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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Get More Out of Any Fish Finder

These insights can be applied to using electronics to find any species of fish. Electronics are so good these days, it is scary. Even a novice angler can use modern electronics to find a mega-school of fish. You don’t have to be intimidate by high-end electronics. Follow a few keys to understanding and interpreting your graphs will make you a more well-rounded and successful angler in any capacity.

Interpret the mood of fish on your fish finder and other tips to improve your fishing

Nowadays a bass boat can look more like a Black Friday sale at your local TV store than a fishing boat. With multiple electronic units reading sonar, Side Scan, and Down Scan, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Still, it seems that everyone from your professional bass angler to the weekend recreational fisherman now has $1000 – $3000 in electronics on their boat.

There are a lot of people that own these electronics that couldn’t tell hard bottom from a stump, or a fish from clutter on the screen. So we wanted to hopefully clear up some things on reading your electronic fish finders with savvy professional angler that has done his homework when it comes to electronics.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with FLW Tour Pro Tom Redington and listen to some of his insights on utilizing his fish finders. Redington flourished in recent offshore tournaments thanks to his prowess with his electronics and finding deep schools of bass. In the 2014 FLW Tour Event on Kentucky Lake, Redington led days 2 and 3 of the event before finishing in 6th place, and he did it all through intense scanning with his electronics.

Here he offers up some knowledge on how he sets up his Lowrance HDS units and how he deciphers what he is seeing with them.

Keep it simple and consistent

Redington likes to keep it as simple as possible when he starts playing with his electronic settings. He will shut off all the factory set filters on his electronics. Not that these units aren’t ready to go right from the store. In fact, Redington believes today’s Lowrance Down Scan and Side Scan technologies are so good that almost anyone can pull them out of the package and be able to find and catch fish.

However, he takes these simple steps so that he can distinguish everything he sees on the graph himself. The filters do a lot of assuming and can be fooled by false returns from the sonar. Redington insists this will lead to you being much more knowledgable and efficient when looking at your electronics.

“To me, the most important thing about graphs that people need to understand, is that there is no one correct setting,” said Redington. “It’s not like there is a perfect setting, there are a lot of wrong and right ways to set them up. But you really just have to find something that works for you and stick with it. Once you get them set up and you start looking at different structures, a consistent look becomes critical. That way, if I see a certain type of bottom, or structure or the way a school of fish is set up, I can tell immediately what it is and if I can catch those fish or not.”

Redington also keeps it relatively simple when it comes to color palettes for his electronics. He has found two different color settings that he gravitates to, one for Side Scan and another for Down Scan. Redington uses these color schemes because they are what he is accustomed to and they are the most easily recognizable to him.

“I usually go with the red/yellow/purple scheme for Down Scan to differentiate fish from cover. Whereas in Side Imaging, I like that brownish scheme, as I am looking for structure or actual bottom contrast,” Redington said.

Recognize school formations

Once you hit the water with your electronics, you run into a whole host of details to decipher. Most notably, how to recognize and discern between schools of fish when graphing offshore structure. Redington not only can distinguish schools of fish with his electronics, but he can usually tell what species of fish they are, and even if he is likely to catch them or not.

“It’s almost the same thing as sight fishing,” he said. “If you have sight fished a lot, you can immediately tell when you pull up to a fish if it is going to be easy to catch them, or if you are going to have to spend a lot of time working on that fish. It is the same with your electronics once you understand.”

There are three distinct school formations Redington looks for and recognizes when bass move out to their deep haunts.

  • Attack Formation
  • Wall-to-wall carpet
  • An explosion

Attack formation

This is what Redington wants to see when graphing for bass, what he calls “attack position”. Notice the vertical formation to the school of fish. Redington says this is the most important thing he looks for when graphing for an active school. The fish are in a tight group with a vertical formation, but still relating to the bottom. When you see a school like this, Redington says you can throw most any lure to them and expect to get a bite.

