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Monthly Archives: May 2017

TROLLING TACTICS FOR WALLEYE FISHING

Scenario: Warm, misty overcast evening in August. Mid lake rock humps topping out in the 16 to 22 foot range.

hump1Usually, by late August many walleyes in deep clear lakes begin to leave their summer home ranges,suspended over deep open water, and migrate onto nearby rock and gravel humps. More often than not, the best humps top off at a range near the lake’s thermocline. For example, if a lake typically thermoclines at 22 feet, humps in the 18 to 22 foot range are most apt to hold fish, while shallower cropping structures will be less productive.

When these mid lake humps are small, one can usually do quite well jig fishing them, but more so these humps tend to be large. This is when board trolling a spread of crawler harnessed spinner rigs anchored to bottom bouncing weights off planer boards is the key way to catch them. This is precisely the situation Joe is faced with in this segment. The mid lake rock/gravel structure is very large with a number of smaller “spines” topping out in the 14 to 18 foot range; however, most of the rock/gravel structure is much deeper at 22 to 26 feet.

The small spines are holding the fish, but they are somewhat difficult to stay on top of and pinpoint precisely in open water. This problem is easily solved by repeated trolling passes using this board/bottom bouncer/crawler harness system. Trolling ever so slowly, once any bottom contact is made, you can literally drag an armada of tempting tidbits across these spots and find these small groups of walleyes that are utilizing these spines.

imagesCAMIT1B6The rigging trick here is to set out just enough line below the planer board so it will catch, or better termed “tick”, the top of these spines, yet not get hung up. The best way to accomplish this is by staying as vertical as possible with your set up. Using a larger weight, in the 2 ounce class, in order to stay as vertical as possible, let out just a tad more line than the spine depth tops. For example, measuring out around 20 feet of line between board and the bottom bouncer (Rock Runner) weight is nearly a perfect setting for 16 to 18 foot humps. It might require a bit more line length in strong winds and big waves, but not in soft winds and slow trolls.

ff-graph1Troll very slowly across these humps; just fast enough to activate the spinner and keep the spinner/crawler harness suspended off the bottom. Watch the board closely and you will notice when the Rock Runner weight is touching bottom. It will make the board bounce back. This is a key time to watch for a strike. Strikes, by the way, will respond on the board by the board jerking back in a tug-like fashion. Within a few seconds, the weight of the fish will then start to drag the board out of its original position destroying its side ways angle, and placing it more directly behind the boat. Then, it’s simply a matter of crankin’ the fish in and re rigging.

imagesCAV15KW1Throwing a floating marker off a reef after a fish is caught is a good idea for reference, as is punching in the coordinates on your GPS system. As soon as you get a strike, before pulling the rod from the rod holder, immediately reach for a floating marker and pitch it over the side. Also, heave the marker just past the outside of the planer board that’s showing the strike. This places you as close to the exact location of the strike as possible. All return trolling passes can then be made precisely close by the actual spot where the strike occurred.

Summer trolling reefs with bottom bouncers, spinner harnesses and a crawler rigged off planer boards is a super hot tactic. It is especially good over large mid lake reef structures that may be more difficult to fish by casting and jig fishing. At the very least, this system enables you to cover a great deal of water very efficiently, and quickly eliminates the dead sections of a large reef. You can then refish the spot more slowly with finesse jig fishing presentations if you wish. 

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TROLLING TOOLS FOR FISHING

28.5" walleye - Rick Lahrman

For many anglers trolling has always been one the most effective fishing techniques by presenting lures to numbers of game fish at a precise depth or spread out over a large area. There are two key fundamentals for a good catch, trolling at the proper speed, and depth of the appropriate lure choice. With the modern innovations of trolling gear and tackle today anglers no longer have to guess how deep or how fast their lure is running.

Trolling Tools

Downriggers
Used specifically for constant trolling depth. The downrigger is a winch-type mechanism that feeds cable off a rotating reel through a guide system along an extension arm. A weight is attached to the end of the cable and the line release is attached to the weight. The fishing line from an independent rod and reel is attached to the release mechanism on the downrigger cable. By lowering the weight (ball), you can drop the line down to the desired depth. A footage counter is connected to the reel unit to indicate the specific amount of cable that has been released. At the desired depth the reel is locked into place.

