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HOW TO CATCH TROPHY WALLEYE

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All dedicated walleye anglers seek to catch a 10+ lb. walleye, considered by many, a once-in-a-lifetime prize catch. To accomplish this task one must recognize the variety of waters that yield big walleye, using the proper fishing presentations and fishing the best times of the year which increase your chances of landing that trophy walleye.

Walleyes in the North tend to have a much longer life span even though their growth rates are not as high as in the South, but the North still produces many more walleye of 10 lb. plus.

Large walleyes are exceedingly cautious and wary, if they hear or feel anything unusual they stop feeding and head for deeper water. This why only 2 of 1000 walleyes reach this magic 10 pound size.   Our guides know this and use big fish strategies that result in catching many huge walleyes annually.

Big Water Big Walleye:

When considering trophy walleye waters big is best, a large body of water (5000 acres+) is more likely to support big walleye populations than smaller lakes (500-1000 acres). Competition for food, living space and angling pressure reduces the possibility on smaller waters for walleyes to achieve trophy status.

Large lakes provide an abundance of usable forage (minnows and lake herring), open space and due to large size angling pressure is reduced.

Best Times to Catch Trophy Walleye:

There are four major periods during the year when the odds increase to catch a trophy walleye, however we will only describe three of them since Wawang Lake has no winter fishing pressure:

Wawang NEW Map

Spring

Pre Spawn: During the pre-spawn period, large numbers of big females stage into a relatively small area. Although they are not feeding aggressively, you may be able to catch a fish or two due to the sheer numbers present. The pre spawn bite is good until spawning begins.

Summer

Post Spawn: A few weeks after spawning the big females recover from and start to bite again but finding them is difficult as they are scattered. You may catch an occasional large walleye, but seldom more than one. Your chances of finding a concentration of big walleyes are much better after they have settled into their typical deeper water summer locations. The best fishing begins about five to six weeks after spawning and generally lasts two to three weeks.

Fall

Late-fall: Fishing is unpredictable, the toughest part is to locate the walleye, but if you do find them a high percentage will be big. The majority of large walleyes caught in late fall are females. Their feeding for the development of eggs for the spring spawn, females must consume more food than males, up to six times more according to feeding studies.

Winter
Wawang Lake has no winter pressure (fishing) and therefore our fisheries remains healthy with strong genetics and lineage.

In waters that stratify, after the fall turnover is completed the depths are warmer than the shallows. Big walleyes may swim into shallow water for short feeding sprees in the evening, but during the day they may be found as deep as 50 feet. Although difficult to find, they form tight schools, so you may be able to catch several from the same area.

Trophy Walleye Presentations:

Locating big walleyes is half the equation and other half is the proper fishing presentation. Here are a few tips to help you land big walleyes.

The first and most common mistake made by anglers is noise, whether it be dropping the anchor on top of the fish, running the outboard over the spot you wish to fish or dropping anything in the boat while fishing.

  • For position fishing, idle or use an electric trolling motor past the spot you’re fishing and set your anchor at a distance, let the wind drift you over the spot.
  • For trolling use inline planer boards that spread the fishing lines off to the side of your boat.  Remember large walleyes are exceedingly cautious and wary, if they hear or feel anything unusual they stop feeding and move.

Most often large female walleyes will relate to a piece of structure similar to the smaller males, but will hang 10 to 15 feet deeper this is attributed to a walleye’s increasing sensitivity to light as it grows older. In addition, bigger walleyes prefer cooler water, and they can usually find it by moving deeper.

Increase your chances for big walleyes by fishing in the shallows during low-light periods, especially in spring and fall.  If the water is very clear, or if there is a great deal of boat traffic, big walleyes will feed almost exclusively at night. During the daytime they prefer relatively deep water, deeper than the areas where you typically find smaller walleyes.

In deep northern lakes, the shallow water temperature stays cool enough for big walleyes through the summer. If the walleyes can find boulders or other shallow-water cover to provide shade from the sun they may spend the summer at depths of 10 feet or less. In these lakes, most anglers fish too deep.

