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Where the mighty Mississippi begins, and adventure never ends...

Chamber Blog

Friday, October 17, 2014

Park Rapids Lakes Area Fishing Report - October 17, 2014

Submitted by the Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

Park Rapids is home to excellent fall fishing and now is the time to be on the water. As many sportsmen are busy hunting or building deer stands; the lakes are clear of traffic and you will often have the whole lake to yourself. The water temps are now in the low 50's and many species of fish are found in large schools. Walleyes are currently at widely varying depths from 8 feet to 40 feet on the hard bottom points. The tulibee will start spawning soon which will attract the large pike to the shallows to feed. Tulibee spawn on shallow reefs surrounded by very deep water. Use a double bladed bucktail or an 8 to 10" Jake™ crankbait to entice them to strike. Your electronics will help you to locate the schooling crappies. Find them in 15 to 20 feet near the waning cabbage weed stands. Stop by the store for the most up to date and lake specific tips and hotspots. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store - SHOS employee Nathan Campbell
pictured with a 36" pike recently caught north of Park Rapids.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

October 2014 - Fall into a fine time of year


After a glorious warm weekend for the Headwaters 100 Bike Ride and Art Leap, fall’s cooler temps moved in bringing thoughts of bonfires, fireplaces and hot apple cider.

Some hunters have already headed to the woods and water, paddlers relish one more morning cruise around the lake and anglers take to the water catching fish (maybe), but also the mirror image of fall colors.

For others, it’s time to hike, bike or simply gaze at the landscape and take in the comforting scent of crisp fall air. The Park Rapids Lakes Area remains a beautiful, peaceful place to head outdoors, relax or enjoy some local culture. There’s always lots to see and do.

Carters Red Wagon Farm (14766 119th Avenue) is hosting Pumpkin Parties again this fall. The Farm is open each Saturday through Nov. 1 as well as Friday, Oct. 17 (Teacher Association weekend). Experience this year’s corn maze featuring Mysteries of the World plus a hay bale maze, Hobbit-themed wagon rides, a crow shoot, giant slide, pumpkin propeller, giant pumpkin boats, “cow milking” and other activities as well as concessions, bluegrass bands and more.

The 8th Annual North Country Hiking Fest is coming up Saturday, Oct. 4 at Itasca State Park. Organized hikes will start at 11 a.m. with shuttles provided to various starting points. Then at 1:30 p.m. the Friends of Itasca state Park will host the 27th Annual Ozawindib Walk in honor of the Ojibwe guide who led Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s expedition to the Mississippi Headwaters in July 1832. Other events planned Saturday are a compass learning activity, leaf art, Voyageur re-enactment program, cookout and music.

Or head west for Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s Fall Festival Saturday, Oct. 4. Several organized hiking events are planned during October, a beautiful time of year to enjoy the scenery without a mosquito in sight.

Main Street businesses will hand out treats to trick or treaters from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31. Watching the stream of hundreds of colorful, costumed characters is part of the fun.

Many other activities and events to celebrate fall are on the October calendar. The Chamber Website has all the information you need to put together a memorable stay. If you want help or have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - October 1, 2014

Park Rapids Lakes Area Fishing Report
Courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store
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The Park Rapids area fishery has been making anglers pleased as the fall trends are now in place. A minnow and jig or minnow and “Lindy Rig” have been producing results. Eight to fourteen feet of water will be the strike zone and time of day is not as important in the fall as the water temperatures hover around 60 degrees. The pike fishing has really taken off with the “big dogs” feeding in the cold, shallow waters. Find any point that is near deep water and cast a Musky Mania™ inline bucktail spinner. Let the lure sink down five or six feet before you begin your retrieve. Bass are congregating near the remaining deep weed beds and a Big Bite Baits™ “Trick Stick” will be the lure to beat. Find them feeding in six to twelve feet of water. Stop by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store for the most up to date fishing tips and tricks for your local lake. We also have Northern Minnesota’s largest selection of Ice Castle fish houses/RVs, we hope to see you soon!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - September 10, 2014


Park Rapids Area Fishing Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, 9/10/2014

As the Park Rapids area lakes continue to cool, the fishing continues to heat up. The seven day forecast calls for overnight temps in the 30’s and 40’s. The ever-extending hours of darkness will contribute to a decline of the water temps on our area lakes. Fall is here, like it or not!

