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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Jigging For Weed Walleye with BUCKTAILS

 30.5 inch wawang lake walleye

When walleye head to the shade of the salad, or cruise along the edge of vegetation, a bucktail jig can be your greatest tool for seducing them to strike. Not only is the undulating hair a visual stimulant, but also the erratic cadence of the bait as it is ripped and jigged with vigor.  Working bucktails is a different game than with regular jigs, but the technique speaks for itself with the big results you’ll be rewarded with. A standard bucktail jig is comprised of a lead head, with layers of bucktail tied and glued to the collar of the bait. Strands of tinsel are often interwoven, adding an additional aspect in terms of visual attraction. When moving, the hair forms a streamlined body, replicating a baitfish perfectly.   At rest the hair fans out, adding a different dimension in terms of appearance.  In comparison to a jig and plastic, the bucktail is far superior in terms of weedlessness, making them an excellent choice when the cover becomes thick and the walleye go into hiding.

The   Laws of Rip Jigging

bucktailRip jigging is a specialized technique that can produce astounding results.   The premise is simple:  flip a bucktail jig out twenty feet or so.   Let it make contact with the bottom vegetation, then give a quick and sharp snap of the rod, breaking the jig free from the snag and sending it up and above the cover. Repeat process. Depending on the mood of the fish, rips can be positively violent or more controlled.   You will find that the warmer the weather, the more aggressive you can be. Walleye are an opportunistic feeder. They will conceal themselves in the thickest of   cover, waiting to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish as it swims by. Ripping a bucktail jig through the salad will easily get their attention (due to the   commotion it causes) and make them commit to the speedy meal before it gets away. Depending on the mood of the fish, they will either smack it as it breaks free from the green stuff, or rise to engulf it as it slowly falls back down. This is one technique that has worked well is the fall period. Fish will raise their activity level and feedbag at this time, and when the wind howls and the fish move shallow, you can definitely get into a bunch of them – BIG ones too! In terms of tipping options for rip jigging – go the route of none.   Minnows and worms won’t last long with the constant weed contact, and due to the speed of the retrieve (and split second reaction time),  it doesn’t makes much of a difference in terms of catch rates.

  Dunking For Fish

Although it may seem unsuitable dunking the weed pockets for walleye is a tried and true technique. Shallow water and expansive weed flats make up the playing field for this tactic, and a stout rod and bucktail jigs round out the arsenal. Pounding depths between four and 10-feet is your best option, and clear water is always your best bet. Work weed flats and clumps with the wind or an electric motor, lowering a heavy bucktail jig into every hole and edge you drift over.  Let it sink directly to bottom, and give it a few lifts and drops before moving on. (leave the bait in each hole for at least ten seconds before trying the next.) Walleye will situate themselves on these edges, both inside and out, pouncing on any bait that free falls into their lair. Visually, this is a fun and exciting tactic to employ, as most fish are actually observed sucking up the bait in the blink of an eye, and quickly charging back into the weeds! A lightening quick hook set and medium-heavy rod is recommended if you hope to put a net under the belly of any of them. Tipping your jig with a minnow or worm is an excellent choice for this short-line tactic, as the fish has more time to be convinced to strike, and scent can be a contributing factor for that.

 Walleye Wawang Lake

Swimming Them In

When walleye are scattered over weed flats, and the vegetation is low and uniform in height, swimming a bucktail jig back to the boat can be a hot ticket. The rules are simple: cast your bait out and start reeling in, keeping your jig just above the weeds, and imparting the odd lift or two into your retrieve. This will allow you to cover large areas of water, and help you pick off those fish that are actively cruising while feeding. Your presentation will resemble a minnow making its way along bottom, and an easy meal in the eyes of our yellow predator.

Top Ten Tips For Bucktail Fishing

1.  For clear water conditions, match the hatch when it comes to colour. Murky water requires brighter hues.
2.  Braided line gets the nod for working bucktails in the weeds.
3.  Check line regularly throughout the course of the day.
4.  Apply ample amounts of scent to the hair of the bait.
5.  Choose high quality jigs that sport strong and laser sharp hooks.
6.  In rough conditions, choose brighter colours that will aid in attracting fish better.
7.  Lighter jigs work better for swimming, while heavier jigs work best for ripping and dunking.
8.  Heavy equipment is key. This is no place for ultralight combos or low diameter line.
9.  Watch for line movement or “bumps.” This can often signal a fish.
10.  Take note of where fish are found. Then search for other areas on the lake that are similar in make up.

