|The #5 Mepps’ steady throb pulsed through the 30-pound spiderwire, down the length of the medium/heavy-action graphite rod and directly into the anglers hand. Just as the lure reached the edge of the cabbage weeds, the blade’s thrum came to an abrupt halt. He set the hook hard into what felt like a concrete wall! But then the wall began to move, and he knew it was into a trophy. Five minutes and four desperate boatside runs later, he boated the 20-pound northern pike.
Big pike LOVE spinners!
Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves.
Spinner choices abound, but not all are created equal when it comes to enticing jumbo “scissorbills.” The angler should select certain sizes, shapes, and colors, over others.
Lesson No. 1 in choosing spinners for Esox lucius: bigger always is better. Pick magnum-sized offerings as even hammer-handles attack huge lures with abandon, and to catch true monsters, you MUST have that big profile.
Fat, deeply cupped blades throw out big vibrations that ring the dinner bell for monster pike. While sometimes thinner shaped blades (such as willow-leafs) that spin faster turn the trick; usually the slower-turning Colorado-type blades prove to be the ticket to a pike bonanza.
Because big flash stimulates lunkers, polished silver and gold blades work great. Another killer color combo is orange blades with a black trailer.
In-Line vs. Offset Spinners
Spinners for northerns come in two basic designs, and both work effectively, but each has its strengths and weaknesses.
In-line spinners (such as Mepps, Worden’s Lures Rooster Tails, Panther Martin, and Blue Fox’s Vibrax), with their terminal trebles, have higher hook-up and catch rates than their safety-pin brethren, but they also hook vegetation and other underwater structure, too.
But lures such as Terminators and Stanley Jigs’ Rick Clunn 4-Blade Willow Spinnerbaits, with their single, upturned hooks surrounded by manmade skirts, slither through the weeds, logs and stumps. In-lines also cast like bullets, while offsets can catch the wind and lose momentum.
Any of the new “super-lines” such as like Berkley FireLine, Spiderwire Fusion, or Remington’s Power-Lokt, are superior to monofilament for spinning pike angling. Their low stretch and high-abrasion resistance benefit pike anglers.
One suggestion is to flout convention and tie on a snap/swivel instead of a leader because leaders inhibit action and deter wary trophies, while the snap swivels provide two major benefits: quick lure changes and eliminating/reducing line twist. True, you’ll lose lures to the razor-sharp choppers of aggressive mounters, but you’ll get lots more bites without leaders!
Often northerns will attack even jet-powered offerings, but slowing down, pausing, or herky-jerkying that spinner, especially when it reaches the “Pike Zone,” reaps big rewards. Even lazy fish will smash a spinnerbait dangled in front on their out-sized mouth.
Always cast beyond where you think the pike lurk, because while “scissorbills” are legendary for their aggressiveness, they don’t like being bombed. Landing a bait on top of one’s head will likely result in spooking it.
Spin-Crazy Times & Spots
Primetime for driving pike spin crazy depends upon the season, time of day, and prevailing weather conditions. Early spring, right after ice out, brings spawned out northern pike shoreward (where they’re most vulnerable). Spinner rigs elicit savage strikes from hungry pike during spring.
Because northerns sight-feed, mid-day piking makes sense. Following that logic, clear, blue-sky days with lots of sun create perfect pike angling weather.
The spinner’s flash and large profile, easily visible to cruising whoppers, prove irresistible.
Using spinners to drive northern pike stir crazy is fun, easy, and productive.
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Monthly Archives: January 2015
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.
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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Nothing is more spectacular than the northern lights and these can be viewed as early as late June depending on the season’s climate. The cooler the better for the ‘lights’ to make their presence known. Enjoy a campfire, watch the bright, twinkling stars and wait for the northern lights to appear ……beautiful!
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Pike fishing is one of the fastest growing areas in sport fishing today. Ask any long-time pike angler if fishing pressure is increasing, or look at the growth of Pike or Musky lure manufacturers, and you’ll be convinced that pike fishing is on the rise.
With more anglers pursuing these predators every year, the need for proper releasing techniques is crucial to ensure the survival of post-release fish, and to sustain the sport fishery.
The Right Tools And Gear
You need the right tools to play, and to release a big pike without exhausting or over-stressing the fish. The right tools begin with your fishing equipment. Your set-up should include heavy-action rods, and reels with high ratios and large spools to quickly retrieve line. Spool reels with quality line with a minimum rating of 65-pound-test. The terminal end should have steel leader with strong snaps and ball bearing swivels.
