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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Northern Pike Patties

It all begins with a day on the lake when the northern pike have kicked up a good bite.  A couple four to five pound northern and you’ll have yourself a delectable meal of fresh caught fish and nothing better than northern pike from Wawang Lake.

2013-06-10 13.20.12

Here is a nice catch of northern to make this recipe caught by Scott Frey and his dad.

4 lbs. northern pike fillets, de-boned, cooked and chopped

4 Potatoes, boiled, mashed

2 Eggs, beaten

8 Green Onions, chopped

Salt & Pepper

1/2 Green Pepper, chopped

1/4 tsp. Tabasco

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 cup Flour

Spray Oil for frying

Mix ingredients well and shape into patties. Dip the patties into the flour and fry until browned in a non-stick fry pan sprayed with oil.  Great meal with fresh caught fish or left over fish too.

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ENJOY!!

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HOW TO CATCH TROPHY WALLEYE

HOW TO CATCH TROPHY WALLEYE

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

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

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

Big Water Big Walleye:

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

Large lakes provide an abundance of usable forage (minnows and lake herring), open space and due to large size angling pressure is reduced.New Wawang Lake Map2 (2)

Best Times to Catch Trophy Walleye:

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

Spring

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

Summer

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

Fall

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

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

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

Trophy Walleye Presentations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Best Baits: Top Lures For Pike Fishing

 

IMG_20150603_115338912_HDRWhen the stars align and the feeding window is open, a big pike will hit anything that moves. Your bait selection doesn’t matter and all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience this feeding-frenzy action once or twice a season. The rest of your time hunting trophy pike will be spent cranking, casting, and waiting. The right presentation will make the difference between a bite and a follow-up. So, don’t waste all of your effort pitching second-rate lures. Here’s our round up of the best pike fishing baits on the market right

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Walleye Lures – Use and Tips

Here is a good variety of some excellent and proven lures for catching walleye.

Rapala Flat Rap

rap flat rapBalsa wood construction

Flat-sided hard flashing action

Triangle lip enhances action

Slow-rising response on retrieve

VMC Black Nickel Hooks

At first glance you’ll see similarities between the Flat Rap and other members of Rapalas Rap lure family, but then you’ll notice the difference in the flat sides and triangle lip. Although the Flat Rap has a few different features from other Rap lures, its strike drawing power is right on par with the rest of the family. Made from balsa with a slow-rising response on retrieve pause, the Flat Rap swims with a hard-flashing modification of the classic Rapala “wounded-minnow” action. The Flat Raps triangle lip enhances action while letting it deflect of timber, rocks and other obstacles. Each Flat Rap is hand-tuned and tank-tested to ensure it embodies the fish-catching action Rapala is known for.

STORM ThunderStick with MadFlash
storm deep jointed

UV Bright or MadFlash finish

Original ThuderStick swimming actions and rattle

External scale pattern

3-D holographic eyes

The Original ThunderStick with the added appeal of STORMs brilliant MadFlash holographic or UV Bright finish and external scale patters for maximum flash. Just like the Original ThunderSticks, the ThunderStick with MadFlash delivers the same proven fish-catching action, integrated lip and high-volume rattles. Whether you cast, troll, twitch, rip or jerk the ThunderStick,it will produce the results youre after in most fishing situations. Complete Premium VMC hooks.

STORM Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash
storm deep jr

UV Bright or MadFlash finish

Original ThuderStick swimming actions and rattle

External scale pattern

3-D holographic eyes

STORMs Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash offers the same proven fish-catching action, integrated lip and high-volume rattles as their classic Original Deep Jr. ThunderStick stickbait, but with the addition of a stunning holographic MadFlash finish for maximum flash. Whether you cast, troll, twitch, rip or jerk the Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash, it will produce the results youre after in most fishing situations. Complete with premium VMC Barbarian hooks.

STORM Deep Jointed MinnowStick Model DJMS Minnow Lures

storm deep jointed

STORMs Deep Jointed MinnowStick Lures suspend, rattles and entices the strike with its hypnotic swimming action and lifelike external scale pattern with holographic body and eyes. When walleye are suspended deep, the Deep Jointed MinnowSticks attract like walleye magnets when cast or trolled. Red VMC Barbarian hooks. Dives 6-10.