Downrigger Fishing Tip

Downrigger Fishing Method

Trolling is the most effective way to catch many species of fish. A moving bait or lure in the water trolled at the depth where fish are present is the best way to ensure a hookup. The use of modern downrigger technology further improves trolling results. A downrigger is a spool of wire/cable mounted on your boat. A heavy weight is hung on the end of the braided downrigger wire. A downrigger release is hooked to the wire and your fishing line is hooked into the release. The downrigger can then be lowered to precisely the fish depth. When a fish hits, your line is released and you fight the fish on your rod and reel free of heavy lines  and weights.

Better downriggers are equipped with line depth counters so you know exactly how deep you are fishing. A fish finder and a downrigger are a deadly combination. The fish finder shows you what depth the fish are and the downrigger allows you to fish exactly in front of them.

Downrigger models range form portable clamp on styles, permanent mounts, some with electronic motor retrieval systems capable of lifting downrigger weights of up to 10lbs 100 feet down by a simple push of a button. Other new features on downriggers are networked with electronics, a speed sensor can be attached to the cable indicating how fast the lure is moving at that depth. Bottom tracking sonar systems using a transducer on the transom sends a programmed signal to the downrigger that will raise and lower automatically the weight off the bottom, or jig the weight up and down giving action to the lure with a auto setting. Multiple downriggers can be operated off of the same sonar signal working simultaneousl

wi1405_ArchBoardsATrolling Boards
For increasing the spread of the trolling pattern as fish move to the side when the boat passes over them trollers have two options. Trolling boards that plane to the side on a separate cord which is held onboard by a planer mast. Fishing line (s) are imagesCAO4XJBJattached to the cord using manufactured line releases or wire loops and rubber bands, as the boat moves forward the release slides down the desired point, upon a fish strike trips the release to fight the fish on a free line.

Online Side Planers
They are attached to the fishing line by the use of a line release ( clip on / tension clip). As the boat moves forward they plane to the side upon a fish strike the board will release and slides down the line until it hit’s a stop (swivel/bead) several feet from the lure.

Both trolling board and side planers allows the angler to run multiple fishing lines behind the boat covering a vast area.


Diving Planes

This is a circular diving device commonly know as a Dipsey Diver. Depending on how the rudder is set it will track right, left, or straight. The fishing line is tied directly to the front eye and snapped on a release. The lure is attached to the rear eye using a leader. When a fish strike occurs the front eye releases flattening the diving plane in order to reel the fish in with out pulling against the dive setting of the plane.

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Fishing Lines and Weights   Lead Core (Weighted Trolling Line)
Lead Core line came on to the fishing scene during the 1970’s as weighted trolling line. This allowed Salmon, Lake Trout, Steelhead and Walleye anglers the ability to use light weight shallow running lures such as spoons, balsa and plastic minnow lures to reach depths were the fish are present. Lead Core is constructed of two components, the inner wire made of soft pliable lead and the outer sheath of nylon braid which is color coated every ten yards for metering purposes referred as the term colors. Recently a new environmentally safe non lead line was introduced using a metal alloy wire in lieu of lead. Weighted trolling lines are available in 100 – 200 yard spools ranging from 12lb to 45 lb test ratings.

SnapWeight-LeadCore-LongLine

imagesCA0L2XLXThe amount of weighted trolling line spooled on your reel is totally dependent on the species of fish you are targeting by the depth required, as a example Great Lakes walleye anglers may use 30 yards of weighted line or three colors were as a Salmon angler may spool the entire 200 yards or twenty colors. The approximate rule dependent on the lb test is every two yards of weighted line will sink one foot. The only reel type to be used for weighted trolling line is a conventional level wind trolling reel, the line capacity is based on the species ( smaller for walleyes larger for salmon). In spooling the reel a line backing should always be used this also helps to fill the reel to the proper line amount. The most popular line backing used today is the super braids which is tied to the weighted line using a Albright knot, after the weighted line is spooled a monofilament/fluorocarbon leader is tied using a Uni-knot.( Note: When tying backing or a leader to lead core remove the inner wire) This entire line set-up is referred as “segmented” which when properly used places the weighted line and lure at the feeding depth of fish. Trolling weighted (lead core) line is a technical presentation requiring a level of expertise and knowledge. If your considering using this trolling technique your success would be best served if you research the fishery and species before purchasing the proper equipment.

