Kevin Winkler

Born and raised in Todd County, Minn., Kevin Winkler was brought up living the life of a outdoorsman. He loves fishing and hunting and now runs a guide service. He offers fall combo fishing and hunting trips and does some photography on the side. He will talk fishing or hunting with anyone, anytime.

Posts about Fishing Techniques

Homework for first ice locations

Posted by: Kevin Winkler Updated: November 29, 2009 - 6:29 PM


Some people might think I over do it just a bit when it comes to ice fishing, but it's the sport I love the most. As a matter of fact I think about ice fishing all summer long when I'm out in the boat. I spend countless hours marking locations on GPS to go back to once the lakes have that first layer of walkable ice. I spend a good deal of the time in the summer months thinking about areas within walking distance of parking areas. My plan of attack is simple. Mark out places I would look for gills and pike, areas for walleye, and locations for crappie.  I don't concentrate on areas out of reach by foot. There is plenty of time to look to those locations once I can drive out. The big thing is the weed beds. each year those edges can change depending on several facts. Number one is lake depth. Number two is water clarity. Light penetration is the key here, and locating the right weeds at the right depth ranges. Standing green is prime habitat for pike and gills, not to mention walleye.

Once I am confident I have all of my ducks in a row for walk out locations I work on other areas of the lakes. I think about mid winter and late ice all summer long. Making notes to figure in areas on the north end to fish as the ice starts to melt away in the spring. Lakes that have accesses on the south with shade protecting the edges from the spring heat of the sun. But back to first ice locations. Some people might not know, but deep lakes are the last to freeze. I look for lakes with lots of area to cover in less then 15 foot of water. Deeper lakes take longer to freeze. So watch the lakes as they form each year, and pay close attention to the windy and calm nights. Some years we get a real cold blast from the north west that pushes huge areas of slush to the south east corners. Most years this is the first areas to walk on, but it is also the most dangerous to be on. Ice thickness can change in those frozen slushy areas fast, so NEVER fish them alone and without the proper safety equipment. Ideal conditions are calm cold nights that cap everything over giving the wind no chance at slushing things up. Nice solid clear ice is the best ice, but it can also make the fish spooky if there is no snow cover. And that's another issue, we do not need any snow before that first 4-5 inches forms, and we don't need much before the first foot comes for that matter. I do like to see a little, even if it's little patchy areas of snow less then a inch or two deep and maybe 6-8-10 foot long or more. I drill in and around these patches of snow to cover my movement above the ice. Fish do look up you know. I can't stress this enough, be safe out there. Don't try to be brave just for bragging rights. It's not worth it. Wear your life jacket. Dave Genz says it all the time. "I've never heard of anybody being found frozen in a lake with a life jacket on."  There is so much truth to that. People who wear a life jacket can stay above the water and have a 100% better chance of rescue. Don't wear it, and it becomes a below the surface recovery. So when you take that first step on the lake this year, don't just think about not going threw! Think about the people who will have to try and rescue you. It's not just your life you are putting in danger when you take chances. With all of that in mind, first ice can be some of the most productive fishing of the year. and with the proper safety precautions, I think it's just a matter of days, not weeks before I wet a line. I've done my homework, and I am ready.

The work continues

Posted by: Kevin Winkler Updated: November 28, 2009 - 10:03 AM
  I know it's been a long time, I should get in here and blog more often! This has been a busy fall, and it looks like the winter will be even more so. I just wanted to stop in and give you all a update on the School of Outdoor Sports. I hope some of you have had the chance to read Mark Strands new book, and now have a idea of where this school is headed. It's the future of our sports. So get involved! Take someone out and enjoy a day of shooting or hunting. Introduce them to the world of fishing.

