fall four feet below the ice.

In due course, some 15,000 ice fishing shacks inhabited by nearly 17,000 piscators and drunks fell into the water when the ice collapsed. All drowned except for four whose empty brandy bottles kept them afloat until help arrived.

Lawrence then moved to Old Crow Bay on Lake Big Kahoona near International Falls. He changed his name to avoid liability lawsuits stemming from relatives of the 16,996 who perished in Lac de Pisces.

Here, history becomes a bit fogged, but it is believed Lawrence was one and the same with a derelict named Lanny Daniels (no relation to Jack). Daniels was once found passed out on Big Kahoona where he had lain on the ice for five days in sub-zero temperatures. When thawed, Lanny appeared to be OK except for a slight, uncontrollable shiver, which it is said he retains to this day.

In 1976, a funny thing happened. The ice on Big Kahoona collapsed causing 12,000 fishing derelicts to drown in water which was ascertained to be at least six feet below ice level when the tragedy occurred. Ironically, at about the same time, a local commercial fishing firm was seen to prosper and its stock jumped 14 points on the New York Stock Exchange. It had found, it seems, a ready outlet for jumbo bluegill meat. Newspaper investigative reporters could not connect Daniels with the firm, but he was never seen around Big Kahoona again.

It is rumored that Daniels moved to Sioux City and changed his name to one which no one could pronounce or spell and went on to become an outdoor writer. Although no one has ever verified this, the ice did go out without explanation on Browns Lake in the middle of winter last year.

The secret to his ice flies has never been revealed and his identity (because of the FBI’s witness protection program) remains safe with me.

It’s been over 20 years since I wrote that letter and I republish it here to lay to rest certain theories, conjectures and just wildly erroneous stories which have been circulating recently among Iowa ice shacks.

I stand by the above as being a true rendition of my recollections of that night on the ice at Brown’s Lake. I should also point out that soon after the incident, I learned bourbon is not the best drink for cold weather. Schnapps, of course, is a much better choice, or perhaps, one of the flavored brandies. I was pretty young then and not nearly as sophisticated (or sober) as I have since become. I still, however, ice fish.

Larry Myhre cannot be reached due to HIPPA regulations. You may, however, write to him in care of this publication.


The Story of The Gimp By Larry Myhre

January 7, 2019

27DEC 2018

Sometimes I just get into the mood to tie flies. That is what has occurred the past few days. Mostly, I’ve been working on streamers with visions of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, walleyes and crappies dancing through my head. So I have been tying Clouser minnows and Lefty’s deceivers in all kinds of colors and sizes. Of course, no fly book is complete without a liberal supply of muddler minnows. I’m partial to sizes six and four.

But then I got the urge to tie an old favorite. It’s a drab-colored nymph with the unlikely name of “The Gimp.”

It’s a fly that hasn’t gotten a lot of press over the years, and I’ve never seen it for sale in any of the fly shops or mail-order houses. So it is a fly that is destined to be created only at the vises of amateur fly tyers, if they have even been introduced to it.

The story of the Gimp goes back a long ways. And I am proud to say that I am a part of it. The fly was invented in the late 1940s by a guy who twenty years later was to become a friend and fishing partner of mine. His name was Lacey Gee, and he lived right on the bank of the Wapsipinicon River in Independence, Iowa.  In 1945, he started the Wapsi Fly Company, a business located right next door to a poultry processing plant. By the time I met him in the early 1970s, Wapsi was the third largest fly tying supply company behind Herters and Universal Vice, both now long gone.

I met Lacey through Erwin Sias, editor of the Sioux City Journal, where I worked as a reporter at the time. Lacey and Si’s friendship went back a good many years, and in 1955 Lacey and Sias co-authored a little 64-page booklet entitled “Practical Flies and Their Construction.” Thousands of copies were printed over the years. Most of them were contained in fly-tying kits sold by Wapsi, Universal Vice, Jann’s Netcraft and others. The book was revised in 1966. I have both editions, a few copies of the original was hard-bound and Sias autographed a couple of those for me.

The Gimp Fly

After Lacey designed the Gimp, he began putting them in the hands of good fishermen across the country. One of those was Erwin Sias who tested it on a small stream in central Nebraska. The result was an article by Sias in 1950 in Outdoor Life entitled, “They Go for the Gimp.”  Over the years the fly was tested throughout the country and even overseas, and reports were favorable. Yet, the fly never really caught on. Then in 1970, I wrote an article for Fly Fisherman magazine titled “Tying the Gimp Nymph.” I had not told Lacey about the story and when the magazine hit the newsstands, he began getting orders for the Gimp. He called me and said, “Don’t ever write another story without giving me a heads up.” All of his fly tyers in the Independence area had to suspend all tying and concentrate on the Gimp. One fly fishing supplier ordered 140 dozen of the fly. I didn’t feel too bad because at the time Lacey’s tyers were turning out 15,000 flies a week.

 Lacey sold the business to a friend, Tom Schmuecker, in 1973. Tom moved the business to Mountain Home, Ark., in 1978, and today it is the world’s largest fly-tying materials company.