american_fishing_wire_surflon_micro_supremeWire Fishing Line
Wire is another trolling line option especially if your fishing presentation requires to go very deep. Wire lines come in a variety of choices, solid and stranded. Solid wire know as Monel is a metal nickel copper alloy which will go deeper than stranded based on the ultra thin line diameter and weight. Stranded offers many versions made of stainless steel or copper, in cable-laid wire, 49 strand, three and seven strand wire some of these come with vinyl coatings used mainly as leader material. One of most popular wire line for freshwater fishing is the seven stranded six wrapped or braided around one. Copper seven strand is utilized as a alternative to lead core were as the weight of copper is double than lead core this achieves the same depth of lead core with only half the amount of line. The advantages of using wire line are numerous when compared to other conventional lines such as braided or monofilament, wire line with the weight and the ultra low diameter cuts through the water easily getting deeper using less line, it also has very low line stretch thus telegraphing fish strikes as they happen. Getting set-up with a wire line outfit requires all special equipment, reels are trolling level wind with a metal or stainless steel spool to accommodate wire line, rods require hardened line guides that wire won’t cut along with a roller tip or all line guides using rollers. We highly recommend if your looking to use wire as a trolling outfit, go to a pro shop that specializes in wire line rods and reels. One of the most common problems in using wire starts with correctly spooling the backing and wire on the reel to the proper level. Fishing wire with the proper knowledge and set-up will add another dimension to your arsenal increasing your catch rate.

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Snap on Weights

Snap weights are a attached/removable weightsystem ideal in getting your bait down to suspended Walleyes, Salmon, Trout, Bass and Muskies when flat line trolling. The weight sizes are relatively heavy 1/2 to 8 that snaps on to the fishing line by a spring tension clamp, the weight is secured on a metal ring below. Upon a fish strike the line is retrieved to the snap weight and un clipped from the line to fight the fish. With the various sizes of

Inline trolling weights

Inline trolling weights

weights available offers a range of different depth settings with out having to re rig your rod. Most anglers start by using the 50/50 system placing the snap weight halfway out on the line. By moving the snap weight closer to the lure increases the response to the movements of the boat and your rod. Moving the weight farther away from your lure it becomes less responsive, but more influenced by the action of wind and waves.

The farther back the snap weight is from the lure will reduce spooking the fish from biting. Snap weights Inline trolling weightscan be used on braided line, low stretch monofilament / fluorocarbon and lead core line.

Inline Trolling Weight
Another option for lures and baits to be trolled at a desired depth are online trolling weights (sinkers) these include torpedo or through the use of a down weighted keel design for stabilizing the weight as it travels in the water preventing unwanted wobbling. All good trolling sinkers have bead type chains and swivels to minimize line twist and should not reduce the action of the lure by having the bulk of the weight hang below the line.

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Finding Walleye

If you’re looking for walleye – find the weed beds in June and you’ll find the walleye. As soon as all that vegetation that’s been dormant under the ice starts emerging, the walleyes start using it.

“After recuperating from spawning, walleye are more interested in feeding than anything else. Cabbage and other vegetation is ripe with life, concentrating baitfish and prey fish alike, providing cover and offering everything predator like a walleye would want.”

Baitfish using the early season weed beds—and attracting walleye—include everything from shiners to shad, as well as yellow perch.

The shiners move into the shallow weeds to spawn in late June in my local waters, and the walleye follow, feeding right in there among the shiners and the vegetation.