Increase the size your live bait or lures, they maybe too small to interest a trophy walleye. Many times large walleyes are caught on musky/pike baits in the 6″ – 8″ range. Larger baits will draw far fewer strikes than small ones, and

most anglers are not willing to fish all day for one or two opportunities.  But if you are intent on catching a trophy that is the price you must pay.

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Big walleyes are extremely cautious, especially in clear water. You don’t need to over-rig your set-up. They’re more likely to take a bait using a size 6 hook using 6-8lb test line than 12-17lb test with a 1/0 or bigger hook. A small hook will allow the walleye to swallow the bait without feeling anything unusual and will not pull-out or break. Most large walleyes are caught away from snags and take your time to bring the fish in allowing the rod, reel and drag to do its job.

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FISH SCENT – Myth or Magic

There are many different commercial fish attractants. From aerosol cans to squeeze tubes, and jars to jellies, tackle store shelves are stacked with a wide range fish attractantsof these products.

For the most part, however, motion, shape, noise, and water displacement are the primary stimuli that cause fish to strike a lure. Most game fish sense and are attracted to your lure long before smell or taste figure in the picture.   Once fish do get close enough to your bait and commit to striking, taste and   smell certainly have an important impact on their final decision.  Walleye are in the middle of the pack regarding their sensitivity to  smell and pike are at the tail end.

Masking Those Negative Smells   “Bug spray (DEET), sunscreen (PABA), fragrances, and nicotine are substances that are repulsive to fish,” said Pure Fishing Research Director Dr. Keith Jones. “Some substances, like DEET, are highly   repulsive. Studies done in labs demonstrate that fish and probably many  species, can detect, and are repelled by   DEET concentrations as low as 1 part per billion. Other substances, detergents   for example, are also extremely repulsive, as well as quite lethal.  Nicotine would be only mildly repulsive.”

One trait most fish attractants have is the ability to mask or neutralize scents deemed negative. The favorable molecules in your fish scent will adhere to the unwanted molecules that have been placed on your lures, equating to a positive smell, if the molecules are of the right size, or no smell, if they’re the wrong fit.

“Masking agents work in two ways. One way is to dampen offensive odors and tastes by   mixing in positive substances. The positive agent confounds the chemosensory system, diluting the offensive nature of the repellent. In the other strategy, the masking agent actually limits physical contact with the offensive agent. Oil-based scents operate in this way. They overlay the molecules of a fish repellent with an impermeable barrier, thus preventing the repellent from dissolving into the water and reaching a bass’s chemoreceptors,” wrote Dr. Jones in his book, “Knowing Bass — The   Scientific Approach to Catching More Fish.”

Scent   Receptors   A receptor cell is necessary to distinguish certain tastes or smells, thus   sending a positive or negative message to the brain. Water-borne molecules come in all shapes and sizes. A receptor cell will only allow the correct size and type of scent molecule to make it into the cavity, thus sending a   signal to the brain. If the wrong size or type of molecule is offered, then no signal will be sent.

“Fish chemoreceptors (essentially small pockets into which the stimulant molecules   fit) can accommodate only small, water-soluble molecules in the size range of about 50- to 500 Daltons (a measure of molecular weight). Those molecules that are too large to fit into the chemoreceptive pockets are not able to stimulate either the fish’s olfactory (smell) or gustatory (taste) system.   A good molecule will elicit a positive response, while a bad one will be deemed negative.

walleye

Vertical presentations such as flipping jig are
great recipients for artificial scent.

So, by covering unwanted and negative smells we leave on baits, fish scent can play a large part in getting fish to strike that may not otherwise do so.

Longer Hang-Time   Fish scent, whether through taste, smell, or masking properties, will often   entice a fish to hold on to your bait longer, allowing extra crucial seconds for you to set the hook.  Some fish chomp down on a lure for upwards of 20 seconds, leaving anglers to conclude scent definitely does make a difference.