Contact us to book your next exciting walleye fishing trip!

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Spinner Rigs Slay Walleye

2seriousdblLGAre you looking for a simple, yet effective walleye bait that is inexpensive and will have you limiting out on Wawang Lake? Look no further, as the spinner rig may be the answer to your prayers. By learning what the rig consists of, how and where to fish it, and the reason why walleye love it so much, you will be on your way to a phenomenal season of fishing – and that’s what each of us wants, isn’t it?

What the Heck is a Spinner Rig?

A spinner rig is quite basic in its design, but do not let that fool you. This bait catches fish! The rig itself is made up of a spinner blade put onto your main line, followed by a few plastic beads. You then attach a short-shanked hook, and sometimes followed by another one a few inches down the line. And there you have it.  Either the double hook rig, or, single hook rig work well, but, with large or long baits a double hook rig is suggested.

sliding sinker bottom rigThe only thing missing is to attach a weight (called a walking sinker) one to four feet up the line from the spinner and you are good to go. A fat, juicy live bait is then hooked once through the head with the first hook, and then hooked halfway down the body by the second hook. This will be what the hungry walleye will key-in on. If this description sounds confusing, don’t let it phase you, as you can purchase pre-made spinner rigs at your local tackle shop for fewer than two dollars.

How to Fish It?

The basic technique for fishing spinner rigs is to slowly troll or drift these baits behind the boat. The walking sinker that is attached to your line will slowly drag on bottom, (most walking sinkers are relatively snag-proof), and, depending on the length of line you left between your weight and hook, will be the distance the rig will run up off the bottom.

Many anglers prefer to slowly drift across productive structure areas pulling spinner rigs, as they can maintain contact at all times with the bottom, (where the walleye like to hang out), and the presentation will be less rushed than a trolling pattern with the big motor would be. This is not to say that you can’t catch walleye by trolling, but the key reason these spinners work is the action and   enticement they offer the walleye at these slow and deliberate speeds.

Experimentation is often your best bet when it comes to choosing blade and bead colors.   Generally, bright colors will get the nod, although I have had days when the simple switch from an orange blade to a yellow one made all the difference.   Since they are an inexpensive bait to buy, or make, I suggest carrying an assortment with different size blades and colors to see which ones attract the wandering walleye best.

Where to Fish It?

wi0703_DeadWalleySpinner rigs   really shine at a number of specific areas of a lake. Rock shoals and drop-offs are key spots to try as they are walleye magnets, and fish on these spots will generally be relating to the bottom contour – the exact spot these rigs travel. Other spots to try are alongside the edge of weed lines, and through wide-open flats that typically hold walleye. Out in front of dams and alongside current break areas have also been successful areas for me when using these rigs.

 

Weed cover can foul these baits so it is best to fish them in open water over bottom structure such as sand, gravel or rock. If the sinker does happen to snag, a simple tug will break the “drop line”, leaving your main rig intact.

Why Does it Work?

The three main reasons that spinner rigs are so successful in catching walleye are the sight, sound and smell factors they possess. The flash of a spinner whirling   in the water will always grab a fish’s attention. The dirt and sediment kicked up by the walking sinker will accomplish this also. Both of these factors will also cause vibrations and sound in the water column that are attractive to the walleye. Finally, the night crawler is the “ace in the hole”, as any following fish will not be able to resist the smell and taste of that juicy morsel, fluttering through the water.

# 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group 6/2013
# 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group for the last 12 years.

Take a   “spin” with this proven rig this season, and see for yourself its fish catching qualities. It may not look like much, but I can assure you that it sure puts a magical spell on the resident walleye.

