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Monthly Archives: June 2014

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.

TwoToneJigsGuys 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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Think Outside The Box For Pike

There is a corner where the big bucktailed spinnerbaits are hanging, surrounded by a mix of both deep-diving and shallow-diving crankbaits in all the popular color patterns. There are a few spoons mingling with the big wooden and plastic minnow imitators, but one-fourth of the box is laden with big jigs next to packages of big plastic bodies. There are even a number of pre-tied wire leaders sitting on top some 3/4- and 1-ounce egg sinkers. The leaders are sporting 2/0 hooks secured directly to the stranded wire, with a ball-bearing swivel secured to the other end.
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Sometimes you just need to think outside of the box when you’re chasing pike

Jigs work well for a vertical presentation as well. When pike are just off the bottom at the base of a weedy flat or point, get right over them with the boat and just drop the jig straight down – twitch the jig and keep it moving, but when you’re fishing vertically like that, you can target those deep pike you see on the sonar.
vertical

To get right into the vegetation,  take a pre-tied leaders and rig the plastic worm up Texas style and fish it just like for bass. Use a cone sinker above the swivel for this so you can get it through the weeds easily and just move that worm through the weeds. Pike like vegetation and you can dig them out of it with this big plastic worm rigged weedless.”

Those pre-tied leaders also work well with live bait it’s no different than a live-bait rig you would use for a walleye except that you have a stranded-wire leader and a bigger — much bigger — hook.

Live-bait rig for pike works best along a sparse weedline or just out from the vegetation where there is little vegetation to get snagged on and if you’re working in heavy cover with live bait, you’re pretty much stuck using a bobber, but when you can work an edge, this live-bait rig is the best option.

Live-bait rigging for pike and jigging for them with plastics are both techniques more prone to a walleye or bass angler’s game plan. These are probably techniques that only get used under unusual circumstances, right?  Actually, the standard lures are going to catch fish, no doubt about that.  But when you’re on a body of water and the weather has created some tough fishing conditions, these non-traditional techniques should be your go-to options. It’s just that anglers are so used to the standard presentations that they don’t think about trying something different.

Like a swim bait?  Bass fishermen love swim baits, but pike fishermen still haven’t discovered how good these work. Tie a piece of colored yarn to the eye of that treble hook, and you’ve added a splash of color and made the lure a little different, maybe more attractive to a pike.

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Scenario:  It was early season, and the pike were still up in the backwater vegetation and shallows, we  had been dragging spinnerbaits and shallow-diving crankbaits through the cabbage and tree branches, and all we caught were a few small northerns. You could see these schools of minnows busting out of the water around you and we were casting to this forage because we figured something was trying to eat it, but we couldn’t get the fish to bite.

After a few frustrating hours, we started digging for something different and discovered a package of 4-inch Slurpies’ Swim Shads we had picked up at the bait shop to try. We tied one on.

Turn out that was the right move, every time some minnows would break the surface we would cast right to the boil. That lure wouldn’t sink a foot and a big pike had grabbed it. We tried crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but it was the swim bait that the pike wanted. Needless to say we used them a lot since then, and they’re something different that the pike haven’t seen a lot, and that lure triggers bites. For working over the tops of a big weedbed, you can’t beat a swim bait.”

So, are the spinnerbaits and crankbaits in the tackle box becoming obsolete? Hardly, those lures still catch plenty of pike, but we also learned a few tricks to spice them up.

Considering what we might do to a spinnerbait that has had a few pike chase it to the boat and fail to grab it.   We pulled off the plastic skirt and replace it with a scented body, like a Berkley Power Hawg or a 7-inch Gulp Turtleback Worm.  This way, not only did we get some additional squirm action, but we also got the benefit of the scent.

But you can’t doctor the crankbaits without messing up the action, right?  Sure you can.  Just take a piece of thin red yarn and tie it to the eye of the back treble hook. That little dash of color, and pike really trigger on that red, won’t affect the action of the lure at all, and it works. But don’t limit yourself to just red. Sometimes green or orange or even blue might be the color that does the trick.

Does the yarn trick also work for spoons, too?  You bet it does. Tie a piece of colored yarn to the eye of that treble hook, and you’ve added a splash of color and made the lure a little different, maybe more attractive to a pike.  Sometimes we’ll take a Johnson Silver Minnow and thread a grubtail on the hook. That adds some scent, too. It’s a little added enticement that can make a big difference to the outcome of your fishing day.