In the labs they frequently run bait ‘taste tests’ wherein a fish is offered a small piece of soft bait. Accurate counts are made of the number of times the fish rejects the bait (i.e. spits it out)   vs. the number of times the bait is consumed.  Fish like walleye and perch typically reject pieces of plain (non-flavored) soft baits within one to two seconds, and virtually never eat one.  In contrast, pieces of Power Bait are consumed about 95 percent of the time where Gulp is consumed at a rate of 99.9 percent.

When To Use It   When fish are in a negative or neutral mood, such as during cold-front   conditions or in heavily pressured waters, scent can up your odds.

Cold-water conditions, such as those from fall through spring, also call for the use of scent. Fish can be finicky then, due to lowered metabolism rates, so taste and smell are often triggering factors.

mash negative smells

Not only do scents attract fish,
but they also mask negative smells
such as those from your hands.

Any vertical presentation, especially when working a bait slowly and   methodically, deserves an extra helping or two of scent. Fish have a longer time to inspect baits, so giving them something that smells positive is always a good bet. The same goes when working heavy cover.

In the   angling world, you still need skill, knowledge, and determination to catch fish.  Using scents, no matter how good, can never take the place of   experience on the water, but they can certainly help. Take a look at fish attractants the next time you troll the tackle aisle — you’ll be glad you did.

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Spring Walleye Fishing

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Trev Billings – Omaha, NE with one of just the many walleye caught at Wawang Lake.

Spring walleye fishing can offer some of the years best fishing, and some of the worst. Warming weather is usually the indicator in this department.

If the temperature rises just a degree or two, and stays relatively constant, the bite can really turn on. If the mercury goes south so often does the bite.

During the pre-spawn period walleye are usually found in deeper water, fifteen to twenty feet down just off their spawning beds. As the spawn gets underway the opposite is true and most fish will be caught in the two to six foot ranges.

Catching walleye, particularly big females, during this time can also be tricky. Often the smaller, more aggressive males are the first so strike a passing jig or live bait rig. Once the spawn is in full swing the females stop feeding and any fish caught during this period are all males. Once the females have finished spawning they begin their journey to their summer holding spots. Big females can be caught at this time as they gorge themselves trying to replenish energy used during the spawn.

walleye jiggingCatching walleye in the spring can require a wide range of tactics. Jigging and rigging are probably the most popular, but don’t count out slip bobbers or crankbaits. The only way to know what works is to experiment. I’ve always done what I do best and work my way through the different techniques until I start catching fish.

JIGGING
When jigging in Ontario start by using a ¼ ounce jig head or bigger usually tipped with a minnow, leech, or night crawler.  Work down in size until you begin consistently catch fish. Normally start by lifting and dropping the jig keeping the line tight at all times to feel even the slightest hit. If that does not produce use a dragging method which almost always triggers a strike. Experiment with size and different bait until the fish tells you what it wants, and then fine-tune your color contrast to hook in to that big one.

 

LIVE BAIT RIGS
Live bait rigging can be done so many different ways that it’s tough to get in to detail on all aspects of rigging. Preferably a straight J hook with a leech on a ¼ ounce walking sinker and a black barrel swivel stopper. When the water is stained or fish are holding just off the bottom, use a floating jig head or a northland gumdrop floater. Either technique will generally produce fish in a more

aggressive mood. Catching fish on these rigs depends on two things. Bait choice and most importantly, boat speed. This will generally be the indicator for the day on how fast to travel to catch fish. Live bait rigging is a great way to cover more water quicker and find fish faster.

CRANKBAITS
VIB-vibrator-Crankbait-Lure-Bait-7CM-10-5G-3-colors-Fishing-tackle-two-hooks-2012-newlyOn the other end of the spectrum from jig fishing is crankin’. Cranks will generally find aggressive fish fast and eliminate unproductive waters equally as fast. They can be fished in variety of ways from planer boards to bottom bouncers. I typically use Reef Runner crankbaits because of the exceptional wobble they produce. I generally long line these cranks, but use boards in shallow and when fish are spooky, like in clearer water. The key to catching walleye’s on cranks is experimentation and duplication. Once you catch a fish duplicate the exact boat speed, amount of line out, and the size and shape of bait and you could have a good day running cranks’.

