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Category Archives: Fishing Hooks

Jigging Up Walleye

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Walleyes are much harder to pattern in fall than in summer because most lakes stratify during the summer months, forming distinct temperature layers. The shallow water is usually too warm for walleyes and the deep water often lacks sufficient oxygen, so the walleyes hang out in the middle, where optimum temperature and oxygen levels exist. But that all changes in fall, when the temperature of the shallows drops to that of the depths and the entire lake circulates, resulting in adequate oxygen from top to bottom. Now the fish can go anywhere they want to find a meal.

On lakes with low water clarity, you can find fall walleyes only a few feet deep. At the same time, walleyes in a clear lake might be 40 feet deep or more.   No matter the depth, late summer and fall jigging can produce some of the year’s best walleye fishing, especially for trophy-caliber fish. Here’s a quick rundown of the equipment and techniques needed for success in both shallow and deep water.

Shallow-Water Jigging
Fall walleyes are in the shallows for only one reason: to eat. When you find them shallow, they’re aggressive and will often respond better to an intense jigging action than to a subtle one. That’s why rip-jigging (also known as snap-jigging) works so well.

WORK IT RIGHT: When rip-jigging, you work the jig with sharp jerks and then throw slack into the line so the jig plummets. The jig never hits bottom, however, because you make another jerk just before it touches.

Most rip-jigging is done as you slowly troll at about 1 mph, but you can also do it while drifting or still-fishing.

With a little practice, you’ll discover how hard to rip and how long to pause after throwing slack, so that you

keep the jig moving erratically while almost, but not quite, touching bottom. The most difficult aspect of rip-jigging is getting used to the fact that you might not feel the usual tap or twitch that signals a bite because of the slack in the line. It doesn’t really matter, though, because you’ll set the hook with the next rip.

Like any other fishing presentation, rip-jigging doesn’t work all the time. There will be days when the fish are in a less aggressive mood and prefer a slower, more subtle jigging action. Experiment with different motions and let the fish tell you what they want.

When the walleye are fussy, slowly drop your rod tip and let the jig fall back to the bottom and rest for a second or two. To catch these picky fish, I like to tip my jig with live bait, usually a minnow when the water is cold (less than 50º F or 10ºC), a leech when it’s tepid (52ºF to 68ºF or 11ºC to 20ºC) and half a crawler when it’s hot (warmer than 68ºF or 20ºC). But that rule is meant to be broken-bring all three baits and let the fish decide what they want to eat.

trilene xtGEAR: To snap the jig with minimal effort and take up slack line when setting the hook, you’ll need a fairly long rod. A 7-foot, fast-tip spinning outfit is ideal. Spool up with an abrasion-resistant line such as 8- to 10-pound-test Trilene XT. Lighter or softer line won’t stand up to the sharp ripping action. Even tough line might fray from abrasion on the guides, so it pays to check your line often and respool when necessary. Because you’re usually fishing depths of 10 feet or less, a 1/8-ounce jig should be sufficient, but if there’s a strong wind or heavy current, you might have to step up to a 1/4-ounce jig. Tip the jig with a 3- to 4-inch minnow and hook it through the mouth and out the top of the head.


Deepwater Jigging
Once the lake de-stratifies and surface temperatures drop to around 50 degrees, baitfish will head to the warmth of deeper water, and walleyes will follow. In gin-clear lakes, you might find them as deep as 70 feet, but 30 to 45 feet is normal. Any kind of structure with a firm, rocky bottom might hold walleyes in late fall, but big, rocky main-lake humps offer your best fishing.

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WORK IT RIGHT:  Rarely are walleyes super-aggressive in cold water, so a slow jigging presentation works best. A jig-minnow combo fished with short 2- to 4-inch hops will usually do the trick, but there are times when a slow drag with no hopping action is better.

Many anglers make the mistake of using a jig that’s too heavy. They’ll tie on a 3/4- to 1-ounce jig, thinking they need that much weight to get down in the deep water. But a heavy jig sinks too fast, resulting in fewer strikes. The idea is to use the lightest jig you can, taking into consideration water depth and wind conditions.

oddballjig2

In calm weather, a 1/4-ounce jig will easily get down to 35 feet, but on a windy day you’ll have to add another 1/8 to 1/4 ounce to stay down. When fishing deep water, it’s important to keep your line vertical. If you’re dragging too much line, you won’t feel the strikes.

GEAR:   A sensitive rod is a must for jigging deep water walleyes. I use a G.Loomis GLX 722, which has the extra-fast action necessary to detect the slight nudge that often signals a deep water walleye bite. Mono simply has too much stretch for fishing this deep; use no-stretch line, like 6- to 10-pound-test Fire line, to help you detect light bites and get a firm hook set. Splice on 10 feet of mono or fluorocarbon leader to reduce line visibility and dampen the sharp jigging action that you get with no-stretch line. Late-fall walleyes generally hold in tight schools and don’t move much, so once you find a pod of fish, chances are they’ll hang around that area through the rest of the fall.

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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits

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Topwater Lures

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that is simply fascinating. The ever willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

An all-time favorite topwater for pike is a walk-the-dog bait, such as Heddon’s Zara Spook or Rapala’s Skitter Walk.