“These fish will still be relating to the bottom somewhat, but they are grouped in a sort of mound, or haystack formation. If you have a ledge, point or a hump, these fish won’t be all over the whole structure. They’ll be in a tight little wad, within five feet of the bottom, with some vertical formation to them. When you see a school like this, you had better get up and get casting. It’s time to load the boat,” Redington said.

Wall-to-wall carpet

Here the school of fish is scattered across the bottom, not really in a group per-say. There is a large ball of baitfish grouped under an old bridge in the middle of the image; but you’ll notice the larger fish, in this case bass, are spread out to the left and the right of the baitfish.

These fish are sucked right down to the bottom and spread out evenly in what Redington refers to as “wall-to-wall carpet” formation. Redington suggests soaking a bottom bait on a slow day to catch a few stragglers or to hopefully get the school fired up. He also suggests leaving this school and checking back later. As he can often catch more in 10 casts out of an active school, than he could in 5 hours of fishing on a school grouped like this.

“It’s like playing a slot machine… you only have to hit jackpot once a day to make it a great day.  Definitely stop back again later in the day though, as this is a timing deal. Sooner or later this group is going to get together and eat.”

Explosion

Even though an “explosion” of fish on your graph may look and sound like an enticing thing, Redington believes differently. He notices that the fish and baitfish are spread out in all directions, with no true formation of any kind.

“When I come across a school like this, I’ll come back later and see if they all group up together in a small area relating to the bottom, but I won’t waste a cast now,” Redington said. “A lot of beginners tend to see this and spend a lot of time on a school like this, but it is extremely hard to get a fish to bite when they are set up this way. I tend to see this formation a lot on post frontal days. If I see this formation on 4 or 5 spots in a row, I’m going to start thinking about a shallow backup plan.”

Zoning in

Redington’s tactic to finding bass on offshore structure is to first slowly idle over the structure with a zig-zag approach. When he starts to graph schools of fish he believes are bass, he will make a few casts to confirm his notion. Once Redington knows that there was a school of bass in say, 20 feet of water, he can narrow his search. If bass are offshore, they will typically inhabit similar depths throughout the lake, river or reservoir.

“Once I have an idea of what depth to look for, I will go back to the map and find as many structures with a lot of area in that productive zone as possible,” Redington said. “Say I found a few schools of fish on sloping points in 14-17 feet of water. Well, I now want to find as many points as possible that have a lot of area in 14-17 feet and give them all a look with my electronics; applying what I know about school formation to what I see. This eliminates so much water and lets me zone in on the most productive depth.”

This process lead Redington to being extremely efficient when looking for schools of bass during a short practice period, and he does it all by keeping one eye on his electronics.

Redington makes a living fishing for bass, but these insights can be applied to using electronics to find any species of fish. Electronics are so good these days, it is scary. Even a novice angler can use modern electronics to find a mega-school of fish. You don’t have to be intimidate by high-end electronics. Follow a few keys to understanding and interpreting your graphs will make you a more well-rounded and successful angler in any capacity.  by:  Luke Stoner

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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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Items You’ll Need in Your Tackle Box

You can never have enough lures. But that’s not all you’ll need on the water. Pack these eight items to make your trip more productive.

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1. Flashlight: It’s handy whenever you’re out after dark, essential if you’re stranded and have to signal for help.

2. Adjustable Wrench: This has a wide variety of uses, from opening reel covers to tightening trolling-motor bolts.

3. Split-Ring Pliers: They open split rings and allow you to replace hooks quickly and easily.

4. Lure Dye: With Spike-It lure dye, you can change a lure’s hue in seconds

5. First-Aid Supplies: Don’t let a minor injury ruin your day. If you bury a hook in your hand, for example, some simple supplies will let you take care of the problem on the water—and keep fishing.

6. Spare Treble Hooks: Hooks often become dull or damaged when worked over rocks and gravel.

7. Spare Rod Tips: If you’ve never snapped off a rod tip, you will.

8. Glue Stick and Lighter: Use these to affix a new rod tip. Heat the glue stick with the lighter, apply the glue, then slide on the new tip.

