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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Back-To-Basics Pike

Northern pike – or water wolf in some circles – is a predatory fish that holds a healthy appetite, both for chowing down and battling tough. It can reach formidable weights, but even those “small” in size are capable of torrid line peels and acrobatic jumps.

pike
Fishing for northern pike is certainly not a science, but there are some basic tactics and skills involved that will ultimately lead to more fish – both on the end of your line and in the boat. Here are some suggestions for those that want in on the action

Equipment Considerations
When chasing northerns, the equipment one chooses can often be paramount to the success one achieves. Beefy tackle is definitely recommended, and baitcast combos get the nod all the way.
A standard pike rod would be a 7′ medium-heavy action. This should cover most of the bases, although if the baits you throw are hefty (and the fish grow big in your waters), you may want to upgrade that stick to a heavy-action model.

Try to choose a rod with a lot of backbone throughout the bottom half, but with some limberness towards the top. This will ensure better casting capabilities, but with the toughness to back up a hard-fighting fish.
Baitcast reels should be dependable and tough, with a silky-smooth drag. A gear ratio of 6.3:1 or 7.0:1 is most definitely preferred, as this will allow you to burn bucktails or spinnerbaits back to the boat in an effortless manner.

Line choices are simple – monofilament or braid. If going the route of mono, choose a strength of at least twenty-pound test. For braid, the standard is a minimum of fifty-pound. Regardless of which you prefer, a leader is a must when attaching main line to lure. Wire leaders between a foot and eighteen-inches in length will cover all bases, and can be purchased in either wire versions or heavy flourocarbon styles (80lbs +). The length of your leader should be longer when trolling as opposed to casting. By religiously using a leader, the chances of teeth and gill rakers slicing through your line are dramatically reduced, leading to more fish and fewer lost lures.

Spring Locations
Northern pike spawn during the early spring in shallow water, often when ice still coats the lake. The period directly after ice out can often be your best bet for catching large fish, as the majority of post-spawners will linger in this skinny water for some time, regaining energy and replenishing lost body fat. Most shallow back bays will yield the greatest concentrations of fish, and many can be sight fished.

As fish make their way out of the shallows, they will begin to stage on the first structure point they can locate. This can take the form of emergent weedbeds, points, or the first drop-off situated in the main body of water. Finding these prized gems can often be easy, as working your boat outwards from the bay it self will have you stumbling upon the prime real estate quite easily.

 

Summertime Patterns
The summer months will see a definite switch in pike locational patterns, starting with a flurry of activity in healthy weedbeds and lines. Finding the green stuff near points and shoals can bring about positive results, as the “hunter-instinct” in this fish will see them patrolling the edges actively.

As the water warms and the season progresses, large fish will begin their descent to the more favourable conditions that can be found in deeper water. Many of these pike will roam in a nomadic manner, intercepting bait schools as they travel freely and unimpeded. Pike anglers may scratch their heads at this time of year, but covering a lot of water in order to connect with fish is often part and parcel of this puzzle.

Small to medium-sized northerns will still call the weed areas home, and can often be counted on for rousing games of tug-of-war when the big girls have seemingly disappeared from the radar.

Wawang Lake northern pike (2)

Fall Tactics
As the water cools and the leaves change colour, pike will again begin to move throughout the water system. In many cases, they will return to the same weedbeds they occupied upon initially leaving the shallows back in the spring.

Slow tapering flats holding a mixture of vegetation will be your best bet, while the healthiest remaining weeds should get your most attention. Some fish will still roam the depths, so don’t overlook a wide variety of water when searching for Mr. Esox.

Stocking the Tackle Box
Outfitting your box for pike fishing is not a tough chore. Lure choices are quite universal, and having a small selection of baits at your disposal will not break the bank. Make your choices from the following list, and be prepared to hang on tight to that rod.

Spoons
Spoons have been a standard on the pike scene for years, and for good reason. Simply put – this bait is guaranteed to put fish in the boat. There’s something intoxicating in the wobbling and flash of a spoon that drives a northern mad, and they will often strike these pieces of metal with reckless abandon.

spoons

Choose spoons in the 4 to 5-inch size, and give the nod to white/red, silver, yellow, and gold hues. A slow, lazy retrieve will often work best, with occasional pauses and flutters to catch the curiosity of any following fish.

Spinnerbaits and Bucktails
Oversized bass spinnerbaits account for a lot of pike. Their body and hook design allows for an almost weedless presentation, which can work wonders when the fish are up tight to cover and in the shallows. White or chartreuse are two colours that top the list, with orange and black also being effective. Go with willow leaf or large Colorado blades for maximum flash and vibration, in either silver or gold colours.