Rapala-Skitter-Walk

Best fished with a stout baitcasting rod, you must impart a side-to-side swimming motion to the bait. Do this by twitching the rod tip down, then immediately raising it again. This causes the bait to jerk to the side. Raising the rod gives the lure slack line to pull as it glides. After a split-second pause, start another twitch to cause the bait to turn and glide in the other direction.   Continuous twitching results in side-to-side surface motion that causes a lot of commotion. The sight is often too much for pike to pass up.

TopRaider

A Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective   tactic is mixing up the tempo of the twitches throughout the retrieve.   Slowing it down or speeding it up often triggers hits. If a fish swipes at a bait, but misses it you can often get a pike to hit again. One method is prolonging the pause between twitches. After some practice you can get the bait to dance in the strike zone for a while. This conveys an injured and disoriented fish. Pike will often return to hit again with this tactic.

Another option is continuing the retrieve and then casting back over the area again.   I’ve lost count of the number of pike I’ve got on a follow-up cast after they missed the bait the first time.

Prop Baits

imagesCARRGNJF

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weedbed

These baits are easy to work. Simply cast out and reel it   in on a steady retrieve. The lure’s metallic tail spins as you pull it through the water. This prop appendage creates a plopping sound and leaves a wake on the surface. The steady rhythm and straight path make it easy for pike to hone in on. A word of advice when working these lures: don’t retrieve them too quickly. The best tempo is often a pace just fast enough for the blades to be continuously turning.

An alternative to a steady retrieve with these lures is   using a twitch-pause pattern. This is particularly effective for lures with blades in the front as well as on the rear. The metallic sputtering caused by the twitch is extremely effective at attracting pike.

Buzzbaits

BUZZBAITS
Unlike the above lures, which often feature treble-hook clad models, buzzbaits are a single-hook lure. The up facing hook point makes a fairly weedless presentation. Buzzbaits have either metal or plastic blades   attached at one end of a wire form, which has a dressed hook at the lower end. These lures excel at fishing the shallow, weedy haunts pike frequently inhabit. I’ll cast them on the edge of lily pad bays, among sparsely growing rice or reed areas, and sunken wood zones. In fact, anywhere you think might hold pike are good places to cast buzzbaits. Bring it in on a fairly steady retrieve, but keep in mind twitches in the rod tip or changing the bait’s direction can trigger strikes.

When targeting pike with topwaters, remember that calm to slight ripple conditions are best. Don’t be afraid to try topwaters in small waves though because big fish often hunt in the turmoil caused by waves, and will still take surface lures. Pike are always surveying their habitat for easy meals; often, a topwater is one of the best lures to portray vulnerability. Not to mention that watching a northern hit a surface lure always gets the adrenaline flowing!

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Weight Forward Jigs: WF

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Weight Forward Jigs, most commonly referred to as lead heads or ball jigs have been with us for decades.  These classic W.F. jigs are by far the most used and abused jig in the industry. A common error that anglers make is casting ball style jigs into weed, wood and rock structure, losing one jig after the other as if there were no better alternative. REMEMBER THIS:  Ball jigs are not designed for casting.  All W.F. jigs, including ball heads, power heads and the alike were designed to do one thing well and that’s vertical jigging. Granted, you can pound a nail with a screw driver, but using a ball jig for anything other than up and down is to severely limit your effectiveness as a jigger.

VertStandA personal favorite Weight Forward Jig is the Odd’Ball Jig from Bait Rigs Tackle Co. This performance W.F. jig has a counter balanced head that produces a unique teeter totter action when vertically jigged. Additionally, this head design will standup on bottom.  Some prefer a one, two punch of vertical jigging and a standup presentation over bottom.

Regardless of your choice of W.F. jig, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses inherent to this design. It is important to note that the major strength of W.F. jigs is that they hang in a horizontal position at rest. To gain a better picture in your mind see the illustration of the Odd’Ball Jig.  Note that the long portion of the hook shank will moddballartcome to rest in a horizontal position. This places the hook point in the ideal position for bait inhalation and hook setting. Conversely the W.F. jigs biggest weakness is that it plunges head first on the fall, placing the hook point in a vertical position. This is a very poor position for hook setting. What happen here is you feel the fish, he feels you, but you don’t have a good point of contact with the hook. The end result is you roll the jig in the fishes mouth and if your lucky, rip some lips on the way out. Unfortunately, as we all know, fish love to hit jigs on the fall and this is another major reason why W.F. jigs should be avoided for cast and retrieve presentations.

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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Topwater Lures

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that is simply fascinating. The ever willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

An all-time favorite topwater for pike is a walk-the-dog bait, such as Heddon’s Zara Spook or Rapala’s Skitter Walk.

Rapala-Skitter-Walk

Best fished with a stout baitcasting rod, you must impart a side-to-side swimming motion to the bait. Do this by twitching the rod tip down, then immediately raising it again. This causes the bait to jerk to the side. Raising the rod gives the lure slack line to pull as it glides. After a split-second pause, start another twitch to cause the bait to turn and glide in the other direction.   Continuous twitching results in side-to-side surface motion that causes a lot of commotion. The sight is often too much for pike to pass up.