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What about the old “minnow-under-a-bobber” presentation that is a fixture in a pike angler’s repertoire? There isn’t any thinking outside the box for that technique, is there?  That’s why we carry that scissors.  Clip one of the side fins or trim off the tail on that sucker or shiner you’re dangling under the bobber, and you get a struggling minnow instead of one that is just happily sitting there. Pike can’t resist a minnow that’s struggling.

What differentiates the anglers who catch fish and the ones who don’t is the fine line between those who are using presentations that they were told to use and hope for a bite, and those who think outside the box to create a bite. Success  is always thinking outside that hefty tackle box with all those lures and gadgets — which eventually lead to catching  fish!

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Trolling for Walleye

Scenario: Warm, misty overcast evening in August. Mid lake rock humps topping out in the 16 to 22 foot range.

Usually, by late August many walleyes in deep clear lakes begin to leave their summer home ranges,suspended over deep open water, and migrate onto nearby rock and gravel humps. More often than not, the best humps top off at a range near the lake’s thermocline. For example, if a lake typically thermoclines at 22 feet, humps in the 18 to 22 foot range are most apt to hold fish, while shallower cropping structures will be less productive.

When these mid lake humps are small, one can usually do quite well jig fishing them, but more so these humps tend to be large. This is when board trolling a spread of crawler harnessed spinner rigs anchored to bottom bouncing weights off planer boards is the key way to catch them.  The mid lake rock/gravel structure is very large with a number of smaller “spines” topping out in the 14 to 18 foot range; however, most of the rock/gravel structure is much deeper at 22 to 26 feet.
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The small spines are holding the fish, but they are somewhat difficult to stay on top of and pinpoint precisely in open water. This problem is easily solved by repeated trolling passes using this board/bottom bouncer/crawler harness system. Trolling ever so slowly, once any bottom contact is made, you can literally drag an armada of tempting tidbits across these spots and find these small groups of walleyes that are utilizing these spines.
imageThe rigging trick here is to set out just enough line below the planer board so it will catch, or better termed “tick”, the top of these spines, yet not get hung up. The best way to accomplish this is by staying as vertical as possible with your set up. Using a larger weight, in the 2 ounce class, in order to stay as vertical as possible, let out just a tad more line than the spine depth tops. For example, measuring out around 20 feet of line between board and the bottom bouncer (Rock Runner) weight is nearly a perfect setting for 16 to 18 foot humps. It might require a bit more line length in strong winds and big waves, but not in soft winds and slow trolls. Troll very slowly across these humps; just fast enough to activate the spinner and keep the spinner/crawler harness suspended off the bottom. Watch the board closely and you will notice when the Rock Runner weight is touching bottom. It will make the board bounce back. boardThis is a key time to watch for a strike. Strikes, by the way, will respond on the board by the board jerking back in a tug-like fashion. Within a few seconds, the weight of the fish will then start to drag the board out of its original position destroying its side ways angle, and placing it more directly behind the boat. Then, it’s simply a matter of crankin’ the fish in and re rigging.

Throwing a floating marker off a reef after a fish is caught is a good idea for reference, as is punching in the coordinates on your GPS system. As soon as I get a strike, before pulling the rod from the rod holder, I immediately reach for a floating marker and pitch it over the side. Also, on purpose, I’ll usually heave the marker just past the outside of the planer board that’s showing the strike. This places me as close to the exact location of the strike as possible. All return trolling passes can then be made precisely close by the actual spot where the strike occurred.
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Summer trolling reefs with bottom bouncers, spinner harnesses and a crawler rigged off planer boards is a super hot tactic. It is especially good over large mid lake reef structures that may be more difficult to fish by casting and jig fishing. At the very least, this system enables you to cover a great deal of water very efficiently, and quickly eliminates the dead sections of a large reef. You can then refish the spot more slowly with finesse jig fishing presentations if you wish.

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Lake Structure

The real secret to catching more fish is knowledge! The more you know, the more fish you’ll catch. Fish relate to lake structure like people relate to things around them. Here you’ll find out what kind of structure fish relate to so you know where to find them.

