Dan Small's Articles

June 2013


For Secluded Fishing Action, Try The Lake Michigan Tributaries
by Dan Small
Wisconsin's Lake Michigan tributaries garner plenty of attention from anglers during the steelhead run in spring and again in fall, when more steelhead, along with salmon and browns, make their way up from the lake. In summer, these tribs see a lot less fishing pressure, as anglers turn their focus to inland rivers, lakes throughout the state and, of course, Lake Michigan itself. Most Lake Mich... more

April 2013


Spring Turkey Myths and Methods
by Dan Small
There's something about a tom turkey all puffed-up and shiny on a glorious spring morning that makes him seem bigger than life. Turkey hunters love to tell stories of the toms they have shot and the ones that got away. Some of these stories lead to myths that we've heard and shared so often, we take them as gospel. Here's a look at four popular myths about spring turkey hunting and a thought or... more

March 2013


Steelhead Dreams
by Dan Small
It happens every year. The winter show season keeps me so busy that I barely have time to think about getting outdoors. I might sneak away for a rabbit hunt or two or perhaps an afternoon on the ice, but that's about it. Then, along comes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show, the biggest gig of a long, long winter. This year's Sports Show runs March 6-10, at State Fair Park. Inevitab... more

February 2013


Hunt Small Patches for More Rabbits
by Dan Small
Cottontail rabbits are among the most adaptable of all wild critters. In their effort to avoid predators and find enough to nibble on, they make themselves at home in some strange places. I returned from a recent airline trip to find rabbit tracks in the snow that had blown all around my vehicle inside the parking garage at Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport. And who hasn't seen a bunny dash across a... more

November 2012


Three Strategies for Fall Gobblers
by Dan Small
Many turkey hunters for whom the spring hunt is a serious affair have a different attitude about fall hunting. Talk to someone who has hunted turkeys in fall, and odds are you'll hear something like: "It's not the same as a spring hunt," or "It's almost impossible to bag a tom in fall," or "I get a fall tag just in case I see a turkey while I'm hunting grouse, squirrels or deer." I may be in th... more

September 2012


Hunt Crick Bottoms, Clearcuts and Clover Trails for More Grouse
by Dan Small
When killing frosts have crisped the bracken, aspen leaves have faded to burnt gold and the red lanterns in every woodland blackberry patch have been snuffed out for the year, then should a man begin seriously to hunt grouse and woodcock, not before, for they are truly October's birds. You can't hit a grouse you can't see, and shooting at grouse in the September woods is mostly a guess and a p... more

August 2012


Wheat, Water and Wires: Three Keys for More Doves
by Dan Small
After nearly a decade of hunting them, Wisconsin's dove hunters are beginning to get a handle on how to hunt this tricky little game bird. According to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports, hunters have taken around 100,000 doves during each of the first nine seasons. With less than a month to go before this year's September 1st dove opener, now's the time to start planning your dove ... more

July 2012


Speed Jigging For Walleyes
by Dan Small
Old beliefs die hard. Take walleyes, for instance. Let's look at three common beliefs regarding walleye behavior. In summer, they go deep, right? Some do, some don't, depending mainly on three key variables: water temperature, oxygen levels and food availability. In many lakes and reservoirs with shallow weed beds, the vegetation offers those three variables, along with ambush cover, so a fa... more

June 2012


Door County's Smallmouth Heaven
by Dan Small
Door County pokes its thumb into Lake Michigan like a hitch-hiker looking for a ride. Between the thumb and the central Wisconsin palm, lie the waters of Green Bay. Along the eastern edge of the thumb, rock outcroppings and sheltered harbors define the rugged coastline of Lake Michigan. The Door Peninsula offers hundreds of miles of shoreline, more than any other county in America. Most of it ... more

May 2012


Sex and Violence in the Spring Woods
by Dan Small
Eddie Salter, the Hunters Specialties turkey guru from Evergreen, Ala., once described spring turkey hunting as "the All-American sport." "It's all about sex and violence," Salter said. "That old gobbler thinks he's about to make love and you're there to try to kill him." Salter's salty tongue was not tucked into his cheek when he shared that observation 25 years ago during a seminar at the ... more

April 2012


Spring Steel on Lake Michigan Tributaries - Part II: Steelhead Streams
by Dan Small
Read Spring Steel on Lake Michigan Tributaries - Part I: Tackle and Tactics Rainfall and runoff vary up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline, so the spring steelhead run may be in full swing on one river before it starts somewhere else. The southernmost rivers - the Pike, the Root, the Milwaukee and the Menomonee - usually see the first new fish in early March, and the run progresses up the ... more