SLIP BOBBERS
Once you have found a concentration of fish, slip bobbing can be the deadliest way to catch walleyes yet. Many tournament anglers do not like this style of fishing but it has been proven to produce time and again. A simple J hook with an active leech on is sufficient. The more natural you can present the bait the better your odds at a good fish. Fish will often pass on moving baits but take a bait dangling right in front of their nose. Never count out this simple yet deadly walleye pattern.

Sliding Slip Bobber Rig

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Fishing Spoons

The good old reliable spoon. You may have one in your tackle box faded and worn over time.

The good old reliable spoon. You may have one in your tackle box faded and worn over time and possibly a little rusty after sitting in your tackle box for years.

The metal fishing spoon lure was believed to be first used back in the 1840’s. Spoons are a simple design, an oblong shape, concave on one side that catches water producing a wobble and light reflecting flash imitating a fleeing or crippled bait fish. Because spoons appeal mainly to the sense of sight they work best on clear or lightly stained water conditions.

The long standing popularity of spoons results from ease of use as a fish usually will hook itself when it grabs a spoon. Spoons work best for larger predators such as northern pike and walleye that are our main fish species on Wawang Lake. The action of a spoon is based on it’s shape and thickness. A long spoon will display a wider side to side wobble than a shorter spoon. A deep concave spoon will also produce a wider wobble than a flatter spoon. Thin spoons used for trolling have an erratic wobble compared to thick spoons but thick spoons have advantages as well, the extra weight casts better, sinks faster and will run deeper than thinner spoons.

There are five types of spoons:
Casting, trolling, weedless, jigging and the surface spoon.

Spoons are stamped, forged or molded from brass, copper, steel, lead, plastic or wood. Most are painted on one side with a polished metallic surface on at other side to reflect the sunlight making the spoon visible. Some spoons have a hammered or rippled finish that transmits light in multiple directions such as baitfish scales scatter light.

When casting or trolling a spoon the speed is critical for success, if fished too slow or too fast the spoon will not wobble properly, you should experiment to find the precise speed for each spoon to perform its best. When casting a spoon anglers will cast 10 to 20 feet beyond the area they believe the fish are and retrieve through the strike zone. For flat line trolling from behind a boat the speed and amount of line out should be the main consideration, as well as in using depth control rigging such as downriggers and dipsey divers.

rattle_spoon
Rod Action with Spoons
Dependent on the species you’re targeting, small spoons for stream trout, larger spoons for bass, pike and salmon or vertical jigging for walleyes the preferred choice when casting/jigging spoons is a stiff tipped fast action rod. Ultra sensitive, soft action rods are not recommended as they do not telegraph the fish strike as quickly a fast action rod will accomplish. Your success in using spoons is to immediately set the hook upon feeling a fish bite.


Spoons & Leaders
Anglers using casting, weedless or trolling spoons should attach their lines via a leader with a ball bearing swivel and snap or a combination snap ball bearing swivel.This allows freedom of movement for the spoon and will keep the fishing line twist to a minimum. For surface and jigging spoons the best is to tie directly to the eyelet or snap. Both will work better without too much play at the lure line connection.

pike1
Spoon Attractors
The main fish attracting component on a spoon is the flash, some spoons have additional attractors placed on the spoon or are added by the angler, they are: Clickers: Two small willow spinners on split rings located the end of spoon for vibration and noise. Flippers: A small oblong piece of plastic (red or yellow) for added color attached on the split ring and hook. Trailers: For added color and profile Feathers / Tied Tail / Soft Plastic or Pork Rind.