You will need the right tools to land and release these big predators. Opinions vary on the best device to land a muskie, but nets and cradles (large enough to comfortably hold, or pen, a pike) are two popular options. You will also need tools to help cut and remove hooks from the fish’s mouth, including long-nosed pliers, hook cutters, jaw spreaders, and hook-removers.
Remember, cutting hooks can be faster than removing them with pliers, but it is critical to remove all the hook pieces. Pieces left in the fish can lead to infection and, potentially, death.
Have The Knowledge
You’ve just spent a couple hundred dollars on a quality net, a rod and reel combo, a dozen lures, and the latest release tools. Better yet, you’re on a beautiful lake and have a good population of monster pike. Adrenaline rushes through your body, but are you prepared to safely land this fish? This is an important question anglers new to muskie fishing need to ask themselves before fishing. Netting a fat walleye, requires skill and confidence, but handling big, aggressive fish is more demanding. The good news is there are many ways to learn how to land and release pike properly.
One of the best ways to learn is by doing. Joining a club will connect you to a wealth of pike information. Hiring a credible guide is another way to gain first-hand experience. Reading publications specific to pike fishing and attending seminars at fishing shows are two other ways to boost your release know-how.
Confidence And Patience
“Zen and the art of pike fishing?” you ask. No, but confidence and patience are two traits that will go a long way to ensure you properly release fish. When working in close quarters with pike, you must be confident in your actions; this is where the right tools and knowledge will really pay off. For example, if you’re leaning over to grab a trophy sized pike and you hesitate just as the fish thrashes in the net, the situation could quickly get dangerous to both you and the fish.
Most multi-season, pike anglers know stories of hooks in hands and fish freak-outs. Being confident when handling pike will likely save you a hospital visit, but it can’t guarantee it.
Being patient comes into play on many levels in fishing, but let’s focus on how it relates to releasing these toothy brutes. After hooking a pike you intend to release (which should be almost always), you’re responsible to do it properly. Pike that battle hard during the fight may require time to recuperate before swimming away. It may take only 10 minutes or 20 minutes, but some pike may need more than an hour of boat-side support. One thing to remember is to avoid shallow water during hot months as this water doesn’t hold much oxygen. Bringing the fish out to a little deeper water will be advantageous to the fish. As a responsible angler, you must be patient enough to hold and support that fish as it regains its strength before being able to strongly swim out of your hands. If you’re not prepared to spend the time to properly release a fish, you shouldn’t be fishing in the first place. It’s that simple.
Being organized is more than just having the right tools and gear accessible in a tidy and hazard-free boat. It’s also fishing with a partner and knowing your responsibilities once a fish is hooked. While one battles the fish, the other should ready the release tools, camera, measuring tape, and landing device.
Having a plan for playing and releasing fish, and keeping all tools needed within reach, reduces handling time and overall stress to the fish. Furthermore, a planned and properly executed process for landing, handling and releasing fish will ensure the fish is kept in the water as much as possible.
Key to any successful release is keeping the fish (especially its head) in the water at all times, and only removing it for a quick photo if necessary. Some anglers let the fish recuperate in a net or cradle after the hooks are removed before handling the pike again to take a picture. When photographing a fish, a good rule of thumb is to hold your breath as you lift the fish out of the water. When you need to breathe, so does the fish, and it should quickly be returned to the water to minimize harm.
Try these tips the next time you’re on the water to protect this outstanding resource.
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There’s no better comfort food than fish and chips. Everyone has their own opinions on where to get the best coating but with a little effort you can make your own. The trick to getting it right is the consistency of the batter. Most homemade versions use a batter that is too thick. Many recipes call for a batter that is similar in consistency to pancake batter. The batter needs to be thinner or the fried fish pieces will become soggy quite quickly. Pre-heating the oil to the proper temperature is also very important or the fish will absorb too much of the oil while cooking. NOTE: At Wawang Lake we use ‘liquid shortening’.
Using part rice flour in the batter is also a sure fire way to ensure a crispy, light batter. We make our own homemade tarter sauce that is a favorite with our guests.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 1/4 cups cold soda water or beer
Combine dry ingredients. Add the egg and soda water and whisk together just until the liquid is incorporated. Small umps in the batter are not a problem.