Rapala Jointed Minnow
rap jointed minnow

Attention-getting, baitfish-in-distress action

Premium balsa wood construction

Articulated broken back design

Classic minnow profile

VMCBlack Nickel Hooks

Rapalas Jointed Minnows are the answer when fish are extra wary and water conditions are difficult. The Jointed Minnows unique body works to produce a livelier, attention-getting, baitfish-in-distress action that usually fits the bill when all other lures come up short. Well suited for super slow retrieves.


STORM WildEye Live Series Lures – Walleye

storm wildeyeNatural color patterns

Holographic WildEye

Rigged with a superior VMC needle-point hook and treble belly hook

Lifelike swimming action

Holographic swimmin flash foil

Strong soft body with internal lead head

STORMs WildEye Live Walleye is pre-rigged with a premium VMC needle-point hook and treble belly hook. The realistic walleye color pattern and body shape makes this lure irresistible and perfect for clear-water presentations.

So on your next fishing trip up to Wawang Lake drop a few of these lures in the tackle box.  You’re in for a BIG surprise!

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TIPS TO CATCHING SPRING WALLEYE

IMG_5625If hooking a big walleye is the plan then Wawang Lake is where you want to go whether it’s spring, summer or fall . While walleye are rather active and generally numbers are much easier to find during the spring, but catching BIG trophy sized walleye happens all season long.  Catching these big guys still takes some tactics to reel them in. If the plan is to drop a line, hook a fish and go home happy within a few minutes, the outcome could be disappointment.

Although springtime is the favorite for walleye fishing, anglers need to keep a few things in mind. Everything from actual weather conditions to location and bait can impact the outcome of a fishing trip. The trick is really gauging the action carefully before picking a spot to stay at.    Walleyes like water between 55 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and they move to follow it. In spring you’ll find them in the shallows of lakes and fall they will move into shallower water depending on light and wave activity.

Location Matters in The Spring

When the waters are thawing, but haven’t turned warm just yet, the shallows are generally the place to go. Anglers often quickly find a few key spots that work very well in the spring months.

It’s important to keep in mind that changing weather patterns can affect where walleye happen to be on a particular day or night. Many anglers swear by very shallow, night fishing to catch walleye during the cooler spring days but this is not always true. Slightly warmer, less windy days might find them a little further out though.

Some places to seek them out include:

  • Shallow points and mid-depths. While walleye are known to move into deeper waters when the temperatures heat up, early spring won’t generally find them there yet. Look along sunken islands and in mid- to rather shallow points by boat. If electronics do not turn up fish action, move on.
  • On-shore/wading. Many anglers find they are better off leaving the boat at home for springtime fishing, especially in the early days of spring. The fish are often found in very shallow waters that can be fished from shore or from piers.
  • Picking The Right Equipment. Having the right bait and equipment cannot be stressed enough when walleye is the catch of choice. These fish have changing preferences. What they enjoy in the hotter summer months is not necessarily what they’ll bite in the spring. Some of the suggested bait and tackle recommendations for springtime angling include:
  • Tackle. Rigs with live bait and live bait with slip bobbers are generally the preferred means for catching walleye during the spring months. Keep in mind if it’s early spring, walleye are getting ready to move to their spawning grounds, so they’re ready to eat.
  • Bait. Walleye tend to gravitate well toward minnows and night crawlers during the early spring months. In some areas, they might prefer noshing on insect larvae like during a mayfly hatch. For this reason, some anglers swear by using marabou jigs and other similar lures.

IMG_4396Spring is typically the one of best times of year to hook a winning walleye, but that doesn’t mean the prospect will always be easy.

The temperatures this time of year, especially in early spring, can be brutal on anglers. Exercising a bit of patience, finding the right spots and paying heed to weather patterns can make a difference.

Remember, the landscape can change from day to day. On cooler days (or nights), they are often found very close to shore, but mid-level areas might hold them when the temperatures start to turn up just a bit.

 

 

 

 

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Tips for Big Spring Pike

If you’re a ‘gator hunter, you’ll want to add these tips and tricks to your arsenal.

Kevin44Springtime is pike time and that’s a good place to begin. How early? Well, that sort of depends on your geographic placement, because in areas with continuous seasons, open-water pike fishing commences the day the ice goes out.

