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Chamber Blog

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)

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

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

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

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)

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

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)

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - August 8, 2014

Park Rapids Area Fishing Report
Submitted by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

The weather has been absolutely beautiful in the Park Rapids area and much of the next ten day forecast promises more of the same. Many of our local lakes have a surface temperature of nearly 80 degrees by mid-afternoon, this means that fish will be more active in the morning and evening. Make sure that your electronics are “up to snuff”, you will need them to put fish in the boat this week!

The ever sought after Park Rapids walleye have left our local anglers scratching their heads in recent days. It’s time to think outside the box and fish different areas of the lake. We have been selling more lead core line as the big ‘eyes are deep. Weighted line can make all the difference in getting your lure in front of their nose. Lures such as Rapala’s™ “DT-20” are usually reserved for use by bass fishermen, but will be helpful on this week’s walleye hunt. Most of the prey gathering at depths of 20 feet or more have a black or dark colored back. Use a Sharpie™ marker to “paint” the back of your Rapala™ and increase the odds that they will make a meal of your hook-laden crankbait. Sunken islands as deep as 40 feet have been and will be holding fish in the coming days. Remember to let your sonar be your sixth sense on the walleye hunt, you can’t catch them if they’re not there!

Warm water temps are great for swimming, skiing, tubing....oh, and catching giant razor toothed Minnesota muskies! Attaching a sucker minnow to a 3/0 circle hook under a heavy pole float is a good way to kick back, relax and wait for a giant to attack. Pick a sunken island or point near deep water and let the anchor down. This method has been tricking muskies for years. The more active angler will have success throwing a classic Musky Mania™ “Double Trouble” inline bucktail spinner. Even when the bite is not hot, this approach will produce “follows” and keep your interest in making another 100 casts.

Many of the local bass tournaments are being won by those anglers fishing at depths of 10 or more feet of water. Success will still be found fishing in the lily pads and pencil reeds, but the large concentrations of big bass will be found in the deep growing cabbage and coontail weeds. Wacky worms, bass jigs and crankbaits are all good choices for catching them out of the deep vegetation. Largemouth will be there from now until the weeds die off in the fall and the same technique will continue to yield a positive catch day after day.

The story on the area bluegill and crappie is much the same as the two previous weeks with fish schooling near steep drop offs on weedlines. A green colored FluFlu™ jig paired with a crappie minnow will put more crappies in the bucket than fishing with a wax worm tipped jig. Cast the weedlines until you find a fish, mark the spot and start bobber fishing. They are a schooling fish and where there is one, there are more. The same method will work for bluegills minus the crappie minnows, trade them for a nice juicy angle worm and the ‘gills will respond.

If you are in the market for a new Ice Castle, Smokey Hills Outdoor Store is the place to come for one of the best selections worldwide. We are the only dealer to stock multiple King’s Castles. Our current inventory exceeds 60 units and we also have a great staff to help you design a custom Ice Castle to personally suit your needs. We are so very grateful and thankful for your support. We will continue to set the bar higher and we are excited to see you very soon!

Park Rapids local angler Stephanie Hafner with her recent bluegill catch.
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 2014, The best of summer lies at our doorstep

Whether you’re looking for woods, water and wildlife or an experience to remember when the north wind piles drifts at your door, it’s time to get away. Finding a place to stay can be as easy as a couple of clicks on the lodging pages on our website.

Most days are perfect for playing on the water or riding through the pines with cool nights for bonfires and sleeping under the stars. August promises more of the same plus weekends filled with festivals and other events that celebrate our cultural heritage.

Legends and Logging Days starts with Water Wars on Main Street Thursday, Aug. 7 and continues Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8 & 9 at the Antique Engine & Tractor Club’s East 40 Grounds where there is ample, free parking. A new lumberjack show this year invites you to try a hand (actually both feet) at log rolling but will still remind us of the days when pioneers came to the north woods to make a living and stayed to build our towns. Become a legend during Ye Olde Tomahawk and Archery Challenge or learn more at an historic encampment. The popular masterpiece and quick carve chainsaw sculpting events will be back with an auction of these amazing creations starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. Saturday night’s shindig offers live music with Incredibly Real and the Wilson Bradley Band and a beer garden. $5 gets you into the East 40 Grounds both days. Kids 12 and under enter for free.

2nd Street Stage, an evening of free live music, a beer garden and family activities - rain or shine - on 2nd Street between Main Avenue and Highway 71 (at Armory Square if it rains) in downtown Park Rapids continues Thursday evenings through Aug. 21.

The Northern Knights Car Club will host the 31st annual Run to the Rapids Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8-9 at the C’mon Inn and downtown Park Rapids. More than 100 classic cars are expected to drive in Friday evening. The public is especially invited to the Show-N-Shine Saturday morning on Main Street.

