By Steve Weisman
This is one of those times of the year that I really get antsy…ice is still on (barely) the Iowa Great Lakes but slowly fading away, waterfowl are pushing the snowline, open water walleye is only a day trip away and we’re at the end of the outdoor shows!
The colder temperatures the first week of March actually firmed up the shorelines and gave us at least another weak of ice fishing. This past weekend anglers were all over the lakes – West Okoboji, East Okoboji and Big Spirit – kind of like a last fling!
I do have a “fish story” to share with you. And I swear it is true-though I have no proof!
A fish story
Over a week ago, I fished the south end of Big Spirit out in 20 foot of water just east of the pump house. It wasn’t great, but my Vexilar lit up with fish several times each hour, so I had my own video game, and I did keep 9 perch over 10 inches and threw back an equal number of smaller 8 inchers.
Now for the story. About midmorning I marked a fish, saw the spring bobber move and set the hook. It felt like a keeper perch. That is until about half way up. Suddenly, the rod bent and began to pulse, definitely a bigger fish. Well, with two-pound test line, I took my time and brought the fish slowly up. Could it be a walleye? It didn’t run, just kind of returned pressure and kept coming up. Finally, as it came close to the hole, I saw the flash of a much bigger fish, and I played it even more slowly.
Then there it was, probably a 6-7 pound northern pike with a nine-inch perch cross ways in its mouth. The jig was still in the perch’s mouth, but I couldn’t get the pike’s head up the hole. As a matter of fact, I tried three times, and only banged its head on the bottom of the ice.
However, it wasn’t hooked, had a perch in its mouth and didn’t seem to really care. If it could have talked, I think it would have probably said, “Now what kind of perch is this? It’s the first meal that’s ever taken me to the bottom of the ice.”
Well, after three attempts, I knew this wasn’t going to be a good ending. So, I let the line go slack, the northern shook its head, out came the jig and away the fish went with perch still in its mouth and my jig still tied to my line. Definitely win-win!
Yes, they are coming back. The ducks and geese are pushing the snowline. As a matter of fact, the snow geese are already up into southern and central South Dakota. Last Sunday morning was incredible with flocks flying every direction. Definitely a sign of spring, and it’s just fun to just watch and listen to the spectacle.
Head west young man, head west! Oh yes, the Missouri River is open south of Chamberlain all the way to the dam at Ft. Thompson. And yes, the walleyes and sauger
are biting. Most of the action is from boats with anglers using jigs tipped with a minnow or plastic to catch limits of nice 15-22 inch fish. I did see a photo from late February, when the river was only partly open down by Chamberlain. With some open water and some ice, there were some people boat fishing and others still ice fishing. A gal caught a 14-pound walleye through the ice! Wow!
Every year at this time my wife and I head to Sioux Falls. She does her shopping thing and I spend a day at the Sioux Empire Sportsmen’s Boat, Camping and Vacation Show. This year is its 49th year, and the shown runs from March 10-13 at the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center.
I like that it’s an easy day trip. Plus, Sioux Falls is so easy to get around in, and easy in and easy out. It is my sportsman’s mall, everything that my wife sees during her outing at her shops, I have under one roof. Oh for the boats, and the RVs, the resorts and campgrounds from across the Midwest and Canada, and the seminars.
Of course, since it is the week of our birthdays, we have to stop someplace special to eat after our separate outings!
See why I get so antsy this time of year?