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The Sudden Storm

 A true story…….

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On July 4, Doug Fehler, 56, was fishing with his wife and grandkids when a huge thunderstorm swamped his boat. As told to Kristyn Brady.

The boys, Carter, 9, and Charlie, who’s just 5, were casting for perch, while Kristye and I put out jug lines for catfish on Oklahoma’s Broken Bow Lake. We had made the trip up from Texas for a Fourth of July getaway. We’d been fishing for maybe 30 minutes when the sky rumbled. I looked around and saw a huge thunderhead, followed by a lightning flash. It had been a scorcher of an afternoon with a few scattered clouds, and the marina parking lot was packed less than an hour earlier when we launched my 15-foot bass boat, a restored 1980 Caddo, toward a series of small islands. But with the lightning, I thought it best to get off the water.

As we motored toward the edge of the cove, the storm cloud had grown and the sky darkened. The wind picked up, but we’d had more shelter than I realized before our boat cleared the last island, where we were spit out into some of the roughest open water I’ve ever seen. The wind howled and waves slammed into the side of the boat, spilling inside. Without notice, a 7-foot swell crashed over our heads. I struggled to turn us into the oncoming wind and waves, soaked but holding on. Fortunately, we were already wearing our life vests.

Wave after wave crashed over the bow, but I didn’t even notice the water rushing past my feet because I was so focused on keeping the boat straight and running. I heard Kristye yell from the rear, where she was sitting with Charlie. I looked back to see him sitting on the floor with water up to his armpits. He didn’t seem to understand the danger, and just looked back at me expectantly. I could tell Carter was scared, but he was quiet and clung to the rail next to me.

I started to panic. It had been less than 10 minutes, but it felt like we’d been battling the waves much longer. The gas tanks were floating. The cooler had escaped over the side. The battery was under-water. That’s when the engine died.

Without the engine, we were being pushed toward a rocky bluff. If the boat had turned broadside to the waves, the next one would have capsized us. I was just about to jump in to try and pull us to shore when I heard a ski boat speeding toward us. They were able to drag our craft—the transom end completely underwater—and beach it nearby. I stayed with my boat, bailing out, while the driver of the ski boat took Kristye and the boys to the marina. As they left, Charlie was crying in Kristye’s arms, and I couldn’t help but worry that splitting up was the wrong decision. They got some bumps and bruises on the rough ride back, but we were reunited an hour later on the dock, where we all shed a few tears.

My boat’s tri-hull design was not built for those conditions, but I knew that. I would never purposely steer into waves that size. We were blindsided. Carter still doesn’t like to talk about that afternoon, and he hasn’t been on a boat since. I’m hoping that will pass. The whole thing has kept me awake a few nights. I go over the experience in my head, thinking what was at stake. It still gives me chill-bumps.

Survival Analysis

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Because one cannot fault Fehler’s actions once his boat was caught in heavy water—he made sure everyone was wearing a PFD, kept the bow pointed into the waves, and navigated toward safe harbor—the only question of right and wrong here concerns the decision to cross open water. The family probably could have weathered the storm in relative safety among the islands, and Fehler’s decision to leave is one I am sure he would like to have back.

This situation reminds me of an antelope hunting trip I made with my brother on Montana’s Fort Peck Reservoir, where we found ourselves separated from the dock by a mile-wide channel. Like Fehler, we didn’t have a boat seaworthy enough to meet the conditions once the storm broke. Unlike him, we were able to see how far conditions had deteriorated, so the decision to shelter on a spit of land was a no-brainer. We ended up being trapped by weather there for three days.

The survival lesson here is not so much to be prepared to brave the devil water, but to be prepared to stay, which makes a safe decision much easier. Always check the weather forecast ahead of time, and carry a radio, cellphone, distress flags, and signal flares, as well as a survival bag. Do not forget extra dry clothing, and make sure the book in your dry bag is a long one.

