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Monthly Archives: March 2015
Northern pike is a top predator in Wawang Lake, and, a favorite game fish for anglers to catch. Nothing excites a pike fisherman more than the quick, sharp jerk of a lure and the zipping sound of their line unspooling as they chase one of those monsters of the deep! What many of you DON’T know is that early spring can yield some of the best success for catching some of the largest pike with the greatest of ease!
At any time of the year, pike can be found lurking awaiting an opportunist meal at any turn. Often times, anglers latch onto one of these ‘logs’ when in search of a walleye on Wawang Lake, but there are also the few dedicated, hardcores that scour the lake for hours at a time looking for that tape snapper!
Wawang is synonymous with trophy fish and tagging onto a 40″+ pike is commonplace for our guests but what most of them have yet to experience is the thrill of early spring pike hunting!
Fishing pike in the early spring is a whole new experience as the pike have just finished their spawn and are coming off of a lethargic period of rest. Targeting them during this phase takes planning and a good grasp of your surroundings as they are often, but not always going to be isolated to shallow bays (contrary to popular belief!)
These fish are creatures of habit and during the spring often prefer the soft bottomed areas as opposed to the rocky depths. Rick’s Bay is one of our most productive areas during the whole season and spring will not disappoint but one spot that can often be overlooked would be Mud Bay in the southern most part of Little Wawang. This area is shallow and has a dark muddy bottom (clever name eh?).
Mud bottomed water, followed by sand and finally rock, heat up to make a comfortable habitat for our vicious water wolves. Based on this rule, Wawang is comprised of countless opportunities to catch something jaw dropping at any moment.
Make sure to analyze our map an acquaint yourself with all the great structured locations and mark the week of May 10th on your calendar as Wawang will be opening up one full week earlier exclusively for those die hard, northern hunters ONLY with a discount of 25% off per person – a treat for joining us!
For those of you looking for more “Wawang Specific” tricks for your trip at any time of the year be sure to read through our ‘Fishing Blog’ as we have many articles that are quite helpful on your next fishing trip up to Wawang!
Enjoy the excitement of fishing Wawang Lake rated #1 for the MOST Trophy Northern Pike OVER 40″ (with pictures to prove it!) by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters OFAH for 7 years straight!
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Big pike are predators and also not pushovers. Being at the top of the food chain they can muscle their way into the prime real estate on any water system. Northern pike, especially big ones, inhabit the structures on a water system that best meet a variety of criteria, including access to food, shelter, ambushing opportunities, water temperature, and oxygen levels.
Prime areas that often meet these criteria for large pike after they’ve spawned in the shallows are points, humps and saddles. Here’s a refresher on these time-honored pike structures.
Points are a piece of structure that juts out into deep water off of shore or an island. They range in shapes and sizes but ultimately points extend into and are surrounded by deeper water. The variation they provide compared to the uniform surrounding shoreline and underwater contours, along with fast access to deep water, make them attractive to pike.
Northern move on points to feed, whether on walleye, perch, bass, or any other species they can get their mouths on. Wind-blown points attract big pike as the turmoil created by waves often stimulates feeding activity as prey become disoriented. Pike are active all day, but morning and evening are particularly good times to try points. When choosing points consider that the larger the structure the more fish it’s likely to hold.
A hump is an uprising in the bottom depth with a considerable area. They’re also often referred to as bars or sunken islands. The same fish-attraction structural qualities of points also make humps a common place to find northern. Mid-lake humps are particularly productive for trophy pike during summer and autumn. On large, deep lakes northern often inhabit cool, deep water where they’ll follow and feed on schools of whitefish and lake herring.
Humps often attract deep-water pike as both resting and foraging areas. Shallow humps, that peak around 10- to 15 feet often have weed growth, which will attract all sizes of pike. Deeper, rocky humps that top out around 20- to 35 feet appeal to big, deep-water fish.
A saddle is best described as follows: Picture yourself holding a rubber band in two hands so it’s straight. Move your hands together and the band drops — there’s your saddle. Your thumbs and forefingers represent either humps or islands, which could vary in size and shape, and the bends in the band are the sloping, connected points that join these two land masses. Sometimes these slopes are relatively uniform, as in the rubber band example, while in other instances one side may extend farther or drop faster than the other.