The boats of less avid anglers have already began taking up spaces in the local storage garages; while many avid walleye anglers are making sure that their fishing line is fresh for the hefty fall walleye bite. As the daylight continues to make a shorter and shorter daily appearance, the ‘eyes get more and more active knowing that winter is coming and they must store up fat reserves for the long, slow winter. The walleyes will feed where the feed is available, which is currently on the deep weed edge in 10 to 20 feet of water. A Northland™ “Glo Jig” paired with a fathead minnow and a “twister tail” will get the marble eye’d fish to snap their jaws. Keep light feet when fishing them at these shallow depths, they spook easily.

You may spend your summer trying to ward off pesky “hammer-handles” (small pike) as they are a menace snapping off your lures and causing you to practice your knot tying skills, but in the fall, the small pike go into hiding as the big dogs come home to feast. Once pike reach about five pounds, they spend their life chasing prey in cold water. During the warm water months they are found gobbling up tulibee at depths up to 50 feet; this makes them hard to locate in the vastness of the barren deep. Get out your heavy gear and head to the shallow cabbage weed stands as well as the sunken islands, rock piles and points. It’s prime time to put a giant on the wall. An 8, 10 or 12 inch Jake™ crankbait will emulate the tulibee that they can’t resist.

As the lily pads die off, the largemouth bass will congregate to areas where the pads are still green. This makes the big fish easier to find. A slow presentation such as a Northland™ “Jungle Jig” paired with a Papa’s™ 3.25” chunk should be strategically and quietly dropped in the pad openings. You may have to let the bait sit for a 3 count, but if they are there, they will usually inhale it. Bass can also be found on deep running points and the best way to hook them is with a Rapala™ DT-16 or DT-20. Use a slow retrieve for the best results!

Bluegills and crappies will still be found clinging to the remaining living submergent weed growth. As with recent fishing reports, they can still be most easily caught using a 1/16thoz or 1/8oz FluFlu™ jig tipped with a crappie minnow or wax worm. Deep growing weeds are definitely key in narrowing down the locating of nature’s tastiest of treats.

Smokey Hills Outdoor Store now has a full line of duck, goose and whatever other kind of animal call that you may need for the fall hunting season. Ask Jared, Drew or Josh about the new duck blinds and decoys. Last but definitely not least, ask Nate, Greg or Hendri to help you design your 2015 model year Ice Castle. We have Northern Minnesota’s largest selection with over 60 units on the lot. Thank you for helping us break another sales record for the month of August. We are already on pace to break the record for this month! Thanks again and we look forward to seeing you soon!!

Ryan Marjama (owner Big Fish Guide Service) & Zach Milz (pictured) recently landed this massive 53” musky
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)




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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weekly Fishing Reports - August 27, 2014


Park Rapids Area Fishing Report - 8/27/2014
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

Some of the leaves in the Park Rapids area have already given up on summer and have begun to change colors in preparation for fall. Overnight temperatures have recently dipped into the lower 50’s and soon the water temperatures will follow suit. The fish will be on notice and their internal clocks will tell them to feed before the brutal Minnesota winter arrives. Some of the year’s best fishing arrives on the next page of the calendar and it’s almost time to turn the page!

Most of our local lakes store their stash of large walleyes in the deep abyss for the duration of August. As the water cools, they will be dispersed along the weed edges in 8 to 20 feet of water. The majority of the “eater-size” ‘eyes are already feeding on the weed bearing shelves; look for the trophy fish to migrate to the same territory very soon. Late August/early September submergent vegetation provides excellent habitat for some of the walleye’s favorite snacks. The best time to fish these areas is early morning as the sun first peeks over the trees or in the evening as the sun is sinking below the horizon. They will use their exceptional low light vision to relieve the lake of its bluegill and crappie population during these hours. Once again, Bemidji Minnesota made KenKatch Tackle’s™ long shank jig tipped with a minnow or crawler will put the most walleye fillets in your bucket.

