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Monthly Archives: January 2018

SPRING WALLEYE FISHING + VIDEO

Wawang catch

Think SLOWER SPEEDS for Spring Walleye Fishing – When spring finally arrives, it’s easy to fish too fast and instinctively, you may spray the water with casts and retrieve at break-wind speeds. The lure would spark if it weren’t for the water. Trouble is the walleye aren’t motivated to chase. They want to dine leisurely, to nibble.  They need to hang onto lures.

Before discussing ways to cancel out the walleye lethargy, it’s necessary to first observe on the “where.”

You see, not all lakes were designed with spring walleye in mind.  Certain undeniable characteristics make some bodies of water more qualified Having shallow sections in a lake is the first ideal characteristic. Lakes with sweeping shoreline zones – areas 15 feet and shallower – and maximum depth of 35 feet or less are favorable as well. They warm the fastest, especially if the water is stained and or loaded with sediments. Deep and clear lakes are out, too, at least for now. Save those for midsummer and fall. Walleye fancy certain structure on “spring-oriented” lakes as well. Sand and gravel bottoms are of interest, as are emerging greens. Patches of deceased bulrushes also attract fish, as they house baitfish and sprout from promising hard floors. Add streams and the protected northwest corner of the lake and you’ve got an enticing menu of starting points.

https://videopress.com/embed/pS47mWQZ?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0 https://v0.wordpress.com/js/next/videopress-iframe.js?m=1435166243You know the spots. They’ve been historically proven. All one has to do is pitch a jig to the bottom and ready the landing net, right? Well…not always. To say the least, the lead-headed jig is the deadliest of all lures on spring walleye. They are and forever will be, but occasionally, conditions warrant the presentation of other styles, like spinner rigs, trolling crank baits, dragging live bait rigs, even supervising slip-bobbers.

RR-Slip-Bouncer-Cardbobbers are just what the walleye ordered in cold and sleepy springtime environments. Balsa puts the bait in just the right spot and holds it there, letting it swim, writhe, and tease. No chasing required. Bobbers also fish exceedingly well over obstructions, such as rocks and timber.  Weeds and moss bobbers provide the means to deliver bait continuously to a precise spot.

Rock piles offer a prime example such as; walleyes will pile into the windward flank of a wave driven reef; 90% of the fish might cling to 10% of the structure. In such instances, maintaining boat position is grueling, notwithstanding the evils trolling presents. Fish can get spooked if the hull passes overhead. Anchoring and pitching a slip-bobber is a far better option. Doing so yields control, as well as the opportunity to plant the boat strategically, never passing over the fish. Effective bobber fishing must also entail correct rigging.

Basically, there are two methods   for fixing-up a slip-bobber; the first includes a plain hook and the other is end-weighted with a jig. The second method is preferred, though, but oddly enough, is the least utilized. The end-weighted slip-bobber rig features a 1/32nd ounce jig with a long shank and wide-gap hook.

The Northland Tackle Gum-Ball Jig and Glo-Ball Jig are the best overall lures for this application. The jig achieves two objectives. For one, it, due do its shape and coloration, acts as an attractor, enhancing the bait’s inherent abilities. Secondly, the jig’s bodily weight holds the bait at the selected depth, yet is light enough to allow the bait some wiggle room. Too heavy a jig can render bait totally static. hotspot-splitshot-chartWeighted and painted hooks, which are lures in-and-of themselves, perform similarly. The insect-looking Northland Ghost Grub® is a perfect example. It carries a broad gap Kahle hook, making it marvelous for slipping walleyes. Unfortunately, though, a 32nd ounce jig alone isn’t massive enough to balance a walleye-sized bobber, let alone keep a larger and sprightly minnow at bay. So shot must be implemented, namely, Northland Hot-Spot Split Shot®. Pinch 1, 2, or 3 shot 6-inches to 18-inches above the jig. (How many and what size shot you use must be determined by first testing bobber buoyancy. Add or subtract shot until the bobber, with bait attached, rides just above the surface but isn’t easily swamped.) operate in chorus with the jig as a temptation, especially in stained water and during low light conditions.

super-glo-panfishkit-200pxThe Glo hook.  Again, the jig program is superior, since it presents a bigger and brighter target and keeps the bait in check, but when the bite’s light, an old fashioned hook is priceless. The size of the hook used is dictated by the type and dimension of the bait in hand. Sizes 2 and 4 live bait hooks match well with minnows; 2’s with shiners and other large minnows and 4’s with fatheads. Size 4 and 6 hooks are best suited for leeches. Shot spacing with a plain hook is the same as with a jig; build in 6 to 18 inches.

Once more, it’s prudent to tighten the gap in colored water and widen it when the water’s clear.  Setting depth is comparably as important as rigging. With an alligator-clip style depth finder affixed to the hook, slide the knot up the line until the float plunges 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface, which in reality means the bait will ride 6 to 8 inches off the bottom. Unless the bite dictates otherwise, shallow springtime walleyes operate tight to the bottom, so keep the goods low. How you present is a final consideration.
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Every angler has a “foolproof” approach for setting a slip-bobber. Some guys choke down a cigarette before tightening down; others count, “one, one thousand…two, one thousand” etc. until reaching thirty or more, and then set. Along like some, the more anxious types that reef back at first sign the bobber has moved. Unless you’ve already established a personal, bullet proof process, try counting slowly to 3. With a sharpened hook, low-stretch line, 6 ½ foot or longer pole, and a sweeping but assertive hook set, that fish should soon be at boat side.