In addition to the reasons listed above for points and humps, there are a few other benefits to saddles. The first is they tend to be fairly sizeable structures giving them the potential to hold multiple big fish. Add to this the fact that saddles contain a variety of different depths plus plenty of physical features all wrapped up in one interconnected formation, and it’s no wonder they’re a pike paradise and typically known as big fish spots.
When fishing points, humps and saddles, paying attention to the finer details in the layout of these areas will catch you more and bigger pike. You want to find additional features that will concentrate fish. These zones are often referred to as “the spot on the spot” and represent prime real estate for fish. Small fingers, which could be described as miniature points, and inside bends on any of these three spots have a tendency to attract fish and funnel their movements. Focusing on deep weed walls is wise as pike will hunt along these edges. Rock piles also attract fish.
The next time you’re pursuing a fishing map, keep points, humps and saddles in mind. These structures regularly hold quality northern pike throughout the year after fish have spawned. Fish them thoroughly and don’t be afraid to hit the same structure multiple times in a day to better your chances at intercepting a big pike feeding.
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How to Catch Walleye in a Variety of Situations
There are many conditions that play a big part in how walleye act, where they are located, and how they feed. One of these is the weather: When it is warm and sunny, most walleye head to deeper waters, or find underwater structure to stay cool in.
On a nice day with little breeze and a lot of sun, you will generally find the fish in thick weed beds, in structure under the water, and where the water is deepest, because the water near the surface is too warm.
When there is a good wind, one strong enough to make the waves slightly choppy, walleye can be found anywhere, because the surface water will attract them with the conditions. Right before a storm or when the sky is dark and the wind is blowing can be one of the best times to catch your limit, because the walleye enjoy feeding in this weather.
Weather can play a part in locating the walleye, but these fish are unpredictable and can not always be pegged so easily. The weather can help you determine where to go and which areas to start with first, for the best chance of catching the trophy size fish or catching your limit.
An easy way to locate fish is to use a GPS fish finder, but many anglers do not use this technology, instead using the weather as an indicator of where to start their search for the fish. Falling into the wrong belief that the weather determines this every time can be a big mistake, and can cost you fish. Walleye can be found many times in areas where other anglers have never looked, and this area may go against everything you were taught about walleye, but you may end up a trophy fish anyway. No one tells the walleye where they should be, and these fish are known for their unpredictable nature.
In cooler months the walleye normally move closer to the shore and into shallower water, because the water temperature drops and the skies are normally cloudy and overcast. Weather conditions right before a rain storm or snow storm hits are perfect walleye fishing weather, and the fish really seem to feed aggressively at these times. The weather can be used to help predict where the walleye will be, but it is not definitive proof. To catch walleye, you sometimes have to think outside the box and disregard all the advice you have heard. Head for the spot that no angler will fish, even if it is a shallow bed of weeds on a hot sunny day, and you may get a pleasant surprise.
The fish bite better in windy weather and when skies are overcast, but as many a tournament angler with a trophy walleye will tell you, they still bite no matter what the weather happens to be usually. It all comes down to giving them what they want on the particular day you’re fishing.
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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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Instinctively, you spray the water with casts and retrieve at break-wind speeds. The lure would spark if it weren’t for the water. Trouble is the walleye aren’t motivated to chase. They want to dine leisurely, to nibble. They need to hang onto lures.
Before discussing ways to cancel out the walleye lethargy, it’s necessary to first observe on the “where.”
You see, not all lakes were designed with spring walleye in mind. Certain undeniable characteristics make some bodies of water more qualified Having shallow sections in a lake is the first ideal characteristic. Lakes with sweeping shoreline zones – areas 15 feet and shallower – and maximum depth of 35 feet or less are favorable as well. They warm the fastest, especially if the water is stained and or loaded with sediments. Deep and clear lakes are out, too, at least for now. Save those for midsummer and fall. Walleye fancy certain structure on “spring-oriented” lakes as well. Sand and gravel bottoms are of interest, as are emerging greens. Patches of deceased bulrushes also attract fish, as they house baitfish and sprout from promising hard floors. Add streams and the protected northwest corner of the lake and you’ve got an enticing menu of starting points.
