Wiltz: Dealing with out-of-state anglers
If there's one thing I've heard over the years more than anything else, it would be the ranting and complaining by my fellow South Dakota sportsmen about the legions of Iowans and Minnesotans who come to our state to fish. It's likened to a migration of blue license plates.
The way I see it, there are three things we can do about it: Fight it, Accept it, or Get Even! There aren't as many of us as there are of them, so we'll never see as many South Dakotans head to Iowa or Minnesota to fish as they send to us. But there are other things.
The blue license plates do some heavy shopping in Sioux Falls. The sales tax they pay lightens the burden for you and me. This is significant, but it doesn't help our walleyes. Just how big is this Iowa fishing migration?
Back in the early 70's when I was high school principal at Burke, I was smitten by the lure of more money. I applied for a position at Onawa, Iowa, a town on I-29 about 35 miles south of Sioux City. I was invited to interview, and they paid our mileage and motel room. I was impressed, but I wasn't thinking straight. With teachers for our children like Nellie Connell, Audry Brevik and Myrna Brunz, I had no business leaving Burke.
Well, the Iowa interview went well, and I was offered the far more lucrative position. I knew about the Loess Hills and the big whitetails, but did I have any questions? Yes I did. "Is there any good fishing around Onawa?"
"Mr. Wiltz, we have incredible fishing! Have you ever heard of Pickstown?" asked the superintendent. It was obvious that some of those blue license plates come from Onawa. We declined the offer and found ourselves far more content with Burke. In fact, we went on to buy a home.
My "get even" suggestion is an obvious tongue in cheek ploy, but seriously, does Minnesota or Iowa offer any fishing that might lure South Dakota anglers to these states?
While many of you readers are great fishermen, how many of you have caught a big musky? Is the "fish of ten thousand casts" on your bucket list? It probably is. A few years ago, at the recommendation of Dan Moran, fishing partner Jerry Hnetynka and I headed to Minnesota's West Battle Lake to musky fish with Dave Williamson of Musky Stalker Guide Service. We booked a half day late afternoon-evening trip, and both Jerry and I caught and released big muskies! That's as good as it gets!
Minnesota also has the Lake of the Woods boundary waters, Mil Lacs, the Walker area, and Lake Superior. It's a change in environment worth experiencing.
What does Iowa have to offer? Have you ever visited a place and said to yourself, "I could live here"?
Like Smithers, British Columbia, New Zealand, Page, Arizona and Spearfish, this happens to me when we visit Guttenberg, Iowa. Guttenberg is on the Mississippi River, about twenty miles south of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The area is scenic, and the overlooks south of Guttenberg on Hwy 52 are breathtaking.
I mention Prairie du Chien for a reason. When we fished Devils Lake, North Dakota with guide Jonny Candle in the fall of 2015, I asked Jonny about his favorite place to fish walleyes. He answered, "Prairie du Chien," which lies just across the river from Marquette, Iowa. As you probably know, Jonny is a force on the Walleye tour circuit.
Guttenberg is slightly larger than Wagner or Parkston, and is about an eight hour drive from Mitchell. It lies on the river, and a park with walking trail and benches compliments the river frontage. The river is moderately clear, the current is gentle, and just south of Guttenberg we find a series of interwoven islands that offer the angler varied structure. Candle's favorite walleye haunts are less than an hour upstream. Sand beaches abound as do boat ramps right in Guttenberg.
Guttenberg is a tourist favorite with fine restaurants and B&B's with a view. I'd recommend reservations during the summer-fall. The nearby Port of Dubuque, a river town with a colorful history, certainly offers some shopping adventure. Don't miss Dubuque's Grandview overlook. As always, I have nothing to do with Iowa or Minnesota tourism.
For the 15th consecutive year, I've failed to draw my Black Hills elk tag. In a 2006 column, during a time when I was applying for both Hills elk and a Custer State Park cow elk tag, I wrote that a time would probably come when I had to say when about hanging up my elk aspirations. I drew the Custer tag in 2007. Come next spring, I'll think about giving up on the "any elk" and applying my preference points to the "easier draw" cow elk tag. Of course, I'll have to see what my partner thinks. While he's older than I, he is tougher. Still, I don't see either of us carrying elk quarters very far.
Can you believe it? A new Platte-Winner Bridge? I remember when Ron Hilgenberg's Parkston High School band played at the new bridge's dedication in 1966. I taught at Parkston at the time. The current bridge pillars offer some excellent fishing structure at times. Hopefully they won't mess with those.
See you next week.