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Look for tips identified by a slip bobber
Chance are pretty good that you live under a roof and have a kitchen. And, if you left your home to drive to a town a few miles away you’d probably take a road and not drive through a field to get there. (At least I hope so )

So what does all that have to do with fishing? Fish need food and shelter just like we do and lake structure provides both. Also, when fish travel they normally follow familiar structure between two points.

Knowing what structure fish like will help you find fish. And finding fish is half the battle!

Some of the most common lake structures are Points, Bars and Breaks.
lake-structure1
As you can see in this picture a Point is where visible land extends into the lake. The land is surrounded by water on three sides.

A Bar is shallow water surrounded on three sides by deeper water. The most common type of Bar is an underwater extension of a Point. Another Bar may just be an extension of shallow water into deeper water with no visible above water Point.

The bigger the Point or Bar the better since they attract and hold more fish.

A Break is noticeable change in depth and is sometimes called a drop-off. In many lakes the primary Break line is where the depth changes from around 5-10 feet to 15-20 feet. In shallow, bowl shaped lakes a Break may only be a depth change of a few feet or even less. Breaks serve as travel routes for fish.

The steeper the Break, the better.

The top edge of a Break is called a Ledge. A lake usually has a few Breaks and Ledges that form the decent into deep water.

hump_saddleOther common fish holding structure are Humps and Saddles.

A Hump is sometimes called an underwater island or even a mid-lake bar. This picture has two Humps.

A Saddle is deeper water that leads up to shallower water on two sides.

We can’t forget about Fingers, Inside Turns, and Outside Turns. Fingers are small extensions of a Bar or Hump into deeper water.

Inside Turns are where a Finger meets a Bar. Points and Bars have Inside and Outside Turns as well.
turnsThe picture can probably do a better job of showing you what these are .

Inside Turns are usually a better choice for finding fish.

Finally, we need to define Inside Weed Lines, Outside Weed Lines and mention Rock Piles. An Inside Weed Line is simply the shallow side of a weed line while the Outside Weed Line is the deep edge of a Weed Line. Outside Weed Lines provide travel routes for fish as well as a great place for fish to hide and ambush other fish.

Rock Piles are important to mention because they’re an excellent place to find fish.

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in breaklines, humps, Structure

 

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Monster Pike After Large Bait

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Talk about HUNGRY!!! This has been happening over and over in the last couple
of weeks! No stringer has been safe from those gators!

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DEEP WATER WALLEYE FISHING

When you catch a big Walleye, big meaning over 6-pounds, there is a 95% chance that it’s a female. The big females generally only go into the shallows in the spring where they are up along the shore, in rivers or over sandbars, which are their favorite places to spawn. The smaller males seem to stay in the 2 to 15 foot range all year. The bigger females tend to go deeper then 15 feet. When fishing deep for big mid-summer Walleye fish between 20 and 40 feet deep.

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Check out the impressive slide show above:  Billy Hayes with trophy size walleye from 25″ to 30″ and all accomplished in one week of fishing at Wawang Lake.

Why do the big females go deep? There are several explanations depending on the size of the lake and how far north the lake is.

1) Bigger females have a larger air bladder, which makes them hyper sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. Being deeper makes the adjustment a little easier when the weather changes.LOTM-rapala-ice-jig

2) Bigger females spend too much energy chasing small bait fish that are found in shallow water. The bigger bait fish that are found is shallow water like perch etc., are hard to swallow as they have defensive spins in their fins. Sucker Minnows, Whitefish, Lake Herring  are all found in abundance down deep AND this food source is abundant in Wawang Lake. They are easier to swallow and more rewarding when considering the amount of energy needed to catch them. These deep water bait fish, especially Whitefish, have more oil in their meat thus more calories.

3) A walleye metabolism speeds up in shallow warm water. As a result, the bigger they get, the more food they need to maintain their weight. If the food is not there, they go to deeper cold water so their metabolism slows down. The dangerous thing about this is there is a fine threshold between eating more or conserving energy. If a big Walleye gets to the point where they can not find enough food to maintain their weight, they do get smaller, then they die. As soon as a Walleye gets to the point where they are starting to weaken from lack of food energy, they do not have the energy to catch bait fish and starve to death.