And so the years went by without much notice about the Gimp. It appeared as a recipe in one fly tying book entitled “Flies for Trout” in 1993. In late 1999, Tom wrote me for more information about the Gimp. A magazine, “The Canadian Fly Fisher” had printed a reader’s question  in the Fall, 1999 edition about the Gimp which the reader had discovered in the booklet Sias and Gee had written in 1955. Tom wanted to fill them in on the background. I sent Tom a copy of the 1950 article in Outdoor Life magazine and also a copy of the story I had done for Fly Fisherman. I also made photos of the fly tied by Lacey and a letter of provenance he had sent me regarding the origin of the fly. The result was a story in the February, 2000 edition of that magazine. The story can be found online at

In early 2008 I was contacted by Ward Bean a fly tier from Council Bluffs, Iowa, who was working on a story about the Gimp for Fly Tyer Magazine. Ward came up to visit, and as we sat in my fly tying room, I told him the story of the Gimp as I knew it. Ward also interviewed Tom, and the result was an excellent story on the Gimp in the Winter 2008 edition of the magazine. You can read it by visiting his web site

Today there is at least one Youtube video on tying this fly and, surprisingly, it is also offered for sale on eBay by a fly tyer.

One of the reasons I believe the Gimp has never became a commercial success is that a key component, a feather, is found only on the necks of Amherst pheasants. The feather is the aftershaft feather at the base of one of the large, barred-white neck feathers. Each Amherst neck would provide only enough feathers for a couple dozen flies and, at $10 plus a neck, it would be difficult to justify a few hundred dozen.

For those who tie their own, here is the recipe: tail, few fibers from a dun hen neck; body, blue-dun wool; wing, two aftershaft feathers tied flat over the body; hackle, two wraps of dun hen neck feather.

Sias retired from the Journal in 1978 and moved to northern Idaho where he fished every day of the week until he died at the age of 81. His wife Betty still lives at their cabin. She will be 102 this spring. Lacey and I fished a few times together after that, including two trips into Canada, and then he moved to Florida where he had vacationed for many years, and fished along the coastal waters. If you’ve ever fished or tied flies with marabou you have Lacey to thank. He discovered those feathers after importation of African stork feathers became illegal. Marabou feathers are found between the legs and around the rear end of tame turkeys. Lacey began marketing them after plucking them from turkeys destined for the processing plant next door. He was a pro golfer at one time, although I never held that against him. I played golf one time. He continued to play into his 80’s in Florida after he quit fishing, even though he had to pull around a portable oxygen tank.

While Lacey was a professional fly tyer, tackle manufacturer and expert fly fisherman who furthered the art of fly fishing as much as anybody else, he also became an accomplished jig fisherman. Jigs became popular fishing lures in the late 1950s in the Midwest. Lacey was quick to capitalize on their popularity by designing and selling a line of very effective lures. He also co-authored another book, “How to Fish With Jigs” with Sias in 1970. Lacey designed the Slim Jim, the G-Whiz, the Mitey Mite and the Fuzzy, all jigs which catch everything from walleyes to trout. None have been commercially available since 1973.

In a later addition to this blog, I’ll describe those jigs and how to tie them. For now, just know that when I grab my spinning rod and venture forth all of those jig patterns designed by my late friend Lacey have long had a priority place among my tackle.

And in my fly book, the Gimp and a large variety of marabou streamers are also found. Thank you Lacey Gee.

“Pass It On” By Gary Howey

January 7, 2019

  I have been involved in the outdoors since I was a youngster growing up in Watertown, S.D. and over the years, I have found that spending time in the outdoors becomes much more precious to me.

  It may be that it is the fact that I am away from the office and the racket that is associated with it!

  Each trip is an opportunity to escape from the everyday doldrums and a chance to get back to my roots.

  When I was growing up, I was fortunate to have mentors to teach me about the outdoors.  My father Cal did a little hunting and fishing while my Grandma & Grandpa Menkveld did a lot of fishing and some hunting, while Glen Matteson, our neighbor across the street was an outdoor guru as there was not anything in the outdoors that he did not know about.

  The outdoor bug bit me at an early age, spending any of my spare time, running up and down the Sioux River or along the shores of Lake Pelican. 

  I can honestly say that there was not much in the outdoors we did not try!  From fishing to hunting and everything in between, we did all the things kids could do in the outdoors.

  We were fortunate to have adults that influenced us, getting us interested in the outdoors.

Author Gary Howey was fortunate to have someone to introduce him to the outdoors, now he is passing along the tradition by taking his grand-kids fishing and hunting.His grandson, Cooper Slaba, Wagner, S.D. with a trophy bluegill he caught with his Power Ranger rod & reel from a dam in northeast Nebraska.

  Things have changed considerably in today’s world!  When I was growing up, a good part of our population in our area were rural.

  It always seemed that people living in the rural areas were closer to the land; they knew that hamburger came from a cow and pork came from a hog, not from McDonald’s.

  Hunting is part of our American Heritage and a huge part of the wildlife management program.

  Because of the general migration from rural areas to the larger cities where a major part of our population resides as well as our hunters getting older, the numbers of hunters is on the decline

 In a recent survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows, that today, only about 5 percent of Americans, 16 years old and older, actually hunt, that is down 29% from what it was in 2011 and the decline expected to accelerate over the next decade

  In the Midwest, hunting is still an American tradition with the number of hunters holding their own.

  Much of the reason for this decline nationwide is that the population in the larger cities is not associated with the outdoors, where there are fewer hunters to help pass along the tradition of hunting and it seems as if it is fading away.

  In many families, some with only one parent there are kids interested in the outdoors, but there is no one to teach them.

  It is up to individuals like you and I as well as other members of the hunting family to show those new to the outdoors all the great things that the outdoors has to offer, and to “Pass It On.

  There are getting to be fewer and fewer folks, who will take the time to introduce someone, kids to the outdoors.

  We can no longer sit by, watching hunter numbers go down, and there are people, like you reading this column that are needed to teach others about the outdoors.