Spoon Colors
If you ever had the opportunity to open Grand Pa’s old metal tackle box it would be safe to say you would find quite a few of the traditional red and white casting spoons that where popular back in the 1940’s – 50’s. Following the same path as crank bait lure companies spoon manufactures have over the years introduced hundreds of new colors patterns and finishes using prism, holographic, glow and glitter all to enhance  vibrant colors and flash of spoons.

In selecting spoon colors to build your tackle assortment, the choices can be overwhelming but some colors have been tried and true over the years. For casting spoons in clear or slighty stained water the classic colors of red and white with nickel back, black and white with nickel back, yellow five of diamonds in red with brass back, and combinations of nickel/silver – gold/brass are your best bet. On stained or darker water use, firetiger with brass back or orange/yellow and nickel combinations.

For trolling spoons on Wawang Lake the universal best color is all silver or gold with including combinations of red/white, yellow or green hues to mimic the forage of perch or herring.  Listed below is a reference guide to help you identify the common types of spoons and how they are used:

Traditional Casting Spoons

CASTING

Stamped metal casting spoons are also known as Traditional or Canadian spoons. All display the distinctive back and forth wobble action as they run underwater based on their oval shaped cupped bodies. Casting spoon sizes range from ultra light 1/36 ounce for panfish up to over 3 ounces for big muskies, pike and lake trout. The most popular sizes are 1/4-3/4 ounce used for bass, walleyes and pike. All casting spoons have either a treble or a single hook attached with a spilt ring which allows the hook to swing freely as the spoon wobbles.

 Trolling Spoons

TROLLINGTrolling spoons are much thinner and lighter than casting spoons, a typical 3″ trolling spoon only weighs about a 1/8 ounce which makes them too light for casting.. They are designed to be fished using a depth control trolling system such as off a downrigger or diving plane. With the wide fluttering action they are an excellent lure choice for walleyes.

Weedless Spoons

WEEDLESS
When fishing in thick cover, aquatic weeds, wood and logs, you can’t beat using a weedless spoon to provoke a fish strike. Most feature a single hook design welded on the body with a wire guard to prevent most snags. Experiment with different retrieve methods. Try twitching and pausing letting the spoon settle into open holes. Or straight retrieve over and through the cover. Tip the hook with a trailer for added attraction using a soft plastic grub or pork rind. Weedless spoons come in 1/4 ounce up to 1-1/8 ounce.

 Surface Spoons

SURFACEWhen conditions are right during the summer months, large predator fish like pike will take refuge in thick cover. This is an ideal situation for using surface spoons. When cast over heavy matted vegetation the spoon floats with the hook riding upward avoiding being caught up on snags. Most surface spoons are made from plastic’s with a few in wood with having an added attractor, mainly rubber skirts. When fishing surface spoons point the rod tip directly at the spoon whether you’re retrieving straight or using a jerk pause method. Upon a fish strike, never set the hook until you feel the pressure of the fish, then set the hook. As with all surface lures fish have a tendency to miss the lure, keep the lure moving even if the fish misses usually they will come back to strike again.

Jigging Spoons

JIGGING
When you locate a deep water school of fish such as walleye on your electronics, one of the best presentations to reach them is vertically jigging. Jigging spoons are made of metal or tungsten, are flat, thick and heavy and flash when jigged. They are designed to get down quickly reaching the deep water holding fish. When fishing jigging spoons all of the action is applied by the angler using short jerks to encourage strikes, but keep in mind many strikes happen on the fall of the jigging spoon as well. Keep a watch on your line as it falls, if it stops or twitches set the hook. The best tackle for jigging spoons is low stretch line of 12-20 lb. with a medium to medium heavy fast action rod.

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SPRING SECRETS – Spawning Walleye

Nick 27 Walleye 6-3There’s a great reason to look forward to the spring with ice melting and rivers running. About 80 to 90 percent of the walleye across the country move from main lakes into the rivers to spawn. Unlike during the summer when trolling for big fish can be hit or miss, big walleye become more catchable when they migrate upstream with the masses.

These fish can often be monsters, which is exciting. You’ve got a better shot at the ten pounders as well as numbers of fish during the spring pre-spawn run.