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CHASING THE ‘EYES’

 

31" walleye - Mark HechtMore people want to know how to catch walleye than any other game fish.  Also known as pickerel, they are often difficult to locate and land. The challenge they present makes fishing them successfully an angling accomplishment.  Yet, for the novice angler finding a lake that has a fisheries management program will without a doubt help you get on those walleye quicker.  So Wawang Lake is where you’ll want to begin.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you head out on the water this season. Early season walleye are best located in shallow waters as they are not long out of spawning and are looking to stock up on feed to replace what was lost as they were preoccupied during the spawn. Shoals with gravel are excellent places to start looking, especially near the drop off to deeper water.

walleye schoolQuite often you will be able to visually spot them in these areas as the water is generally clearer and the walleye will stand out against the gravel bottom. In the water you are fishing, look for the edges of weed beds with a change in depth. This can be in a narrows were the deeper part of the water slopes up toward the bank, or on a bend off a point on the inside of the turn near a sand bar, walleye will be on the edge of these areas. The current is slower here and is a good place for harboring bait and acts like a snack table for feeding fish.

Sunken islands in the lake work well as do old break lines, humps and reefs. If you search the water that you will be fishing in, you should not have too much trouble locating these types of spots.  At Wawang Lake we provide a detailed, contour map of the lake that gets our guests started in the right direction almost immediately.  Supper isn’t too far behind.

Several types of baits work well for walleye. Favorites are crank-baits. Rapalas (straight or jointed) (floating or sinking) (suspending or rattle types). Next are the walleye divers, which imitate baitfish so accurately that walleye can’t resist them if presented properly.

illustration
Start using these baits with a stop motion, jerking the bait through the water instead of steady retrieves. Suspending lures are fished in the same manner, letting them sink to the bottom and then start jerking softly about a foot or so at a time. This allows the bait to sink slowly again to a predetermined depth before being tugged forward and up again. This motion represents smaller food chain species chasing and feeding which will attract larger fish and cause them to feed on the smaller fish.
Vertical jigging - 1
If fishing is more what you are after rather than angling try using minnows or leeches. Keep the leech stretched out as long as you can without ripping it.  Use a pickerel rig and hook a second hook to each. Do this by placing the second hook over the barb on the first hook and letting it trail.

Now you can hook the leech on the first hook and pull the tail down over the second hook. A bigger leech is more inviting than a small rounded one. Be sure not to have more than four hooks in total on your rig!

For trolling spinners or jigs with a larger hook use minnows and choose a medium to large minnow. Hook through the mouth, then out the gill, turn the hook then hook through the top of the head just infront of the doral fin.   This allows the minnow to swim freely and walleye often will mouth the bait, turning it and playing with it before swallowing it. Watch closely for light taps on your rod or float, and be prepared to set the hook at this point.

3 WAY

If trolling or cast retrieving is your preference then try using a three-way swivel on your line with the bait trailing, and the center swivel used to attach the weight. Do this by tying on about one foot of lighter line to the bottom eye of the swivel. The lighter line will break off easier in the event of a snag, saving the rest of the line. I use about four feet of line from the swivel to the bait, giving the bait lots of freedom to move side to side or up and down when retrieving the cast or trolling.

walleye_catch

 

The foregoing methods are pretty much fail safe, but it remains that walleye are as challenging to fish as they are good to eat. So the best advice is to get out there and try it for yourself. Enjoy the day and the fishing will fall into place!

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Weather Dictates the Fishing

sunset with orange clouds

We cannot stress enough on how the weather is the biggest determining factor on the fishing outcome on any fishing trip. Below is a good read on how weather affects the fishing and tips on what to watch for along with getting the upper hand on the situation.

The earth consists of two pressurized environments (Air & Water). Sensible weather, the day-to-day weather that we experience everyday is one of many factors that affects fishing as well as our daily lives. Weather changes are caused by atmospheric changes in pressure (barometric pressure) driven by the fast moving river of air called the jet stream located at about 30,000 feet in the atmosphere!

A basic rule is that rising air (falling pressure) produces clouds and even the possibility of rain and snow. Sinking air (rising pressure) means clouds and precipitation development is suppressed, and usually brings clear skies and fair weather. Weather conditions do impact the catch rate indirectly of the species you are pursuing, and will depend on various interdependent factors such as: availability of fish, water depth, temperature, clarity, wind, and barometric pressure (The measurement of weight of the atmosphere above us)

Water Systems are pressurized environments. Water is much heavier than air. A cubic foot of air weighs 1/12 pound (lb). A cubic foot of fresh water weighs 62.4 lb. and a cubic foot of sea water weighs 64 lbs. Water pressure, like air pressure, is a function of weight; the deeper one goes the greater the surrounding water pressure. Therefore, the direct effects of changing barometric pressure (air) is greater on fresh shallow water species than deeper lakes or oceans where the depth of the water inhabited by deep water species makes the air pressure variations insignificant.

