MIDWEST REGIONAL

Antelope in South Dakota, Smallmouths in Iowa, Late-summer river muskies in Wisconsin and more.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Archery Antelope
Triple play on prairie pronghorns

South Dakota Hunting seasons may seem a long way off when scorching heat hangs over western South Dakota, but bowhunters seeking antelope are hitting prime time in August. Using a trio of tactics, persistent archers can score regardless of season.

"Water holes are the surest bet in a dry season," says veteran bowhunter Mark Kayser. "When the summer has been hot and dry, antelope get accustomed to drinking frequently. Locate an active watering hole, set up a blind, and it's just a matter of time before a nice animal shows up."

Stalking is another effective tactic, according to Kayser. "Bands will use fairly predictable routes that link feeding, bedding and watering areas," he notes. "Use binoculars and spotting scopes to determine those paths, then set up to intercept them or use the terrain to hide your stalk."

Decoying is a final-more thrilling-tactic. "In late August and early September, bucks are working out dominance and gathering harems, just like bull elk," Kayser says. "I try to sneak within 200 yards of a buck, then slowly raise a silhouette decoy. As a buck approaches, I use a range finder to identify a clump of sagebrush or grass within my effective range. The buck sees me when I raise up, but he's out of it enough to give me a few seconds to make the shot." Contact: South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks (605-773-3485; www.state.sd.us/gfp). -Scott Bestul

Best Bets for Bushytails
Buckeye State's top public lands for squirrels

Ohio A mild winter, excellent mast crop and good carryover from last season should result in great squirrel hunting this month, according to wildlife technician Lloyd Culbertson. Culbertson's top public-land picks include Zaleski State Forest, Brush Creek Wildlife Area, Delaware Wildlife Area and Dillon Wildlife Area.

Zaleski State Forest's 25,000 acres in southeastern Ohio boast more than their share of hardwoods, and the abundant mast crop that has deer and turkey populations thriving on the state forest also bodes well for resident bushytails.

Brush Creek WA in Jefferson County east of Monroeville provides squirrels with the perfect mix of hardwood stands and early succession growth-the first growth following a clear-cut or after a farm reverts back to its natural state-and should offer a bumper crop of grays this season.

Fox squirrels are especially abundant at Delaware WA off U.S. Route 23 north of Columbus. The river corridors and woodlots adjacent to grainfields allow fox squirrels to thrive on much of the wildlife area's 7,000 acres.

Dillon WA in western Muskingum County is chock-full of both fox and gray squirrels thanks to the wood-and-water habitat and healthy resident populations of both species. Dillon's 4,500 acres of prime public hunting lands are northwest of Zanesville along State Route 146.

Contact: Zaleski State Forest (740-596-5781); Brush Creek: Division of Wildlife, District 3 (330-644-2293); Delaware: Division of Wildlife, District 1 (614-644-3925); Dillon: Division of Wildlife, District 4 (740-594-2211). -Dan Armitage

Urban Angling
Top bites close to home

Iowa The Des Moines River, above and below Des Moines, offers smallmouths in tailraces and deeper pools. Downtown hot spots include below the wastewater treatment plant and pools above the Highway 65 bypass.

On the Cedar River, look for smallmouths in clear-water pockets at the mouth of Indian Creek or below Five-in-One Dam. Drift-fish from Cedar Rapids to Palisades State Park, targeting rocky ledges, riffles, bridge abutments and downstream lees of islands.

The waters below the Burlington Street Dam in Iowa City feature aggressive smallies, white bass and walleyes.

Late-Summer River Muskies
Moving-water muskellunge are biting now

Wisconsin Don't wait for the hot muskie bite of fall to kick in-turn your attention to rivers now, when water temperatures remain cooler and muskies feed more actively than their still-water cousins this time of year. Three top rivers are the Wisconsin, the Flambeau and the Chippewa. Look for fish near weed beds, downed timber, deep holes (5 to 10 feet) and runs. Boat control and a quiet approach are key.

Standard muskie gear will work, but don't be afraid to run smaller buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits in white, yellow and chartreuse. The Wisconsin DNR publishes a helpful pamphlet titled "Wisconsin Muskellunge Waters." Contact: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (608-266-2621). -S.B.