Rain and melting snow will fill rivers at various times and produced strong current. Fast-moving water draws walleye upstream to spawning areas like a magnet.

The smaller part of the lake can also be a blessing because hills protect you from the cold winds that may continue to blow hard in late April and May when the spawn takes place.

As good as all that sounds, high water and spring fishing present their own problems. But, attention to detail and modifying presentations to meet conditions can overcome the obstacles.

Locating Fish
Finding walleye during the spawning run isn’t always easy. It may seem simple to look at a map and predict where walleye will spawn – on hard-bottom areas of gravel and sand as far upstream as they can go until it stops.

After laying their eggs, females start back to the main lake while males wait near spawning areas for late-arriving females. When convinced the spawning run is over, males head to normal areas too.  As a result, walleye are constantly on the move in the small part of the lake. Anglers must be, too, if they want a chance to connect with one of these monster walleye. Still, you’ll often see boats hovering at spots that produce for a while long after the bulk of the fish have passed by.

You really have to be mobile when it comes to fishing spring fish as they won’t hold in one area. That’s the problem. Many anglers get too hung up on one spot.  Do not overlook the seams of slower water where current from feeder creeks or inlets. Water can be clearer there, which is an important detail when high water can dirty the main section of the lake.

Run and gun until walleye are located. Spring fishing can often result in “pack fishing”, where several boats crowd onto the same spot. But, walleye will eventually respond to fishing pressure by moving away or shutting down their activity. Don’t be afraid to go your own way. Being a loner can pay big dividends.

LINDY MAX GAP JIGSpring Tactics
Anglers can often “over-think” their approach to fishing. Big catches can be had by using a keep-it-simple philosophy while paying attention to details that others overlook. A jig and minnow combination can accomplish the task of catching multiple fish while having a chance at the trophy we all like to brag about.

Vertical jigging while slipping with the current is an extremely productive and enjoyable technique. Instead of waiting for fish to come to you, you can go to them. You never know what’s in store for you.

While most people might stick with monofilament, try using 10 pound test (2 pound dia.) Power Pro braided line. This switch to braided line can transform your jig into an extra “eye” beneath the water. Its sensitivity telegraphs the type of bottom content that lies below, whether gravel, sand or mud. Its sensitivity also helps detect light bites common in cold water, an edge that can be critical when water is high. Power Pro’s thinner diameter cuts through the water and permits use of lighter jigs.

With fast-moving current, it can be important to fine-tune your presentation by adding a small number 12 barrel swivel in line to prevent line twist. If you don’t use a swivel, you’re likely to feel a “thump” and set the hook, only to miss the walleye. In that case, it’s likely the jig was spinning and the hook was pointed away at the crucial moment when the fish attacked the bait. A Lindy Max Gap jig, with its custom, super sharp hook, can also help you catch more fish.

From the barrel swivel, try adding a two-foot Gamma fluorocarbon leader to the lightest jig that will reach the bottom and allow you to stay vertical as the boat moves downstream with the current. If your bait isn’t on the bottom, you aren’t in the walleye’s strike zone. The angler in the back of the boat usually must step up a jig size or stay as close to the front of the boat as possible to stay on the bottom.

Color of your jig can always be a key factor. Think about how many times you’ve been in a pack of boats and everyone seems to be netting walleye. Then, suddenly, the action stops. The fish quit taking the Chartreuse or orange jigs that everyone is using. Most anglers will assume conditions changed and the bite is off. Or, the fish moved away. These anglers will stick with the same jig, stay in the same place and hope for the best. Make the assumption that the active fish have been caught. More walleye probably lurk below, but they are the more inactive ones. Rather than trying to trigger a feeding strike, try changing colors, change your jigging motion, and go for a reaction bite. Even try something off of your normal color chart.

It can be amazing that the simple things you can do that will make a difference. You might only get one or two more, but by the end of the day that can work out to a lot of fish.