4) In smaller northern lakes, there is a larger population of Pike regularly attack walleye and bigger slower moving females are an easy target. This is another reason why they go deep right after they spawn.

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Some Types of Lures to Use on the Big Lake:

When you are Walleye fishing on big water like Wawang Lake, the walleye tend to stay suspended along with the schools of bait fish. Lets say you were on a big  part of the lake, , the best thing to do is troll until you come across a deeper school of bait fish and then keep trolling over the bait school.

These schools of bait-fish can be 15 to 40 feet deep and the walleye will be there too. The most popular lures are the Rapala Husky Jerks and the Rattlin’ Fat Rap.

–> 10 to 20 feet deep – Regular Husky Jerks
–> 20 to 40 feet deep – Down Deep Husky Jerk or Down Deep Rattlin’ Fat Rap

huskyjerks  

Just troll around and use your depth finder to spot schools of fish. To determine how deep you are, the Regular Husky Jerks go down about 1 foot for every 10 feet of line out. The Down Deep Rapalas go down about 3 feet for every 10 feet of line out. So using a Down Deep Rapala, getting down 30 feet deep means you need 100 feet of line out. This is just a general estimate. The speed of your troll will affect how deep the lures will go.

3-Way Swivel Rig:

 The best way to fish down deep for Walleye is with 10-pound test line and a 3-way swivel rig. This technique is also excellent for other fish that are right on bottom in the 20 to 60-feet of water.

You need 8 to 10 pound test because thicker line has too much friction with the water and it will be hard to find the bottom. You also need a 1-oz or 2-oz weight, a 3-way swivel and a lure that does not sink. Use an Original floating Rapala, Junior Thunderstick, Countdown Rapala or a worm harness with small spinner blades and a big fat worm. 

This rig is smaller than the standard type; You need a 3-foot lead line from the 3-way swivel to the sinker. Then you need a 5 or 6-foot lead line to your lure.  Get a strait slow troll going and slowly let out line until your sinker hits the bottom. Then reel up a foot and wait.. Keep those lines tight!

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Broiled Walleye with Herbed Lemon Butter

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Nothing is better than catching fish all day on the lake and then thinking of how to prepare your fresh caught fish for the evening meal, once back at camp.


You’re in for a yummy treat with this fish
dish for sure!

Ingredients:

4 pcs. 6/8 oz. portions fresh walleye (or pike) fillets (about 2#)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. chopped parsely
1/4 t. dill, rosemary or marjoram, crumbled
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. coarsely ground pepper

Directions  first be sure to remove bones.

Line broiled pan with foil and place the fillets on the rack. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Combine remaining ingredients and use to baste the fish. Place the broiler pan 4 inches from heat and broil, allowing 10 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness. Do not turn the fish. Baste several times during cooking. Makes 4 servings.

“No angler merely watches nature in a passive way.
He enters into its very existence.”

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Spring Northern Pike Fishing

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Steve Storlie – 40 inch northern pike

Northern pike fishing in the spring can be phenomenal, especially when there are no spring weather fronts. We get spring thunderstorms just like just anywhere else but generally during first three weeks in the spring will generally be one of the best weeks for numbers of Master Angler and Trophy Fish, however since Wawang Lake is a combination action/trophy lake the sensational fishing lasts for our entire season due to the many years of lake conservation and mandatory slot size.. Check-out our list of trophy fish and you will understand why northern pike fishing is an attraction at our Ontario fishing lodge WAWANG FISHING.  Our lodge provides Ontario pike fishing at its best. The ice comes off Wawang Lake around the end of the first week of May and the fishing opener is the third Saturday in May for Walleye, but, we open for northern pike fishing one week earlier just for you pike fishermen. The large mature northern pike will spawn under the ice on Wawang Lake and nature permitting pike fishermen will experience some of the best trophy fishing going.

From ice-out until mid-June, red fin and white suckers will spawn at the mouth of many streams flowing into Wawang Lake and at the river flowing out. Northern pike fishing is best in these areas, as the big pike feed on the suckers. The northern pike fishing will take place in less than three feet of water most of the time. Our anglers need to use the right lures for northern pike fishing in this shallow water.