** Honor of Merritt**
Summer drawdowns bring bass shallow

Nebraska For Merritt Reservoir largemouths to four pounds, shore-cast weedless Scum Frogs, buzzbaits, jigs-and-pigs and Texas- and Carolina-rigged plastic worms into shallows with standing timber, tire reefs or weed beds in the Powderhorn Arm, the Snake River Arm or from the earthen dam. When summer drawdowns lower water levels, bass move shallow and can be caught in water less than 15 feet deep. While there are few deep drop-offs and little underwater structure, smallmouths are still frequently caught here with chartreuse and yellow No. 5 Shad Raps, and black or root-beer-colored plastic worms and lizards.

However, half the total angling effort at Merritt is focused on walleyes. Your best bet is to cast or drift minnows in the main channel, the lake's deepest water, in the Snake River Arm. Contact: Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area (402-376-3320); Merritt Trading Post & Resort, Valentine (402-376-3437 or 402-376-2758); Guide Joe Dodd (402-722-4279). -J.H.

**Beat the Heat **
Two of the region's top night bites

Michigan Walleyes: Tournament angler Mark Martin offers these tips for summer walleyes after sundown.

1 Fish water you know: Navigating strange water at night is unsafe.
2 Focus on shallows: Gravel points, weed-bed edges, even swimming beaches attract night-feeding 'eyes.
3 Cover water aggressively: Trolling is an excellent method.
4 Watch the moon's position: If the moon is rising or falling in the last quarter of the horizon, be on the water.
5 Try a horizontal jig: Troll a stickbait, pull the lure forward quickly, then drop it back slowly, keeping tension on the line. Expect the bite as the lure drops. Contact: Michigan DNR (517-373-1280). -S.B.

Oklahoma Catfish: Tie onto the State Route 150 bridge pilings and dangle live minnows for channel catfish on 105,000-acre Lake Eufaula. Riprap, abutments and the many docks that line Eufaula's 600 miles of shoreline are smart bets at night with cutbaits, crayfish, chicken livers, bloodbaits and stinkbaits. Contact: Hunting & Fishing Headquarters (918-689-2473). -J.H.

Strip-Mine Bass
Former mine pits are often overlooked

Indiana Warrick and Pike counties are home to over 100 reclaimed strip mines full of bass and panfish. Use light tackle to throw dark plastic worms and small crankbaits.

The 16 former coal pits within the Interlake tract northeast of Lynnville off State Routes 61 and 68 are remote and difficult to access, but they can be honeyholes for intrepid anglers.

The 28 reclaimed strip mines in northwestern Warrick County's Blue Grass Fish and Wildlife Area are more accessible and are proven lunker havens. Best bets include Blue Grass Pit north of New Harmony Road, Loon Pit south of New Harmony Road and Otter Pit south of Kansas Road.

Sugar Ridge FWA near Winslow in Pike County has 95 pits ranging from less than 1 acre to nearly 20 acres.

Contact: District 7 fisheries biologist Dan Carnahan (812-789-2724). -J.H.

** ILLINOIS**
Lake George Weed-Edge Muskies: Flip and twitch orange-and-gold No. 18 Rapalas or shad-patterned jerkbaits on deep weed-bed edges for muskellunge. Target turns, points, pockets, changing weed densities and areas with mixed weeds and rocks. Muskies have been stocked here for over a decade but are less pursued than George's bountiful walleyes and burgeoning hybrid striped bass. All three species grow fat on plentiful shad. Contact: Loud Thunder Forest Preserve (309-795-1040); Rock Island County DNR office (309-372-4241).

Smithtown Pool Largemouths: Bang crankbaits against submerged timber for largemouths up to seven pounds anywhere within this 72-mile Ohio River span between the Uniontown and Smithland dams in southeastern Illinois. Water temperatures can range into the mid-80s, pushing tight-lipped bass deep. Best bets are near the mouths of Lusk, Little Grand Pierre and Big creeks, and off the Saline River. When thunderstorm runoff muddies and cools water, throw black- and-white buzzbaits, shad-colored Zara Spooks, dark seven-inch worms and six-inch lizards to structure in clear pockets, or drift minnows and shad in coves. Contact: Golconda Marina (618-683-5875); Bill Scates Bait Shop (618-269-4391).

