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OUR LATEST POSTS

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Poachers really upset me. For one thing, when these poaching stories circulate around the general public they paint even good, law abiding anglers in a bad light. Secondly, poachers are stealing my fun… not only in the short term, but possibly long term with the impact they have to a local fishery. Just being out and about, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a few game wardens and I applaud them for the work they do.

A story recently came to light about the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They recently conducted an undercover operation that has implicated 31 people and may be the biggest poaching bust in 20 years. Read the details of their Operation Squarehook in this article from WCCO/CBS Minnesota.

square_walleyeThe Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is sharing new details into “Operation Squarehook.” That is the codename of the undercover operation that netted at least 31 people in what is being described as the largest fishing bust in some 20 years.

Those charged are accused of engaging in the illegal commercialization of Minnesota game fish. Ten members of the Red Lake and Leech Lake bands are charged in Federal Court with selling legally netted walleye. That is a violation of tribal code and the U.S. Lacey Act, which strictly prohibits commercial sale of fish and game.

The two-year investigation discovered that “tens of thousands of walleye” were being netted from Lake Winnibigoshish, Leech, Cass and Red Lakes. The tribal netting itself started as a legal take but violated the law once those fish were put up for sale.

Photos: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (top); Minnesota StarTribune (above)

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Some duck hunting ice-crawler named Clint makes our day.

Just talk one of your friends into walking on thin ice, and then kick back and start the video camera.

What happens next is one of the funniest videos ever.

Meet Clint, the ultimate ice-crawler.

I’d say that this guy looks like an army ranger on a training mission, but he’s more like a canoe without a paddle. Just listening to his buddy laugh at him is as much fun as anything else.

Somebody call this poor guy a helicopter.

Give this duck hunting dude some credit for almost making it and even more so for doing a little laughing himself.
At least it wasn’t too deep when he falls through the thin ice.

Here’s to you, Clint, for giving us a good chuckle.

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I often argue that recreational anglers are the best stewards of the fishery resource. We have the most to lose from overfishing. Commercial fishing operations can range further or switch to another fishery to profit from.

Local recreational anglers typically don’t have those options, so they take better care of the resource (or at least they should). Because it is a for-profit venture, I don’t think commercial fishing pros always choose what is best for the long-term health of the fishery. There are also side consequences from commercial fishing you don’t hear about as much.

One of these consequences is “ghost fishing.” Ghost fishing is when lost or abandoned commercial fishing equipment is left in the water and continues to catch fish. Learn more about the efforts to curtail ghost fishing in this article from The Nature Conservancy.

ghost-potLong after commercial fishers have pulled into dock, their lost and abandoned gear continues fishing – threatening marine wildlife and habitats around the world.

Some call it “ghost fishing.”

recent NOAA study found that abandoned and lost fishing gear has “persistent and pervasive” impacts on U.S. waters. It also found that these impacts are largely reversible.

A good case study is the recovery of derelict crab pots on the Washington coast, a comprehensive effort involving Tribal and non-tribal commercial fishers, scientists, agencies and organizations like The Nature Conservancy.

The bottom line: collaborating on crab pot removal benefits both fish and fishers.

The Dungeness crab is one of the most important fisheries in Washington, with an average of 14 million pounds of the crustaceans harvested annually. The crabs are captured in wire traps, called crab pots. About 90,000 to 100,000 of these pots are set in Washington waters annually. Crab pots are not inexpensive; each one costs about $225. Still, heavy winds and other harsh conditions mean that about 10 percent of the pots are lost each year.

Photos: The Nature Conservancy (top); Sea Grant (above)

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I recently returned from a fishing trip to Punta Colonet, just off the Baja Mexico coast, south of Ensenada. The original plan for this trip was to catch big bottomfish while the bottomfish closure was in effect in U.S. waters. Instead, it turned into a yellowtail (a cousin to the amberjack) trip. The preferred method to catch them was on heavy jigs. The fish were holding pretty deep, 30 to 40 fathoms. I discovered that not all heavy jigs are equal. Weight was only one factor. Shape was a big factor that I’m not sure everyone else considered.

Thankfully, I brought a good assortment and found one that really worked. Interesting to me is that the same lessons learned in this ocean trip can be applied at the lake. In this article from Sportsmans Lifestyle, read how Yamaha pro Doug Stange uses different metal jigs to attract winter smallies.

spoon_stangeMost bass fisherman might think that action cools as fish move into the Fall months, but nothing could be further from the truth for smallmouth bass. And one of the best ways to take advantage of them is an unconventional cool-water tactic — throwing spoons.