  You can pitch in and help by volunteering to help with youth programs run by the Game & Parks, DNR and Game Fish & Parks Department. 

  I have been a Nebraska Master Hunter Safety Instructor, Hunter Safety Instructor for over 25 years and at these volunteer jobs, we not only try to educate others about Hunters Safety and the outdoors we do it because we want to see the tradition of hunting to continue.

  Some of the questions the kids come up with and the excitement when they go out into the field with our instructors makes it all worthwhile.

  Volunteers do not need to be expects needing to know everything about the outdoors, each of us enjoy the outdoors in different ways and you can pass on that information. You will be talking to youngsters and others, eager to learn about the outdoors, hungry for every little piece of information on the outdoors that they can find.

  No one knows everything about the outdoors and those that think they do are not the type of individuals you want to have as teachers any way!

All you need to do is to spend some time with a kid or non-hunting adult and pass along information about hunting, fishing, camping and the outdoors.

 They do not need to tag a trophy buck, to camp in the Rockies or catch a monster fish; they just need to get away from the computer, computer games and television. 

  In fact, it is best if you start kids out slow; showing them how to plink at targets, shoot a bow, to catch bullheads or bluegill, and how about doing a backyard camp out.

  Watching a youngster that you introduced to the sport, enjoying a few of the many things the outdoors has to offer is one of the best feelings in the world.

  You have not only made yourself feel better, you made some youngsters day and helped introduce another to the outdoors!

  Kids are looking for something to do and there are so many things they can get into that are not good for them.  They need an alternative so they are not out getting in trouble or setting in front of video games.

  Myself, I really enjoy seeing a new angler catching a fish or a young hunter calling in a turkey, because I know that I added another outdoorsmen or women to the sport of hunting.

  Another way to support the outdoors is to support the many conservation groups. Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation are all tremendous conservation groups that do an excellent job of promoting the outdoors, all while working to increase habitat and wildlife populations.

  These groups all have mentor programs where: outdoors skills and the love of the outdoors can be passed along to the younger generation.

  It is up to our outdoorsmen and outdoors women to help promote the outdoors and to introduce the youngsters to all that Mother Nature has to offer, as the youth are the future of our sport, lets “Pass It On”.

  You may be surprised as the kids may not be the only ones learning something!

        Gary Howey, a Watertown native, now residing in Hartington, Neb. who is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, and inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017. He is the Producer/Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out  or like Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook or watch his shows on

Photo Caption

Mossy Oak-Whitetail Management: Keeping the Balance

January 1, 2019


BY Bob Humphrey on Dec. 21, 2018

Mossy oak Gamekeepers

If you want to see more and bigger bucks, and larger body weights, you probably need to thin your doe population out a bit, possibly a lot. A given piece of land will hold and sustain “X amount” of deer (both bucks and does). Because of territorial tendencies, social pressures and Mother Nature’s influence, a large matriarchal society may develop over time. You must also understand for there to be “more” mature bucks, there must be additional bucks coming from somewhere, and a crop of new bucks following up in years to come.

Let’s say that a doe has one buck-fawn and one doe-fawn. After the fawn’s entire first year, which is spent with the doe, usually at around 18 months old, instincts are believed to urge the buck to go seek out a territory a fair distance away from his mother. Pressure to move is also provided by older bucks in the area and it’s believed the doe also helps by having her own instinct to drive her male offspring away.

Then, when a year old buck disperses from his birth range and goes off searching for where he will take root and spend the rest of his life, when he comes across your property he may not be able to stay because all of those X’s (living spaces) are filled by that large matriarchal doe group. To see more and bigger bucks, balancing the ratio and making spaces available for new animals is very important.

On the other hand, the female offspring will usually take up a territory right next to, and typically inter-twined with the doe’s home range. So if you’re not keeping up with your doe harvest, over time you get a big doe matriarchal society that just keeps growing and growing. 

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Bluegill the Ice Anglers Best Friend By Gary Howey

December 19, 2018

Getting started in ice fishing can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.

There are some species of fish that are easier to catch through the ice than others are, these are in the panfish family.

One of these is the Bluegill, a member of the panfish family that are generally eager biters at first ice.

In the Midwest, we have several species of panfish that some consider and every once in awhile, you might pick up a Pumpkinseed.  They may differ in size and color, but they all seem to like to nibble on baits such as wax worms, or plastic bait suspended below a jig or a bobber.

In the winter, look for Bluegills, and Green Sunfish in the shallower water.  There are several reasons for this; the first is that they feed on small insects and larvae that live in areas where they find weed growth.

Because of the shallow depth, the sunlight penetrated to the bottom in the shallower water until temperature turned very cold, with the remainder of the weeds vertical allowing the insects and larva a place to over winter. The weeds make ideal areas for the Bluegill to locate and feed on small aquatic life.  Finally yet importantly, is the fact that since Bluegills are a smaller fish and quite tasty, they like to hang out in the shallow water near these weed beds because the larger predator fish have a difficult time locating them and maneuvering in the shallow water and weeds.

Gary Howey with one of the big bluegills caught while ice fishing a small pond in Nebraska.

  To catch Bluegills through the ice, I like to use a Northland GILL-GETTER JIG tipped with a wax worm or some sort of plastic like the Impulse ZOO PLANKTON.

  There is a new Northland lure that I am anxious to try when I am fishing back home in the Glacial Lakes near Watertown and Webster; it is the Northland lead-free Glo-Shot jig. It is available in 12 fish catching colors and three sizes, 1/8, ¼, and 3/8 ounce, depending on what species of fish you are after.