FLY FISHING:
The anglers fly-fishing for northern pike have the most success in this shallow water. Bunny leeches and rabbit strip flies from 3″ to 6″ are favorite flies for fly-fishing northern pike. Black, orange & white colored flies seem to be the most productive, but other colors work better at times.


Some of our fly-fishermen will fish the shallow water at the creek inlets, and find they catch more northern pike the more they kick-up the muddy bottoms. The water at the inlets in the smaller section of Wawang is muddy and stained and not as clear as the main section of Wawang Lake is.
CONVENTIONAL PIKE FISHING:
The conventional anglers need lures that will not hang-up on the bottom. Mepps in-line spinner baits, Johnson Silver Minnow weedless spoons, floating Rapalas and other floating stick baits, and Texas-rigged soft plastics like 3″ to 5″ flukes or grubs do well in the early spring for northern pike fishing. Floating stick baits, like the Original Floating Rapala #18, can be cast into the shallow water at the inlets and adjacent shoreline. These stick baits will float and can then be twitched to dive a foot or less below the surface and not get hung-up on the bottom. The Texas-rigged soft plastics work exceptionally well at this time of year. The water temperatures are cold and spring weather fronts can make the northern pike sluggish, so a slow presentation can be one of the most productive for northern pike fishing. The Texas-rig to a jig or a worm hook makes the soft plastic weedless in the shallow creek inlets. headed jig or worm hook.
Flukes, like a Bass Assassin or Zoom Salty Super Fluke, imitate the look and action of leeches, smelt and minnows and have been a favorite for years on our lake. Be sure to pack some in your tackle box for northern pike fishing all season.

Northern pike fishing at these inlets has always been the most productive in the spring, but some anglers will fish the windblown points. Our prevailing wind is normally out of the north to northwest; therefore, the opposite end of the lake (south to southeast) will provide the best pike action in the spring.

The color of lures that work best in the spring for northern pike fishing are fire tiger, fluorescent orange, chartreuse, blue, white, silver, gold, and many colors of soft plastic.

Northern pike will strike at anything white or silver since lake herring thrive in our waters and come into the shallows during the spring this is an easy and delectable food source for pike, since at this time, they are more lethargic after just coming off the spawn and look forward to the opportunity of this easy meal that will get their energy levels back up to normal.

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EARLY SUMMER WALLEYE

The prettiest fish in the world is a walleye pulled from Wawang Lake. They seem to have a rich, caramel color unmatched by any other region in North America. Maybe it’s because of the dark water in many of Ontario’s thousands of Canadian shield lakes. Or maybe it’s simply an extension of the colorful personality you find in Ontario’s places, people and attitude.

Here’s a proven approach to filling your live well and memories with golden walleyes!

Shallow Thinking

In early summer, the walleyes have just finished spawning. So you’ll find them near their spawning grounds which are ideally hard-bottom bays with lots of gravel and some current. The current can be from inflowing rivers and creeks, or from wind/wave action off points and within pinch-points. Study a good lake map, ask questions and spend some time searching for potential hot-spot bays. A solid game plan pays dividends.

An ideal shallow bay will be between 4-8 feet deep with a feeder creek and a hard sandy bottom. If rubble and some weeds are mixed in, even better!   Begin fishing with a “search bait” presentation to cover a lot of water and find active fish. Trolling with a ½ ounce bottom bouncer and a 5-foot snell with a spinner rig and live bait is a great search bait strategy.

6Active Fish Found

After you zero in on reef, flat, saddle or point that’s holding active fish, you can switch tactics to improve your catch rate. At this point grab a medium-action jigging rod with a 1/16 or 1/8 ounce jig and 6-10 pound monofilament line. Tip the jig with a leech, minnow or half a crawler.  The best colors vary but in Wawang Lake are orange, pink, chartreuse, silver & gold.  The brighter colors always perform better in stained water.

Experiment with plastic bodied jigs, hair jigs and “naked” jigs too and find out what the fish are responding to. Use jigs with an attached fluttering blade. In addition to providing some extra flash and vibration, the blade slows down the rate that the jig falls.  Active fish like to hit that jig on the drop, so if you slow it down it’ll stay in the strike zone longer.

If the fish aren’t hitting your jig when you pitch it and let it fall, try dragging it instead. Start with a very slow, steady drag with gentle jigging. But don’t be afraid to throw in some snap-jigging too. Sometimes that aggressive “snap” incites a reflex bite from a walleye that you wouldn’t get with a gentle ‘pop.”