imagesCA1344Y9Air pressure and other variables:
The air that surrounds the earth is constantly placing pressure on the earth’s surface. As the jet stream drives the large areas of high and low pressure on the surface of the earth, these large pressure systems then in turn, drive the large-scale wind flows at the surface levels. As air inherently wants to move from higher to lower pressure (the reason why air wants to escape a bike tire and not vice versa) it will converge in a counter clockwise manner around low pressure, and diverge in a clockwise manner around high pressure. This is because the Earth is rotating and the Coriolis force (the deflection to the right of one’s motion on large special scales) results in the observed surface winds. These resulting surface wind flows create weather fronts, which are distinct boundaries from say cold-dry Canadian air, and warm-moist Gulf of Mexico air. There are three basic types of fronts: Cold, Warm, and Stationary.

Typically, low pressure is the “parent” system for these frontal systems, with cold fronts often extending from the center of low pressure and orientated to the south and west of the low center. Warm fronts often extend from the low center and are positioned to the east and north of the low center. When a warm front passes, pressure still tends to fall as the warm front is often out ahead of the low, meanwhile, when a cold front passes, pressure tends to rise because the low center has already passed, and high pressure is building. Understanding a front’s make up and the weather they bring is key to predicting weather events.

coldfrontCold Fronts: (High Pressure)
As a cold front passes the air pressure tends to rise (air sinks) as colder and drier air typically resides behind a cold front, which is more dense than warm-moist air, this can be recognized by clearing skies after inclement weather. Also, you may notice strong northerly winds after a cold front passes. This is because of the clockwise wind flow around higher pressure, coupled with a large change in pressure between the relatively close area of lower pressure, and the impending area of higher pressure. These abrupt weather changes disturb the environment, and most game fish will seek deeper water and or cover becoming inactive. The cold front effect on fishing lasts 1-2 days before another front moves in or the weather stabilizes.

If your fishing in a cold front here’s a few suggestions: If possible fish small dark water lakes or rivers rather than clear deep lakes. Live bait is the preferred choice with a slow presentation; vertical jigging or slip bobbers are the best. Fish near the bottom or in weeds, around cribs and rock piles. As cold fronts bring lower air temperatures reducing the water temperature fish during midday when the water is the warmest.

imagesCANYF207Warm Fronts: (Low Pressure)
When a warm front approaches the air pressure is low, warm, moist air is rising and moving counterclockwise toward the center, creating less pressure. Because of this, a barometer usually shows falling pressure as a storm system approaches. Fish sense the drop in air pressure and become active, some fishery biologists attribute the increase of feeding behavior from atmospheric reduction in pressure that affects their air bladder another opinion is fish use vision as a primary feeding sense, as a storm hits with heavy winds this churns the water making it cloudy and more difficult to feed.

Here are some fishing tips during a low-pressure front: Cloud cover and rain is associated with low-pressure fronts, these reduce sunlight causing fish to move higher in the water column. Use surface and shallow running lures over weed beds, weed edges, and over open water if schools of baitfish are found. Faster retrieves are recommended, as fish are active. If storms become intense with thunder and lighting fish will become less active or “spooked” by these conditions and move to deeper water. From a safety point you should never fish during a lighting storm. Lighting may strike many miles from the center of the storm. Take shelter upon an approaching storm fishing rods make ideal lighting conductors.

imagesCAQ8FKX7Stationary Fronts:
A stationary front is a weather boundary between two different air masses (fronts) in which neither is strong enough to replace the other. They tend to remain essentially in the same area for extended periods of time. A wide variety of weather can be found in a stationary front ranging from sunny and fair to cloudy and even prolonged rain. Stationary fronts can focus lift in the atmosphere and can actually help develop areas of low pressure along them. This process results in the stationary front morphing into a warm front on the east side of the newly developed low and a cold front on the west side. This means that even stationary fronts can change with time and should be monitored for future implications on your luck out on the water.