- 2 pounds of boneless skinned pike or walleye fillets
- liquid shortening or oil for deep frying
Cut the fish, Northern Pike or walleye are a light, white fish, into about 8 pieces. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge the fish pieces in rice flour to help the batter stick to the fillets. Dip the pieces into the batter and carefully drop them into oil filled deep fryer that has been preheated to 375 degrees F. Fry for a few minutes, about 5 is fine depending on the thickness of the fillets; just until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a wire rack placed over a cookie sheet. Serve immediately.
If you have to fry the fish in more than one batch at a time, hold the fish in a 200 degree F oven on the draining rack to provide air circulation all the way around the fried fish pieces to prevent the fish from getting soggy.
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Spin Cast Reel: The spincasting reel is also known as a closed face reel because the spool and line are beneath the spool cover. A simple press of the line release button and a flick of the wrist is pretty much all it takes to cast with this type of reel. This is why spincast reel is probably the reel you started with as a kid.
Pros: This reel is a great teaching tool for anyone learning how to fish as it is by far the easiest reel to use. As well the fact that it’s inexpensive gives you the flexibility of starting a kid out in fishing without breaking the bank on a hobby they may eventually cast aside.
Cons: Unfortunately because spincasting reels tend to be considered entry level reels they’re often not made for high intensity usage. As a result many, not all, spincasting reels are not very durable as they are made of inferior materials. As well this type of fishing reel is often not the best at long distance casting and suffers from a low hauling power which is needed for hauling big fish out of heavy cover like lilly pads and submerged vegetation.
Spinning Reel: Spinning reels are probably the more widely used reels due to the relative ease of use as well as there moderate expense. Spinning reels are also known as open faced reels because the spool and majority of the moving parts are located externally rather than behind a spool cover. This makes the spinning reel ideal for surf fishing where there is a high likelihood of the reel getting wet with either fresh or saltwater. The “open face” makes most parts of cleaning much easier than with other reel types.
Quick Tip: When picking spinning reels some tend to opt for reels with front drag systems rather than rear drags. As the front drag has large washers that exert force on a flat surface which makes the front drag system smoother than the rear. Where as the rear drag pushes against the drive shaft of the reel which has a smaller surface area.
Pros: Overall the pros of using spinning reels are as follows.
1. You can get a decent spinning reel for a moderate price.
2. Due to their open spool design spinning reels tend to hold more line that the other reel types.
3. Spinning reels are relatively easy to use and are easy to learn to use.
4. They are great for casting long distances and are very accurate with practice.
5. Spinning reels are great reels when using light baits.
6. Not prone to birds nest.
Cons: The cons of spinning reels are as follows.
1. Spinning reels are prone to line twist unlike baitcasters which are prone to birds nest.
2. Spinning reels come in very limited gear ratios which limits your options for reel speeds.
3. Unfortunately spinning reels are not powerhouses like their baitcasting cousins. Because spinning reels actually wrap line on the stationary spool upon retrieval rather than the spool spinning hauling the line on like a wench, spinning reels are limited when it comes to hauling power.
Baitcasting reels are quickly becoming just as widely used as spinning reels. Where in the past you mostly saw more experienced and pro anglers using baitcasting reels now there isn’t a day that I’m out on my local pond harrassing the bass and there isn’t at least one other person out there using a baitcaster.
This is because more and more people are recognizing the benefits of using a baitcaster.
Pros: The pros and cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1. Baitcasting reels are wenches, of the different types of reels baitcasters have the most hauling power.
2. Baitcasters work very well with heavier baits.
3. Baitcasting reels offer many more gear ratios (retrieval speeds) so choosing the gear ratio that’s more fitting for specific baits is far easier.
4. Baitcasting reels also have very smooth drag systems.
5. Baitcasting reels work great with heavier lines and super lines like braid.
Cons: The cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1. Baitcasters are the most difficult reels to use easily getting birds nest on bad cast.
2. Because of the steep learning curve with baitcasters it takes a bit more practice to be able to make longer cast.
3. Baitcasters are not the best choice for lighter baits.
4. As said before baitcasters are prone to getting birds nests in the line upon casting if not thumbed correctly
5. Prices of bait casters can easily surpass a budget friendly place for the average person who doesn’t fish that often.
Overall the different types of fishing reels are then to aid in different ways. No one reel type is better than the other however they all just have different purposes. As well with the technological progressions being made fishing reels are all being made with lighter and stronger materials as technology improves. So choose wisely when choosing your next fishing reel and enjoy it for all it’s worth.