Now is a great time to rig up your heavy equipment and go musky hunting. Some giants have been recently landed on Mantrap Lake, Elk Lake and Twin Lake. Musky Mania’s™ “Double Trouble” bucktail inline spinner is a good lure choice. Mid-day, topwater lures such as Suick’s™ “Nitewalker” will get their attention. Scan the lake for large expanses of cabbage weed beds, this is a good location to start your hunt. The area northern pike are also worth fishing for as they are fat from a long summer of feeding. The pike is a cold water loving fish and will be found on the deep edge of the submergent vegetation. A Live Target™ 8” perch crankbait will get down to the strike zone. Make sure that you have a heavy action rod, we have some monster pike in the area.

The largemouth bass are getting close to hitting their peak weights for the year. The water has cooled a few degrees and deep diving crankbaits have been bringing more success. Rapala DT-10 to DT-20 cranks will do the trick. As with nearly every other predatory fish right now, the key is to find deep growing cabbage weed and run your crank parallel with the deep weedline. The shallower running cranks will produce results by casting over the top of the weed beds. Use a slow retrieve with an intermittent pause to make them open their wide jaws.
Bring a 1/8oz FluFlu™ jig and tip it with a wax worm to prevent your livewell from being lonely. Crappies are active in and around the coon tail weed stands. Optimal depth range is 6 to 14 feet and the latter part of day will put more in the livewell. Crappies feed heaviest the 30 minutes before dark and will continue to feed through the night if prey is readily available.

Stop by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store for lake specific hot tips and hot spots. Our shelves are stocked with the new products for the fall hunting season. Our staff is here to answer any questions that you may have about the outdoors in Minnesota. We are also one of the world’s largest Ice Castle dealers and we are taking orders for custom 2015 models. We thank you for your continued patronage and look forward to seeing you soon!

Park Rapids Area dinner pictured, all fish recently caught.
Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - August 20, 2014


Park Rapids Area Fishing Report - 8/20/14
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

The fish are obese and ready to eat in the Park Rapids area lakes. We are already entering the last days of August which means that the fish are fat from a long summer of feeding. The ten day weather forecast calls for some upheaval in our near perfect summer weather; promising rain and scattered thunderstorms on some of the coming days. We start off this fishing report with easterly winds for the next 72 hours. On day four, they turn westerly and that will turn up the fish activity.

The most recent “secret” to catching walleyes is to set your alarm to early ‘o clock. The water is coolest at the break of dawn in late August and the ‘eyes also make the best use of their excellent low light vision at that time. Don’t be afraid to snag a weed or two, walleyes will feed where there is the most prey available and that prey will be close to various weed beds throughout the lake. Early morning, you can find walleye feeding between the pencil reed edge and the inside edge of the submergent vegetation. The tall submergent vegetation usually starts growing at 8 feet. Being quiet is also of utmost importance as walleyes spook easily in the shallows. Shut down your electronics and only use your trolling motor when necessary. Make long casts with a KenKatch™ long-shank jig tipped with a leech or shiner minnow. This set up will help you introduce walleyes to the plush carpet on the bottom of your boat. If you prefer not to wake up with the roosters, trolling Rapala™ “Shad Raps” will still bring success later in the day.

Some nice northern pike have been recently caught by anglers targeting the deeper weed edges. Let a medium sized sucker minnow from Smokey Hills sacrifice its life for your angling pleasure. The northern pike’s preferred late summer habitat is on the deep growing cabbage weed points and sunken islands. Use your electronics to locate the thick, tall growing cabbage weeds. You will want to start your hunt in the deepest bay(s) of the lake as the water is slightly cooler and prey more readily available. Depths of 12 to 25 feet will produce results!

The largemouth bass remain active, eating everything that the lake provides in preparation for our long, frigid Minnesota winter. Take advantage of their need to store up fat reserves by plucking the “big dogs” out of the coon tail weeds in 10 to 15 feet of water. A Big Bite Bait’s™ “Trick Stick” affixed to a 2/0 Gamakatsu lipstick hook will out-fish most other configurations while fishing for bass from this particular habitat. The technique is slow and sometimes tedious, but the technique will pay off when you find the stash of bass. It’s also a great time of year to dust off your deep diving, fat crankbaits. The big bass are down there on the tips of the deep points just waiting to attack your crankbait!