Fishing during a stationary front rates good to excellent. Barometric pressure remains stable for an extended period of time. Fish develop a comfort level and a feeding pattern. Find the pattern of the specie your pursuing and your catching fish. Most fishing presentations work during this period. Best Fishing Times (Solunar – Moon Phase Tables) are based on using stable weather conditions.

imagesCA38RWSQWind & Clouds:
As the wind related proverb says “When the wind is east the fish bite the least, when the wind is west the fish bite the best.” Wind is an influential factor in fishing behavior as it stirs the food chain, provides oxygen and cover from the sun with wave action. Constant wind blowing from the same direction over days will migrate game fish on the windy shoreline to feed on baitfish. Water temperatures will increase also as the surface water is pushed by the wind. This is especially helpful in Spring and Fall seasons as the angler seeks the warmest water. Westerly and Southern winds are proven to produce the best fishing results as the proverb states. Clouds and cloudy conditions have similar effects as wind by reducing sunlight on and near the surface. Light sensitive fish will become more active, a combination of light wind (chop) and cloud cover condition is excellent for surface lures.

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Pickled Northern Pike

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Pickling is a quick, easy way to prepare northern pike for year-long enjoyment, particularly when accompanied by crackers, mustard and a strong  Ale.

Other fish can be used here, but pike works the best. Be sure to freeze the fillets to be used for a minimum of 5 days prior to pickling – this helps to kill cysts that may be present in the meat.


P
ickled Pike Ingredients

5 pounds of pike, chunked
2.5 cups of canning salt
1 gallon of bottled water
1 quart distilled vinegar
5.5 cups of sugar
4 teaspoons pickling spice
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion cut into pieces

images

In a plastic container dissolve the 2.5 cups of salt in the gallon of bottled water and add chunked fish. Refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Remove fish and rinse in cold water. Cover fish with white vinegar for 24 hours and refrigerate.

Remove fish from vinegar and pack in jars with pieces of onion. Cover with the following solution.

–1 quart distilled vinegar
–5 1/2 cups sugar
–4 teaspoons of pickling spice
–1 cup dry white wine

Bring all ingredients to a boil except the dry wine. When solution has cooled add the dry white wine and cover fish. Seal with lids that have been scalded. Refrigerate at least one week before eating.

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Asian Steamed Walleye

Looking to liven up your fresh walleye dinner with a taste of the exotic? Try a succulent whole fish steamed with some of the fantastic flavours of Asia.

asian walleye

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cloves cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2-pund walleye, gutted and scaled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • almonds, slivered (lightly toasted in a dry frying pan)
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces

Preparation

  • In a wok, mix water, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, green onion, and a dash of salt. Bring to simmer and place bamboo steamer over wok.
  • Make four 1/2-inch-inch-deep cuts through the skin on both sides of the walleye. Season inside of fish with salt and pepper, then place in steamer and cover. Steam for about 15 minutes, or until flesh flakes.
  • Topping: Heat oil and soy sauce until very hot then drizzle over fish, making skin crispy. Top with almonds and green onion.
  • Server on a platter with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables; red peppers, onions, and sugar snap peas make a great combination.
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Fishing Reel Differences

reels

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NORTHERN PIKE – SPRING TACTICS

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The northern pike is one of the most aggressive predators swimming in North American waters. Typically known for their aggressive nature, fast paced fight, and large size, they are an incredibly popular game fish, particularly in the  Canada. Although pike can be caught all year round on a variety of lures and presentations, one of the most exciting times to fish pike is immediately after ice out every spring. Compared to many other species, pike remain fairly active even in cold water. This, coupled with the fact that they have just finished spawning and are beginning to feed aggressively, makes them a terrific choice for an early spring target.

Spring pike offers an angler many techniques and presentations that allow for a variety of angling methods. Your choice of tackle largely depends on your technique. Typically, lighter pike presentations can easy be accomplished with medium to medium-heavy action spinning gear, whereas heavier presentations require medium-heavy casting or even flipping rods. Your presentation is largely dictated by the location of the fish, and the water temperature. There are times where the fish are very shallow and you can easily sight-fish them and target individual fish, and there are times where whether conditions force those fish into the adjacent deep water.