  The GLO-SHOT Jig is a luminescent jig that glows because of the GLOW-Shot Sticks placed in the jig that illuminates the entire jig for 8-Plus hours. Anglers who used it, indicated the GLO-SHOT JIG works great during the day for fishing under snow covered ice, during cloudy over cast conditions, in darker water and when fishing at night.

  Anglers I know that have used it say it is very effective bait when tipped with a wax worm, minnow, or minnow head fished vertically, jigged, for deadsticking or below a bobber.

  Its unique shape allows it to jig, swim, and flutter below the ice.  

  Live bait also work well, with the old hook, line, sinker, and a bobber when tipped with wax minnow or minnow head. 

  As I mentioned in other articles, when ice fishing, this is when you truly want to use “Light” as cold weather has a huge effect on monofilament line, making lager line weights tough to use during the hard-water months as it creates even more memory than the it had before winter.    Lighter line with less memory allows the lighter lures we use ice fishing to flutter and rise naturally.  If you use too heavy line, split shot or jig, the Bluegill will either back off and look at the heavy kinky line or spend his time pecking at the split shot and not your wax worm.  Use small hooks or jigs and experiment with the number of wax worms you attach to the hook.      There are times when Bluegill will want just a tiny little wax worm and at other times, they will take an ice jig with two or more before they look at the smaller offering.

The bobber or float helps you to detect the bite and because Bluegill are cold blooded and in their slow mode, you do not want to overdo it.  All creatures during the hard-water period do not move around much and not require a whole lot of food when the water turns hard above them.

Try to use as smallest bobber if possible.  The key to bobber fishing is to have just the very top of the bobber sticking out of the water; the less bobber floating out of the water, the less resistance the bluegill will feel when he takes the bait, holding on to it longer.

  I like to use the Northland LITE-BITE ICE FLOAT, their 3″ and 5″ foam Hi-Vis float comes with its own bobber stop. Adjustable by unscrewing the cork screw base and trimming the foam back so it verily floats above the water, allowing fish to pick up the bait and because there is just enough float to hold on top of the water the fish will not feel any resistance and not spit out the bait.

Fish during winter, will move vertically as much as they do horizontally, so if you were catching bluegills at 3-feet, and the bite quits, do not move to a next spot to soon.  Try going a bit deeper if the sun is out or a bit shallower if it is a cloudy day.

Bluegill and other panfish are fun to catch, great eating, especially when caught from ice-cold water. Bluegills are eager biters, found under the ice on most lakes, ponds or stock dams.

On some sunny warm day, when you’re looking for something to do, grab your auger, a rod, a few lures and the wax worms and give Bluegill fishing a try, it will be worth it.

  Gary Howey, originally from Watertown, S.D. now resides in Hartington, Neb. he is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide Howey and inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017. He is the Producer/Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook or watch his shows on 

The Right Combinations By Gary Howey

December 19, 2018

  When it comes to catching fish there are several things an angler needs to figure out, the right combinations in order to attract and catch a fish.

  One is your bait color, as under different conditions, the amount of daylight and water clarity, the color of your lure can make a big difference.  If you are fishing on a bright sunny day, there is a chance you may not want to use a bright florescent lure.  On a sunny day, fish can see your lure at a greater distance with brighter colored lure they see close may spook them. Under these conditions, anglers can go with a more subtle, natural looking lure.

  Secondly, is their sense of sight, which is very good, especially in clear water conditions and at shallower depths. They depend on the light penetrating the water to help them see and the deeper they go, the less light penetration there will be, making it more difficult for them to see and when they rely on other senses more than their eyes.

  Fish have decent lateral vision, but because their ryes are high on their head, their best sight is above them.

Some species such as walleyes have even better vision, better that other fish because of the way their eyes have developed allowing them to draw more light into their oversized eyes and seeing better at greater depths, on cloudy days and in dirtier water.  However, as the sun comes up, beating down on the water, walleyes will have to move deep to escape the excess sunlight.

  The third item is the speed you present your bait, as baits used during warm water conditions can be presented at faster speeds, jigged more aggressively and trolled quickly as fish are cold blooded and as the water warms, so does their system,  with their metabolism picking up as water temperatures increase. It is just the opposite as water temperatures start to cool; the fish slow down, require less food so your presentation needs to slow down, where you jig less aggressively, at times verily moving your live bait rig or jig.

  If you are an angler who trolls crankbaits, when making a turn and you get a bite, depending on if the fish hit the inside or outside bait is a good indicator of what speed you need to be trolling.  If when making a turn and your inside rods get hit, you may want to troll slower as the inside lures slow down as your boat turns, but if when turning,  the outside baits get hit, as they are moving faster than your inside rods, it is a good idea to kick up your boat speed and troll faster.

  Then there is the depth you want to fish, where the fish are holding, this has become a lot easier to figure out with the GPS/Locators we have today with not only have bottom scanning, but also also have side scanning, telling the angler where they are located and what depth the fish are at.

  If you see suspended fish at 20 foot above the trees and because a fish sees what is above it, you will want to make sure your presentation is above it, allowing the fish to locate and then move up to take your bait.

  You have the color of your lure figured out; have an idea as to what to run, about what depth you want to present the bait, why not give the fish another way to locate your bait, using one with more action.

  When you choose your color, do not just look for a certain color, look for one that contains rattles, one that will give off a vibration out through the water as sound travels faster in water, to attract fish that are farther away and may not see your bait.

  If you are a live bait angler, the baityou use may change with the season; when water temperatures are cool, minnows are always a good bet, yet at certain times, they will work throughout the year. As water temperatures warm, night crawlers will start to work well, with smaller or partial crawlers at times, out producing a full crawler. As the season progresses, the use of larger crawlers start to work well. Partial crawlers will continue to work, especially when you keep getting the tail bitten off a full crawler.