The story on the panfish is still much the same as previous weeks. The majority of the crappie and bluegill will be found in and around deep growing cabbage weed stands. Any variation of FluFlu™, KenKatch™, or Northland™ 1/16th or 1/8th oz jigs tipped with wax worm will put fish in the boat.
Smokey Hills Outdoor Store staff has been busy getting ready for the upcoming fall hunting seasons by stocking our shelves with new firearms, archery products and accessories. Our Ice Castle inventory is one of the most impressive worldwide with more than 60 units currently on our lot. We have again set record sales numbers to date for the month of August. We are grateful for your support as a large majority of our new customers are referral based. Thank you and we hope to see you soon!

Cassidy Haggard pictured with her recently caught Park Rapids crappie.
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - August 13, 2014

Park Rapids Area Fishing Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

As we enter the last two weeks of August, the lakes are full of prey for our local fish to eat. This means that fish can be selective on what they choose to ingest. Luckily, our weather forecast is making it easy and enjoyable to be on the water. The weatherman promises mostly sunny skies with temps in the low to mid 80’s over the course of the next seven days. Don’t put away your swimsuits and sun block just yet, summer fishing and water recreation is in full swing!

As to be expected for mid-August, the walleyes have not been cooperative for many anglers. Our local successful fishermen have leaked their secrets and two methods are bringing success. The first working technique is to pull a light-weight “Lindy” style rig paired with a leech or crawler in 4 to 9 feet of water along the edge of the pencil reeds. A Mustad™ “Slow Death” hook on your walleye rig will increase your rate of catch. White or lime green have been the best producing colors. The other effective method to get walleyes top-side is to head for the deep running points or sunken islands. Trolling Rapala™, Cotton Cordell™ or Berkley™ deep diving, shad-style crankbaits will do the trick. We have a moon at 83% and waning, but the night bite will remain effective through the rest of this week.

The area northern pike are worth fishing for. As they are a cold water loving fish, you will find the bigger ones at the bottom of the thermocline in 15 to 20 feet of water. Look for thick cabbage weed stands that grow at depths up to 20 feet below the surface. They hang on the edges of the weed-line waiting to snack on unsuspecting bluegill, crappie and perch. Deep diving 8 to 10 inch Jake™ crankbaits will entice the strike. Reel fast until your lure get to the desired depth and then slow the action as to make it appear an easy meal. Windel’s™ steel, titanium or fluorocarbon leaders are necessary implements on the big pike hunt. Their teeth are razor sharp and 8 or 10 pound test strength mono line is no match, come prepared with the proper set-up.

As summer progresses, food becomes more and more available often making some species more difficult to locate. Largemouth bass can fall into this category as they are a short, fat fish built to make tight turns and feed amongst any habitat. Late summer often disperses large bass throughout the water column. Fishing “the bank” (shorelines) will almost always put fish in the boat, but other methods may be more effective. Avid Northern Minnesota bass anglers know that schools of large bass will move to deep weed stands late summer to feed on the sunfish, crawfish, crappie and minnows that call those areas home. Deep diving crankbaits such as a Rapala™ DT-16 or DT-20 will help to locate the deep fish. Once found, changing to a more persistent and slower moving approach will continue to put “hog” bass in the tournament bag. Big Bite Bait’s™ 5 inch “Trick Stick” or a Terminator™ “Pro Jig” 1/2oz bass jig are both deadly deep water lures and should be part of your deep water fishing arsenal.

The story on the panfish is still much the same as previous weeks with the lion’s share of the fish being caught in and around deep growing cabbage weed stands. Any variety of FluFlu™ style jigs tipped with a worm or crappie minnow will result in small, tasty fillets sizzling and popping in your frying pan by nightfall.

Smokey Hills Outdoor Store has a full lot of Ice Castle Fish Houses/RVs with the largest selection in Northern Minnesota. Buy your next Ice Castle from us, you get the small town honesty with the big city selection right here in Park Rapids. All of us at Smokey Hills Outdoor Store thank you for helping us grow as fast as we have and we will continue to get better and work harder to make your next experience with us a good one. We hope to see you very soon, thanks again!


8 year old Tyler Gades with his first walleye, a massive 31 ½” fish
caught recently on a local Park Rapids Area Lake
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

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