Sight fishing is by far the most enjoyable, and it requires stealth and sometimes patience to coax the fish into biting. When sight fishing, a good set of polarized glasses is a must have item. You’ll also want to be as quiet as possible while moving in the boat, and be sure to use an electric trolling motor to approach the spot. Soft plastics really shine at this time, because it can be fished fast or slow, and really resembles an injured baitfish. Swim baits in the 5-7″ range rigged weedless work well and can be swam in front of the fish, or you can hop and pause it across the bottom. Medium sized Bulldawgs are another good option, particularly the shallow models. If you find fish in the shallows and they are more aggressive, then try smaller buck tails or spinner baits. Inline, French, or willow leaf blades seem to work better than larger Colorado blades. The subtle vibration and flash are all it takes to close the deal on aggressive pike. Shallow running crank baits can also be used with great success, particularly suspending models. Use them like a twitch bait and include many long pauses in the retrieve. Baits like X-Raps work great for this presentation.

Another great option is to fish a sucker minnow on a quick-strike rig under a bobber. Simply cast it out to areas holding the pike and set the hook as soon as the bobber is pulled under. You really don’t want to give the fish any time to swallow the hook, an immediate hook set will typically land the hooks in the mouth, not in the gills or throat.

As far as tackle in these shallow water situations, spinning tackle is ideal for the spinners and crank baits, but you’ll want to throw the plastics and the bobbers with a bait casting or heavy flipping rod. These baits are typically heavier and require a heavier rod to get a proper hook set. If you’re in or around areas that hold post-spawn pike and you’re not finding them shallow, don’t be discouraged. Chances are the pike are still in the immediate area, however some variable has caused them to slide deeper. Perhaps a cold front moved in, or a strong wind has pushed the baitfish out over deeper water.

42 mikeRegardless, you have to pay attention to the deeper adjacent water. Deeper water pike fishing can be a little trickier because you have to determine exactly what depth the fish are holding in. Typically, deeper pike are not that aggressive this time of year, and so slower finesse presentations are usually needed. Luckily, many of the same tackle options for shallow water also work in deeper water, just with a few modifications.

tubes

Plastics are hands down a favorite technique for deeper water. Bull dawgs and Tiger Tubes can be used as a jig or cast out and hopped slowly back to the boat. This has accounted for some of the largest fish in our annual photo albums. Slowing down and paying attention is critical as these fish rarely slam your bait. Rather, you’re looking for a small tick on the line and when you feel it, set the hook hard. Braided line is a must in this situation.

Sinking (Crankbait)

Crank baits also work well, but sinking or “countdown” models are best unless you want to modify your shallow running models to sink deeper. Again, fishing as close to the bottom as possible is what you’re aiming to do. Let it hit the bottom and give it a solid rip to stir up the bottom and dart the bait forward.  Finally, spinner baits can be slow-rolled across the bottom, however it’s far less success in this technique than the others.

So now that you know how to catch the fish, where do you start looking for them in the first place? Well, pike spawn immediately after ice out in roughly 36 degree water temperature. They seek out shallow areas with emergent vegetation. Areas with an incoming creek are even better as it will typically be a little warmer and therefore hold more baitfish, and more active pike. Often these areas will have a mix of mud or sand, rock, timber, and generally dead weeds. Many times you’ll see baitfish or other species spawning in these areas following the pike spawn. Naturally, some fish will stick around while others will move out of the bays. Fishing smart, knowing the pike’s movements, and experimenting with baits will no doubt provide you with an exciting start to your open water season!

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Bucktail Jigging For Weed Walleye

 3fbabdf5_hooks

When walleye head to the shade of the salad, or cruise along the edge of vegetation, a bucktail jig can be your greatest tool for seducing them to strike. Not only is the undulating hair a visual stimulant, but also the erratic cadence of the bait as it is ripped and jigged with vigor.  Working bucktails is a different game than with regular jigs, but the technique speaks for itself with the big results you’ll be rewarded with.

A standard bucktail jig is comprised of a lead head, with layers of bucktail tied and glued to the collar of the bait. Strands of tinsel are often interwoven, adding an additional aspect in terms of visual attraction. When moving, the hair forms a streamlined body, replicating a baitfish perfectly.   At rest the hair fans out, adding a different dimension in terms of appearance.  In comparison to a jig and plastic, the bucktail is far superior in terms of weedlessness, making them an excellent choice when the cover becomes thick and the walleye go into hiding.