Clustered Fish & Bobbers

When it seems you get a bite at a particular spot on a big, featureless flat are and for whatever reason, the walleyes are really bunched up in that small area try this on them:

  • Eliminate the commotion of trolling over them – backed off and slowly lowered an anchor.
  • Bring out the slip bobber rods and presented small feather jigs with leeches beneath the floats.

You will hammer ‘em!   And there’s not much that matches the excitement of watching a bobber go down and knowing it’s a big ‘eye doing it. Using floats is also a great idea if the bottom is really rugged and causing a lot of hang-ups and broken lines. So give slip-bobbering a try if the fish and conditions dictate it.

The first step in experiencing the best walleye fishing in the world is planning the trip.  Check out our Wawang Blog that has many articles on how to fish our lake along with techniques, presentations, what lures and baits work best.  It’s all there on the blog – great fishing tips that will help you catch even more fish!

 Bonus!

While fishing early summer walleyes, Ontario will surprise you with some fringe benefits… namely an abundance of “accidental” fish you’ll catch including large pike. It’s not uncommon to catch a monster northern pike while fishing for walleye.    I don’t know about you, but I love it when that happens!

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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits

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Topwater Lures

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that is simply fascinating. The ever willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

An all-time favorite topwater for pike is a walk-the-dog bait, such as Heddon’s Zara Spook or Rapala’s Skitter Walk.

Rapala-Skitter-Walk

Best fished with a stout baitcasting rod, you must impart a side-to-side swimming motion to the bait. Do this by twitching the rod tip down, then immediately raising it again. This causes the bait to jerk to the side. Raising the rod gives the lure slack line to pull as it glides. After a split-second pause, start another twitch to cause the bait to turn and glide in the other direction.   Continuous twitching results in side-to-side surface motion that causes a lot of commotion. The sight is often too much for pike to pass up.

TopRaider

A Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective   tactic is mixing up the tempo of the twitches throughout the retrieve.   Slowing it down or speeding it up often triggers hits. If a fish swipes at a bait, but misses it you can often get a pike to hit again. One method is prolonging the pause between twitches. After some practice you can get the bait to dance in the strike zone for a while. This conveys an injured and disoriented fish. Pike will often return to hit again with this tactic.

Another option is continuing the retrieve and then casting back over the area again.   I’ve lost count of the number of pike I’ve got on a follow-up cast after they missed the bait the first time.

Prop Baits

imagesCARRGNJF

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weedbed

These baits are easy to work. Simply cast out and reel it   in on a steady retrieve. The lure’s metallic tail spins as you pull it through the water. This prop appendage creates a plopping sound and leaves a wake on the surface. The steady rhythm and straight path make it easy for pike to hone in on. A word of advice when working these lures: don’t retrieve them too quickly. The best tempo is often a pace just fast enough for the blades to be continuously turning.

An alternative to a steady retrieve with these lures is   using a twitch-pause pattern. This is particularly effective for lures with blades in the front as well as on the rear. The metallic sputtering caused by the twitch is extremely effective at attracting pike.

Buzzbaits

BUZZBAITS
Unlike the above lures, which often feature treble-hook clad models, buzzbaits are a single-hook lure. The up facing hook point makes a fairly weedless presentation. Buzzbaits have either metal or plastic blades   attached at one end of a wire form, which has a dressed hook at the lower end. These lures excel at fishing the shallow, weedy haunts pike frequently inhabit. I’ll cast them on the edge of lily pad bays, among sparsely growing rice or reed areas, and sunken wood zones. In fact, anywhere you think might hold pike are good places to cast buzzbaits. Bring it in on a fairly steady retrieve, but keep in mind twitches in the rod tip or changing the bait’s direction can trigger strikes.

43 INCH NORTHERN PIKE

When targeting pike with topwaters, remember that calm to slight ripple conditions are best. Don’t be afraid to try topwaters in small waves though because big fish often hunt in the turmoil caused by waves, and will still take surface lures. Pike are always surveying their habitat for easy meals; often, a topwater is one of the best lures to portray vulnerability. Not to mention that watching a northern hit a surface lure always gets the adrenaline flowing!

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