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Monofilament Vs. Fluorocarbon

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Taking Care of Your Fillet Knife

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A good fillet knife is an important piece of equipment for sportsmen and women who want to get the most out of their angling efforts by properly preparing, cooking and eating the fish they land.  #wawanglake #fishing #walleye #wawangresort #northernpike

A distinctive, long, slender blade with a sweeping line and a good deal of flexibility characterizes fillet knives. These special knives are made for the delicate work associated with filleting meat and fish, and they are a very important part of every fish and game cook’s kitchen tool collection.

Look For Flexibility, Sharpness

Notice I said, “kitchen tool collection,” and that is where the trouble starts — in the kitchen! Of all the attributes possessed by a fillet knife, flexibility and sharpness are the imagesCABTZ0G4most important. Have you ever tried to properly remove the skin from a walleye or northern pike fillet using a knife that is too stiff or dull? Or even tried to fillet a delectable walleye and end up “butchering” it because of a dull blade?

The flexibility of a fillet knife is largely determined by the knife’s manufacturer, but a keen edge is something that must be preserved and periodically renewed by the user. Now, back to the kitchen, where most food knives are kept and where often the trouble starts.

Using a good fillet knife for rough, general kitchen chores will dull it quickly and render it nearly useless when you try to use it for its intended purpose — filleting.

Caring for a fillet knife may involve storing it apart from other kitchen knives in a safe place where other family members won’t be tempted to use it for hacking stale bagels, or dicing carrots. Educating your fellow knife users as to the proper care and use of a quality fillet knife also will help a great deal.

When sharpening a good knife we like to use an oilstone. Most sharpening stones come with directions for their use in sharpening or “touching up” a dull knife. The basics include utilizing a light honing oil to lubricate the stone and holding the blade at approximately a 20-degree angle, while using a motion with the blade that imitates trying to push a thin slice off the top of the stone. One then turns the blade over and using the same angle, tries to pull a thin slice off the top of the stone. Some sharpening stones come with a device that keeps the blade at the proper angle while it is drawn along the stone.

Others may use a sharpening steel or ceramic stick to restore a slightly dull blade.

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Don’t Abuse It

Don’t forget that care should be used when handling any knife. Treat knives with respect and remember that after correct sharpening, a knife will be very sharp and its mere touch may inflict a cut.
Many anglers like to keep a fillet knife in their tackle box in order to filet back in camp, while some fishermen often carry a small fillet knife for cleaning and cutting their catch out at a remote lake for a traditional shore lunch. Here the same principles apply. Don’t use a fillet knife to cut bait, fishing line or rope if you want that knife to stay sharp. Use a pocketknife or an old hunting knife for such purposes and save the fillet knife for food preparation.
Most people rightly associate fillet knives with fish, but one of the handiest uses for a sharp, flexible fillet knife involves the breasting-out or boning of the breast meat when cutting up a pheasant, duck, game hen or even a chicken. As in all filleting, you want to leave as little meat on the carcass as possible, and again that means a sharp, flexible blade.
If you care for a fillet knife properly you may be surprised at how well it will work for you, and how infrequently it will need major sharpening.

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Successfully Chasing Walleye

Wawang Lake boatingPresentation is a key component when chasing walleye. If your lure or bait is not positioned at the correct angle, depth or speed, your chances for success are greatly diminished.

Boat control is your greatest asset when it comes to presenting your bait accurately, yet it is a skill that requires the necessary equipment, as well as time spent on the water practicing. Follow these tactics to better your boat positioning, and reap the rewards of more walleye in the net.

The Art of Trolling
The majority of anglers troll in a forward motion, which is an excellent option if the boat is rigged with a small horsepower outboard, or if the fish are in an aggressive mode. The problem lies in the fact that larger outboards tend to troll too quickly, causing baits to run untrue, and generally far too fast for walleye. Back trolling allows the boat to troll at slower speeds (upwards of 30%), while also producing enhanced cornering and greater control. The slower speeds enable anglers to toss lighter lures, creating a finesse factor for finicky fish.