Anglers often have one mind-set. If they aren’t catching fish on chartreuse, they often believe that the fish aren’t biting. But, change is big. Try using blue, pinks, purples’ just something different. Techni-Glo colors can be hot as well. Try adding a plastic body like a Munchies Thumpin’ Grub tail.

In addition, try switching your live bait choice from the standard minnow to a leech or half a night-crawler. This typically happens a little later in the spring and when temperatures warm up.

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Anglers also overlook the importance of scent, a factor that can be important when the water is cold. Jigs with hair, like Fuzz-E-Grubs, hold scent longer than jigs without it. There are a ton of commercial scent products to add to your jig.

Still not working? Fishermen also have the option of taking off the jig, adding a clip and snapping on a blade bait, like a Heddon Sonar. The vibration can help hungry fish locate it or trigger a reaction bite from inactive fish. Rip it hard three times and follow it down each time, then rip it half way and let it drop until it’s just off the bottom, then hold it there.

Anchors Away
High water can sometimes create boat control problems and springtime cold fronts can sometimes turn action sour. Anchoring can help.

3 WAYHave you gone back to the spot where slipping with jigs was producing for you the day before and you get stymied first thing in the morning? Did they move overnight or are they still there and just less interested than they were the day before? One way to find out is to anchor upstream from the spot and cast or work a Wolf River rig slowly on the bottom. Use a 3-way swivel with a short dropper and a sinker heavy enough to stay on bottom, a 3-foot leader to a simple hook, orange bead and a minnow. This can be a deadly technique during cold fronts on the river.

Instead of a 3-way, you can also use a jig as well, but use enough weight so the jig returns to the same exact spot every time you pump, pump, pump it so fast you wonder how a fish could hit it. The goal is to entice reaction bites. Follow the jig back down each time you snap it. Put your 3-way rig on the bottom and put the rod in a rod holder. Jig a jig on other rig ready to go. However, you are only permitted to have one rod fishing in Ontario.

The same tactic works if walleye simply moved closer to the bank on sharp turns to escape strong current. Some fish will go right into the trees, so position your boat right next to them and anchor.

After the walleye have spawned, food becomes more important as they begin moving back downstream to the main lake. As a result, walleye can be caught first thing in the morning by trolling crank baits on shallow flats. Don’t waste time. If they are there, you’ll catch them right away.

Capitalize on the action as long as it lasts. Boat traffic and sunlight will push them deeper soon.

Got cabin fever? Fishing is the cure.

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Trolling Spinnerbaits For BIG PIKE

booyah_super_shad_spinnerbaitTrolling spinner baits is a technique every northern pike fisherman should have in their arsenal.

The idea is to quickly fish pike spots, such as weed flats and break lines, searching for actively feeding fish or enticing neutral ones to bite.

Spinner baits are effective trolling baits for several reasons. They can be trolled quickly and the upward facing single hook keeps baits fairly weedless, allowing trolling through thick vegetation with minimal foul-up. Also, their bucktail bodies equates to a high-hooking percentage.

To properly troll spinnerbaits, match the bait’s weight to the trolling speed.

When using a short arm, 1.5-ounce to 2-ounce trolling spinnerbait, run it between 75 feet to 120 feet behind the boat.   Run them this far back because it’s out of the prop wash area. You will want the bait to pop out of the water every five to 10 seconds.

Lure Pops Out Of Water

The popping attracts pike and in order for the sound to be effective, the baits must be out of the prop wash’s disturbance. Trolling long lines also allows you to position baits over structure too shallow to drive over because of the lag time between the boat and the bait.

When speed trolling, run the baits just below the surface, but not popping out.   At this speed popping baits lose their effectiveness. Use 2-ounce to 3-ounce baits, 75 feet behind the boat, trolling them between 4.5 mph and 5.5 mph. If you want to troll faster, use 4-ounce to 6-ounce baits.

When speed trolling, regularly position baits close to the prop wash.  Baits run beautifully on the side of the prop wash, they dance because of the different currents in the water, darting back and forth, giving you a real irregular troll out of them.