TopRaider

A Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective   tactic is mixing up the tempo of the twitches throughout the retrieve.   Slowing it down or speeding it up often triggers hits. If a fish swipes at a bait, but misses it you can often get a pike to hit again. One method is prolonging the pause between twitches. After some practice you can get the bait to dance in the strike zone for a while. This conveys an injured and disoriented fish. Pike will often return to hit again with this tactic.

Another option is continuing the retrieve and then casting back over the area again.   I’ve lost count of the number of pike I’ve got on a follow-up cast after they missed the bait the first time.

Prop Baits

imagesCARRGNJF

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weedbed

These baits are easy to work. Simply cast out and reel it   in on a steady retrieve. The lure’s metallic tail spins as you pull it through the water. This prop appendage creates a plopping sound and leaves a wake on the surface. The steady rhythm and straight path make it easy for pike to hone in on. A word of advice when working these lures: don’t retrieve them too quickly. The best tempo is often a pace just fast enough for the blades to be continuously turning.

An alternative to a steady retrieve with these lures is   using a twitch-pause pattern. This is particularly effective for lures with blades in the front as well as on the rear. The metallic sputtering caused by the twitch is extremely effective at attracting pike.

Buzzbaits

BUZZBAITS
Unlike the above lures, which often feature treble-hook clad models, buzzbaits are a single-hook lure. The up facing hook point makes a fairly weedless presentation. Buzzbaits have either metal or plastic blades   attached at one end of a wire form, which has a dressed hook at the lower end. These lures excel at fishing the shallow, weedy haunts pike frequently inhabit. I’ll cast them on the edge of lily pad bays, among sparsely growing rice or reed areas, and sunken wood zones. In fact, anywhere you think might hold pike are good places to cast buzzbaits. Bring it in on a fairly steady retrieve, but keep in mind twitches in the rod tip or changing the bait’s direction can trigger strikes.

43 INCH NORTHERN PIKE

When targeting pike with topwaters, remember that calm to slight ripple conditions are best. Don’t be afraid to try topwaters in small waves though because big fish often hunt in the turmoil caused by waves, and will still take surface lures. Pike are always surveying their habitat for easy meals; often, a topwater is one of the best lures to portray vulnerability. Not to mention that watching a northern hit a surface lure always gets the adrenaline flowing!

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Spring Walleye Fishing

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Spring walleye fishing can offer some of the years best fishing, and some of the worst. Warming weather is usually the indicator in this department.

If the temperature rises just a degree or two, and stays relatively constant, the bite can really turn on. If the mercury goes south so often does the bite.

During the pre-spawn period walleye are usually found in deeper water, fifteen to twenty feet down just off their spawning beds. As the spawn gets underway the opposite is true and most fish will be caught in the two to six foot ranges.

Catching walleye, particularly big females, during this time can also be tricky. Often the smaller, more aggressive males are the first so strike a passing jig or live bait rig. Once the spawn is in full swing the females stop feeding and any fish caught during this period are all males. Once the females have finished spawning they begin their journey to their summer holding spots. Big females can be caught at this time as they gorge themselves trying to replenish energy used during the spawn.

walleye jiggingCatching walleye in the spring can require a wide range of tactics. Jigging and rigging are probably the most popular, but don’t count out slip bobbers or crankbaits. The only way to know what works is to experiment. I’ve always done what I do best and work my way through the different techniques until I start catching fish.

JIGGING
When jigging in Ontario start by using a ¼ ounce jig head or bigger usually tipped with a minnow, leech, or night crawler.  Work down in size until you begin consistently catch fish. Normally start by lifting and dropping the jig keeping the line tight at all times to feel even the slightest hit. If that does not produce use a dragging method which almost always triggers a strike. Experiment with size and different bait until the fish tells you what it wants, and then fine-tune your color contrast to hook in to that big one.

LIVE BAIT RIGS
Live bait rigging can be done so many different ways that it’s tough to get in to detail on all aspects of rigging. Preferably a straight J hook with a leech on a ¼ ounce walking sinker and a black barrel swivel stopper. When the water is stained or fish are holding just off the bottom, use a floating jig head or a northland gumdrop floater. Either technique will generally produce fish in a more

aggressive mood. Catching fish on these rigs depends on two things. Bait choice and most importantly, boat speed. This will generally be the indicator for the day on how fast to travel to catch fish. Live bait rigging is a great way to cover more water quicker and find fish faster.

CRANKBAITS
VIB-vibrator-Crankbait-Lure-Bait-7CM-10-5G-3-colors-Fishing-tackle-two-hooks-2012-newlyOn the other end of the spectrum from jig fishing is crankin’. Cranks will generally find aggressive fish fast and eliminate unproductive waters equally as fast. They can be fished in variety of ways from planer boards to bottom bouncers. I typically use Reef Runner crankbaits because of the exceptional wobble they produce. I generally long line these cranks, but use boards in shallow and when fish are spooky, like in clearer water. The key to catching walleye’s on cranks is experimentation and duplication. Once you catch a fish duplicate the exact boat speed, amount of line out, and the size and shape of bait and you could have a good day running cranks’.