  Now that you have these things figured out, we will talk about the fish’s senses and things an angler can do to entice the fish to bite through these senses.

  First, because fish use several senses, why not throw baits that allows the fish to locate your offering using as many of their senses as possible.

  Fish have several senses similar to those we have, the senses of; sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, they also have a sixth sense and that is vibration detection through their lateral line.  This system of sensing organs that lies along the surface of their skin on either side of the fish, allowing them to feel vibrations or changes in the water pressure.

  This sense helps them to swim in schools without running into each other, but the main thing it’s used for, is to detect changes in the water pressure, to detect a different vibration than normal, helping them to zero in on their next meal.

  Depending on the water quality, if you are fishing dirty turbid water or clear water, you might want to think about the size of the bait you are using.

  In clearer water, a fish’s sense of sight is better where they can see well at greater distances, so they do not use their sense of sight as much as they would in dirty turbid water or deeper where there is no light presentation.

  In clearer water, you do not need to use bright flashy baits as the fish can see your bait at greater distances.

 If you are fishing clearer water with a spinner rigs, you can go with smaller spinners, as you still have the flash and vibration, but not as much flash as you would with a larger blade that might spook the fish.

  In dirty water conditions or in deeper water where the light does not reach, a large flashy spinner might be the way to go, as it will give off more flash and vibration, allowing fish to locate your bait.

  Their sense of hearing is excellent, and because sound in water travels about 4 times faster than in air, they can detect sounds made by anglers even along the shore, so it pays to hold down the noise you make when you are fishing.

  They may not have openings on their head for sound to enter; they detect sound through their inner ears as well as through their lateral line.

  Fish have a tremendous sense of smell as they smell constantly as they swim through the water; the water enters through the tiny holes in their head, called Nares. From there it flows into a chamber lined with sensory receptors. The scent detected, sent to the fish’s brain, which causes them to react quickly to the smell.

  Some species, such a salmon born in the rivers and streams that flow into the ocean have a keen sense of smell, being able to return to the stream they were born in after leaving it and then going out to sea and then two years later returning to the same stream to spawn.

  In the case of Lake Oahe, where salmon cannot reproduce naturally, these small salmon fingerlings stocked into Whitlock Bay from the Salmon Station the Game & Parks imprint the fish with a chemical.  

  Releasing them, where they then live in the lake for two years, after the second year, they once again release the chemical down the ladder at the station with the salmon returning to the bay running up the ladder, up the concrete runway into the artificial spawning area where they separate them and then artificially spawned.

  A fish’s sense of touch or feel is through their Lateral line, the line of tiny sensors along each side of the fish while some fish also feel through their bottom fins.

  Fish have the ability to distinguish sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Their taste buds are inside the fish’s mouth, on their tongue and on the outside of the body including on the fins of some fish.

  When fishing, you want to match your presentation to what is happening in the fish’s world, which means, you need to figure out the first things mentioned in this column and once you have those figured out, a fish’s six senses will allow it to zero in on your bait.

  It is that time of the year, when it is getting close to the end of open water fishing and even closer to hard water fishing, so now would be a good time to start checking your ice fishing gear so you are ready once good ice forms.

  Next week we will talk about getting ready for ice fishing as well as some of the new ice fishing gear.

We at Outdoorsmen Productions, my family and I want to wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Shore Fishing Tips By Gary Howey

December 19, 2018

    Not all anglers’ fish from boats, and because of this, I decided to pass along a few tips for the shore angler.

  Some of those anglers in boats will hug the shoreline, casting and jigging in along the shoreline, locations holding fish the current breaks located there.

  There are several methods anglers use to catch almost all species of fish from shore, but before we go into those methods, here a tip on where to locate the fish.

  * Look for slow current areas or slack water pockets.  Fish these areas behind points, behind rock piles, wing dams or timber, that has fallen in the water, these areas will all hold fish.

  * Try to fish as close as possible to the area where the fast water joins the slow water. This area is where the more aggressive fish will be waiting in ambush for a meal to swim by.

  Now that you know where the fish could be, we can talk about “how” to catch them.

  * Many anglers, especially those that fish from shore use too heavy of equipment.  Those anglers that using lighter gear, their line and tackle, will catch more fish.

  * Here is a tip that you can use throughout the year, I like to use a live bait rig when shore fishing.  A slightly modified crappie rig will do just fine.

  *As any shore angler knows, the worst thing about shore fishing is the snags.  They will eat you alive if you let them,

  *This is why I modify my crappie rigs.  The piece of equipment that snags up on a rig generally is the weight.  When the weight snags up you will lose the whole rig unless you modify it.

  * When using a crappie rig, add a heavy rubber to the snap at the bottom of the rig and then hook it to through the eye of sinker, and then over the sinker, then pull the rubber band tight to the sinker. When the sinker snags, you can generally pull back hard on the line and let it snap back, the tension from the rubber band should flip the sinker loose.   If the sinker does stay snagged, the only thing you lose will be the sinker, and quickly get back in the water as all you need to do, is to replace the sinker and your back in business.

  * I like to use Shiners whenever possible for bait, as the flash given off by these bait fish helps to attract prey fish.  With Shiners, you will have to change bait frequently, because Shiners are delicate baitfish and die quickly.

 * The black darker Fathead Minnows that you see in many bait shops will stay alive a long time, but in dark water, they blend in and are hard for prey fish to locate.