The Laws of Rip Jigging

Rip jigging is a specialized technique that can produce astounding results.   The premise is simple:  flip a bucktail jig out twenty feet or so.   Let it make contact with the bottom vegetation, then give a quick and sharp snap of the rod, breaking the jig free from the snag and sending it up and above the cover. Repeat process. Depending on the mood of the fish, rips can be positively violent or more controlled.   You will find that the warmer the weather, the more aggressive you can be.

Walleye are an opportunistic feeder. They will conceal themselves in the thickest of   cover, waiting to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish as it swims by. Ripping a bucktail jig through the salad will easily get their attention (due to the   commotion it causes) and make them commit to the speedy meal before it gets away. Depending on the mood of the fish, they will either smack it as it breaks free from the green stuff, or rise to engulf it as it slowly falls back down. This is one technique that has worked well is the fall period. Fish will raise their activity level and feedbag at this time, and when the wind howls and the fish move shallow, you can definitely get into a bunch of them – BIG ones too! In terms of tipping options for rip jigging – go the route of none.   Minnows and worms won’t last long with the constant weed contact, and due to the speed of the retrieve (and split second reaction time),  it doesn’t makes much of a difference in terms of catch rates.

Dunking For Fish

Although it may seem unsuitable dunking the weed pockets for walleye is a tried and true technique. Shallow water and expansive weed flats make up the playing field for this tactic, and a stout rod and bucktail jigs round out the arsenal. Pounding depths between four and 10-feet is your best option, and clear water is always your best bet. Work weed flats and clumps with the wind or an electric motor, lowering a heavy bucktail jig into every hole and edge you drift over.  Let it sink directly to bottom, and give it a few lifts and drops before moving on. (leave the bait in each hole for at least ten seconds before trying the next.) Walleye will bucktailsituate themselves on these edges, both inside and out, pouncing on any bait that free falls into their lair. Visually, this is a fun and exciting tactic to employ, as most fish are actually observed sucking up the bait in the blink of an eye, and quickly charging back into the weeds! A lightening quick hook set and medium-heavy rod is recommended if you hope to put a net under the belly of any of them. Tipping your jig with a minnow or worm is an excellent choice for this short-line tactic, as the fish has more time to be convinced to strike, and scent can be a contributing factor for that.

Swimming Them In When walleye are scattered over weed flats, and the vegetation is low and uniform in height, swimming a bucktail jig back to the boat can be a hot ticket. The rules are simple: cast your bait out and start reeling in, keeping your jig just above the weeds, and imparting the odd lift or two into your retrieve. This will allow you to cover large areas of water, and help you pick off those fish that are actively cruising while feeding. Your presentation will resemble a minnow making its way along bottom, and an easy meal in the eyes of our yellow predator.

Top Ten Tips For Bucktail Fishing

1.  For clear water conditions, match the hatch when it comes to colour. Murky water requires brighter hues.
2.  Braided line gets the nod for working bucktails in the weeds.
3.  Check line regularly throughout the course of the day.
4.  Apply ample amounts of scent to the hair of the bait.
5.  Choose high quality jigs that sport strong and laser sharp hooks.
6.  In rough conditions, choose brighter colours that will aid in attracting fish better.
7.  Lighter jigs work better for swimming, while heavier jigs work best for ripping and dunking.
8.  Heavy equipment is key. This is no place for ultralight combos or low diameter line.
9.  Watch for line movement or “bumps.” This can often signal a fish.
10.  Take note of where fish are found. Then search for other areas on the lake that are similar in make up.

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Essential Cranks for Walleye Fishing

If you need help with what to buy for trolling or casting cranks for walleye, this should help.   Crank baits are to walleye fisherman what shoes are to women. We may not need as many as we have, but we have to have them just the same. While the latest fancy finish or popular color can steal our attention, serious walleye anglers know that having a selection of cranks in various diving depths, floaters, suspenders and profiles is more important as you fish in different parts of the country or as conditions change throughout the season on your favorite lake or river.

Here is a selection of go-to cranks for walleye recommended by professionals and guides that you should have in your walleye tackle regardless of where you fish.