SLIP BOBBERS
Once you have found a concentration of fish, slip bobbing can be the deadliest way to catch walleyes yet. Many tournament anglers do not like this style of fishing but it has been proven to produce time and again. A simple J hook with an active leech on is sufficient. The more natural you can present the bait the better your odds at a good fish. Fish will often pass on moving baits but take a bait dangling right in front of their nose. Never count out this simple yet deadly walleye pattern.

Sliding Slip Bobber Rig

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Jigging Up Walleye

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Walleyes are much harder to pattern in fall than in summer because most lakes stratify during the summer months, forming distinct temperature layers. The shallow water is usually too warm for walleyes and the deep water often lacks sufficient oxygen, so the walleyes hang out in the middle, where optimum temperature and oxygen levels exist. But that all changes in fall, when the temperature of the shallows drops to that of the depths and the entire lake circulates, resulting in adequate oxygen from top to bottom. Now the fish can go anywhere they want to find a meal.

On lakes with low water clarity, you can find fall walleyes only a few feet deep. At the same time, walleyes in a clear lake might be 40 feet deep or more.   No matter the depth, late summer and fall jigging can produce some of the year’s best walleye fishing, especially for trophy-caliber fish. Here’s a quick rundown of the equipment and techniques needed for success in both shallow and deep water.

Shallow-Water Jigging
Fall walleyes are in the shallows for only one reason: to eat. When you find them shallow, they’re aggressive and will often respond better to an intense jigging action than to a subtle one. That’s why rip-jigging (also known as snap-jigging) works so well.

WORK IT RIGHT: When rip-jigging, you work the jig with sharp jerks and then throw slack into the line so the jig plummets. The jig never hits bottom, however, because you make another jerk just before it touches.

Most rip-jigging is done as you slowly troll at about 1 mph, but you can also do it while drifting or still-fishing.

With a little practice, you’ll discover how hard to rip and how long to pause after throwing slack, so that you

keep the jig moving erratically while almost, but not quite, touching bottom. The most difficult aspect of rip-jigging is getting used to the fact that you might not feel the usual tap or twitch that signals a bite because of the slack in the line. It doesn’t really matter, though, because you’ll set the hook with the next rip.

Like any other fishing presentation, rip-jigging doesn’t work all the time. There will be days when the fish are in a less aggressive mood and prefer a slower, more subtle jigging action. Experiment with different motions and let the fish tell you what they want.

When the walleye are fussy, slowly drop your rod tip and let the jig fall back to the bottom and rest for a second or two. To catch these picky fish, I like to tip my jig with live bait, usually a minnow when the water is cold (less than 50º F or 10ºC), a leech when it’s tepid (52ºF to 68ºF or 11ºC to 20ºC) and half a crawler when it’s hot (warmer than 68ºF or 20ºC). But that rule is meant to be broken-bring all three baits and let the fish decide what they want to eat.

trilene xtGEAR: To snap the jig with minimal effort and take up slack line when setting the hook, you’ll need a fairly long rod. A 7-foot, fast-tip spinning outfit is ideal. Spool up with an abrasion-resistant line such as 8- to 10-pound-test Trilene XT. Lighter or softer line won’t stand up to the sharp ripping action. Even tough line might fray from abrasion on the guides, so it pays to check your line often and respool when necessary. Because you’re usually fishing depths of 10 feet or less, a 1/8-ounce jig should be sufficient, but if there’s a strong wind or heavy current, you might have to step up to a 1/4-ounce jig. Tip the jig with a 3- to 4-inch minnow and hook it through the mouth and out the top of the head.


Deepwater Jigging
Once the lake de-stratifies and surface temperatures drop to around 50 degrees, baitfish will head to the warmth of deeper water, and walleyes will follow. In gin-clear lakes, you might find them as deep as 70 feet, but 30 to 45 feet is normal. Any kind of structure with a firm, rocky bottom might hold walleyes in late fall, but big, rocky main-lake humps offer your best fishing.

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WORK IT RIGHT:  Rarely are walleyes super-aggressive in cold water, so a slow jigging presentation works best. A jig-minnow combo fished with short 2- to 4-inch hops will usually do the trick, but there are times when a slow drag with no hopping action is better.

Many anglers make the mistake of using a jig that’s too heavy. They’ll tie on a 3/4- to 1-ounce jig, thinking they need that much weight to get down in the deep water. But a heavy jig sinks too fast, resulting in fewer strikes. The idea is to use the lightest jig you can, taking into consideration water depth and wind conditions.

oddballjig2

In calm weather, a 1/4-ounce jig will easily get down to 35 feet, but on a windy day you’ll have to add another 1/8 to 1/4 ounce to stay down. When fishing deep water, it’s important to keep your line vertical. If you’re dragging too much line, you won’t feel the strikes.

GEAR:   A sensitive rod is a must for jigging deep water walleyes. I use a G.Loomis GLX 722, which has the extra-fast action necessary to detect the slight nudge that often signals a deep water walleye bite. Mono simply has too much stretch for fishing this deep; use no-stretch line, like 6- to 10-pound-test Fire line, to help you detect light bites and get a firm hook set. Splice on 10 feet of mono or fluorocarbon leader to reduce line visibility and dampen the sharp jigging action that you get with no-stretch line. Late-fall walleyes generally hold in tight schools and don’t move much, so once you find a pod of fish, chances are they’ll hang around that area through the rest of the fall.