This pre-spawn period is coveted. Muscled but undersized males travel with swollen females. Together, they enter sacred breeding grounds to propagate. Really big fish are exposed, cruising ankle- and knee-deep shallows. The submarine backs of 35- to 45-inch gals occasionally break the surface. Visually, mature pike appear as darkened logs that mystically glide through the shallows.

Food runs and spawning runs often share common terrain. Swampy fields of standing vegetation that seem suited for dabbling ducks rank high, as do shallow, weeded bays and tributaries leading to said places. Bulrushes are good, as are cattails and rice paddies. No creek is too small or bottom too silted. In the spring, I’ve seen huge pike travel streams that could be stepped across. Creeks known for their sucker runs are doubly attractive. But remember, once procreation begins, feeding ebbs, so play your hand accordingly.

IMG_4191Begin spring pike fishing in bays. First, they provide the egg-laying environment that attracts pike from far
and wide. Second, said bays host sufficient rations that invade shallow soft-bottomed bays, but to their dismay, hostile pike are there to greet them. Remember this: Where there are perch and other forage food, so will there be pike – spring, summer, winter and fall.

Not all bays are created equal either. Super-shallow ones – those not dipping past, say, 4 to 6 feet – provide supreme breeding habitat, but a short-lived bite, as choking weeds invade and water temperatures escalate into uncomfortable zones. These are excellent for pre-spawn fishing, and during cool and high-water springs when weeds remain manageable through May and into June. Hyper shallows also rejuvenate in the fall, after heavy greenery collapses and temperatures become comfortable once more. Visit them again at first ice with tip-ups and a bucket of suckers.

Overall, multi-dimensional bays are preferred to slough-like coves. so look for ones featuring good depth, 10 feet or more, and abundant features like humps, points, weedlines and inlets. They harbor more pike, and fish linger there longer, not being forced out by early-summer heat and subsequent lack of oxygen and forage. Many are lakes unto themselves, sporting deep flats and offshore bars. In lake-like bays, pike spawn in the shallows, recuperate and then gradually move to the bays’ deeper areas, notably weed lines.

The frequent loss of leadhead jigs to slime and teeth should trigger the conclusion that pike like what they’re seeing. But a change needs to be orchestrated for you to secure the upper hand. Reach for larger haired jigs and tether them with stronger, more abrasion-resistant lines. Big jigs, like the soft plastics mentioned earlier, maintain a large profile and can be presented languidly. Sizable 3/8- and 1/2-ounce bucktail jigs are marvelous. Leer rhythmically pumps a Northland Bionic Bucktail Jig tipped with a 3- or 4-inch sucker minnow. The meaty dressing adds visual stimulation, bulk and flavor. Griz does the same but with a Griz Jig – his own creation, featuring feathered marabou instead of bucktail and thereby achieving a similar dancing effect.

Operating larger jigs demands an upgrade from conventional walleye gear. Where you might have spooled 6- or 8-pound-test monofilament for ‘eyes, use 10- to 14-pound-test strengths. Overall, in a jigging scenario, mono outperforms the current wave of superlines, which impress in other arenas. You’ll want to tie in a leader, though. Spring pike aren’t known to be “leader shy,” likely due to their aggressiveness and usual springtime water coloration, so factor in a 12- to 18-inch seven-strand steel leader. Make your own and crimp the jig on, or go with a factory rendition. Leer likes a Berkley 14-inch leader with a steel ball-bearing and cross-lock snap, thus preventing line twist and allowing him to switch jig sizes and colors.

Spinning gear is preferred for jigging, although some anglers do prefer baitcasting equipment on drifts. I like a long 6 1/2- to 7-foot medium-heavy rod with a forearm-length cork handle. Long handles ease wrist-fatigue and provide a fulcrum during battle. You needn’t be as persnickety with reel selection, as long as you pick one that will spool heavier lines, run drag when it’s supposed to and not backpedal on hookset – instant anti-reverse.

Speaking of wobble, crankbaits and stick baits (long, shallow-running cranks) are the next line of offense. Beginning with the latter, focus once more on big and slow. Baitfish-mocking stick baits, like spinnerbaits and bucktails, can be cast or trolled. A healthy-sized Rapala Husky Jerk, Bomber Long A, Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue or shallow-running Storm ThunderStick can be lethal. Realistic minnow finishes – gold and silver – are reliable, as are patterns involving white and red. Fire-tiger, a bright perch imitator, also smokes pike, and most manufacturers offer it. I utilize straight retrieves with infrequent twitches, modifying as conditions warrant.