It’ll be tough to do. Changing ways is never easy by giving up the customary troll and power drift for an anchor for a different type of presentation.  When the walleye are located, and or their mood is subdued, nothing bests the bobber.

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Northern Pike and Temperatures

Finding and catching northern pike is no different than finding and catching any other kind of fish. There are different strategies that apply as the seasons change, and there can also be different locations and approaches that are affected by geography.

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Pike are unique in that the methods and spots used to catch small or medium-sized fish can be totally different than those used for larger ones at certain times of the year. Pike are the most temperature-reactive species we have in Ontario. It’s a unique situation. Big pike live and operate in a much different manner than smaller ones do. There are two distinct populations of pike in every lake or river. Anyone who fishes for them needs to create a game plan based on the quality of fish that they’re after. And there are times of the year when you can expect big ones and smaller ones at the same times, using the same methods, on the same spots.

Seasonally, the cooling, warming and cold water periods are when pike are the most predictable. These times are also the best for bigger fish as well as numbers of fish as they’re a cold water species. In Wawang Lake, spring, and fall are when the biggest fish are consistently caught. In the summer, good fish are still totally catchable, but always remember that the temperatures and foods the bigger fish need are normally associated with water that most people aren’t accustomed to fishing. If you remember nothing else about northern pike remember this: Big fish use parts of the water that offer them comfortable water temperatures. Water temperature is the number one limiting factor in what the big fish do. It’s not light penetration, current, cover, lunar phase, fishing pressure or anything else. Water temperature trumps it all.

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One of the most important things to remember about water temperature is the number you read from your sonar only applies to the upper skin of the surface, right near the sensor. Late in the fall and right at ice out, the water basically maintains the same temperature from top to bottom. And in summer, water temperatures are highest near that sensor and cooler as you move away from it, deeper. Surface readings on your sonar are only telling you what’s going on within the upper few inches. In mid to late June, surface temps might read 60F or 65F degrees. Try diving off your boat down eight or ten feet – that water is much, much colder! You need to understand, appreciate and respect what temperature does to pike, but you also need to see the bigger picture. A big part of this is remembering that your sonar only describes a tiny slice of the water column that fish don’t spend any time in to begin with, and that it takes a lot longer for larger slices of water to warm and to cool. On big, deep bodies or water, water takes longer to gain warmth, but it can also hold onto it longer.

On top of all that, in spring and early summer especially, there can be huge variances in temperature from one area to the next, and on similar areas from one hour to the next, because of sun, wind or current. When fish are at their shallowest, such as early in the fishing season, pay the greatest attention to temperature. Why? Because:

  1. the fish are using shallower water in general and
  2. because temperatures at this time of year can be so volatile.

Similarly in the fall, we watch for falling water temperatures to signal things like forage movements and/or the breaking up of travel barriers created when the water gets too warm in the summer. You don’t need to study temperature gradients scientifically or buy special instruments to measure data. But you do need to be aware of changes and what they mean to where and how you fish. All fish respond to temperature in one way or another, pike just happen to be one of the most sensitive to it.

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The more time you put into anything, the better the chances you’re going to have success. One of the biggest things you can do to consistently catch good sizes and numbers of pike is to stay on them all season long. The simplest ways to do this is sticking to one or two bodies of water, finding areas where the fish spawn and tracking them out from these areas as the year moves along. You’re better off learning one piece of water in great detail rather than running around from lake to lake. If you remember nothing else about finding pike, remember that familiarity breeds success! The best fishermen are people who stick to a handful of water bodies and specialize in fishing them. They know the seasonal timing (usually the daily timing, too) the spots on the spots and have the best fishing methods distilled.

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TIPS for Walleye Fishing

No matter what your preferred fishing technique is;  jigging spoons or trolling baits you’re bound to find a bit of knowledge here that will help up your walleye fishing skills for the upcoming season.

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TROLL DIRTY
Vertical jigging is probably the most productive technique for walleye fishing, but high winds or rains that dirty the water can put the fish off the jig bite. When water conditions change for the worse, try trolling near bottom. Use a three-way swivel and tie a sinker on a 6- to 12-inch dropper, or use a bottom-bouncing rig and trail a floating/diving minnow. Troll upstream and cross-current.

Three WayDOUBLE DOWN
Three-way swivels allow you to double your trolling offerings. Attach a deep-diving crankbait to a 2-to 3-foot leader tied to the bottom of the swivel. Then add to the top of the swivel a leader twice as long as the other and a floating/diving minnow-style bait or a light, thin spoon. When putting the baits out, drop the deep-diver in the water first and let it start diving before letting go of the second leader. This will keep them from tangling and ensure a proper presentation of both baits.

