Filleting with electric knife and the use of the SKINZIT® allow Thane and Kyle to be able to do up to 2500 fish in a weekend.

Kabele’s Trading Post: a One-Stop Destination

By Steve Weisman 
It’s almost show time! 
The time is drawing nearer and nearer. The Annual Great Walleye Weekend is just around the corner. This year will be the 34th Annual Great Walleye Weekend, May 7 and 8. This two-day fishing tournament brings thousands of anglers to the Iowa Great Lakes to see if they can catch one of the specially tagged walleye. 
This year’s event includes an increase in the number of tagged walleyes to 10 versus the normal 6-tagged walleyes. Plus, the grand prize for this year is $34,000 to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the tournament.
In addition to the tagged walleyes, there are also prizes from sponsors Pure Fishing and Fisherman's Factory Outlet for the heaviest stringer of three walleye, heaviest northern pike, heaviest stringer of five panfish and heaviest stringer of 10 bullhead.
To enter the Walleye Weekend contest, the cost is $25 for individuals 16 years of age and older and $15 for anglers 15 and under. Anglers can also register ($15) for an extended contest that runs to September 1, 2016.                         
Registration forms are available online at www.okobojichamber.com, Fisherman's Factory Outlet, Kabele's Trading Post, Oh Shucks, Pioneer Beach, Stan's Bait & Tackle, and at the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce office in Arnolds Park. For more information regarding the 34th Annual Walleye Weekend, please visit www.okobojichamber.com or call (712) 332-2107.

Kick-off dinner
As I mentioned in last week’s column, for the second consecutive year, Great Lakes Marine Service and Sales (www.greatlakesmarineservice.biz) will be hosting the Kick-Off Dinner and Seminars Friday, May 6 from 5-9 p.m., the Kick-off Dinner and Seminars will be held at the Dickinson County Expo Building, Cost will be $25, which includes a catered meal and seminars by Brian Bashore and Brian Fowlds, two accomplished walleye tournament anglers and guides, who were well received at their seminars a year ago. 
People planning on attending should pre-register at being taken at Great Lakes Marine Service & Sales (located just east of Pizza Ranch on HWY 9) or go to https://walleyeweekendkickoff.eventbrite.com. For more information, give Shane and Christa a call at (712) 336-3822.

So, what will the fishing be like? 	
This is the first time in quite a few years that we have running water moving through our lakes. As a matter of fact, water began going over the spillway on Big Spirit in early winter and hasn’t stopped since. Tiles are running, so areas where water is running in or there is a current will definitely attract the walleyes. 
On Big Spirit such areas include Reeds Run, Buffalo Run and the Foot Bridge, while on East Okoboji, good running water is located at the north end of the lake out from the hatchery. The bridge areas throughout the Okoboji chain will all have current, plus the Trestle area is good. 
That’s the good news. The bad news is the waters are again really clear, which means the daytime bite for walleyes might be pretty tough. It’s difficult to fish rock piles and structure in the daylight when you can count the rocks and boulders below you!
So, you know the best bite will probably be the evening and after dark. Of course, none of this happens until 12:01 on Saturday morning. Depending upon the weather and wind, the lakes will be lit up with boats and anglers fishing for walleyes. A lot of these anglers will be long lining crankbaits along the shorelines and out from the flowing water and current areas. 
At the same time, lights will be on at the end of docks, as anglers cast crankbaits, twisters and jigs, along with lighted slip bobber outfits rigged with minnows, shiners or leeches.
Midnight to daylight can be a long time depending upon the weather conditions and if the walleyes cooperate. 
By daylight on Saturday, the lakes will be filled with boats. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the really clear water makes the daylight bite tough. Other times, the ‘eyes will be on a bite. A really go-to bait on Big Spirit (if you can find them or if bait shops have them) is the spot-tail shiner. They can be like candy!
After observing the Spirit Lake Hatchery in April, we again know that the broodstock on the Iowa Great Lakes is healthy. We also know that there is an abundance of slot fish (17-22 inchers). According to DNR fisheries biologists, the 17-22 inch slot limit has helped make the walleye population even stronger and helped to increase the average overall size of the fish. 
However, part of the frustration, especially last year, was not being about to catch many of those 14-16 inch fish. Lots and lots of slot fish and fish over the slot, and then a lot of walleyes in the 8-12 inch range. My hope is that these fish will have grown to the point where we now have more in the 14-15 inch range.  
The baitfish, especially the spottail shiners, are in excellent shape. Add to this a huge year class of perch fingerlings, and it’s no wonder that the walleyes on Big Spirit are fat! If you ice fished Big Spirit this winter, you know what I mean about giant schools of shiners and tiny perch. At the same time, there are also lots of tiny perch and bluegills (flats) on the Okoboji chain, so food is plentiful there, too.
Walleyes are the magnet for the opener, but don’t forget all of the other fish that might be more willing to bite: bluegills, crappies, perch, bullheads, catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike. If we only had the time to target each of them…oh well. There’s something for everybody!
If you are looking for a little fishing information, check with local bait shops such as Oh Shucks Bait and Tackle on the southwest side of West Okoboji, Stan’s Bait Shop on the north edge of Milford, Kabele's Trading Post and Fisherman’s Factory Outlet all in the town of Spirit Lake. 

Cutline: (photo submitted) The author lands a walleye caught using a bottom bouncer, plain hook and spottail shiner during last year’s opening weekend.

Walleye Opener around corner; good walleye population expected

March 9, 2016 Comments (0) Fishing Notebook

Gotta love this time of year

(photo by Steve Weisman) Just a few of the “towns” of anglers spread out across the middle of East Okoboji last weekend.

(photo by Steve Weisman) Just a few of the “towns” of anglers spread out across the middle of East Okoboji last weekend.

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!

 

Waterfowl return

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.

 

Open water

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!

 

Outdoor Shows

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?

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