  * If Shiners are not available, I  have used part of a larger blackhead  minnow, does not matter if you use the head or body as either bait leaves a scent trail for the fish to follow,  I have also  had  good luck using a whole Fathead along with a piece of another minnow.

 * You might also try hooking my minnow in the tail, as at times, I have had good luck do this.  The minnow will move around a lot more when hooked this way, the extra movement, allowing the prey fish to zero in on the vibrations given off by the minnows struggle.

 * Another thing that you will want to be aware of when bank fishing is the noise, as sound travels faster in water than in the air and fish detect vibrations in the water with their lateral line.  The noise from a heavy weight landing in the water will spook any fish within 100 yards. Try using a smaller weight to present your bait as quietly as possible, as any loud noise on the shore carries out into the water.

 * I also like to use floating crankbaits when shore fishing, I cast them up stream and then crank like a wild man to get them to dive and run faster than the current.

 * They also work very well when cast downstream using the cranking and pause method.  When you pause, the bait will float up resembling a wounded or injured baitfish and when you start to crank the bait in, fish will go after it thinking the bait is trying to escape.

 * Use a shallow running floating crankbait such as the standard Rapala or a Storm Thin Fin whenever possible as the deeper divers will bury into the rocks, weeds and other junk right on the bottom.

 *Another thing that I will do is to cut off the trailing part of the treble hook, the one that hangs off the bottom. This is the hook snagging up all of the time, and by snipping off the one bottom hook of the treble, you will still catch just as many fish but you will not lose as many crankbaits. 

 * No matter what type of bait or rig you are using, make sure that your hooks are sharp.  There are more fish lost because of dull hooks than any other reason.

 * A hook may look sharp, but unless it digs into your finger nail when you drag it across it is not sharp enough to catch a fish.

 * It is a good idea to carry a small diamond hook sharpener, if you do not have one, a small file will work just as well to dress up a dull hook.

 * Check your hooks often as the bottom, sticks, weed and rocks can quickly dull the sharpest hook and if a hook is bent, do not try to straighten it and reuse it. Bending the hook creates a week point and is where the hook will break when you are fighting a fish.

  Shore anglers have the advantage when it comes to fishing those fish that hug the bank to get out of the current and with food lively bait and a few simple tricks, your catching of fish from shore will improve.

  Gary Howey, originally from Watertown South Dakota, now residing in Hartington, Neb. is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide and inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017. He is the Producer/Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. If you are looking for more outdoor information, checkout Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook or watch his shows on

The In-line Spinner Story By Gary Howey

December 19, 2018

My Mepps Aglia Long in-line spinner dropped into the fast moving water below Gavin’s Point Dam. To avoid becoming snagged up in the rocks, I held my rod trip high, reeling as quickly as I could as I retrieved the lure back downstream in the direction of my boat.

  Nearing what little current break there was on that side of the dam; a fish came up from the depths, inhaled my Mepps, and dove deep out into the main current.

  It was putting up a good fight, but it was not fighting like a walleye or bass, then it happened, the fish came high out of the water, attempting to shake the hook.

  My fishing partner, who stood beside me, with the landing net in hand, shouted, “It’s a trout”. I gave him that dumb look, a look if disbelief, because, as far as I knew, there were no trout below Gavin’s’ Point Dam.  As I worked the fish to the surface and up alongside my boat, it was obvious he was right, it was a brown trout and from that point on, I was hooked on these spinners.

  That trout, not a monster, only a two pounder, a fish, unique to the area I was fishing now decorates one of my office walls in Hartington, Nebraska. 

   That trout was one of the fourteen Mepps Distinguished Angler Awards; I received years ago, when I first moved down to Nebraska from South Dakota.

  Many of these fish decorating my office are those landed with a Sheldon’s Mepps spinner, baits that had been around as long as I can remember. 

  As a kid growing up in Northeastern South Dakota, in an area surrounded by the Glacial Lakes, creeks and rivers where most everyone there fished, you could find about any bait manufactured.

  The one bait that caught my eye was a simple inline spinner called the Mepps spinner; my grandfather Butch had plenty of rusty spinners in his old metal tackle box, but none like it, as there was something different about the Mepps.

  According to what I had read about it, was easy to use, all you needed to do was cast it out and reel it in, with the ability to entice and catch just about ant fish that swam in the waters I fished.

  When I finely saved enough of my meager allowance, which was the few pennies we received each week back then for doing household chores and cutting the grass.

  With my life savings in hand, I  jumped on my Monarch bike and peddled off to the bait shop, purchased the bait and headed straight towards the Sioux River to see the if this bait caught fish as it had my eye in the bait shop.

  It did not take me long to find out as on my second cast, the water boiled and the fight was on. In those days as a kid, using a family baitcasting rod and reel I did not have a clue what the drag on a reel was.

  Since I was using heavy Dacron line, I was not worried about breaking the line and figured the less slippage in the reel meant that I could quickly overpower any fish and drag them to shore.

  Northern after northern slammed the Mepps, one of those great fishing days I had dreamt about, with fish hitting the lure on almost every cast.

  It happened, the northerns I had landed had not broke my heavy Dacron line, but their sharp gill plates and teeth had weakened it enough that the largest northern of the day, as I did see it, just before he broke my line and headed into the deep water with my prized lure.

  I was heartbroken as I finally found that magic lure I had search so long for and would be a long time before I had a chance to obtain another. It would take many weeks of my allowances, and I would have to scour the roadside ditches searching for discarded pop bottles to cash in before I would have enough funds to purchase a new one.