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Spinner Rigs Slay Walleye

2seriousdblLGAre you looking for a simple, yet effective walleye bait that is inexpensive and will have you limiting out on Wawang Lake? Look no further, as the spinner rig may be the answer to your prayers. By learning what the rig consists of, how and where to fish it, and the reason why walleye love it so much, you will be on your way to a phenomenal season of fishing – and that’s what each of us wants, isn’t it?

What the Heck is a Spinner Rig?

A spinner rig is quite basic in its design, but do not let that fool you. This bait catches fish! The rig itself is made up of a spinner blade put onto your main line, followed by a few plastic beads. You then attach a short-shanked hook, and sometimes followed by another one a few inches down the line. And there you have it.  Either the double hook rig, or, single hook rig work well, but, with large or long baits a double hook rig is suggested.

sliding sinker bottom rigThe only thing missing is to attach a weight (called a walking sinker) one to four feet up the line from the spinner and you are good to go. A fat, juicy live bait is then hooked once through the head with the first hook, and then hooked halfway down the body by the second hook. This will be what the hungry walleye will key-in on. If this description sounds confusing, don’t let it phase you, as you can purchase pre-made spinner rigs at your local tackle shop for fewer than two dollars.

How to Fish It?

The basic technique for fishing spinner rigs is to slowly troll or drift these baits behind the boat. The walking sinker that is attached to your line will slowly drag on bottom, (most walking sinkers are relatively snag-proof), and, depending on the length of line you left between your weight and hook, will be the distance the rig will run up off the bottom.

Many anglers prefer to slowly drift across productive structure areas pulling spinner rigs, as they can maintain contact at all times with the bottom, (where the walleye like to hang out), and the presentation will be less rushed than a trolling pattern with the big motor would be. This is not to say that you can’t catch walleye by trolling, but the key reason these spinners work is the action and   enticement they offer the walleye at these slow and deliberate speeds.

 

28.5 inch walleye

Experimentation is often your best bet when it comes to choosing blade and bead colors.   Generally, bright colors will get the nod, although I have had days when the simple switch from an orange blade to a yellow one made all the difference.   Since they are an inexpensive bait to buy, or make, I suggest carrying an assortment with different size blades and colors to see which ones attract the wandering walleye best.

Where to Fish It?

Spinner rigs   really shine at a number of specific areas of a lake. Rock shoals and drop-offs are key spots to try as they are walleye magnets, and fish on these spots will generally be relating to the bottom contour – the exact spot these rigs travel. Other spots to try are alongside the edge of weed lines, and through wide-open flats that typically hold walleye. Out in front of dams and alongside current break areas have also been successful areas for me when using these rigs.

wi0703_DeadWalley

Weed cover can foul these baits so it is best to fish them in open water over bottom structure such as sand, gravel or rock. If the sinker does happen to snag, a simple tug will break the “drop line”, leaving your main rig intact.

 

Why Does it Work?

The three main reasons that spinner rigs are so successful in catching walleye are the sight, sound and smell factors they possess. The flash of a spinner whirling   in the water will always grab a fish’s attention. The dirt and sediment kicked up by the walking sinker will accomplish this also. Both of these factors will also cause vibrations and sound in the water column that are attractive to the walleye. Finally, the night crawler is the “ace in the hole”, as any following fish will not be able to resist the smell and taste of that juicy morsel, fluttering through the water.

 

# 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group 6/2013
  # 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group for the last 12 years.

Take a   “spin” with this proven rig this season, and see for yourself its fish catching qualities. It may not look like much, but I can assure you that it sure puts a magical spell on the resident walleye.

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CHASING THE ‘EYES’

???????????????????????????????More people want to know how to catch walleye than any other game fish.  Also known as pickerel, they are often difficult to locate and land. The challenge they present makes fishing them successfully an angling accomplishment.  Yet, for the novice angler finding a lake that has a fisheries management program will without a doubt help you get on those walleye quicker.  So Wawang Lake is where you’ll want to begin.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you head out on the water this season. Early season walleye are best located in shallow waters as they are not long out of spawning and are looking to stock up on feed to replace what was lost as they were preoccupied during the spawn. Shoals with gravel are excellent places to start looking, especially near the drop off to deeper water.

Quite often you will be able to visually spot them in these areas as the water is generally clearer and the walleye will stand out against the gravel bottom. In the water you are fishing, look for the edges of weed beds with a change in depth. This can be in a narrows were the deeper part of the water slopes up toward the bank, or on a bend off a point on the inside of the turn near a sand bar, walleye will be on the edge of these areas. The current is slower here and is a good place for harboring bait and acts like a snack table for feeding fish.

Sunken islands in the lake work well as do old break lines, humps and reefs. If you search the water that you will be fishing in, you should not have too much trouble locating these types of spots.  At Wawang Lake we provide a detailed, contour map of the lake that gets our guests started in the right direction almost immediately.  Supper isn’t too far behind.