Other area communities are celebrating their culture and heritage in August. The Pine Point Traditional Powwow provides colorful viewing Aug. 9-10 and Nevis’ Northwoods Triathlon invites spectators as competitors swim, bike and run for prizes Aug. 9. Wolf Lake welcomes you to their Harvest Festival Aug. 15-17 or head to the Annual Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers’ Show near the north entrance of Itasca State Park that weekend.

If it’s culture you crave, the Noon Hour Concert series continues Thursdays, Aug. 7 and 14; Youth Music & Arts Showcase VI will take place Thursday and Friday, Aug. 14 and 15; and the Art Fair at the Winery (Forestedge) entertains Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16 and 17. The Nemeth Art Center, live theater and other events add to the season’s cultural offerings.

And all this is just a sample of the activities and events planned all month long. So whether you want to just curl up with a good book or immerse yourself in some local culture, the Park Rapids Lakes Area is the place to be in August.

The Chamber Website has all the information you need to put together a memorable vacation or weekend visit. If you want help or have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Weekly Fishing Report - July 30, 2014

Park Rapids Area Fishing Report
Courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store

The fish in the Park Rapids area lakes are fat from feeding heavily on the abundant prey that summer provides. The weatherman promises a stable climate with temperatures averaging 80 degrees over the course of the next ten days. Not too hot, not too cold for the anglers and this stability will keep the fish active. When you hone in on what method is working, the same method will work until the weather makes a drastic change. We are now past mid-summer, check your line for nicks and deterioration, it may be time to spool up new line. You wouldn’t want to lose that trophy fish once you have finally hooked her!

Your electronics are the key to locating and catching late July, early August walleyes. Deep sunken islands surrounded by even deeper water are good places to start on your search. The sunken islands that will hold fish may be 20 to 45 feet below the surface. You can also find ‘eyes feeding on most deep, hard bottom points throughout the lake. Jigging a Northland™ white glow jig, twister tail and leech over these areas will put fish in the boat. Deep diving Rapala™ Shad Raps will also put fish in the boat and help you cover more water if you prefer to troll. Be mindful of the various slot limits that may be in effect on your local lake.

If you are looking to catch big bass, point your boat to the cabbage and coontail stands growing in 8 to 20 feet of water. Tie on a 5/8oz Northland™ Jungle Jig™ and let it fall right into the mess of undergrowth. Once you feel bottom, just keep your line tight enough to shake the jig without actually moving it forward. If a bass is in the area, it will come over to investigate and attack. Pair the Jungle Jig™ with a Papa’s™ 2.75” or 3.25” crawfish trailer for the best results. A Big Bite Bait’s™ Trick Stick™ paired with a Gamakatsu™ 2/0, 1/4oz “lipstick hook” is also another great deep water choice. It has a slow rate of decent and patience is a necessary attribute when fishing a “wacky worm”. Large bass will come out of their hiding spots in the vegetation to eat the irresistible plastic worm.

It is not uncommon and usually easy to catch 2 to 4 pound northern pike. The smaller fish are easier to locate and catch because they do not feed on the same prey as large pike. Their larger 8 to 25 pound brethren prefer to feed on tulibee, dwarf cisco or rainbow trout in the cold, deep water. Tulibee, dwarf cisco and rainbow trout are all very oily, fatty and high in protein; which makes the esox lucius grow fast, fat, long and worthy of making a replica for your wall. Catching fish in these fish in vast expanses of deep water may prove more difficult than catching fish in the usual shallow weed patches, but the efforts will be rewarded with much larger fish in the boat. As with this week’s walleye report, using your electronics to locate fish on deep running bars and sunken islands is the key to catching. Tulibee, dwarf cisco and trout are all schooling fish and are easily distinguishable on a graph. They will take up 10 or more feet of the water column and show up as a massive “bait ball” on your screen. Drop down a sucker minnow on a large heavy jig to get them to respond.

“Eater sized” bluegills, crappies and perch have all made their mid to late summer homes 10 to 30 feet below the lake water’s crest. Small leeches affixed to a heavy 1/8oz FluFlu™ jig will urge them to open their mouths to eat. White or pink is a great color choice as it glows nicely well below the surface.

Smokey Hills Outdoor Store has had a sales record setting summer and we are so very thankful for your support. Our lot is as full as it has ever been with Ice Castles and the brand has dominated the Minnesota RV market, outselling the other top three RV makers for the 4th year in a row. Stop by the store for the more up to date and lake specific fishing tips and hot spots. See you soon!
Local youth fisherman Dylan showing off his caught and released bass and pike.
(Photo courtesy of Smokey Hills Outdoor Store)

posted by Park Rapids Blog at

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