SINK SPOONS
Trolling spoons is an effective way to catch walleye, but getting them deep enough can be a challenge. Use the same techniques that big-water salmon anglers employ to attain appropriate depth—downriggers, snap weights, in-line sinkers, diving planers or lead-core line. Walleye are often gear shy, so increase the length of the leader off a lead-core line or the distance behind the cannonball on a downrigger. Fluorocarbon leaders will help, but be careful, as they have no stretch.

DOWNSIZE THE BAIT
One of the toughest times to catch walleye is during a significant mayfly hatch. To increase your odds, use what guides call a mayfly rig—a small spinner with a portion of a night crawler on a small hook. Cast the rig out and count it down, then retrieve it slowly, experimenting with depth until you find the strike zone; walleyes often hit mayflies as they’re on their way to the surface to emerge. Keep the rig small; mayfly larvae are rarely longer than an inch.

BE VERSATILE
The rule of thumb for jigging is to use minnows in cold water and night crawlers, leeches or soft-plastics as the water warms.   BUT you’re making a mistake if you don’t take all types of live bait with you. Although leeches and crawlers may be hard to find in the fall, they’ll sometimes out produce minnows in cold water, especially if it’s dirty. Other times, even in the heat of the summer, fish want minnows more than other offerings.

HIT THE WHOLE COLUMN
Walleye fishermen usually concentrate on the bottom, but often the most active fish are suspended in the water column. When trolling, vary the depth of your offerings by changing your diving bait or adding weight to your lines if trolling with spinner rigs. Sometimes the ‘eyes are out on the prowl, foraging on minnows or shad that are schooled somewhere between the top and bottom. Watch your depth finder for clues to their whereabouts and fish accordingly.

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JIG A PLUG
Spice up your jigging offering by substituting a chatter bait—such as a Rat-L-Trap—for a spoon. Cast it out, let it drop to the bottom, then yo-yo it back to the boat. Don’t snap it up as high as you would a spoon, as the hooks can foul on the line. Rattling baits fall more slowly than spoons, but you can fix that by adding a slip sinker to your line before you tie on the bait. The extra weight tightens the plug’s wobble on the fall.

WORK THE SHALLOWS
Most walleye anglers concentrate on moderate to deep water, but there are fish in shallow water that are generally ignored. This is especially true during periods of high water when the predators move shallow to forage. Jigs tipped with live bait produce in the weeds, often in water not much deeper than a walleye’s back. Jig spoons near cover. Night crawlers on harnesses with spinners work when cast around the edges and in cuts, but they’re tough to fish in thick stands of vegetation.

HEAD DEEP
One of the toughest bites walleye anglers face is immediately after a weather front passes. With a high, clear sky, the fish often sulk in the depths. The key is to concentrate on deep water structure and fish with live bait, either slowly trolling or drifting around humps and break lines, usually right where the bottom begins to flatten out.

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PLANE OUT
Planer boards that carry lures or bait away from the boat are especially important in ultra clear water. Anglers who troll many lines usually use large boards that are tethered to the boat, and they clip their lines to the tether line. Anglers in small boats can easily fish up to three lines per side with small in-line planers. The key is to set the far-running lines first and position those rods closest to the bow; set near-running lines last and toward the stern. Allow more line out before you attach the outside boards, so the baits trail farther behind the boat. That will let you reel in fish on an outside line without getting tangled.

LOWER A LEECH
Leeches are a terrific bait for walleyes, especially when presented on slip bobbers or jigs. To make them easier to grip, carry a rag or rub them against your pant leg to remove some of the slime. When hooking them, insert the point of the hook into their suction cup—this will let them swim freely instead of balling up on the hook. Keep the leeches in some sort of container in the live well to acclimate them to the lake temperature before you bait up.

LURK, DON’T JERK
Floating/diving minnow lures are known as “jerk baits” because they’re fished with a dramatic, erratic action. A quieter retrieve is often more productive for walleye, which tend to trail baits rather than simply lunging and striking. Neutrally buoyant baits are especially suited to walleye, as they sit still or rise ever so slowly when you stop working the bait. Walleyes take these lures during a pause in the action, so stop your retrieve often.

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GIVE ‘EM OPTIONS
When it comes to trolling with artificial lures, increase your odds by adding soft-plastic trailers to your crank baits. Use small twister-tail grubs or short plastic worms. Attach a 2- to 3-foot length of monofilament to the back hook of the crank baits, tie on a hook and attach the grub. Make sure the hook is exposed, and if you’re using a worm, run the hook through at least three quarters of the soft-plastic; that way you won’t miss short-striking fish. Don’t add any weight to the leader or you’ll interfere with the crank bait’s action. And use opposite colors when trailing crank baits—dark grubs with light-colored plugs and vice versa.

TRY A NO-SLIDE BAIT
When jigging with live bait, try adding a piece of plastic to the hook shank. A body from a grub or a section of plastic worm helps keep the bait on the aft end of the jig and prevents it from sliding up the hook shank. That way, when a walleye grabs the bait, it’ll also get ahold of the hook.

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PIKE FISHING TACKLE BOX – A MUST TO HAVE

193Page1_SimonCheung_tackleFrom spoons to spinners to swimbaits, everything you’ll ever need to tackle mammoth northerns

No aspect of fishing has changed more over the past two decades than our understanding of pike. Indeed, if we had written about equipping ourselves for big northerns just 20 years ago, our ultimate tacklebox would have been small, the offerings skimpy and the techniques few. But as our knowledge of pike behaviour has expanded, so too has the range of tackle needed to catch these toothy critters—as the following roundup of the top lures and tactics reveals.