Yamaha pro and Hall-of-Fame angler Doug Stange prefers pitching metal as the temperatures fall as a surefire way to prospect for smallies.

“As dissolved oxygen and water temperatures become more evenly distributed in water bodies in late fall, smallmouth bass can hold just about anywhere,” says Stange. Finding them is the key, which means presentations that cover water fast are best … and nothing covers water better than spoons.”

Stange asserts that the notion of casting metal to Fall smallmouth may seem strange at first, even for those who vertically jig winter-chilled largemouth. But as late-season smallmouth move toward wintering areas they feed heavily on baitfish. And nothing reaches deep water as fast or mimics forage fish better than a spoon.

Photos: K Marine (top); Sportsmans Lifestyle (above)

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Check out this California tule elk hunt as it comes to a dramatic conclusion with a perfect kill shot.

Viewing this California tule elk hunt will have you itching to get out there and shoot one of your very own bulls.

Watch as Troy and Jack Link of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky feed their wild side in this California tule elk hunting excursion.

Patience and precision helped this hunting crew bag a beautiful bull while hunting for California tule elk. The bull was about 200 yards away when the first shot was fired, but it was the second one that brought him down.

Take a lesson from the Link boys and feed your wild side, by thinking ahead and waiting for just the right moment to pull the trigger.

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By Daniel Ross

When choosing what weapon to use for deer hunting, it ultimately comes down to two choices for the modern hunter: the bow or the rifle.

Everyone seems to have their preference. Why do some prefer one to the other? What are the pros and cons of each? Which one costs more time and money?

While I, myself, have only ever experienced hunting with a rifle, I’ve asked many of my bowhunting friends what makes them prefer the bow to the gun. I’ve also researched each of the weapons to give a basic overview of how they’re used while hunting, and why some prefer one over the other.

Rifles

Before I started hunting, I assumed that all hunters used rifles. It’s been the weapon of choice for hunters for two centuries and has become so ubiquitous that I didn’t even consider that other weapons were used. The main reason why is that rifles are just mechanically better than bows. They are easier to use, have easily-transportable ammunition, and have a much longer range.

Due to the ease of use, hunters who don’t have a lot of time prefer rifles as it doesn’t take as long to get proficient with it. The longer range is also important as it means rifle hunters don’t have to worry as much about being stealthy like bowhunters. A rifle hunter can take out a deer from several hundred yards away while a bowhunter has to get within about 40 yards.

Generally, the rifle is a much more accessible weapon for hunters. Not only that, but since it has been the most popular hunting weapon for so long, many hunters have developed certain traditions around it. I actually know a family where every boy is given a rifle as a gift on his thirteenth birthday. They’ve done this for at least four generations.

It’s also worth mentioning that using a rifle is actually cheaper than using a bow. On average, it’ll cost a hunter around a $1,000 to buy a useable rifle and all the necessary accessories for it. A bow will end up costing twice that when you consider that not only will they have to buy a working bow, but they will also need things like scentless clothing and camo to get within range of the deer they plan to hunt. Rifles are superior to bows as weapons, in my opinion. Although, many choose to hunt with bows for other reasons.

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Bows

Something that surprised me when I started researching bowhunters is 75% of them also use rifles. In most cases, they started hunting with rifles first then decided to switch to bows later. When I asked why they switched, most of them told me it was because the sense of accomplishment they felt. It takes years to become proficient with a bow, and most of them feel a great sense of confidence wielding a weapon it took them so long to become good with.

Another thing I found was that many of them said that bowhunting felt like a much more natural way to hunt.

As a good friend of mine put it, “It’s the way all our ancestors did it going back to the cavemen. Stalking your prey, sneaking up close, and seeing the look on their face when the arrow flies feels so much more natural than taking them out through a scope 200 yards away. It feels like the way hunting was supposed to be done.”

Each of them told me that using a bow to take down their prey gave them an adrenaline rush that they couldn’t get by using a rifle. While a rifle may technically be a superior weapon to a bow, it doesn’t seem to give the same experience, according to those I’ve spoken with.

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Ultimately, each weapon is different, and which one people prefer depends on a number of factors. Whether it’s convenience, tradition, or looking for a thrill, people will pick up a bow or rifle depending on which one better fits their needs.

Happy hunting, regardless of your weapon of choice.