And in waters here they are available, walleye eat more yellow perch that most anglers realize. Anyone who fishes for yellow perch knows that young perch hang out in the weeds, this time of year or any other. If more walleye anglers used perch or perch-patterns, they’d be surprised at how many more—and bigger—walleyes they’d catch, starting in the spring right through the fall

Rock piles and drop-offs, offer edges where baitfish congregate and walleye can hide. They provide ambush points to attack from. If you can locate a rocky hump topped by weeds this time of year, you have the best of all worlds.”

BREAKS
Walleye will hang around the periphery of a rock hump during the day, and stay to the outside of the weeds up top if they are especially shallow, but walleye will absolutely be on top after dark.

Whether comprised of vegetation, rock or both, steep breaks are very important, because schooling baitfish will hold off the edge, while the walleye cruise and hide in the protection of the structure. Breaks make great contact points for walleye, which are seeking the larger, fatter baitfish they want.

Bigger walleye don’t want to feed often, they want to eat in one full sweep, on a big baitfish like a perch or shad or a fat shiner, when they can. If that size baitfish isn’t available, they’ll stick around and feed on lots of smaller ones.

WIND
Wind also affects where you can find active walleye in June.

You can start getting summer weather patterns in June, especially late in the month, but before everything really gets wild weather-wise, this time of year you can get winds that create an excellent bite. A good, steady wind will stack fish up and you can find walleye feeding in the weeds or along rock edges.

 

When the wind is strong and steady, fish the windward sides of everything. Baitfish like shiners are weak swimmers; they’ll often get forced along or blown up against a break AND walleye are opportunistic feeders that like big, sluggish baitfish and know that’s where to find them.

STRUCTURE like bars
To catch these big walleye bellying-up to the salad bar in search of a mouthful,  offering them precisely what the hungry predators came for: LIVE, BIG BAITS.

You can go with minnows up to 8 inches long, or big shiners, under a float or on a jig like a Fireball.

Crankbaits can work on the spring fish too, but are usually most effective when the walleye are being the most aggressive, early and late in the day, Bigger crankbaits that mimic injured baitfish can be really effective.

Fish around the weed beds or humps deeper during the day and move shallow as light fades. Use your fish finder to learn where and at what depths and the baitfish schools are holding to know what depth you want to make your presentation. As long as you are near weeds or rocks that offer breaks, this time of year the walleye shouldn’t be hard to find—cause if you offer them something they want to eat, they’ll find you

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Early Season Walleye Jigging Tactics

Jigging for Walleye

Using jigs can be very productive but too many anglers aren’t fishing them correctly. Just starters, understand that you won’t always feel the thump of a walleye when it strikes a jig.

TwoToneJigsGuys expect that sure bite or hit. Many times you don’t feel it. So often you  drop the jig down and it stops. Maybe you’ll just feel some extra weight.

Concentrate on your rod, and don’t wait too long to set the hook.

The right rod helps here. When jigging, use a 6-foot, 8-inch or 7-foot rod when jigging with a light-action and fast tip. This really helps increase the number of bites he detects, which translates into more fish.

Use a short shank jig for live bait and a long shank jig when combining that live bait with a dressing. The latter can be plastic, Gulp, or maribou. If you face a tougher bite, use less bulk and movement in the water. Don’t vibrate your offering as much. Listen to the fish to extrapolate their mood, then up size or downsize properly.

Under most conditions, avoid stinger hooks. If you’re missing strikes, however, and want to try a stinger, use it properly. Just let it free-fall behind the lure.4595-fireballs

You get fewer bites with a stinger, so if you’re missing fish, drop that rod tip first, and let them take it.

As for jigging actions, think beyond just lift-drop. That’s fine if it’s producing, but often just holding it at one depth, say 3 inches off bottom, is enough. Let that minnow work.

If you want to get creative, try quiver jigging (gyrating the rod ahead of the reel), snap-jigging, dragging, or just casting and retrieving jigs.

Also, use a heavy enough jig to contact bottom, but not so heavy that fish blow it out. Vertical jigging should offer just the right weight to tick the bottom.

And if you feel a bite, set the hook hard. Really swing that rod tip up.  Always tie your jigs directly to the line. Suspend it periodically out of the water and let it unravel to eliminate line twist and tangling.

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