CRANKBAITS

When to fish ‘em
From midsummer until freeze-up, hard and soft crankbaits excel in open water, on deep flats and around main-lake rocky structures. The lipless versions are superb around reed- and weedlines.

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Where and how
You can both troll and cast these lures, but don’t do either aimlessly. Concentrate on key transitions, edges, drop-offs, breaklines and specific bottom contours. The CS25 Suspending Super Spot and Lucky Craft LVR models are awesome vibrating, lipless casting lures. When you pause them for even a millisecond, a following pike only has the option of opening its mouth and eating it. These lures may look a tad small, but they fish big because you can retrieve them quickly and they won’t roll over.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Rapala Super Shad Rap,
  • Lucky Craft LVR D-15,
  • Cotton Cordell CS25 Suspending Super Spot,
  • Storm Kickin’ Minnow (9-inch).

MINNOWBAITS/JERKBAITS

When to fish ‘em
Cast hard jerkbaits (Husky Jerk, X-Rap, Long A, Original Floater, Slender Pointer) when the water is cold, typically early in the spring and late fall in southern Canada, and all year long farther north. Or speed troll these lures in the summer when the pike have retreated to cooler, deeper water. Soft jerkbaits rigged Texas-style, meanwhile, are deadly when vegetation is moderately sparse with plenty of open pockets. My favourite time to fish soft jerks, though, is in the late fall wherever I find thinning cabbage weeds in deep water adjacent to main-lake rock structures.
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Where and how
Hard jerkbaits are at their best in and around rock structure. In cold water, retrieve the lure as close to structure or cover as possible. Wind the bait down, jerk it three or four times and pause. The colder the water, the longer you should wait. Nick the tops of weeds, scrape rocks and tick logs and stumps. Pike usually strike when the lure suspends, rises slowly or starts the next series of jerks. You can also throw a hard jerk when there’s a few feet of water over the tops of deep weeds. When the northerns go deep in midsummer, troll hard jerkbaits around rocky main-lake points and over the tops of mid-lake humps. Contour trolling a big F18 Original Floater behind a three-way rig is a deadly hot-weather pattern.

Rig soft plastics (Houdini Shad, Berkley Saltwater Jerk Shad, YUM Dinger) weedless on a stout 5/0 to 7/0 offset hook without any additional weight and let them flutter toward bottom. Then hop, pop, twitch and pause the lure continually to imitate a dying baitfish. Along weed edges, swim the lure through the grass, deflecting it off any stalks you feel. When you’re fishing the corridor between deep weeds and the surface, let the lure fall to tick the top of the weeds, then pop it back to the surface.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • F18 Rapala Original Floater, Rapala X-Rap 14, #14 Rapala Husky Jerk,
  • Lucky Craft Pointer 128,
  • Lucky Craft Slender Pointer 127,
  • YUM Houdini Shad (9-inch),
  • Berkley Saltwater Jerk Shad (5-inch),
  • YUM Dinger (7-inch),
  • Bomber Magnum Long A.

TOPWATERS

When to fish ‘em
Be careful if you have a bad heart. There’s nothing more exciting than  watching a huge pike crush a topwater lure. During the summer months,  the best times are early in the morning, late in the afternoon and when  it’s overcast.

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Where and how
Deep weed edges, woody  shorelines and rocky main-lake structures are perfect locations for  topwaters. Instead of throwing a big, noisy buzzbait over a weedbed,  position your boat parallel to the weed edge so you can keep your lure  running over the prime pike zone. Do the same thing when you’re fishing  among fallen trees and logs. Remember, pike are ambush predators that  hide along the fringes of cover rather than burying themselves deep  inside it.

The biggest and loudest buzzbaits (in white, chartreuse, yellow and  orange) will attract the most attention. When the fish are aggressive,  add a stinger hook and a five-inch-long soft-plastic worm or grub, or a  pork chunk to seal the deal. But here’s the key: don’t react to the  explosion when a pike strikes. Keep your rod tip pointed up during the  retrieve and keep reeling rather than dropping the tip to set the hook.  When the fish are in a funk, however, scurry a Bull Ribbit or Hawg Frawg  in the same locations. The lighter bait forces you to slow down your  retrieve, but the frog will still kick up its heels. Only pause the frog  when you swim it over an opening in the weeds.

Many pike anglers  miss the best big-fish locations: isolated rock piles, underwater  points and shallow boulder-strewn shoals. They also think they can only  use topwater lures when conditions are calm. Actually, a slight chop is  better than a slick surface for walking a big Zara Spook, Skitter Walk  or Live Sammy. And a fast retrieve produces explosive strikes. When the  fish are less belligerent, or when the water is dirty, dingy or stained,  a prop bait such as the Boy Howdy, Splash-Tail or Skitter Prop  sputtering on the surface will cause a pike to become unglued. Prop  baits are also deadly when pike are resting beside isolated forms of  cover, such as a giant deadhead poking out of the water.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Cotton Cordell Boy Howdy,
  • Rapala Skitter Prop,
  • Lucky Craft  Splash-Tail,
  • Mister Twister Top Prop,
  • Stanley Bull Ribbit,
  • Heddon Zara Spook,
  • Rapala Skitter Walk,
  • Lucky Craft Live Sammy,
  • Mister Twister Hawg Frawg,
  • Booyah Buzz.