Several types of baits work well for walleye. Favorites are crank-baits. Rapalas (straight or jointed) (floating or sinking) (suspending or rattle types). Next are the walleye divers, which imitate baitfish so accurately that walleye can’t resist them if presented properly.
Start using these baits with a stop motion, jerking the bait through the water instead of steady retrieves. Suspending lures are fished in the same manner, letting them sink to the bottom and then start jerking softly about a foot or so at a time. This allows the bait to sink slowly again to a predetermined depth before being tugged forward and up again. This motion represents smaller food chain species chasing and feeding which will attract larger fish and cause them to feed on the smaller fish.

Wawang catch

If fishing is more what you are after rather than angling try using minnows or leeches. Keep the leech stretched out as long as you can without ripping it.  Use a pickerel rig and hook a second hook to each. Do this by placing the second hook over the barb on the first hook and letting it trail.

Now you can hook the leech on the first hook and pull the tail down over the second hook. A bigger leech is more inviting than a small rounded one. Be sure not to have more than four hooks in total on your rig!

For trolling spinners or jigs with a larger hook use minnows and choose a medium to large minnow. Hook through the mouth, then out the gill, turn the hook then hook through the top of the head just infront of the doral fin.   This allows the minnow to swim freely and walleye often will mouth the bait, turning it and playing with it before swallowing it. Watch closely for light taps on your rod or float, and be prepared to set the hook at this point.

If trolling or cast retrieving is your preference then try using a three-way swivel on your line with the bait trailing, and the center swivel used to attach the weight. Do this by tying on about one foot of lighter line to the bottom eye of the swivel. The lighter line will break off easier in the event of a snag, saving the rest of the line. I use about four feet of line from the swivel to the bait, giving the bait lots of freedom to move side to side or up and down when retrieving the cast or trolling.

August Fishing Provides GREAT Results!

August Fishing Provides GREAT Results!

The foregoing methods are pretty much fail safe, but it remains that walleye are as challenging to fish as they are good to eat. So the best advice is to get out there and try it for yourself. Enjoy the day and the fishing will fall into place!

Join us at Wawang Lake Resort for some GREAT FISHING!!

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Spring Walleye Fishing

DSCN0035

Trev Billings – Omaha, NE with one of just the many walleye caught at Wawang Lake.

Spring walleye fishing can offer some of the years best fishing, and some of the worst. Warming weather is usually the indicator in this department.

If the temperature rises just a degree or two, and stays relatively constant, the bite can really turn on. If the mercury goes south so often does the bite.

During the pre-spawn period walleye are usually found in deeper water, fifteen to twenty feet down just off their spawning beds. As the spawn gets underway the opposite is true and most fish will be caught in the two to six foot ranges.

Catching walleye, particularly big females, during this time can also be tricky. Often the smaller, more aggressive males are the first so strike a passing jig or live bait rig. Once the spawn is in full swing the females stop feeding and any fish caught during this period are all males. Once the females have finished spawning they begin their journey to their summer holding spots. Big females can be caught at this time as they gorge themselves trying to replenish energy used during the spawn.

walleye jiggingCatching walleye in the spring can require a wide range of tactics. Jigging and rigging are probably the most popular, but don’t count out slip bobbers or crankbaits. The only way to know what works is to experiment. I’ve always done what I do best and work my way through the different techniques until I start catching fish.

JIGGING
When jigging in Ontario start by using a ¼ ounce jig head or bigger usually tipped with a minnow, leech, or night crawler.  Work down in size until you begin consistently catch fish. Normally start by lifting and dropping the jig keeping the line tight at all times to feel even the slightest hit. If that does not produce use a dragging method which almost always triggers a strike. Experiment with size and different bait until the fish tells you what it wants, and then fine-tune your color contrast to hook in to that big one.

 

LIVE BAIT RIGS
Live bait rigging can be done so many different ways that it’s tough to get in to detail on all aspects of rigging. Preferably a straight J hook with a leech on a ¼ ounce walking sinker and a black barrel swivel stopper. When the water is stained or fish are holding just off the bottom, use a floating jig head or a northland gumdrop floater. Either technique will generally produce fish in a more

aggressive mood. Catching fish on these rigs depends on two things. Bait choice and most importantly, boat speed. This will generally be the indicator for the day on how fast to travel to catch fish. Live bait rigging is a great way to cover more water quicker and find fish faster.

CRANKBAITS
VIB-vibrator-Crankbait-Lure-Bait-7CM-10-5G-3-colors-Fishing-tackle-two-hooks-2012-newlyOn the other end of the spectrum from jig fishing is crankin’. Cranks will generally find aggressive fish fast and eliminate unproductive waters equally as fast. They can be fished in variety of ways from planer boards to bottom bouncers. I typically use Reef Runner crankbaits because of the exceptional wobble they produce. I generally long line these cranks, but use boards in shallow and when fish are spooky, like in clearer water. The key to catching walleye’s on cranks is experimentation and duplication. Once you catch a fish duplicate the exact boat speed, amount of line out, and the size and shape of bait and you could have a good day running cranks’.

SLIP BOBBERS
Once you have found a concentration of fish, slip bobbing can be the deadliest way to catch walleyes yet. Many tournament anglers do not like this style of fishing but it has been proven to produce time and again. A simple J hook with an active leech on is sufficient. The more natural you can present the bait the better your odds at a good fish. Fish will often pass on moving baits but take a bait dangling right in front of their nose. Never count out this simple yet deadly walleye pattern.