A tiller motor is the preferred style of engine when back trolling, as steering in reverse is best accomplished from the rear of the boat. If large waves continually get you wet, affixing splash guards to the transom can be a quick and easy solution.

For those without a tiller or small kicker motor, a trolling plate can be attached to the big engine to slow things down. These plates act like a brake when positioned vertically, and as a stabilizer when up. Trolling plates are designed for forward trolling only, and are an excellent option to significantly decrease speed.

When fish require an ultra slow presentation, an electric motor can be your greatest asset. Position the speed on the lowest setting, and work the water inch by inch. This is an excellent technique for working large weed flats, or when following the contours of a weed line. Not only will your speed be turtle pace, but will also be whisper quiet, lessening the chance of spooking any fish along the way.

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Using the Wind and Waves to Your Advantage
The wind can be your greatest gift when it comes to boat control, but knowing how to work with it is the name of the game.

Drifting with the wind can be an excellent tactic when covering large expansive flats, or as an alternative to spooking fish in very shallow water. Drifting can cover water quickly, and can often be your best bet when waves and wind are on the heavy side of things.

Use your outboard motor as a rudder. This will allow you to make slight alterations to your course while drifting along. It is also important to evenly balance your boat in regards to weight. When weight is distributed correctly, a boat will drift better, especially when battling high winds.

If the drift rate becomes too quick for your desired presentation, use a drift sock (or a combination), to slow things down. These socks take up little room in the boat, and are worth their weight in gold when the wind really howls. Experimenting is key for working drift socks correctly, as the style and draft of boat, size of sock and strength of wind all factor in. Two from the stern, one from the stern, or a combination of bow and stern are recommended areas for placement. If utilizing the bow and stern, choose a larger sock for the bow, as the wind will push this area more easily than the stern.

Marker Buoys
Marker buoys are one of the most underutilized tools in fishing today. If truth were known, they may be one of the most beneficial.

These inexpensive “beacons” allow you to determine where your boat should be positioned, keeping you on the correct course in terms of structure and fish.

Used in conjunction with sonar or GPS, marker buoys allow you to keep in direct contact with marked fish or previously productive areas. They are also helpful in plotting irregular weedlines, or the tops of humps or points.

Always toss one out when a fish is caught, as where there is one often equates to more. By doing so, you will be able to pound the area thoroughly, while hopefully scraping up an additional fish or two.

There are three main styles of markers, including the Barbell, H-Style and Stand-Up. The latter is an excellent choice when dealing with high and rolling waves, and is also the best choice for night fishing. Keep a few on board and get into the habit of using them – they will definitely pay off.

Anchors
When precise, stationary boat placement is necessary, an anchor will often be your best friend. Certain situations may arise in the walleye game when staying directly on top of structure or fish is paramount for success. Small and isolated humps, breaklines and points are such scenarios.

Richter Navy Anchor - Wawang LakeThere are a multitude of anchors on the market, yet the amount of rope you let out will often be the deciding factor in terms of staying put. It is imperative to use enough rope in order to get the needed angle for an anchor to bite and hold steady. Go with a rope at least three times longer than the greatest depth you will be targeting. This will cover all of the bases. Weight is a primary consideration, but is not the deciding factor. Your local marina will be best able to recommend the correct weight and style of anchor to complement your boat and style of fishing.

If you still deal with drifting when anchored, try the two weight system – an anchor off the bow and one from the stern. This should hold you tight.

Boat control is an important consideration when targeting walleye. These fish can be finicky when it comes to speed and bait placement, meaning the more accurately you can offer them what they want, the better your chances for success. Keep a close eye on your boat control this season – the fish may not thank you, but the landing net certainly will.

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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Fishing

 
 
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