SPINNERBAITS

When to fish ‘em
Spinnerbaits produce well from late spring until mid-autumn, when the  pike have set up along reed- and weedlines, and shorelines littered with  fallen trees and submerged wood.

images-3imagesCA86RT7UWhere and how
A  slightly larger than normal (3/4- to one-ounce) bass-style, willowleaf  spinnerbait tipped with a soft-plastic grub or worm is a marvellous tool  when retrieved quickly just under the surface. Don’t hop, pop or  manipulate it in any way; just keep it moving.

When the biggest  toothies turn off and won’t come to the surface, dredge them up with a  heavy 1 1/2- to 2 1/2-ounce Dick Pearson Grinder. Let it flutter down,  then slowly crank it back to the boat, keeping it within a foot of  bottom at all times. It works best in thick grass, but it can also be  awesome on main-lake rocky structures.

SUGGESTIONS:

  • Booyah Blade Spinnerbait,
  • Terminator Titanium Spinnerbait,
  • Stanley Spinner,
  • Dick Pearson Grinder

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Top Five Walleye Fishing Tips

jig mouth1. Jig and Live Bait Combination
What can I say? More walleyes have likely been caught on a jig and live bait presentation than all other lures and baits combined. Jigs are that deadly. The reason, of course, is that a jig is unobtrusive, yet by changing its weight – from 1/16-ounce for shallow water all the way up to 3/4-ounce for deep water or heavy current – you can cover all the various options. Plus, when the walleye are color conscious, you can select a hue to turn them on. As for live bait options, the cardinal rule is to use minnows in the spring and fall when the water is cold. Leeches often become better when water temperatures warm into the 60s and 70s, while nightcrawlers reign supreme in the warmest water. Still, you carry all three bait options and let the fish decide what they want to eat on the end of a jig on any given day

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bottombouncer_275x1842. Bottom Bouncer and Spinner Combination
Walleyes eat spinner rigs or crawler harnesses, call them what you will, with a vengeance. Single hook harnesses are ideal for leeches and minnows, while two and three hook harnesses team up best with nightcrawlers. Just be sure to experiment with blade shapes, sizes and colors. Willowleaf blades spin the fastest, emitting plenty of flash, but they are also the most silent. Colorado blades, on the other hand, spin much more slowly but they thump aggressively. Indiana blades are somewhere in between, making them ideal choice for starting the day. Large blades are ideal in dark and dingy water, when you need to call out to the walleyes to let them know that dinner is ready. Large blades are best, too, when the fish tend to be on the bigger size. Don’t discount smaller blades, however, when the water is clear and the fish are in a funk. Finally, nothing allows you to present a spinner rig better than a bottom bouncer. Just don’t drag the bouncer. Let out line until you can feel it just ticking the bottom every so often. This means you’re trolling your harness in front of the fish.

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untitled23. Slow Death
Slow Death fishing for walleyes is sweeping the country because it is so deadly. In times past, walleye anglers were fanatical about attaching their baits perfectly straight so they didn’t spin. How times have changed. Slow Death involves using a hook (Mustad makes the most popular Slow Death hook, although many anglers prefer a #2 Aberdeen Tru-Turn style) with a distinct bend to it. Then, you thread on your nightcrawler (a live crawler works well but a Gulp! or Trigger X worm is often better) so that the head covers the hook eye and the body takes on the shape of the hook. Then you snip off the crawler so that only an inch or so is hanging behind the bend of the hook. It is best to use a three to four foot long, 10-pound test leader behind a bottom bouncer and troll at about 1-mile an hour. The finger-size crawler chunk spins like a corkscrew that the walleyes can’t resist. As for depth control, the standard rule of thumb is to use a 1-ounce bottom bouncer when you’re fishing in 10-feet or less of water, a 2-ounce bouncer in 20-feet of water and a 3-ounce bouncer in 30-feet. But these are only starting points, so don’t hesitate to experiment.

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untitled34. Swimbaits 
Fishermen have caught more walleyes over ten pounds the last 7 or 8 years on swimbaits than all of the other walleye options combined. And you won’t believe how they’re rigging them. They’re using 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce saltwater style bullet shaped jig heads. Five and six inch swimbaits (X-Zone Swammers, Berkley Hollow Belly and Split Belly Swimbaits) work best. You also need to use a 7-foot long, medium heavy action spinning rod spooled with a quality 14-pound test braided line (Sufix, Fireline or PowerPro). Then use back-to-back uni-knots to attach a two to three foot long 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Because of the weight of your terminal tackle you can cast this set up a mile and it sinks quickly. After it hits the bottom, lift up your rod tip and start swimming the lure back to the boat. You want to keep it within a foot of the bottom at all times, ticking it occasionally, as you drop your rod tip to pick up line. That slight pause is also when 90-percent of the walleyes will eat your bait. It is quite simply the deadliest big walleye pattern known to man