Four to six-inch musky bucktails can really get the attention of pike, and work equally as well for both of these predator species. Their large profile, fast speed, and flashy blades make for an easy, yet effective bait to throw. Choose contrasting body and blade variations, sticking closely with the colours suggested above. Straight retrieves work best with these lures, with high-speed cranking or bulging being two of my favourites ways to fish this bait.

Jerkbaits
Minnow-shaped crankbaits represent a pike’s favourite prey, and can often trigger strikes when other baits fail. A five or six-inch floating or suspending crank, twitched back to the boat, is as simple of a retrieve that’s needed. Firetiger, silver, blue, perch, and baby bass are all proven colours, and utilizing baits with rattle chambers will make them even more attractive. Experiment with diving depths, and keep in mind to always run your bait higher in the water coloumn than the actual level of the fish.

Classic Jerkbaits

Classic Jerkbaits

Topwaters
In terms of excitement, nothing can compare with the surface strike of a northern pike. Oversized buzzbaits, walk-the-dog style lures (think Super Spook), and large prop-baits will all bring a feeding frenzy to the top.
Predominantly thought of as a shallow water lure, tossing topwaters over weedbeds, off points, and along rock and weed shoals can bring about positive results. Slow and steady is often the key to action.

topwater

Soft Plastic Stickbaits
Sluggos and Senkos are two popular soft plastic sticks, and both work well when targeting northern pike. Primarily used during the spring and early summer months, the tantalizing fall and wiggle of these baits can trigger some pretty hefty strikes. Often thrown to finicky fish, or those that have been spotted lurking in the skinny water, a soft water stick can fool even the most wary of fish.
Six-inch baits are a good choice, with white, chartreuse, and pink being optimum colours. Rig these baits wacky (through the belly) or Tex-posed (through the nose) with a 4/0 worm hook.

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Catching Spring Walleye

IMG_4396Spawning begins in spring when the water warms to 45 to 50 degrees. The spawning area may be a tributary stream, a shallow area of a river or a desirable shoal area on a lake. The location is usually in clear water less than 10 feet deep over a bottom covered with rubble or gravel. The area usually has current as well, the result of either flowing water or wave action. If no such conditions are present, walleyes may spawn in other areas, but survival of eggs and young is unlikely.

Males arrive on the spawning beds first, followed by the larger females. The eggs are usually deposited at night. Several males accompany a female across the spawning ground, thrashing about as eggs and milt are simultaneously emitted. The fertilized eggs fall to the bottom. No protection is provided by the parents because when walleyes complete spawning, they leave the area.

During the peak of the spawn, walleyes are fairly easily located and caught in schools. Look for them in areas with current such as incoming rivers and major feeder creeks. Drawdowns during power generations also create underwater currents attractive to walleyes. Anywhere these currents move over or around flat, rocky points, submerged humps or dropoffs, they create prime walleye habitat. One excellent area is where a long, flat point drops off into an old river channel.

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Good springtime walleye catchers include both live baits and artificials. In waters where walleyes don’t receive undue pressure, you can catch them on a host of lures. Jigs are a special favorite, as are small crankbaits and slender, floating/diving minnow plugs. Using the appropriate terminal tackle to achieve the required depth and then being able to work that depth consistently is often the difference between success and no success on walleyes.

A bait/lure combo often is more effective than either bait or lures used alone. A leadhead jig tipped with a lively nightcrawler usually is effective wherever walleyes are found. Whether the jig has a feather, plastic or hair body is relatively unimportant; some anglers prefer a bare jig. Hook the worm through the head so it can wiggle full-length behind the jig. This combo makes an excellent drifting or trolling rig in relatively slow currents.

Jig/minnow and fluorescent spinner/minnow combinations are also popular for catching spring walleyes. The natural food base of minnows and small baitfish is reduced this time of year, making those offerings especially attractive to walleyes.

Minnows should be hooked upward through the lower jaw and out through the top of the head, so the bait rides in an upright, natural-looking position. When stream fishing, work in slow currents and backwater eddies. Lake anglers should work over dropoffs, the edges of weedbeds and point tips. Drifting a bottom-bumping minnow combo usually puts more fish in the boat than casting.

The size of the jig used is determined by the amount of current. Savvy walleye anglers should carry plenty of 1/32- to 1/2-ounce jigs in a variety of colors.

jig mouth

Here’s hoping, you’ve gleaned these important facts about catching spring walleye while reading this article.