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Yield: 4 Servings
1 lb Walleye Fillets
Combine the following to make a paste:
2 tb Lemon juice
2 Garlic cloves; minced
3 tb Soy oil
2 tb White wine
1 pn Fresh chopped sweet basil
Leave skin on and place fillet skin down on broiler. Brush fillet with paste. Dust with paprika. Broil one side 10 minutes per each inch of thickness. If sauce is desired, use marinade of fresh garlic, dijon mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise and soy oil. Garnish with lemon wedges, chopped parsley or chopped green onion.
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With spring, thoughts of hefty pike in shallow water dance through anglers’ heads. Fresh from the spawn, pike will be found in specific locations and can be caught with a variety of lures.
At that time of year, the fishing can be fast and furious, monster pike are more than willing to entertain you with a game of tug-of-war. Jump-start your fishing season by tangling with the mighty “water wolf,” and be prepared for some of the best fishing you can imagine.
Where To Find Them
Pike spawn in shallow, weedy back bays shortly after ice-out. Bays and shorelines found on the north side of the lake will be the first to warm up, and will be the most attractive to the cruising pike. Once the spawn is complete, the majority of the fish will linger in these back bays for some time, gorging on the available baitfish and awaiting a warming trend to occur in the main lake area.
Searching the shallow bays on your favorite lake will be the key to finding post-spawn pike. Make sure the area you are concentrating on has a variety of cover — be it weeds, logs or stumps — and is between the depths of 2 feet and 6 feet. Finding an area like this has pike written all over it, although your next step will be deciding what to throw at them.
Lures To Consider
One of the most productive and easiest baits to fish for spring pike is the spinnerbait. It represents an easy meal, has a bulky profile in the water and gives off flash and vibration that rings the dinner bell loudly for these opportunistic feeders.
A personal preference early in the season is a spinnerbait sporting a large willow-leaf blade, a sturdy wire body that will stand up to the abuse a pike can dish out, and a fur or nylon skirt that undulates nicely in the water. Couple this with a needle-sharp sturdy hook and you have the perfect setup for the mighty pike.
Bright colors seem to be the best route early in the season with chartreuse, red and white getting the nod for most applications. Depending on water conditions, it is best to experiment with natural and unnatural colors until you hit a winning pattern.
Nothing can compare to the visual thrill and heart-pounding excitement of taking a pike on a topwater plug. Post spawn fish are more than willing to grab an easy meal off the surface, and the shallow water locations make this tactic extremely productive.
There are a number of topwater baits on the market that are suited to early season pike and have worked well for me over the years. The buzzbait is a top choice due to the large silhouette it provides and the surface commotion it exhibits. Fish this bait with a steady retrieve and be prepared to hold on tight. A stinger hook may be necessary for those fish that strike short or blow up on the bait.
Another key lure is the Zara Spook. The lazy side-to-side motion is intoxicating to both aggressive and neutral fish, and many of the pike you encounter will hunt down this bait as if it truly is alive. Choose the larger version Spook and make sure you fish the lure with a wire leader in order to save it from the jaws of this predator.
Spoons have become a staple among early season pike anglers and for good reason — they catch fish. A spoon exhibits the movements of a baitfish precisely, and the positive vibrations and body characteristics make it a good choice.
Proven spoon picks are the Red Devle Dardevle, Five of Diamonds, Red Eye, Blue Fox, Original Doctor, Johnson Silver Minnow, and many of the Williams Wobblers’ line of baits. Experiment with different weights, and thickness of bodies, in order to establish those that have the most desirable motion and action in the water, and which ones the pike show a preference to striking.
A trick to keep in mind for fish that follow yet refuse to hit, is to suddenly stop the spoon in mid-reel and let it flutter slowly downward. This tactic will entice the majority of “hot” pike to strike, and has proven itself repeatedly.
Head to Wawang Lake this spring and have a tussle with the mighty “water wolf.” The fishing will be fast and exciting and the eagerness of the pike to strike will have you returning year after year.
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Spinner baits are an effective presentation for covering expanses of water looking for pike. Whether you’re working weed beds, shallow sand flats, or rocky reefs, these lures are sure to put fish in the boat. Here are some of OUR top tips for targeting pike with spinner baits this season.