Sliding Slip Bobber Rig

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FISHING PLUGS & CRANK BAITS

                     Fishing with Surface Lures, Minnow Baits, Crankbaits & Creatures

plugsThe word “Plug” was used many years ago to describe a lure that was hand carved from a block of wood, but most modern-day plugs are made from hollow plastic or molded plastic. Many avid anglers still consider wooden plugs the best lure having better action than similar ones made from plastic. A few lure manufacturers still use wood in making lure bodies, mainly balsa, some hardwoods and pine.

Most plugs replicate some type of bait fish but some types of plugs resemble mice, crayfish, insects, frogs, and snakes that fish prey on. Plugs attract fish by their action and flash, producing sounds that draws the attention of game fish. It may be the vibration of a minnow bait swimming through the water, or the splash pop and gurgle of a surface plug or just the sound of hooks clicking the lure body. Many new plastic plugs today have internal chambers filled with shot producing a rattling sound that attracts fish.

There are two category of plugs Surface (Topwater) and Subsurface (Diving).
Listed below is a reference guide to help you identify the common types of plugs and how they are used:

Surface Lures: (Topwater)
There is nothing more exciting to see a fish strike a surface lure. Surface lures work especially well when fish are shallow and the water temperature is 60 degrees or warmer. The water should be relatively calm otherwise the fish do not notice the action. The best hours to fish surface lures are generally early in the morning and at dusk into the evening. But there has been fish caught on surface lures in the middle of the day. For lure colors a very good universal color is black, it works well on all water types clear, stained or dark. Black provides the best silhouette against the sky as the fish looks upward towards the water surface. Other colors will work as well dependent on the forage in the water system such as Orange/Yellow for Perch, Green/White for Frogs, and White/Blue/Chrome for Shad and Shiners.

plugs2

CRAWLERS

Crawlers
Crawlers produce a plopping/gurgling sound, used on calm water with a steady slow retrieve. (Left) This crawler, also known as a creeper, has wings mounted on the side that will swim across the water. (Right) A large face plate will make this crawler body move back and forth producing a wake on the surface.

chuggers

CHUGGERS


Chuggers
Chuggers have an indented cup on the face of the lure, it catches water when the lure is jerked over the surface producing a popping/chugging sound.  .

center rotating blade

CENTER ROTATING BLADE

Center Rotating Blade

Commonly know as a Globe, this has been a favorite surface lure for pike anglers for many years. The center blade rotates upon the retrieve producing a bubble trail.

rotating tail

ROTATING TAIL

Rotating Tail

The tail section rotates creating a plopping noise from the blade attached. The tail rotating lures works well on calm water to slight chop. Commonly used for fishing northern pike.

surface wobbler

SURFACE WOBBLER

Surface Wobbler

The jointed surface wobbler creates a clicking sound as the lure rocks back and forth when retrieved,  and the tail prop adds a wake. Work this lure slow on calm water in the evening.

Propeller

PROPELLER

Propeller

The propeller lure has props on the nose and tail or on the tail, this topwater lure is versatile, run it slow with a straight retrieve, pop it using a stop and go method, or buzz it across the water to trigger aggressive feeding fish. Excellent lure for new anglers to experience top water fishing. Also know as Propbait or Topper Bait.

Stickbait

STICKBAIT

Stickbait

The stickbait has no lip or propellers, they also have no built-in wobble. The angler must supply lure action through a series of short sharp cadence pulls upon the retrieve creating the side to side action known as “walk the dog” on the surface. Also known as torpedo lure.

Flaptail

FLAPTAIL

Flaptail

The flaptail rocks back and forth while the brass blade on the tail slaps the water with a plopping sound. The retrieve is very slow allowing the bait to work. Used on calm water.


Subsurface Plugs (Diving, Floating, Sinking)
There are two categories of subsurface plugs, both have floating or sinking models. The first are diving lures that dive with attached plastic/metal lips or dive based on the lure body design such as cupped, pointed head or a flattened curved forehead, all have a side to side wiggle action as they travel through the water, these are commonly known as crankbaits. The second group of plugs refer to the action of the lure provided by the angler in the retrieve. These are classified as gliders, jerkbaits and twitch baits, the action of the each lure is achieved through a series of cadence pulls, strong jerks, or short stop and go techniques.

Diving lures will catch fish in any type of water calm or rough any time of the day. In selecting lures with a lip attached to the nose of the lure the angle of lip will determine the running depth of the lure, for instance a deep running lure will have an elongated lip attached approximately 90 degrees horizontal from the nose which acts as a diving plane forcing the lure downward. Mid range divers will have a lip set at a 45 degree angle. Shallow running lures will have lip placed vertically off of the nose creating a water resistance forcing the lure to run shallow.

Diving lures will run at depths from just under the surface at 1 foot to 20 feet or greater. All lure companies provide the running/diving depth of each lure on their box or packaging. It is wise to have a few of each to cover the fishing situations you could encounter. The deep runners are classified as 10 feet plus, mid range 5-10 feet and shallow are 1-3 feet.