Unquestionably, springtime pike react more strongly to lipless rattling crankbaits than any other variety.

  • Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps
  • Rapala Rattlin’ Raps
  • Frenzy Rattl’rs score big time.

They’re wide-profiled and highly visible, plus the incessant clacking and wickedly tight wobble cause pike to come unglued. Because they sink, you’re able to control running depth. Unlike stick baits, which I retrieve methodically with occasional twitches, lipless cranks should be burnt through the water. Cast, point your rod tip at the splash and bear down.

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SPRING SECRETS – Spawning Walleye

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

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

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

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

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

Locating Fish

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

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

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

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

LINDY MAX GAP JIGSpring Tactics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anchors Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got cabin fever? Fishing is the cure.

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SPINNING FOR PIKE

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The #5 Mepps’ steady throb pulsed through the 30-pound Spiderwire, down the length of the medium/heavy-action graphite rod and directly into his 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 he was into a trophy. Five minutes later and four desperate boatside runs, he lands the 20-pound northern pike.

IT’S SIMPLE:  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.

The Baits

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.

szczupak-pospolity-80704Lesson 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, especially for use in darker, stained water, 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.

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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.

Line, Leaders

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.

Flout the convention and tie on a snap/swivel instead of a leader. 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!

Speed & Delivery

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.

spinner-bait-diagramThe spinner’s flash and large profile, easily visible to cruising whoppers, prove irresistible.

Look for incoming streams or rivers, and concentrate your efforts just off the edges of weedy drop-offs. Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy, as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves. Position the boat on the deep side of the drop-off, and cast the spinner up onto the flat itself, cranking just fast enough to keep the lure above the weeds, and pause when you get to the weed edge. Allow the bait to drift down and find the waiting lunkers, and hang on!

Using spinners to drive northern pike stir crazy is fun, easy, and productive.

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Strategies for Lazy Walleye

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They’re there. You know they’re there. In deeper water, you can see them on your fish finder. Or, in shallow water too skinny to move your boat over the fish without spooking them, you simply know from past experience they’re around. Perhaps some subtle bumps or nudges — but no hook-ups — indicate walleyes are present but just not biting. Or at least just not biting anything that moves. Here’s a simple solution. Don’t move your bait. In other words, bring out your dead.

Dead sticking — which basically means tossing a jig out, letting it sink to bottom, and then not moving it for a l-o-n-g time, equates to a war of patience and nerves between your giant-size genius brain on one end of the line and a walleye’s peanut-size brain, staring at the other. Guess who has the advantage?  Definitely not you!   In such conditions, accept some simple facts.

First, walleyes react according to instinct, not thinking. If weather and water and fishing pressure combine and conspire to shut off the bite, amazingly, they’re often all that way.  There’s no way you will get all your fishing buddies to all agree on exhibiting the same mood, based of course upon their superior intellect.

Second, because walleyes are reacting (or not reactive!) in negative fashion, you not only can’t outthink them, but you likely won’t be able to razzle-dazzle them with your array of fancy tackle and gadgets. So your best bet is to stick a food item in their faces and outwait them, hoping to trigger some form of subtle response through sheer time exposure rather than clever tactics.

What comes to mind?   Well, a slip bobber suspending a lively leech just off bottom is a likely candidate, drifted slowly and subtly through prospective spots. So too would be a split shot rig, with you casting a nose-hooked night-crawler on target, letting it descend to bottom, and allowing it to sit there, wiggling enticingly, with walleyes gathered ’round, eyeballing the worm. Occasionally, you could lift the rod tip a few feet to slide the rig a bit closer to the boat, take up slack, and then set the rod down again, waiting for the rod tip to bend, indicating a strike. Pretty darn patient, especially since both tactics would require first anchoring the boat.

27 (3)Are there any slightly more mobile and fractionally more aggressive tactics that might cover a teeny bit more water, especially up in the shallows? Enter dead sticking with a lightweight 1/8-ounce jig, tipped with minnow, half-crawler or leech. Or perhaps even a scented plastic tail (ala bass tactics) although the lack of motion inherent with this system definitely favors live bait in some form, due to its natural lively appearance, scent and taste, even when fished in place.