  1. Walleyes shun bright light and are usually taken at night or during low-light conditions
  2. Walleyes congregate in schools, and when you catch one, it is likely others are nearby
  3. Walleyes are primarily bottom dwellers and usually found in areas with current on or near prominent structure that provides a good feeding or spawning area near deeper waters
  4. Baits and lures should be presented slowly and naturally.

While walleyes unexpectedly puzzle and confuse some anglers, there’s no reason they should. When you’ve figured out what kind of fish this is, and how and where it spends its time, putting walleyes on the stringer is really fairly easy.

So why not start your walleye campaign this spring? Walleyes feed actively now, and in many areas, schools are spawning or gathering to spawn. Regardless of where you live, the best walleye fishing of the year probably is just around the corner.

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Early Spring Pike Excitement!

English: Northern Pike - picture taken with So...

Trophy sized northern pike swim freely in Wawang Lake

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!   #wawanglake #fishing #walleye #wawangresort #northernpike

Nice 45.5″ Pike. Nick’s (shown here) group caught over 41 trophy sized northern pike during their spring fishing trip at Wawang Lake. This was all accomplished on their very first trip to our lodge.

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.

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Lake ice beginning to melt in April in NW Ontario

As the ice melts and the water warms, the pike will be much more active but spooky and can often be found ‘on the move’ through the warmest regions. A properly presented bait is crucial to successful lure in your prey.
Casting to the edge of any covering as opposed to directly into it will yield the best results. A nice red and white daredevil in 1-1.25 oz correctly placed with the right action will send great distress vibration that will drag them from thier hiding and give you one heck of a fight!!

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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Targeting BIG Pike

Wawang Lake northern pike (10)

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
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.

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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.

hump1Humps
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 smelt, whitefish, lake trout, 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.

saddleSaddles
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.

Structure Details
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.

graph-weed-pikeINFS-110026-WEATH-05a

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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Catching More Walleye

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.

walleye weedsOn 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.

Nice 27" walleye

Nice 27″ walleye

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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Pike – Locations & Tackle

Seasonal patterns, habitat preferences, tackle selection — understanding these basics will help you connect with more pike over the course of a season

38

While pike fishing isn’t an exact science, there are some basic tactics and skills that will put more fish in your boat.

The northern pike — or “water wolf” in some circles — is a predatory fish that holds a healthy appetite, both for chowing down and battling tough. Pike can reach formidable weights, but even those relatively small in size are capable of torrid line peels and acrobatic jumps.

Fishing for northern pike is certainly not a science, but there are some basic tactics and skills involved that will ultimately lead to more fish — both on the end of your line and in the boat. Here are some suggestions for those that want in on the action.

Equipment Considerations

Wawang_Pike_RodsWhen chasing northern pike, the equipment one chooses can often be paramount to the success one achieves. Beefy tackle is definitely recommended, and bait cast combos get the nod all the way.

A standard pike rod would be a 7′ medium-heavy action stick. This should cover most of the bases, although if the baits you throw are hefty (and the fish grow big in your waters), you may want to upgrade that stick to a heavy-action model.

Try to choose a rod with a lot of backbone throughout the bottom half, but with some limberness towards the top. This will ensure better casting capabilities, but with the toughness to back up a hard-fighting fish.

Bait cast reels should be dependable and tough, with a silky-smooth drag. A gear ratio of 6.3:1 or 7.0:1 is most definitely preferred, as this will allow you to burn buck tails or spinner baits back to the boat in an effortless manner.

Line choices are simple — mono-filament or braid. If going the route of mono, choose a strength of at least twenty-pound test. For braid, the standard is a minimum of fifty-pound. Regardless of which you prefer, a leader is a must when attaching main line to lure. Wire leaders between a foot and eighteen-inches in length will cover all bases and can be purchased in either wire versions or heavy fluorocarbon styles (80lbs +). The length of your leader should be longer when trolling as opposed to casting. By religiously using a leader, the chances of teeth and gill rakers slicing through your line are dramatically reduced, leading to more fish and fewer lost lures.

Careful handling and a quick release helps ensure fish live to fight another day.

Spring Locations

Wawang_Monster_PikeNorthern pike spawn during the early spring in shallow water, often when ice still coats the lake. The period directly after ice out can often be your best bet for catching large fish, as the majority of post spawners will linger in this skinny water for some time, regaining energy and replenishing lost body fat. Most shallow back bays will yield the greatest concentrations of fish, and many can be sight fished.