A fundamental to trolling is “S”-turns. Baits positioned on the outside of the turn will be pulled faster through the water, while the bait on the inside of the turn will slow down. When a fish hits on a turn, note which side of the turn the bait was on. This is a good indication of how fast you should troll. Slow down if on the inside and speed up if on the outside of the turn.

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Turns Are Key

Turning is also helpful when working weed edges or breaklines. Meandering along a breakline or weed edge allows you to fish different depths as well as structure and cover on a trolling run, increasing your chances of finding fish.

Spinnerbaits can also be effective over rocky structure. After passing a point, it is advisable to cut the motor and drop the bait down a bit, count to five and then engage the throttle again.   This causes the bait to sink then swim back up to the surface. A lot of time it’s on the uplift when a fish will hit. A BIG pike that sees a bait suddenly shoot to the surface might think it’s a baitfish trying to escape and these big predators will react, hitting it to prevent it from getting away.

To troll spinnerbaits for pike make sure you have the right gear. Rod holders reduce arm strain and must be strong enough to sustain a pike’s strike. With holders you can position rods, and subsequently, the path of the baits.

Longer rods between 7 feet and 8 feet, in medium- to heavy-action are good for trolling. Reels with high gear ratios are crucial to quickly play pike, minimizing stress to the fish. Line counter reels are also helpful. Spool reels with 80- to 100-pound-test superbraid, and use a strong wire leader.

Keep Drag Loose

Keep drags loose, especially when using superbraid lines, otherwise you’ll pull baits away from fish or your gear may fail under the force of a hit. When you get a hit, quickly grab the rod out of the holder. Do not to set the hook too hard. Trolling at these high speeds will often be enough to set the hook. After the hook set, cut the engine to fight the fish.

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Trolling spinnerbaits allows you to cover vast stretches of water, increasing your odds of finding a feeding fish throughout the day.

Take advantage of trolling to explore new areas you haven’t fished before or to work productive water. Don’t be afraid to troll fast for pike, these freshwater brutes are torpedo’s and notorious for slamming speeding spinnerbaits.

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Early Season Walleye Jigging Tactics

Jigging for Walleye

Using jigs can be very productive but too many anglers aren’t fishing them correctly. Just starters, understand that you won’t always feel the thump of a walleye when it strikes a jig.

Guys expect that sure bite or hit. Many times you don’t feel it. So often you  drop the jig down and it stops. Maybe you’ll just feel some extra weight.

Concentrate on your rod, and don’t wait too long to set the hook.

The right rod helps here. When jigging, use a 6-foot, 8-inch or 7-foot rod when jigging with a light-action and fast tip. This really helps increase the number of bites he detects, which translates into more fish.

Use a short shank jig for live bait and a long shank jig when combining that live bait with a dressing. The latter can be plastic, Gulp, or maribou. If you face a tougher bite, use less bulk and movement in the water. Don’t vibrate your offering as much. Listen to the fish to extrapolate their mood, then up size or downsize properly.

Under most conditions, avoid stinger hooks. If you’re missing strikes, however, and want to try a stinger, use it properly. Just let it free-fall behind the lure.4595-fireballs

You get fewer bites with a stinger, so if you’re missing fish, drop that rod tip first, and let them take it.

As for jigging actions, think beyond just lift-drop. That’s fine if it’s producing, but often just holding it at one depth, say 3 inches off bottom, is enough. Let that minnow work.

If you want to get creative, try quiver jigging (gyrating the rod ahead of the reel), snap-jigging, dragging, or just casting and retrieving jigs.

Also, use a heavy enough jig to contact bottom, but not so heavy that fish blow it out. Vertical jigging should offer just the right weight to tick the bottom.

And if you feel a bite, set the hook hard. Really swing that rod tip up.  Always tie your jigs directly to the line. Suspend it periodically out of the water and let it unravel to eliminate line twist and tangling.

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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Fishing, Fishing TIPS, Walleye Fishing

 

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