A DEADLY APPROACH To dead stick a small jig, you needn’t do much different that your normal lift-drop jigging retrieve back to the boat. Except, of course, for the excruciatingly long pauses between lifts of the rod tip. The key is having the confidence to believe a walleye is out there looking at your bait at all times, and to let it sit and soak and tease and tempt and turn that aggravation and exasperation back against the fish, letting the extended pause work in your advantage to eventually fool the walleye into closing the gap, flaring its gills and lightly sucking in the jig. You likely won’t feel much. It might be a tap, but more likely just a sudden slight weight on the end of the line. Tighten up slack while lowering your rod tip to horizontal — if it isn’t already there — and then sweep set the hook.   Thus you should try to minimize slack at all times without tempting yourself to unnecessarily jiggle and wiggle the jig.

25.5 (2)Remember, the extended pause with the jig anchoring the wriggling live bait to the bottom is key to getting bites. The nice thing about dead sticking is that you don’t have to anchor, at least on a calm day. Rather, use your electric trolling motor to creep along, then stop or hover, and make a series of fan casts across a general area to test for the presence of fish. Hopefully, you’ve already established that they’re nearby, because this isn’t a method to be used to locate fish, due to the limited amount of water you’re able to cover. But if you can force yourself into the mode of 30-second pauses between subtle lift-drops of the rod tip, making each cast last at least two or three minutes, then you’re in the dead zone.

The perfect tactic for tempting reluctant biters spread across shallow rock or gravel flats within or adjoining spawning areas; sparse sand grass flats emerging from sandy bottoms; rocky or wood-lined reservoir shorelines where walleyes move shallow to feed aggressively in windy conditions and may linger inactive when the weather turns calm; or basically anytime walleyes are up shallow, skittish and not responding to presentations that move. Turn the tables. Fish lures so slowly that they’re virtually motionless. Bring out your dead.

OTHER DEADLY APPROACHES Think about it. Are you fishing through walleyes that aren’t biting? (It’s a terrible thought, isn’t it?) But is there a nagging feeling at the nape of your neck that your offerings are going unappreciated?

Tone things down, speed wise and action wise. Instead of buzzing along a drop-off with a bottom bouncer, spinner and crawler, switch to a bouncer and plain snell, and creep and crawl along, barely moving, even pausing occasionally. Ultraslow movement requires short lines, with the bouncer barely ticking or slightly suspended above bottom, to prevent it from toppling over at rest. Consider using an upright floating bouncer like the Today’s Tackle Foam Walker, which stands up at rest.

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Extend the principle to other presentations. Casting neutrally buoyant minnow-imitating crank baits isn’t that far unrelated from dead sticking; you pull, then p-a-u-s-e, before pulling again, letting the bait hang there before a walleye’s eyes. The suspense kills them. A three-way rig lets a floating jig head or simple live bait snell hang in place before a river ‘eye. A drop shot rig suspends a live bait or plastic tail above bottom in lakes and reservoirs. Lack of movement is often a key trigger for catching reluctant walleyes, which brings about a closing thought.  Chances are that by this stage in life, however, you’ve been shut down enough times to learn that smooth opening lines don’t guarantee a favorable response and, in fact, can be counter productive. Sometimes, you just have to sit down and do nothing but look good in order to attract attention.

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Jigging For Pike In Spring

52934Jigs catch just about anything that swims, but excel with certain fish – northern pike being one of them. Jigs are an excellent bait to work along the bottom when pike are shallow in spring. Here’s where to find spring pike and how to fool them with jigs at the start of the season.

Spawning Moves

Northern pike are considered a cool-water fish. Their mating ritual takes place immediately following ice out sometime between April and early May depending on latitude; the optimal temperature range for spawning is between 40- to 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring flooding and high-water levels contribute to pike spawning habitat. Typical zones include marshes, swollen creeks, back bays, sheltered shorelines, and flooded land. Pike prefer soft bottoms for spawning, such as sand or silt, mixed with new, emerging vegetation or plant debris, such as bulrushes.

basic jigA basic jig and grub combination works well for shallow-water pike.
Knowing the location and timing of northern pike spawning will help you catch them come season opener. Fish will linger in the shallows in close proximity to these mating locales for a few weeks. They bask in the sun and are drawn to shallow, warming waters. Here, pike replenish their strength after the rigors of spawning while also taking advantage of various food items found in the “skinny” water.