Mark Strands New Book

Posted by: Kevin Winkler Updated: August 31, 2009 - 4:18 PM
  Many of you know Mark Strand. And for those of you who do not recognize his name, chances are that you have read some of his articles in many major outdoor publications. Just pick your favorite fishing or hunting magazine, and if his story's are not published there now, chances are they were in the past. Not to mention his video work as well. Mark has filmed many of your fishing icons like the Linders, Dave Genz, Larry Dahlberg, Babe Winkleman, and many, many more. Too numerous to mention them all. Mark has gathered more knowledge about the outdoors from hanging around the Pro's than most of us will learn in a life time.  He has spent most of his life working outdoors with nothing but the best people in the business.  For many years now Mark has wanted to write a book based on his concerns for the declining numbers of people taking part in fishing and hunting. I got a message from him the other day telling me book's are rolling off the presses right now, and will be available for purchase on September 30th. I'm looking forward to getting a copy myself, and if you love to read about the outdoors as much as I do, and I'm guessing you do if you are here reading outdoor blogs on the Stribs web site. So jot down a post-it note and paste it to the top of your computer screen. September 30th is the date to remember.  Maybe you have a birthday coming up and want to start dropping hints about it. This is going to make great a stocking stuffer for all of my outdoor friends and family's this year.  

Public access etiquettes

Posted by: Kevin Winkler Updated: August 6, 2009 - 11:23 AM
  For many people getting your boat in and out of the water is a snap. For others, things never seem to go very well. How many of you have ever sat in line at the ramp watch someone struggle at every attempt to just get their boat to the water. I've often wondered how they would ever get the boat back out of the water with so many troubles just getting it to the water. Things don't have to be so difficult. Sometimes just offering to help out might get you on the water a little quicker. Most days when it's my turn in line I can have my boat off the trailer and the truck parked in under 3 minuets, and 5 to load it and get it out of the way of others. I've spent more than my share of time watching people struggle to just get the boat backed down to the water only to watch them unload the truck into the boat. Many times holding up the rest of the line for more than 15 minuets at a wack.

 Some of the small steps I take at home before I even head to the lake make my launch time go so smooth. For starters, I have my cooler with bait in the boat. If I stop for bait and snacks, it gets loaded right away so I don't have to do it at the access. Things like jackets or camera gear that I might need to load get loaded in the parking area before I get in line for the ramp, and that is where I check to see that my plug is in place and my straps and/or tarp are removed. I know ahead of time that I don't have to get in someone else's way to do these things.

  Lets talk about backing up a trailer. Number one on the list is Mirrors! Think about it for a second, Semi truck drivers that have sleepers on their big rigs don't have to open their doors or drive with half of their body out the window to see where they need to get that 53 foot trailer backed down a tight alley to a loading dock. And they don't have the option of climbing half way in the back seat to see out a rear window. They do everything from the two side mirrors. You can ask anyone of them and they will tell you how good they were at backing up a trailer when they first started. They didn't learn how to do it over night, and they did not use the public boat ramp as a practice area either. Chances are they got most of their practice at home or in a vacant parking lot clear of all other traffic. Over steering is probably the biggest problem most of us have had when it comes to going backward with a trailer. Start out with one hand and grip the wheel and don't let go. If you have to go all the way around once when you started out strait in line with where you were headed, you've already started to over steer. Practice using your side mirrors at home without a trailer, and once you can back up without sticking your head out the window, or over the seat, add the trailer and start over. Keep one hand on the wheel and your next time out, you can spend more time on the water and less time on the ramp.

Back to the basics (Part 2)

Posted by: Kevin Winkler Updated: July 17, 2009 - 10:57 PM
 Today was the day. I had a real hard time keeping my mind off the walleye's that I knew were not far from where we were. But today I was to stay focused on with whom and what with, rather than what for. I dusted off those spoons I talked about in part one of this topic. "Back to the basics"  As we motored along the weed edges I found myself looking for the weeds with my eyes rather than relying on my electronics. I played the game much like my father did over 30 years ago. My Co-pilot and company for the day was my stepson Dylan. Still reminding me he is "Big" Dylan and not little Dylan as so many people call him. He turned 6 on the 6th of this month, and my goal today was to give him the dreams I once had after a all afternoon on the water playing with the pike.
 
For me, it ended up being much more than I expected. I went to the lake with a quest to see if those old spoon's would work just as good as they used to. Needless to say, I was expecting a little less from them than what we did find. The action was pretty good. Way more missed than landed, but I remember that happening the same to me over 30 years ago. Countless short battles with the fish winning the fight with a short run into the weeds. Six of them lost the battle, and will now find their way into the fryer for lunch tomorrow. 

 I do not think Dylan will loose track of where all of those spoon's are. They will not make it back to the junk box on a shelf in the garage. They have a new home in his tackle box. I just might have to borrow some from him the next time we are on the water.

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