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5. Casting Crankbaits onto Shallow, Windy, Rock Structures
In the summertime, when the living is easy, one of the most predictable walleye patterns – for numbers as well as trophy size fish – is to search out shallow, rocky structures like underwater points, reefs and rock piles. The best are often the “sea gull rocks” that just barely break the surface of the water. And they come into their own when the wind is blowing onto them. Under the waves, the walleyes will sneak up shallow, even in the middle of the day, and feed aggressively. So there is no need to tippy-toe around with this presentation. Select a crankbait that will run slightly deeper than the water you’re fishing. That way you will attract and trigger walleyes as you bang bottom and ricochet it off the rocks all the way back to the boat. It is that simple. Cast your crankbait up shallow and start your retrieve, stopping for a second or two, every time you feel your crankbait hit a rock. Walleyes typically devour it as it rises up and over the obstruction. The key, of course, is using a crankbait (a favorite is the time proven Rapala Shad Rap) that is buoyant enough to float up and over the rocks when you pause the retrieve

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EARLY SPRING: Pike Fishing

Spring fishing is some of the best of the year for northern pike, especially if you want to catch a big one! Here are some tips to help you score.

Very little compares with the gentle ebb and flow of the surface as you glide out over our fantastic northern fishing lake in the early springtime. Just knowing there are big pike somewhere in the depths gets the heart beating a little faster. This is the time of year for pike; right now is your best shot at tangling with trophy-class northern pike.

Understanding a bit of pike biology and how these razor-toothed predators relate to habitat during the post-spawn period is the key to success. Many waters are just opening up to anglers and the pike are ripe for the taking.

The first thing to know is that while pike are aggressive in the summer, they can be downright finicky while recovering from the rigors of spawning activity.

The second thing is that these “water wolves” aren’t always ravenous. Most pike begin feeding heavily when the water temperatures reach the 55- to 60-degree range and go into the spring feeding frenzy when it climbs to 65 degrees.

Spring may be the best time of the year to be on the water but some anglers still go home empty handed. If you’re wondering about the best way to tempt a big pike in the spring, here are some tactics that you can take to the bank.

graph-shoals-INFS-110026-WEATH-04aFind green vegetation and you’ll find pike. Submerged weeds that have wintered over and remained green are pike magnets. Developing bulrushes in shallow water hold their share of pike as well. Combine these features with deep water nearby and you’re on high-percentage spots.

Admittedly, several tactics work in the weeds as the water warms up but in the post-spawn period, finesse is the name of the game. Set the dinner table with offerings of slow-moving soft plastics that big northern pike just can’t resist.

Toss oversized plastic minnows, lizards, and grubs on 1/4- or 1/2-ounce jigs to the outside edges of the weeds. Green beds of cabbage and other long-stalked weeds in water 6 to 10 feet deep are ideal. Let the bait glide naturally to the bottom and rest for a moment before shaking it with your rod tip. Repeat the process as you lift and glide the bait along the outside edge. Anything that appears to be dying qualifies as a meal worth chasing as far as early-season pike are concerned. Plastics fished that way seldom get slammed and a little tick on the line may be all you’ll feel.

Soft baits also produce well in the old bulrush stalks that were broken off just below the water’s surface by the ice. Once the fresh growth begins showing above the water, pike move to the outside edges adjacent to sloping points, dropoffs, and breaklines.

Pike are addicted to submerged weeds and the deeper and thicker they are in the spring, the better.

Ticking the tops of developing green is another hot ticket for springtime pike:

Reel Dardevle spoons
floating Rapala Original Minnows
shallow-running Mepp’s

Magnum Muskie Killer in-line spinner’s
Spinner bait with Colorado blades just deep enough to bang the weed tops. Retrieve the bait at a steady speed for about two-thirds of the distance back to the boat and then give the rod tip a twitch or two. After that, pick up the speed. Northern pike sometimes follow a bait without hitting it, and the unexpected change can trigger a strike. Spoons have an added dimension of attraction. If a pike strikes and misses the spoon stop reeling and let it glide backward. The northern assumes the bait is injured and moves in to finish it off.

Target the bays, sloughs, and sections off the main current as pike aren’t particularly fond of moving water. If the weed beds are in current, cast from downstream and retrieve with the current. A shallow-running spinner bait or weedless spoon skims over the stalks and isn’t likely to foul.

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If you have to fish across the flowing weeds, try a heavy plastic worm rigged with the hook buried inside the worm body. Skim the bait across the surface and let it drop down into holes and gaps in the vegetation. Northern pike dart out of cover to make short work of such hapless-looking creatures.

Remember that weeds are important, but pike key in on variations of the vegetation theme. Shallow lake basins that harbor dropoffs, steep bars adjacent to weeded flats, and clumps of emerging weeds are the perfect places to try yet another spring tactic. The secret weapon here is the lipless rattle bait. Rattle baits cover lots of water quickly, tick the tops of weeds, and probe the deeper edge habitat. The combination of tight vibrations and quick wobbles pique the interest of pike and result in smash-and-grab strikes. Even lethargic pike get excited over the antics of a Rapala Clackin’ Rap or Daiwa Game Vibe Beauty.