You know the spots. They’ve been historically proven. All one has to do is pitch a jig to the bottom and ready the landing net, right? Well…not always. To say the least, the lead-headed jig is the deadliest of all lures on spring walleye. They are and forever will be, but occasionally, conditions warrant the presentation of other styles, like spinner rigs, trolling crank baits, dragging live bait rigs, even supervising slip-bobbers.
bobbers are just what the walleye ordered in cold and sleepy springtime environments. Balsa puts the bait in just the right spot and holds it there, letting it swim, writhe, and tease. No chasing required. Bobbers also fish exceedingly well over obstructions, such as rocks and timber. Weeds and moss bobbers provide the means to deliver bait continuously to a precise spot.
Rock piles offer a prime example such as; walleyes will pile into the windward flank of a wave driven reef; 90% of the fish might cling to 10% of the structure. In such instances, maintaining boat position is grueling, notwithstanding the evils trolling presents. Fish can get spooked if the hull passes overhead. Anchoring and pitching a slip-bobber is a far better option. Doing so yields control, as well as the opportunity to plant the boat strategically, never passing over the fish. Effective bobber fishing must also entail correct rigging.
Basically, there are two methods for fixing-up a slip-bobber; the first includes a plain hook and the other is end-weighted with a jig. The second method is preferred, though, but oddly enough, is the least utilized. The end-weighted slip-bobber rig features a 1/32nd ounce jig with a long shank and wide-gap hook.
The Northland Tackle Gum-Ball Jig and Glo-Ball Jig are the best overall lures for this application. The jig achieves two objectives. For one, it, due do its shape and coloration, acts as an attractor, enhancing the bait’s inherent abilities. Secondly, the jig’s bodily weight holds the bait at the selected depth, yet is light enough to allow the bait some wiggle room. Too heavy a jig can render bait totally static. Weighted and painted hooks, which are lures in-and-of themselves, perform similarly. The insect-looking Northland Ghost Grub® is a perfect example. It carries a broad gap Kahle hook, making it marvelous for slipping walleyes. Unfortunately, though, a 32nd ounce jig alone isn’t massive enough to balance a walleye-sized bobber, let alone keep a larger and sprightly minnow at bay. So shot must be implemented, namely, Northland Hot-Spot Split Shot®. Pinch 1, 2, or 3 shot 6-inches to 18-inches above the jig. (How many and what size shot you use must be determined by first testing bobber buoyancy. Add or subtract shot until the bobber, with bait attached, rides just above the surface but isn’t easily swamped.) operate in chorus with the jig as a temptation, especially in stained water and during low light conditions.
The Glo hook. Again, the jig program is superior, since it presents a bigger and brighter target and keeps the bait in check, but when the bite’s light, an old fashioned hook is priceless. The size of the hook used is dictated by the type and dimension of the bait in hand. Sizes 2 and 4 live bait hooks match well with minnows; 2’s with shiners and other large minnows and 4’s with fatheads. Size 4 and 6 hooks are best suited for leeches. Shot spacing with a plain hook is the same as with a jig; build in 6 to 18 inches.
Once more, it’s prudent to tighten the gap in colored water and widen it when the water’s clear. Setting depth is comparably as important as rigging. With an alligator-clip style depth finder affixed to the hook, slide the knot up the line until the float plunges 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface, which in reality means the bait will ride 6 to 8 inches off the bottom. Unless the bite dictates otherwise, shallow springtime walleyes operate tight to the bottom, so keep the goods low. How you present is a final consideration.
Every angler has a “foolproof” approach for setting a slip-bobber. Some guys choke down a cigarette before tightening down; others count, “one, one thousand…two, one thousand” etc. until reaching thirty or more, and then set. Along like some, the more anxious types that reef back at first sign the bobber has moved. Unless you’ve already established a personal, bullet proof process, try counting slowly to 3. With a sharpened hook, low-stretch line, 6 ½ foot or longer pole, and a sweeping but assertive hook set, that fish should soon be at boat side.
It’ll be tough to do. Changing ways is never easy by giving up the customary troll and power drift for an anchor for a different type of presentation. When the walleye are located, and or their mood is subdued, nothing bests the bobber.
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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.
Catching 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.
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.
On 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’.
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.
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