Floating Minnow (Crankbait)

FLOATING MINNOW (CRANKBAIT)

Floating Minnow (Crankbait)

This is the most popular type and the most versatile crank bait lure designed to imitate a thin bodied bait fish. For shallow lures running at 1-3 feet as a floater this will maintain the shallow depth. Anglers who use midrange running lures have a few more options. In casting the angler can pop the lure along the surface or crank it a few feet down to 5 to 8 feet with a straight retrieve. For trolling using a midrange lip off of downrigger or lead core line the lure will maintain the set depth. When casting deep running lures this allows the angler to bounce lures off of deep structure (bottom bouncing) such as rocks or wood without getting snagged by letting the lure just float up after making contact.

Floating Shad-Perch crankbait

FLOATING SHAD/PERCH (CRANKBAIT)

Floating Shad/Perch (Crankbait)

Similar to the floating minnow style with a diving lip. These lures imitate the forage of shad and perch with a wider or fatter body style. Made from balsa wood and hollow plastic with and without internal chambers filled with shot to produce a loud rattle.

Floating Lipless (Crankbait)

FLOATING LIPESS (CRANKBAIT)

Floating Lipless (Crankbait)

The series of lures shown above have been made for many years, timed tested and still today catch many fish. The lure body design to dive is based on a cupped, or a flattened curved forehead all have a side to side wobble action as they travel through the water.

Vibrating (Crankbait)

VIBRATING (CRANKBAIT)

Vibrating (Crankbait)

These thin bodied lures do not have a diving lip and are attached to the line with the eye on top of the head, resulting in a tight wiggle. All vibrating lures have internal chambers filled with shot to produce a loud rattle. Most are sinking models but some do float at rest.

Sinking (Crankbait)

SINKING (CRANKBAIT)

Sinking (Crankbait)

Also known as a countdown this lure is weighted to sink horizontally. When fish suspend over 10 feet at a specific depth the sinking lure is a very good option to use. The angler simply cast the lure and count’s down at a rate of 1 foot per second to the specified depth and retrieves the lure. The sinking lure uses a midrange lip to maintain the depth until the end of the retrieve.

Neutrally Buoyant (Crankbait)

NEUTRALLY BUOYANT (CRANKBAIT)

Neutrally Buoyant (Crankbait)

Also referred as a suspending lure or a jerk bait. The lure is designed using an internal weight system or a weighted tape to achieve neutral buoyancy. The presentation is an erratic jerk pause type of retrieve, when stopped the lure will remain suspended and motionless in the water. Very good lure for finicky fish that follows and don’t bite.

Floating (Trolling Plugs)

FLOATING (TROLLING PLUGS)

Floating (Trolling Plugs)

These are designed and used primarily for trolling as they are relatively too light to cast. Generally most trolling plugs float at rest and dive based on the flattened forehead that creates a wide erratic wobble through the water. To achieve the depth required for a successful controlled trolling depth anglers use an online diving plane (Dipsey Diver) or attached to a line release on a downrigger.

Floating (Jerkbait)

FLOATING (JERKBAIT)

Floating (Jerkbait)

These are large elongated plugs intended for fishing pike. They float at rest and dive when given a strong jerk or pull than float upward to the surface. Many have a metal tail that can be bent to change the action and depth setting.

Sinking (Gliders & Twitch)

SINKING (GLIDERS & TWITCH)

Sinking (Gliders & Twitch)

Gliders and Twitch baits are lipless and sink, the action of each lure is in part provided by the angler. The Twitch bait (Top) is retrieved with a series of short taps of the rod or twitches which gives the lure an erratic motion, up down side to side action. The Glider (Bottom) is retrieved using timed cadence short pulls causing the lure to glide side to side or an underwater walk the dog action creating a dart and flash of the lure.

Creatures

CREATURES

Creatures

Freshwater game fish are predatory by nature there also opportunistic and will take advantage of any food source presented to them to fill their feeding needs. Other than bait fish they will also feed on crawfish, frogs, water snakes, swimming rodents, amphibians and insects. The above photo shows lures that imitate each type.

Lure Colors
Crankbaits are available in a spectrum of colors and finishes, painted, foil, chrome, prism, glass, photo and holographic finishes. In building your lure assortment the best is to mimic the dominant forage in the waters your fishing. Here’s a simple guideline of basic successful colors:

Open Water Suspended Forage: Shad, Shiners, Cisco’s, Alewives, Smelt
Black, Green, Blue, Purple top with Silver sides
Black top with White sides
All Silver Chrome or White

Structure Orientated Forage: Perch, Suckers, Crawfish, Minnows
Black top with Gold sides  (Sucker)
Black top with Silver sides (Minnow)
Black top with Orange sides (Perch-Crawfish)
Black top with Green sides with Bars (Perch)
Brown top Orange or Red sides (Crawfish)

Fluorescent Colors
For dark, stained or muddy waters the hot colors work effective, here’s a few top producers.
Dark Green top Chartreuse sides orange belly ( Fire tiger )
Blue top Chartreuse sides orange belly ( Parrot )
Orange top & sides Chartreuse belly (Hot Tiger )
Red Head Chartreuse Body ( Clown )

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