Devil's Kitchen Rainbows: Tight-line night crawlers near the dam for rainbows to five pounds on this 810-acre Crab Orchard NWR lake in Williamson County near Carbondale. This is a light-tackle, night-fishing special-6-pound-test with minnows and worms on small treble hooks with a sliding weight that allows bait to float off the bottom. Alternative offerings include PowerBait, salmon eggs and small Rooster Tails. Target stumps with the same baits for largemouths to seven pounds. Contact: Crab Orchard NWR (618-997-3344).

Key Dates
August 1: Fox and gray squirrel season opens.
August 14: Deadline for nonresidents and residents unsuccessful in earlier lottery to apply for firearm deer season permits. Contact: 888-673-7648.
August 15: Crow seasons close.

**INDIANA **
Turtle Creek Largemouths: The glory days here may be over, but Turtle Creek's "Glory Hole" still can kick out lunker bass. Fish early and late with black, blue, green or purple plastic worms or half-ounce shad- colored crankbaits by the dam, where the "Glory Hole" is the deepest part of this 1,550-acre power-plant impoundment, about 20 miles south of Terre Haute. Deep water will hold fish now on this trophy bass lake, where water temperatures can be 14 to 16 degrees warmer than in other area lakes. Contactn Pit south of New Harmony Road and Otter Pit south of Kansas Road.

Sugar Ridge FWA near Winslow in Pike County has 95 pits ranging from less than 1 acre to nearly 20 acres.

Contact: District 7 fisheries biologist Dan Carnahan (812-789-2724). -J.H.

** ILLINOIS**
Lake George Weed-Edge Muskies: Flip and twitch orange-and-gold No. 18 Rapalas or shad-patterned jerkbaits on deep weed-bed edges for muskellunge. Target turns, points, pockets, changing weed densities and areas with mixed weeds and rocks. Muskies have been stocked here for over a decade but are less pursued than George's bountiful walleyes and burgeoning hybrid striped bass. All three species grow fat on plentiful shad. Contact: Loud Thunder Forest Preserve (309-795-1040); Rock Island County DNR office (309-372-4241).

Smithtown Pool Largemouths: Bang crankbaits against submerged timber for largemouths up to seven pounds anywhere within this 72-mile Ohio River span between the Uniontown and Smithland dams in southeastern Illinois. Water temperatures can range into the mid-80s, pushing tight-lipped bass deep. Best bets are near the mouths of Lusk, Little Grand Pierre and Big creeks, and off the Saline River. When thunderstorm runoff muddies and cools water, throw black- and-white buzzbaits, shad-colored Zara Spooks, dark seven-inch worms and six-inch lizards to structure in clear pockets, or drift minnows and shad in coves. Contact: Golconda Marina (618-683-5875); Bill Scates Bait Shop (618-269-4391).

Devil's Kitchen Rainbows: Tight-line night crawlers near the dam for rainbows to five pounds on this 810-acre Crab Orchard NWR lake in Williamson County near Carbondale. This is a light-tackle, night-fishing special-6-pound-test with minnows and worms on small treble hooks with a sliding weight that allows bait to float off the bottom. Alternative offerings include PowerBait, salmon eggs and small Rooster Tails. Target stumps with the same baits for largemouths to seven pounds. Contact: Crab Orchard NWR (618-997-3344).

Key Dates
August 1: Fox and gray squirrel season opens.
August 14: Deadline for nonresidents and residents unsuccessful in earlier lottery to apply for firearm deer season permits. Contact: 888-673-7648.
August 15: Crow seasons close.

**INDIANA **
Turtle Creek Largemouths: The glory days here may be over, but Turtle Creek's "Glory Hole" still can kick out lunker bass. Fish early and late with black, blue, green or purple plastic worms or half-ounce shad- colored crankbaits by the dam, where the "Glory Hole" is the deepest part of this 1,550-acre power-plant impoundment, about 20 miles south of Terre Haute. Deep water will hold fish now on this trophy bass lake, where water temperatures can be 14 to 16 degrees warmer than in other area lakes. Contact