  Ever since that day, when I see Mepps spinners at a bait shop or mass merchant, I buy them. They are the bait, I started all my kids and grandkids using when I first took them fishing.

  If you would see the tackle bag I use on most bodies of water, there is an assortment of these spinners, as they are one of my go-to baits.

  Numerous fish have fell to my Mepps spinners, including bluegill, brown trout, carp, channel catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, rainbow trout, walleye and white bass.

  The Mepps spinner blade creates a vibration and flash as it goes through the water and it along with the enticing movement of the squirrel or buck tail is something that fish cannot resist.

  As I mentioned earlier Inline, spinners have been around a long time, the Mepps spinner; the original inline spinner developed in France around the late thirties, with this the bait coming to the United States in the early fifties to Antigo Wisconsin, where they are hand assembled today.

  They start putting together this bait using a very heavy-duty stainless steel shaft, then comes the silver or gold plated, polished brass, copper, or Epoxy concave oval blade, spinner body and a hook.

  They come plain or dressed and to find the best material to dress up the bait, they experimented with numerous types of hides including, bear, fox, coyote, badger, skunk, deer, even cow hair, with none of these working as well as squirrel and buck tail.

  Not only does Sheldon’s manufacture the above-mentioned spinner, they also have a complete line of in-line spinners, including their new Aglia Bait Series, with the specific colors and patterns that mimic the predator fish’s natural food sources.  These patterns include Bluegill, Shad, Crappie, Crayfish, Mouse, Frog, Perch, Sunfish, Trout and Walleye.

  So affective and so simple to use, these baits catch fish, no matter what body of water you fish, you can crank them fast, slow, or even helicopter them into open pockets where predator fish are waiting in ambush.

  Its bait that all anglers should use, no matter where you fish, on big or small waters from our Missouri River reservoirs, glacial lakes or small ponds. It can catch fish for those of us who are beginning anglers or one of those seasoned pros, as this bait can be fished deep, shallow or along the surface, no matter where you fish.

  The next time you stop by your favorite bait shop or sporting goods store, check out their in-line spinner section and all of the great products displayed there as chances are, sometime or another, you may find me there stocking up on my Mepps spinners.

  Gary Howey, a Watertown native, now residing in Hartington, Neb. who is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide Howey and inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017. He is the Producer/Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series. If you are looking for more outdoor information, check out, or like Gary Howey’s Outdoorsmen Adventures on Facebook or watch his shows on  

Hunting Nebraska’s Open Fields and Water Public Access land By Gary Howey

December 19, 2018

As the sun broke through the clouds in the eastern horizon, three orange clad hunters and a black lab worked their way as quietly as possible  into the 160-acre field.

  It was mid November, the fourth week of the Nebraska pheasant season as Steve Rasmussen Wayne, NE., his black lab Pele, Jorden Smith, Hartington, Ne. and I walked into one of the many Nebraska’s Open Fields & Water Program areas located in Nebraska.

 As soon as we entered the field, we could see birds off n the distance rising up from where they roosted the night before. We were seeing good numbers of birds, many of which were hens, which is always a good indicator for upcoming seasons.

   Once that first bird goes airborne, the field exploded as dozens of birds started winging their way from the field.

  This was a beautiful place for wildlife, as they were making heavy use of it, as I could see pheasant roosts, deer beds as well as heavy deer trails running throughout the entire field.

  The tract we were hunting, one listed in the Nebraska Game & Parks Public Access Atlas publication, which contains maps, listing all the tracts enrolled in the states Open Fields and Water program, allowing public access, hunting, fishing and trapping on the land.

  Before we entered the field, we knew that this was a daunting task, as it was mid season and the birds were educated. This along with the size of the field and corn nearby being unharnessed; we would have to earn every bird.

   With Jorden working the left flank, Steve and Pele in the center, I pushed my way through the heavy cover of the right flank. 

   Pele, Steve’s young black Lab worked out in front of us, covering as much ground as he could, as this CRP field was large enough that it would take our small hunting party numerous passes through the field, and still not covering it all.

   Because much of the land in the Midwest is privately owned, gaining access to land to hunt can be problematic but with programs such as the Nebraska Open fields and Water (NOFW), South Dakota’s Walk in Program (SDWIP) and Iowa’s Habitat and Access Program (IHAP) locating areas such as we were hunting has become less of a task.

   The Nebraska Game & Parks Open Fields & Water Program allows landowners the opportunity to enroll their land and receive a payment for allowing public access on it.

   Statewide, in Nebraska that amounts to 317,395 acres of public access, used by both hunters and non-hunters. 

  The largest percentage of these acres, 73.7% are in grassland, giving upland game bird hunter’s access where they and their dogs can hunt pheasants, quail and grouse. These fields also provide big game hunters a location to hunt deer as well as a place where fathers can to take their son or daughter on their first hunt.

  Several states in the upper Midwest have these types of programs, Including South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa

  In South Dakota, they have over 5 million acres of hunting opportunity on public land as well as on private land leased for public hunting.

  South Dakota also publishes a Public Hunting Atlas a hunter’s guide to all lands open to public access in the state. Access includes federal and state-owned lands as well as private land leased for public hunting access.

  The South Dakota atlas contains maps and information on South Dakota’s Walk-In Areas, Game Production Areas (GPAs), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), School and Public Lands, National Forests and Grasslands, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands and other lands open to public hunting.

  Iowa’s Habitat and Access Program now includes over 20,000 acres, which increases the land available to hunters in Iowa.  The Iowa Hunting and Access (IHAP) program is one where the landowners receive funding and expertise for habitat improvements when they enroll in the program, and in turn allow public access to their land for hunting.

