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Gary Howey

” IN 2017

The Poinsett Experience, A Proud Community, excellent Fishing, honoring Veterans and making Friends By Gary Howey

Entered by Gary Howey

Former tournament angler, hunting and fishing guide. Inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing "Hall of Fame" in 2017. Active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW), Past Executive Director (AGLOW). Howey has been an outdoor communicator since 1980 with his award winning syndicated "Of the Outdoors" columns appearing in magazine, newspapers, and tabloids throughout he upper Midwest and nationally.

November 3, 2016

  On this trip, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures member Larry Myhre and I had our sights set on Lake Poinsett, near Estelline, South Dakota.

   We had made good time, as the 80 M.P.H. speed limits on I-29 allowed us to put the miles behind us quickly. 

  Growing up in Watertown, my grandparents had helped me cut my teeth on perch fishing on the lake, but a short drive south of home.

  This was the lake where My Grandpa Menkveld taught me how to catch perch; he had given us a dozen minnows and wished us good luck.

  As we plodded along the beach five-gallon bucket in hand with a few minnows, he mumbled something under his breath about not helping clean those tiny fish unless we had a mess of them. He thought he’d figured out, thinking he’d given us so little bait we wouldn’t catch many perch.

  Grandpa was at that age where he said many things while teaching us some of the tricks of the trade, like using the eyes of the first fish we caught for bait, allowing us to fill our bucket before even getting close to using all our bait.

  It was many years ago, but that was my first Poinsett experience and I had forgotten much about the city itself and many things have change in the years since I was on Poinsett.

We were to meet Estelline’s Mayor Don Zafft around noon, and as we came into town at 11:00, we hoped that the town was ready for us.

  We met the Mayor, Don at the city offices, and it didn’t take me long to realize that we would get along just fine as the back window of his pickup thanking Viet Nam Vets.  I thanked him for his service and we discovered we knew many of the same people, those I’ve spent time in South Dakota hunting, high school classmates and a salesperson who worked with my Dad at Sharpe Chevrolet.

    We did a quick tour of the town visiting, their school, football field, their incredible Veteran’s Memorial and the beautiful landscaping, the waterfall, pond and gazebo at their nursing home.

 We finished our filming in Estelline and headed for Dakota Ringneck Lodge, a hunting preserve with 4,000 acres of prime South Dakota hunting ground. This beautiful Lodge, where we’d be headquarters for the next two days, is situated on a hill within sight of the lake with the interior decorated the way any person who’s into the outdoors would love to have it as the interior from all over the United States and Canada.

  Just as we finished stowing our gear, our guide, Jarrod Fredricks, of South Dakota Guided Fishing, pulled into the parking lot and we quickly loaded our gear and made the short drive to the boat launch.


Guide Jarrod Fredericks with one of the smallmouth bass taken while fishing Lake Poinsett near Estelline, S.D. (Larry Myhre Photo)

  Pulling into the parking lot, I was amazed at all the vehicles and boat trailers there; as generally, in the middle of the week you wouldn’t see this much traffic on a lake.

  Jarrod fired up the big motor and made the short run to one of the many rock piles on the lake, and using his trolling motor and locator, quickly located where the fish were holding, along the edge of the rock pile where it dropped into deeper water.

  Hoping to highlight the various fishing methods used on the lake, we would try numerous presentations, hoping to zero in on the larger fish.

  I started with a 1/8 ounce jig, with Larry choosing one of his 1/16 oz hand tied marabou jigs while Jarrod jigged from the front of the boat.

  As I watched my jig descend, my line pause and then moved off to the left, raising my rod tip, and feeling the extra weight, I set the hook hard. The fish, a fighter, immediately dove to the bottom towards the rock pile, trying to get into the rocks from where it had been hidden. The drag on my reel screamed as the fish charged under the boat, coming up on the opposite side.

  It was obvious; the way this fish was fighting, I’d hooked into one of the smallmouth bass that call Poinsett home.

  After a short battle, the fish slid into the net Larry was holding and as I suspected it was a tired and very angry smallmouth bass.

  It didn’t take long before all of us in the boat were fighting fish, all three hooking into smallmouths.   The smallmouths, some smaller walleyes and a nice crappie had our attention for a long time. After we caught several smallmouth next to the boat to the boat, Larry suggested we put out some dead rods. These are rods in rod holders baited with jigs tipped with a piece of a crawler, with the jigs resting less than a foot off the bottom and are left lone until you get a bite.

  Dead bait rods work well when anchored after catching a few smallmouths, as they are famous for following a hooked fish to the boat and then hanging out under it. Our dead bait rods, produced shortly after we’d put them in the rod holders, catching both smallmouth and some smaller walleyes.

  While Larry and I were working on the smaller fish, Jarrod attached a Jigging Rap, a lure that some anglers consider an ice-fishing jig.

  He let it drop to the bottom, popped it once or twice and had a fish on, a nice two-pound walleye. Using this bait, he connected several more times and had me digging through my tackle box looking for one of the same lures.

  Jarrod indicated that at certain times of the year, the bigger perch could hang around these rock piles and after several hours of fishing on four different locations and it looked as if some of the bigger fish weren’t using the area, he suggested that we might have to try trolling.

  He broke out the trolling gear, the longer rods, line counter reels and leadcore with crankbaits ran out a hundred feet or so with two short rods trolling crankbaits out the back with two-ounce snap weights to get them down to the bottom where we’d hope the bigger fish were hiding.

  Trolling we caught several walleyes, they were in the smaller class as well as some nice white bass and a few perch just under a pound.

  It seemed like no matter what we were offering; about any species in the lake would go after our bait, as we finished the day with walleye, smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, white bass and even northern pike.

  The bite was hot and I believe that if we could have spent a little more time on the lake, we could have taken some bigger fish.

 Jarrod is an excellent guide, offering both open and hard water guided trips, has excellent equipment and knows the lay of the lake.  If you’re looking for some great fishing, give Jarrod a call at 605-201-7229 or look him up on the web at he also is the publication director at Outdoors Weekly publication, information on the publication can be found at

  Thanks to Don Zafft and the folks in Estelline who helped make this trip a success, if you are in that part of the state, visit  there as the city has a lot to see and to be sure to check out their beautiful Veteran’s Memorial. 

  More information on the Estelline, S.D. area and all it has to offer can be found at

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