Choosing A Pike Spinner Bait
It’s no secret pike like the protection and ambushing advantages of weeds. A spinner baits upward-facing, single hook keeps the bait fairly weedless, making it ideal to cast vegetation. Use baits weighing up to 1.5-ounces for deep water, but most often I throw lures ranging from 1/2-ounce- to 1-ounce.Willow-leaf-bladed baits give off plenty of flash, run deeper, and can be retrieved at a faster pace than Colorado-bladed baits. Yet, these latter blades are effective too for slower retrieves, or when you want plenty of thump in your presentation. Make sure you carry an assortment of both. When it comes to body materials, the bucktail is a bait that will have a longer lifespan and stand up to catching multiple fish. Some silicone skirts perform well, but rarely as good as tied hair. As for colors, popular colors are: chartreuse and white, white and red, and orange and black are great producers.
THREE PRIME SPOTS FOR SPINNER BAITS:
Rocks And Reefs
Rocky zones, such as points or shallow reefs, surrounded by deep water are other hot spots. Work baits around the edges and breaks. Don’t neglect the top of the reef. On water systems where pike are the dominant predator, reefs are some of my favorite zones to look for trophy-sized fish. These areas can be particularly good in cool, sunny conditions when pike may be sunning themselves on the rocks, which absorb heat. Rocks can also be good in high winds as the turmoil and turbidity caused by waves gives pike a predatory advantage to ambush disoriented prey.
Fan casting the weedbeds with spinner baits lets you quickly cover water and better your chances of contacting a fish. If you spot any structure in the weed flat, such as logs or rocks, cast beyond the target, then reel the bait into the area. Hold on, as this zone is a prime ambush area. Concentrate on working the bait around edges in weeds, like a weed wall or cut into the bed.
Beyond weedbeds, shallow, sandy areas are good. These produce fish early in the season since they warm up quickly. As summer arrives, they can also be feeding zones. Look for signs of baitfish as you cast. Forage is a good indicator of whether or not the area will hold pike. In some instances, you can sight fish for pike, but remember to cast beyond the fish or you risk spooking them.
Spinner Bait Gear
When casting spinner baits for pike, use a heavy-duty rods with a bit of flex in the tip, as it can easily cast baits. Too stiff a tip and you won’t get any distance out of casts. The baitcast reel spooled with 30- to 55-pound-test super line makes a great combination. A quality drag is a must for line-peeling runs common with large northern pike. At the business end of the setup, I’ll tie on a fluorocarbon leader in clear water and only use wire in murky conditions. Quality locking snaps and ball bearing swivels are a must for strength, and preventing line twist.
Spinner Bait Line Tie Details
Use leaders when casting for pike and spinnerbaits with a closed coil bend in the wire form as opposed to the “V” common in many spinnerbaits. The coil secures the snap-lock of my leader in place, minimizing tangles. Leader snaps can move out of the V-bend wire forms, increasing the odds of fouling a bait on a cast. When not using leaders and targeting other species, V-bends are less of an issue as the line is tied direct to the bend and the taut knot holds the lure in place.
One final thing to keep in mind is although you may be reeling baits in on a straight retrieve, don’t make it consistent. Twitch the rod to impart erratic moves to the bait as these variances trigger hits. This is a good triggering move and has resulted in many pike meeting many landing net over the years. This will without a doubt will work for you, too
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Walleye will be on the move toward spawning locations during early spring. Spawning sites vary from lake to lake. Spawning habitat requires moving water, however, so walleye ascend tributaries, where they spawn over gravel bars or in mild riffles. In lakes, they generally spawn over shoals with rock, gravel or sand bottoms. In both cases, the water is typically quite shallow. The movement of walleye schools toward spawning sites may take weeks, and walleye may stage nearby for several days.
Long underwater points are good places to intercept walleyes as they move. (This is also a good pattern after the spawn.) Casting stick baits over the points is very effective. Retrieve slowly. This can be done either from boats or while wading.
Probably the most reliable fishing pattern for pre-spawn walleye in lakes is in situations in which walleye spawn in tributaries. This is simply a matter of the walleye being concentrated in a relatively small area. Our smaller section of Wawang Lake makes the perfect spawning area for our walleye.
Hotspots will continue to move as the spawn approaches, starting near the tributary mouth. Later, drop offs, deep pools and calm areas on the insides of bends get hot. The first good spawning habitat will stop most movement.
Fish behavior is rarely as simple as you might have read. Each body of water has peculiar characteristics that affect walleye in different ways. Even in a single body of water, different walleyes, or age-classes of walleye, will often behave in various ways.
At least one of the tactics described here should get you into the game at most places, but keep your eyes and ears alert for whatever local anglers are doing.
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