As fish make their way out of the shallows, they will begin to stage on the first structure point they can locate. This can take the form of emergent weed beds, points, or the first drop-off situated in the main body of water. Finding these prized gems can often be easy, as working your boat outwards from the bay will have you stumbling upon the prime real estate quite easily.

Summertime Patterns

The summer months will see a definite switch in pike locational patterns, starting with a flurry of activity in healthy weed beds and lines. Finding the green stuff near points and shoals can bring about positive results, as the “hunter-instinct” in this fish will see them patrolling the edges actively.

As the water warms and the season progresses, large fish will begin their descent to the more favorable conditions that can be found in deeper water. Many of these pike will roam in a nomadic manner, intercepting bait schools as they travel freely and unimpeded. Pike anglers may scratch their heads at this time of year, but covering a lot of water in order to connect with fish is often part and parcel of this puzzle.

Small to medium-sized northern pike will still call the weed areas home and can often be counted on for rousing games of tug-of-war when the big girls have seemingly disappeared from the radar.

Kevin 41.5 6-3

Fall Tactics

As the water cools and the leaves change color, pike will again begin to move throughout the water system. In many cases, they will return to the same weed beds they occupied initially after leaving the shallows back in the spring.

Slow tapering flats holding a mixture of vegetation will be your best bet, while the healthiest remaining weeds should get your most attention. Some fish will still roam the depths, so don’t overlook a wide variety of water when searching for the water wolf.

Selecting lures for pike fishing isn’t tough; lure choices are quite universal.

Stocking the Tackle Box

Outfitting your box for pike fishing is not a tough chore. Lure choices are quite universal, and having a small selection of baits at your disposal will not break the bank. Make your choices from the following list, and be prepared to hang on tight to that rod.

Spoons
Spoons have been a standard on the pike scene for years, and for good reason. Simply put — this bait is guaranteed to put fish in the boat. There’s something intoxicating in the wobbling and flash of a spoon that drives a northern mad, and they will often strike these pieces of metal with reckless abandon.

Choose spoons in the 4 to 5-inch size, and give the nod to white/red, silver, yellow, and gold hues. A slow, lazy retrieve will often work best, with occasional pauses and flutters to catch the curiosity of any following fish.

Spinner baits and Buck tails
Over sized bass spinner baits account for a lot of pike. Their body and hook design allows for an almost weedless presentation, which can work wonders when the fish are up tight to cover and in the shallows. White and chartreuse are two colors that top the list, with orange and black also being effective. Go with willow leaf or large Colorado blades for maximum flash and vibration, in either silver or gold colors.

Four to six-inch musky buck tails can really get the attention of pike, and work equally as well for both of these predator species. Their large profile, fast speed, and flashy blades make for an easy, yet effective bait to throw. Choose contrasting body and blade variations, sticking closely with the colors suggested above. Straight retrieves work best with these lures, with high-speed cranking or bulging being two of my favorite ways to fish this bait.

Jerk Baits
Minnow-shaped crank baits represent a pike’s favorite prey and can often trigger strikes when other baits fail. A five or six-inch floating or suspending crank twitched back to the boat is all that’s needed for your retrieve. Fire tiger, silver, blue, perch and baby bass are all proven colors, and utilizing baits with rattle chambers will make them even more attractive. Experiment with diving depths, and keep in mind to always run your bait higher in the water column than the actual level of the fish.

Top Waters
In terms of excitement, nothing can compare with the surface strike of a northern pike. Over sized buzz baits, walk-the-dog style lures (think Super Spook), and large prop-baits will all bring a feeding frenzy to the top.

Predominantly thought of as a shallow water lure, tossing top waters over weed beds, off points, and along rock and weed shoals can bring about positive results. Slow and steady is often the key to action.

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Slug-Gos and Senkos are two popular soft plastic sticks, and both work well when targeting northern pike. Primarily used during the spring and early summer months, the tantalizing fall and wiggle of these baits can trigger some pretty hefty strikes. Often thrown to finicky fish, or those that have been spotted lurking in the skinny water, a soft plastic stick can fool even the most wary of fish.

Six-inch baits are a good choice with white, chartreuse, and pink being optimum colors. Rig these baits wacky (through the belly) or Tex-posed (through the nose) with a 4/0 worm hook.

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CAMPING IDEAS – Very Useful

Use Tic-Tac boxes to store spices for camping. Brilliant! Takes up less space and no glass to carry.

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POTS & PAN HANGER

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