March 2012


Spring Steel on Lake Michigan Tributaries - Part I: Tackle and Tactics
by Dan Small
Wisconsin's Lake Michigan tributary steelhead fishery attracts anglers from all across the United States, and for good reason. Twenty-five Lake Michigan streams support annual spawning runs of steelhead, or lake-run rainbow trout, that provide super fishing for a good portion of the year. The action begins in late summer or early fall on some streams and runs into May, and the season is open y... more

February 2012


Tubing for Winnebago Walleyes
by Dan Small
Nowhere in Wisconsin do anglers look forward to ice with greater anticipation than around the shores of Lake Winnebago and its sister lakes, Poygan, Winneconne and Butte des Morts. As soon as there is a three-inch shell on one of these lakes, they start to venture out. Most anglers are anxious to get through the first-ice flurry of near-shore, walk-on fishing so they can settle down to winter's... more

January 2012


First-Ice Pike Tactics
by Dan Small
Northern pike typically bite all winter long, but the most consistent action for the biggest pike comes almost without fail as soon as the ice will hold an angler and his gear. Why is this so? Some say it's because cooler weather and the increased vulnerability of baitfish caused by the decline of weed cover trigger a pike feeding spree. When a lake freezes during this time, the spree continues fo... more

December 2011


Got a Turkey Tag Left? Try a Winter Hunt for Your Christmas Turkey
by Dan Small
It happened again this year. I managed to get through the "fall" part of our fall turkey season without killing a bird. Wisconsin's fall turkey season runs through the end of December in five of the state's seven turkey-hunting zones. Most hunters probably gave up the idea of turkey hunting when the first half of the split season ended on Nov. 17, but I'm sure I'm not the only one left with a... more

November 2011


Tag-Team Deer Hunting: Two-Man Tactics That Work
by Dan Small
If you hunt deer with a group of friends, you are likely familiar with deer drives. Well-run drives can put a lot of venison on the meat pole. To make a drive work, standers must guard escape routes with clear and safe shooting lanes, while drivers move in concert through cover to push out deer. Do it right, and someone will usually get a shot at any deer in the cover you are hunting. Trouble i... more

October 2011


Strategies for Second-Season Gobblers
by Dan Small
Many hunters apply for a fall turkey permit, then tuck it into their backtag carrier when they bowhunt for deer, just in case a flock wanders by. Others carry their turkey permit into the grouse or squirrel woods for when the action slows on one of those species, or again, just in case... A few hunters, however, relish the chance to go one-on-one with a tom when he isn't interested in hens, whe... more

September 2011


Looking for Doves in all the Right Places
by Dan Small
So, you want to kick off the fall season with a dove hunt, eh? You've heard about how much fun dove hunting is and how hard the little critters are to hit, and you'd like to give it a try yourself. But if you've never hunted doves, you'll quickly find that the advice you get from books, videos and other hunters on how to lead them, what shot size works best and whether to go with an open-choked fa... more

July 2011


Wisconsin's Smallmouth Rivers Offer Fast Action and Fun
by Dan Small
If it weren't for the muskie, a good case could be made for the smallmouth bass as the state fish. Smallies are native to more waters than muskies. Pound-for-pound, they fight as hard. And, unlike the toothy king of the Esox clan, smallmouths will hit just about anything just about any time, which makes them a favorite of anglers who count action high on the list of a fish's qualities. Smallie... more

May 2011


Outflank a Trash-Talking Tom
by Dan Small
Nothing gets a turkey hunter's heart a-thumpin' like a booming gobble just yards away. Let that tom gobble incessantly without coming any closer, though, and the warm rush slowly turns to frustration. Spend enough time in the turkey woods, and sooner or later you'll encounter a trash-talking tom that comes so tantalizingly close, only to hang up, retreat or fall silent. Such a bird is usually ... more
Want Walleyes? Show Them the Blade
by Dan Small
Blade baits. They cast like a bullet and sink like a brick - the antithesis of what most anglers think of as an ideal bait for walleyes - yet those finicky, light-biting critters practically knock themselves out to hit these solid-metal jigging spoons. The secret to the attraction of blade baits is vibration. Whether jigged, ripped or retrieved, blade baits send out a thumping, pulsing rhythm ... more

April 2011


Prepare Now for a Successful Turkey Hunt
by Dan Small
This spring, nearly 200,000 hunters will take to the woods in Wisconsin in search of a turkey. If this season is like others before it, less than a third of them will bring home a bird. Successful hunters usually prepare well in advance for their hunt, devise a game plan and then adjust their plan according to how the turkeys respond. Here are some tips that can help put you in the success column ... more

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