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    2-17-2020 On the south end...  Some big walleyes caught this week up at Lake of the Woods along with eaters and saugers.  Good fishing still happening 16 - 22 miles out on the ice and most reports are good.  Ice conditions on LOW remain excellent at around 30 inches where most are fishing.  Best colors vary but on sunny days gold has been consistent.  On cloudy days, glow pink, green, orange and chartreuse good colors.  Don't be afraid to downsize presentation if fish are not active.  Small spoon with a minnow head.  A plain hook with a small minnow can be very effective.  Electronics helping anglers catch suspended walleyes.  Pike are getting more active and anglers reporting good success.

    On the Rainy River...   The river is frozen over with snowmobile traffic on marked trail.  Some reports of local anglers catching a few walleyes in the river but most anglers hitting the lake.  Extra caution is always needed on the river, especially with higher current this year.  Thin ice around the International Bridge in Baudette.  Work through resort or know ice conditions if ice fishing the river as ice thickness varies.

    Up at the NW Angle...  Ice fishing in full swing up at the Angle.  Resorts in 26 - 32' of water.  A mix of walleyes and saugers with some jumbo perch and pike in the mix.  The snowmobile trails from south shore to Angle in great shape.  Jigging with a bait with rattles has helped to pull in walleyes.  Fish houses on the ice through March 31st, walleyes and saugers open through April 14.  A complete list of lodging and ice fishing options available at www.LakeoftheWoodsMN.com/Lodging

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    The river (Sharpe) below the dam in Pierre is open and local fishermen that are going out are catching real nice fish all the way down to stony point on jigs minnows primarily. Guide Bob Propst Jr has been getting some nice limits of walleye about every time out. Ice fishing up on Oahe Is spotty but more numbers of bigger fish are being caught.

    I WILL BE DOING THE BACK HILLS EXPO AND SPORTS SHOW THIS FRIDAY THE 14TH THRU SUNDAY THE 16TH IN RAPID CITY. I WILL ALSO BE DOING A SEMINAR ON FISHING THE PIERRE AREA (OAHE/SHARPE) ON SAT THE 15th IF YOU ARE IN THE AREA I WILL HAVE MY BOOTH THERE SO STOP BY AND VISIT OR COME BY THE SEMINAR FOR UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE FISHERY THIS YEAR.

    Another piece of local information for those planning trips to Pierre:

    SPRING CREEK MARINA HAS BEEN PURCHASED BY THE STATE SO BOOKING CABINS THERE WILL REQUIRE GOING THRU THE GF&PARKS WEB SITE. THEY ARE TRYING TO LEASE OUT THE BAIT/CAFE/BAR BUT IF THEY DON'T IT WILL BE CABINS ONLY. YOU WILL HAVE TO CHECK WITH THE STATE TO FIND OUT WHAT IS AVAILABLE.

    I WILL LOOK FORWARD TO VISITING WITH ANY ONE COMING TO THE BLACK HILLS SHOW. IT IS ALWAYS A GREAT ONE.

    HUTCH'S GUIDE SERVICE

    Hutch
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    Brian Brosdahl

    by Dave Csanda

     
    Once crappies move deep to their usual winter haunts—down the edges of dropoffs, and out across soft basin areas of 30-odd feet in depth—tiny jigs tipped with softbaits become increasingly difficult to fish effectively in deeper water.

     
    Deep is a relative thing, however. Crappies don't like cavernous deep basins; in lakes where 70 to 100 feet of water is available, they typically ignore these sections in favor of lake areas where the basin is considerably shallower. Thus, the portions of the lake bottoming out at 30 or 40 feet tend to hold the most crappies. Leave the deeper stuff to walleye fishermen.

     
    In shallow soupbowl lakes with little structure, crappies routinely roam and prowl their way across the open basin of the lake, settling temporarily in areas with the best combination of food. On an extremely shallow lake, a small, deep hole of the proper depth might draw most of the crappies in the lake into a very limited area. Each lake is different, so you need to evaluate what they offer to the fish, and plan your fishing accordingly.

     
    In early winter, crappies are often very bottom-oriented. By midwinter, however, oxygen depletion begins taking place in the deepest portions of the basins. Rather than leaving these areas completely, the fish usually respond by rising higher in the water column, perhaps suspending 20 feet down over 30 feet of water, where oxygen is still suitable. Crappies now patrol these levels in search of minnows, which likewise roam, occasionally moving into the area beneath your hole.

     
    As they do, these fish become clearly visible on your electronics, indicating not only where to fish, but how deep to fish. You never want to dangle your lures below the level of the fish, where they won't see them. Rather, position your lures or baits at or slightly above the fishes' eye level, where they can visually detect them, become interested as they rise to examine your offering.

     
    Crappie anglers fish for these suspended fish in several ways. The first, and perhaps easiest method, is with a slip bobber rig, suspending a live minnow at the fishes' level. Nick the minnow lightly below the dorsal fin on a small #6 hook, and send it down. As the minnow dangles and struggles, it tempts crappies to move in for the kill.

     

    When a crappie inhales it, the resulting quiver imparted to the bobber may be so subtle that you barely see it. At the slightest suspicious motion of the bobber, set the hook!

    VMC Rattle Spoon

    Northland Forage Minnow
    Next up are various forms of jigging, which allow you to be far more mobile and aggressive, covering water in search of active biters.

     
    For sheer effectiveness, use slightly heavier baits than you'd use for shallower bluegills; in effect, it's just too darned hard to fish tiny softbaits on featherweight 1/64- or 1/80-ounce jigs in deep water. Better choices are small spoons tipped with a minnow, minnow head or live waxworm; compact jigging lures like a VMC Tungsten Chandelier; 1/32-ounce jigs tipped with live minnows; or #5 Jigging Rapalas, based on the crappies' modestly deep location and aggressiveness.VMC Tungsten Chandelier#5 Jigging Rapala
    The idea is to drop your lure down to the fish, then let it settle. Jiggle it a bit, then let it settle again. The jiggle attracts them in for a look, while the pause entices them to move in even closer, hopefully to bite. With Jigging Raps, use a firmer upward stroke to pop the lure upward, and then let it swim and settle below the hole. But the principle is the same.

     
    Using a good portable depth finder like a Humminbird ICE 45 or 55, your lure appears on the screen as a small, brightly colored mark, and the crappie a larger one. When the big mark moves up toward the smaller one, and the two merge, you know the fish is barely inches away, eyeballing your lure. Shortly thereafter, if the rod tip suddenly dips, indicating a strike, set the hook.

     
    If the fish doesn't strike within a few seconds, however, don't just let the bait continue to dangle—especially if you see the fish begin to lose interest and start dropping toward bottom. Instead, reel the bait up a foot or two, jiggle it, and then pause again. Many times, the fish will become re-interested and rise to follow. Sometimes, you need to do this a few times to convince fish to bite. You'll notice that every time you can get them to rise, they tend to become more active and interested. The same trick works for bluegills, perch—even walleyes!

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