Knockin’ the wood is a technique more commonly employed by bass anglers, but there are spring pike applications as well. When the weeds are sparse, northern pike move into woody tangles of fallen trees and docks where they border deep water. Timbered points and stump fields are a real draw. Getting a big pike out of that mess can be tricky, and so floating crank baits that cast accurately and can be danced through the wood are called for. Pike aren’t particularly fussy in the wood so just open the tackle box and use what you’ve got.

As the water warms, don’t be shy about banging the wood with a weedless Dardevle. Northern pike don’t seem to mind a lot of commotion and the louder the ruckus, the more interested they become. Pike ambush plenty of tough critters and a loud spoon isn’t going to intimidate them.

There’s a special place for Countdown Rapalas and similar controlled-depth baits. As the bigger northern begin to migrate out to weeded bars, flats, and break lines, cast or troll from 10 to 20 feet down. Pike in the 30-inch-plus range can almost be classified as cold-water fish with temperature preferences down to 50 degrees. To reach these fish you’ll have to go deep. Fish finders are invaluable during this period.

Occasionally, you’ll have to think outside of the box in order to catch pike in the spring. Pike are recovering not only from the stresses of spawning, but from a depleted pantry as well. These top predators can eat creatures up to a third of their own length; due to a aggressive temperament and a rumbling stomach, pike will attack baits up to 8 or 9 inches. Toss muskie baits as large as a Storm Thunderbeast or a 10-inch plastic grub into holes in the vegetation and slowly drag them over developing weed tops. Give a big northern time to size up your offering. Ignore the chuckles from your fishing buddies when you tie on a whopper-sized bait. You will get the last laugh.

Angler preferences toward fishing gear vary considerably, but the fact remains that fighting big pike requires medium-heavy to heavy gear with muscle. Fast-action tips to cast lighter lures are OK, but heavier rods are needed for heavy baits. A good rule of thumb is to use a rod in the 7-foot range for maximum control. Spool reels with 25- to 40-pound monofilament or an equivalent super line. Strong leaders are required equipment. A pair of needle-nosed pliers for hook removal is a given to avoid teeth that can easily shred a finger.

The best spring pike tactic is the one that happens to be working at the moment. Experiment with a variety of baits and presentations in good habitat and it won’t be long before you’re on the money.

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UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT WALLEYE PATTERNS

Walleye in Wood and Brush:

5045378679_2afff95b5dIn many lakes drowned wood and brush are the main dominate cover that walleyes rely on as a food source and shade from the sun. You will find scattered walleye around almost any type of submerged timber, stumps, logs, and trees that have eroded from shorelines. To increase your chances on finding a walleye hotspot of drowned wood and brush here’s a tip, deep water. The best wood is in or near deep water. A tree toppled off a steep river bank leading into deep water will hold more walleye than one laying in shallow water. Find a stump field flat next to an old river bed on a flowage and you’ll find a walleye magnet.

During early spring when the winter thaw occurs and high water floods rivers and flowages try shoreline brush and lay downs as this will harbor small baitfish and insects that walleyes feed on. As the water begins to drop walleye will move back to deeper water.

Drowned wood, lay downs and brush plies composed of fir, pine or maple and typically last for years. By contrast birch and poplar provide cover for two to three years before decomposing. Drowned wood is terrific cover. The more complex branches are below the surface the better fishing. More branches equal more cover for a game fish to ambush prey. Finding “good” drowned wood means finding walleye.

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Finesse fishing in wood and brush requires fine wire weed less hooks (size 6-8) on a split shot rig, brush guard jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 oz., both tipped with live bait. These presentations will increase your hooking percentage and eliminate snags. When fishing deep water try a slip bobber rig. Don’t be afraid to drop your bait into the thickest tangle of brush and logs, the larger walleyes are usually found where the cover is densest, you may lose a few rigs in the process but the rewards are well worth it.

Suspended Walleyes:

Locating and catching suspended walleye can be a difficult task. Finding suspended walleyes requires the use of a graph or LCD (liquid crystal display) depth finder. Once fish are located you must present the bait or lure precisely at that depth. For Wawang Lake one of the easiest techniques to do this is a slip bobber rig set at the depth walleyes are found. If walleyes are a few feet from the bottom rather than lowering the bait try floating the bait up off the bottom using a slip sinker rig with a floating jig head or a float attached to the leader. You can also Vertical jigging - 1

catch walleyes off the bottom by jigging vertically with jigs, blade baits and tail spin jigs, just keep the line taut to feel the strikes.

On large bodies of water such as the main, deeper sections of Wawang Lake the most effective and popular presentation for suspended walleyes is trolling with artificial lures.

  • Why Walleyes Suspend

Water Temperature: In deep clear lakes walleyes will seek deeper water after feeding to avoid sunlight. On stained lakes they often move more laterally than deeper if the water temperature stratifies into layers. By moving laterally they will maintain in the same temperature layer. Walleyes that feed on reefs will suspend off the reef to rest, not to feed.