Bays And Flats

The first few weeks of pike season, I concentrate my casting efforts on shallow-water regions. Protected bays off of rivers and lakes are one of my top spots. The best bays will be near spawning areas. Bays in front of a marsh or a feeder creek are classic early-season producers. Pike will recuperate in the bay after spawning in the flooded shallows. Northern may also hold on sand areas near shore or the bay’s entrance points. If the bay has a deep hole, pike will often station in it during foul, cold weather and at night. Shallow flats, between 6- and 12 feet deep will also hold northern.  Again, these areas are best when close to spawning grounds.

Jig Options

SBTJBSBlueShadSmall jigs work well this time of year. Pike don’t discriminate against little baits. I regularly catch northern when targeting other species, such as walleyes, using jigs. Spring is the time of year when 3- to 4-inch grubs, shads, and soft-plastic jerk baits on a 1/4-ounce jigs catch plenty of spring-time pike. Buck tail jigs with the same characteristics are just as deadly.
Be sure smaller-sized jigs have a strong hook. Thin wire hooks could bend under too much pressure when battling large pike. Also, a drop of high-strength glue applied to the jig collar before completely treading on the body holds plastics in place, preventing them from sliding down the hook shank.

Drag ‘Em

When pike are sluggish during early, cool mornings a drag-pause retrieve along soft-bottom areas works well. Sand and mud don’t hold many snags so maintaining bottom contact isn’t an issue. Dragging the bait also kicks up a silt trail, which often attracts pike. Pike eat anything appearing vulnerable. They feed on frogs burrowed in the mud, so dragging baits along soft bottom bays, flats, and shorelines is an excellent spring tactic.

Sight Fishing Tips

mallard-point-blog-02In spring, you can sight-fish pike in calm conditions. Toss jigs past the fish. Then work it into the strike zone. Hoping the jig might trigger a reaction strike, while in other situations pauses and jiggles are better for sluggish fish.

Always look for structure and cover. Sunken logs, small dips in the bottom, weed edges, and boulders all offer ambushing advantages. Cast jigs to these zones even if you don’t see pike near them. Last year during an early season outing in ripple-water conditions a friend of mine tossed his bait to what he thought was a log. Well the log had teeth and an appetite! It ended up being a decent pike worthy of a few photos.

Deeper Water Holds Fish, Too

2301028008_b622592a19Don’t neglect slightly deeper water near spawning sites. Good zones are entrances to weedy bays and their bordering points. I concentrate on areas up to about 15 feet deep around spawning sites. Cast jigs into the shallows and work them along bottom. Also count-down jigs, and then swim or hop them through the water column for cruising, active fish.

Best Spring Jig Fishing Outfits

To cast light jigs at the start of the season, use either a medium-heavy spinning or bait cast rod as you’re rarely fishing near heavy weeds or wood cover. Going with a ultra-fast or fast-action rod ensures you can toss these jigs a considerable distance while maintaining accuracy for sight fishing scenarios. Be sure though the blank has plenty of backbone to muscle big pike. On my spring outfits, I use 30 to 40 pound test teamed with 9 to 12 inch, multi-strand wire leaders. Fluorocarbon leaders in the 60-pound range are also effective in clear-water scenarios, but check regularly for nicks that will weaken the leader material.fwsf_0001_0001_0_img0038

Hooking Followers

Pike often follow baits. The best scenario is spotting a fish a distance from the boat. If it looks aggressive, try speeding up the retrieve or adding some snaps. This imitates escape moves and sometimes triggers bites. If the fish appears lazy, slow the retrieve slightly. If working the bait along bottom, leave it still and work in short drags and pauses. If you spot a following pike close to the boat while your jig is traveling upwards, letting out line so the jig falls is your best option.

The Throw-Back Bait

If you’re not sure where the fish went, fan cast the area using a yo-yo swimming retrieve or work the bait along bottom. Pike that followed, but were uninterested in striking a fast-moving, horizontal presentations can often be fooled into biting a jig.
Spring is an exciting time to angle for pike. So try some different jig options this season to score plenty of fish at the start of the season.

Good luck on your next northern pike fishing trip!

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