  Coming to the end of our first pass through the field, the birds had outwitted us, coming up far ahead of us, running ahead of us or going off to the side into the unpicked corn.

  Heading towards one of the ridges in the field, I was beginning to think that even though blocking this field was impossible, I should have offered, as this was some brutal walking until you get a bird up.

  On this pass, I would be on the outside edge, when suddenly, I was startled by the cackle of a rooster and the sound of wing grabbing air as a rooster  came up to my right.

  Finally, I was going to have my shot, my shotgun came up as I made the turn towards the fleeing rooster. My gun came up leveled on the bird and fired, feathers flew, a leg dropped with the bird still airborne, my second shot bothered no one and by the time I was ready for my third, the bird was out of range, over the ridge out of site heading for the heavier cover in the draw.

  If there is, one thing a hunter hates to do is to wound a bird and not find it and even though I spent time in the draw with Steve and Pele, we were unable to locate the bird.

  Half disgusted at my poor shooting, I plodded along through the heavy cover thinking that I may have blown my only opportunity at getting a bird.

  Coming up the hill towards the ridge, I spotted a well-traveled deer trail and took advantage of it and not having to fight my way through the heavy cover.

  As they say, “all good things must end” and when it did, I was back into the heavy cover, and at times over my head.

  Steve was on the higher ground with Jorden off to his side, as I glanced up at Steve to make sure we were in line, another rooster broke from the cover, I swung hard on the bird, shot and once again, it looked as if there was a pillow fight, with feathers filling the air.

  However, unlike my last encounter, this bird crumpled, going down, I noted the location where the bird went down, but in the heavy cover could not locate it. Steve came down with Pele to help and as Pele shot across in front of me, it was obvious, he had the birds scent as the bird was down deep in the grass with the dog pinning it to the ground.

  I patted the dog on the head, as hunting with a good dog is a blessing and chances are I would have not found the bird without Pele’s excellent nose and left another birds for the coyotes.

  Well, that made up for my last shot and as Steve slid the bird into my game bag of my vets, I felt a bit better and now, the walking through heavy cover no longer seemed such a chore.

  On our final pass, Pele located a bird for Steve that he hit which flew off north into the corn and corner NOFW land. Once again, we searched, but to no avail, coming up empty, it happens and we made every effort made to locate the bird and the way it was flying, may not have been hit as hard as first thought, flying off into another field   

  It was a great hunt, we may have not gotten our limit, but we had the opportunity to see a beautiful sunrise, watch a good hunting dog work, see good numbers of birds and spent time afield with friends.

  Because of the Public Access programs these state are doing, finding a place to hunt is much easier.

  There is still hunt able land out there and the best way to approach it is by demonstrating respect to the wildlife, the land and water that we spend time on, and of course, showing respect to the land owner

Habitat Conservation Foundation Contributes $1 Million to Fund New Project at SDSU

December 19, 2018
The South Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation alongside South
Dakota State University (SDSU) and The USDA’s Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS) announced a new project today. Every Acre Counts is designed to give agricultural producers new ways to manage
low producing acres while increasing their bottom line. “Ag producers in South Dakota care about the land and we realize that our practices have
far-reaching impacts for agriculture and conservation. Every year,
producers, like me, are faced with tough planning decisions. The
opportunity to develop partnerships like this demonstrates the
importance of our AG industry in South Dakota and our dedication to
land stewardship,” stated Christine Hamilton, President of the South
Dakota Habitat Conservation Foundation. “This successful collaboration will result in new knowledge about profit margins with various
combinations of practices, and outcomes that improve overall land and
conservation management.” “The primary focus for this project will be
the optimal use of marginal lands impacted by wet conditions, saline or
sodic soils, and eroded areas such as hilltops,” stated Barry H. Dunn, SDSU President. “Millions of acres of cropland across South Dakota are
impacted by these challenges, with over 7 million acres impacted by
saline conditions alone. The financial burdens of attempting to produce
crops in these marginal areas can be negative to a producer’s bottom line. And, together, we want to change this.” Four regions of South Dakota
have been selected to kick start the project. Moody, Lake and Minnehaha
counties with eroded and wet areas; Brown, Spink, Clark and Day counties with saline/sodic and wet areas in addition to Edmonds, Potter and Faulk;
and Aurora, Brule, Buffalo and Jerauld counties with saline/sodic and
eroded areas. SDSU will work with selected landowners in each of the
four regions and their crop and financial consultants to precisely
characterize the technical metrics of their existing operations and
generate an accrual-based economic analysis. That information will then be incorporated into a profit mapping software to pinpoint and quantify marginal acres. In addition, federal, state and local habitat and
conservation programs will be used to leverage funding. The vision is to build out from the initial adopters to recruit neighbors and create a
critical mass of participants in each of the four regions, stated Dunn.
Focusing the work in these specific areas enables a greater efficiency in
delivering the programs to surrounding landowners, producing easy, but effective outreach. “Marginal lands can delay farming operations from
planting to harvesting for days or even weeks, potentially impacting
profitability on the good ground,” stated Jeff Zimprich, State
Conservationist for NRCS, Huron, SD. “By considering the capability and
thus the profitability acre-by-acre versus field by field, producers will
increase the efficient use of all inputs. This project is designed to benefit
the economic stability and environmental sustainability of South Dakota agriculture.” If landowners are interested in learning more, particularly
those in the four regions where the project will begin, please contact the project directors, or “We hope this initiative will demonstrate
that additional returns are possible as a result of adopting the right mix of conservation practices in the appropriate parts of our fields,”