Reef Runner 800
When the first Reef Runner hit the shelves in the mid-90s, it was an instant hit. The hump design that helps move more water over its back and provide a hunting action made it an instant and lasting favorite of walleye trollers. The hundreds of wacky named color options probably didn’t hurt its appeal either. The addition of the “Bare Naked” series a few years ago has caused yet another trend with transparent bodies and a copper colored prism insert.
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The 800’s ability to be trolled nearly 30 feet unassisted and effective trolling speeds of .8 to 3.5mph make it a bait that can be used nearly year around. The aggressive hunting nature and design of the bait does require it to be tuned more frequently than other baits, so check it frequently.

The Deep Little Ripper is a smaller version of the 800 that excels when a smaller presentation or less diving depth is required.


Berkley Flicker Shad
A plastic shad body crank, the Berkley Flicker Shad excels when cast or trolled. A weight-transfer system makes it possible to cast this bait easily on spinning tackle. It has seen a lot of time on the tournament trail being cast at wing dams, trolled unassisted, or on leadcore lines.
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Many serious anglers believe the unique pitch of the rattle is why it seems to out fish many similar type lures. As the popularity has grown, so have the sizes and colors available, currently 5 sizes and more than 20 colors.


Smithwick Roque
A unique bait that has a roll unlike any other stick bait. Most pros will tell you it’s not a bait they carry year around, but when they are working you want one on every rod. Offered in several sizes as well as floating and suspending versions, this bait is a go-to for walleye anglers in cold water. The much louder than normal rattles have also made it a go to choice in off-colored to dirty water where walleyes can more easily locate the bait.
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A conservative offering of colors, anglers are custom painting them more and more each year. But be warned, much like a Reef Runner, the Rogue can be temperamental with tuning and too much extra paint or clear coat can permanently affect their action.


Rapala Husky Jerk
A very versatile bait that just seems to run well right out of the box, all models of the Husky Jerk are suspending models, which isn’t unique. What makes it special is they truly suspend and do not just rise more slowly than a floater like most baits that claim to suspend.
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Available in five sizes of shallow divers that see plenty of action from walleye anglers, but it’s actually the two deep diving models that can be found in the boxes of all tournament walleye pros. Like most of the baits in a “go-to” list, we include it because of it’s versatility. A very effective lure in cold water with its suspending qualities, it also excels when trolled at speeds in excess of 2mph during the summer months.


Rapala Shad Rap
So popular when they were first released, that you literally couldn’t buy them. You could only rent them from tackle shops. The original model is made from balsa and has no rattles and until recently was only available in a relatively small sampling of colors.
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Much like the Flicker Shad, the popularity of the Shad Rap is due to it seemingly working on almost any waterway and effectiveness both casted and trolled. The balsa bait’s lightweight can however make it more challenging to cast in windy conditions. When this becomes the case look at some of its newer cousins constructed from plastic.


Rapala Original Floater
One of the oldest and simplest lures on the market, it still catches fish. Walleye Pro’s use them behind bottom bouncers, 3-way rigs, leadcore line and easily the most used hand-lining lure of all time. Much like the original Shad Rap, it is constructed of balsa and features no rattles.
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The smaller No. 3 to No. 11 sizes excel in the aforementioned applications, whereas the larger No. 13 and No. 18 are go to lures for flat line or split shot trolling at night.

Originally only available in just a few simple colors, the assortment has broadened. Much like the Roque be careful when custom painting that you don’t add to much weight to throw off the subtle wobble the balsa creates.


Reef Runner Ripstick
The same body as the 800 series Reef Runner, this stick bait version features three hook hangers and smaller No. 6 trebles. The unique banana style body gives off a hunting style action, but with a much more subtle action due to the V shaped lip.
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This very unique shaped lip also allows this bait to get down nearly 12 feet when trolled on mono, much deeper than any other stick bait on the market. This puts the Ripstick in its own category. Having a stickbait that can get down where only deep divers could previously with a subtle action can be a huge advantage when walleyes are in a neutral to negative mood.

The Little Ripper is a smaller version that works well behind diving discs, jet divers or where a smaller and shallower diving presentation is needed.

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We don’t suggest that these are the ONLY baits that will work, they are versatile and effective enough that carrying a good assortment of sizes and colors will allow you to catch fish more days than not. At some point you realize you can only carry so many lures with you and these are the ones that spend the most time in professional anglers and guides boats.

Molly-Wawang-Walleye2

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