  • Forage:

Walleyes are typically known to relate to the bottom for feeding, this is especially true when they feed on immature insects, particularly mayfly nymphs that hatch on the bottom. But other favorite forage do not necessarily relate to the bottom such as open water baitfish like shad and ciscoes that can be found almost at any depth. At times walleyes will be opportunistic feeders by ignoring their temperature and oxygen preferences for an easy meal by suspending in open water just below bait fish schools that dimple the surface.

  • Oxygen:

During the summer on lakes that stratify, the deep water may lack sufficient oxygen which forces the walleyes to suspend or use shallow water cover such as weed beds.

  • Toxic Gas:

In many cases walleyes will suspend to avoid high levels of toxic gases that accumulate near the bottom. This happens during the summer months on calm sunny days when the maximum amount of sunlight penetration promotes decomposition of organic bottom sediments releasing carbon dioxide and methane gas. This moves walleyes higher in the water column, as much as up to 10 feet. On windy days when the water is churning this prevents the gases to accumulate so the walleyes need not suspend.

  • Post Cold Front Walleye:

It’s no question that the toughest time to catch any species including the walleye is after a cold front. Blue bird skies and cool temperatures follow the front’s passage. This results in the walleye tightly hugging the lake bottom or buried into the weeds. Their feeding window is very limited if at all. When they do feed it will be short. Depending on the cold front severity it may take a number of days of stable weather to resume normal fishing activity.

WALLEYES_ON_THE_ROCKS

When faced in this situation here are a few tips that may improve your success.

  • There are two key points for Cold Front Walleyes Live Bait & Super Slow
  • Fish very early in the day or in the evening. Cold front walleyes are best active during low light periods or night.
  • Fish deeper during the day: (5-10 feet) than normal as increased sunlight from cold front clear skies will drive walleyes deeper
  • Downsize live bait:Walleyes are in lethargic state during a cold front, small live bait will work better than larger ones. Use 2″ fatheads than 4″ red tail chubs
  • Downsize jigs: Try a 1/16 oz rather than an 1/8oz tipped with live bait. A lighter jig will drop slower and gives the walleye extra time to strike. Retrieve very slowly. Walleyes will not hit fast moving baits during this period.Attach a stinger hook to the jig: Many times a walleye will just nip the bait and let it go, with a stinger hook you will hook a good percentage of these short striking walleyes.
  • Go light on line:

Cold front walleyes are line shy, use 8lb clear monofilament or fluorocarbon.

  • Try Weeds:

Some walleyes will bury into the weeds rather than seek deeper water. These walleyes will also resume normal activity before the walleyes in deeper water.

  • Murky Water:

On shallow water lakes than have murky water stirred by strong north winds that usually come after a cold front, try fishing mid-day and shallower. The water temperature is the warmest and the level of sunlight is not a factor due to the water clarity.

  • Clear Lakes:

If you’re fishing a clear water lake with no luck move to a river or stained lake because they are not affected as bad as clear water

Clear Water Walleye:

26" WALLEYE

26″ WALLEYE

Fishing walleyes on clear water lakes (Visibility 10 feet or Greater) is quite the challenge. Walleye in clear water are easily spooked by sound or movements (boats). On sunny days they will retreat to depths of 30 plus feet only to move up shallow to feed during early morning and evening hours. On windy chop or overcast days they follow the same dawn dusk patterns but some feeding occurs during the day.

The best suggestion we can offer you for walleye fishing clear water lakes is to keep your set-up presentation in a stealth mode and again keep noise and boat movement to a minimum. If you’re anchored keep the boat as far away as possible from the targeted structure while casting. For trolling use inline planer boards to spread the fishing lines 50 feet away from the boat.

If you’re using a live bait set-up keep the hooks as small as possible and use ultralight 10# test line on slip bobbers and slip sinker rigs. Jigs also produce well on clear water lakes but stay with natural colors black, purple and brown. The same goes for artificial lures, match the hatch that resembles the baitfish, black & silver, black & gold, and perch finishes rather than hot fluorescent colors. Long slender bodied minnow type lures will be the best performer.

Dark Water Walleye:

  • Walleye fishing on stained or dark water tends to be more consistent than on clear water lakes. This type of water is also less affected by weather changes, especially cold fronts. With the lack of sunlight walleyes will stay shallow most of time and are easier to locate and catch. If the visibility is less than one foot try bright and noisy artificial lures which are easier for the walleye to detect. If you prefer live bait add a fluorescent attractor or spinner.
  • The best fishing times on dark water is mid-day between 10:00-5:00 rather than dawn and dusk. The night bite is likely to be poor. Sunny calm days will out-perform cloudy windy days. The best lures for dark waters are crank baits that vibrate and have rattle chambers and inline spinners in fluorescent colors. Jigs will also work surprisingly well even though they do not produce any sound. Use fluorescent and glow in the dark (phosphorescent) colors tipped with live bait.
  • On stained lakes with visibility of 3 feet or greater, live bait set-ups are a better choice than artificial lures. Add a brightly colored attractor or spinner to your live bait rigs to help attract fish.
  • Locations:

With weed growth on dark water and stained lakes being very limited find the weed edges and cast perpendicular to the edge. Shallow reefs and rock humps will also hold fish regularly.

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