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Fishing Techniques

Bait Casting
Bait casting is a style of fishing that relies on the weight of the lure to extend the line into the target area. Bait casting involves a revolving-spool fishing reel (or “free spool”) mounted on the topside of the rod. Bait casting is definitely an acquired skill. Once you get the hang of the technique (check out the casting animation), you will be casting your lures right on target into the structures where fish are feeding and hanging out.

Bait Casting

With bait casting, you can use larger lures (1/2 to 3/4) and cast them for longer distances. To get started, you’ll need a rod with good spring action, a good quality anti-backlash reel, 10 to 15 pound test line and a variety of specific bait casting lures.

Spin Casting
We won’t say it’s foolproof, but spin casting is an ideal fishing method for beginning anglers. Spin-casting equipment is easier to use than bait casting. You can use it to cast both light and heavy lures without tangling or breaking your fishing line. Basic equipment includes a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6 to 10 pound test line for casting 1/16 to 3/4 ounce lures. You can use an open-face, closed-face or spin-cast reel for spin casting.
Spin Casting
Trolling
Trolling is done using a small electric motor that moves the boat quietly through the water so fish aren’t spooked. But you can also troll by towing a lure while walking along the edge of a shoreline, bridge or pier. The speed of the boat determines the depth of your bait. And the depth of the bait is determined by the species of fish you’re trying to catch. Use a spinning reel or a bait caster for trolling. Some states don’t allow motorized trolling, so check out your local fishing regulations to avoid tangling with the fish enforcers.
Trolling
Still Fishing
Still fishing is a versatile way to go. You can still fish from a pier, a bridge, an anchored boat or from shore. You can still fish on the bottom or off the bottom in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams for a variety of species. And you can still fish during most seasons and during any part of the day. Your equipment and the size of the hooks and bait you use depends on what kind of fish you’re after. But your best equipment for still fishing is patience. You have to wait for the fish to bite.
Still Fishing
Drift Fishing
Drift fishing allows you to fish over a variety of habitats as your boat drifts with the currents or wind movement. You can drift fish on the bottom or change the depth with a bobber or float. Natural baits work best. But jigs, lures and artificial flies will produce good results, too. You can drift fish on ponds, lakes, rivers and streams any time of the day and year.
Drift Fishing
Live Lining
Your fishing line is “live” when your boat is anchored in a flowing body of water like a river or stream. Use live or prepared fishing bait and keep it on or just off the bottom. Live lining off the bottom allows your line to drift with the current through holes and rocks where the fish may be holding. Your equipment and the size of your fishing hooks and lures depend on what type of fish you’re after.
Live Lining

Chumming
To attract fish or get them biting again, you can throw “chum” into the water where you’re fishing. You can use ground-up bait fish, canned sweet corn, dead minnows in a coffee can for ice fishing, pet food, even breakfast cereal. Or stir up some natural chum by scraping the bottom with a boat oar. Be sure not to over-chum. You want to get them interested in feeding; you do not want to stuff them before they get a chance to go after your hook. Chumming is not legal in all states. Check local fishing fishing regulations to make sure you are not illegally stimulating the hunger of your future catch.
Chumming
Bottom Bouncing
Bottom Bouncing is done from a drifting or trolling boat, and it’s a great way to attract or locate fish during most seasons and times of day. Use a buck tail jig or natural bait and drag it along the bottom. The dragging motion causes the lure to bounce along stirring up small clouds of sand or mud. After a few strikes with bottom bouncing, you can drop anchor and apply other methods to hook the particular kind of species you’ve attracted.
Bottom Bouncing

 
Vertical Jigging
Jig fishing is popular and challenging. Why? Because the person fishing is creating the action that attracts, or doesn’t attract, the particular type of fish he or she is trying to catch. Here’s how it works. Cast out and let your jig hook sink to the bottom. Then use your rod tip to raise the bait about a foot off the bottom. Then let it drop back to the bottom. You can jig up and down, side to side or up and down and sideways. Jig rigs come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and can be used with or without live fishing bait.
Vertical Jigging

Jig & Live Bait (minnow, leech or worm)
Attach the live bait to your jig hook and use it to bottom hop or sweep through your target area. To bottom hop, cast to the target and let the jig sink. Then reel in slowly, twitching the rod with every third or fourth turn of your reel. To sweep, cast to the target and drag the jig parallel to the bottom while reeling with a fairly tight line. Slow and steady gets the fish when you’re sweeping with a jig and live bait.
Jig & Live Bait

Surface Poppers
There’s nothing quite like the sudden, exciting rush of a fish rising to the surface and exploding onto your lure. Surface poppers are a style of top-water fishing bait that get their action from a cupped face carved or molded into the front of the lure body. Cast your popper out to the target area and let it settle briefly. By taking in small amounts of line slowly, the cupped face “pops” along the surface, imitating the action of prey, such as small insects, small frogs or even a small injured fish. To increase your chances of landing your catch, resist the urge to set the hook immediately when the fish strikes – let it take the popper under the water first – then set your hook firmly.

Using Spoons
Spoons are among the most popular lures and are easy to use. Some are thin and light, some are thick and heavy. And different spoons have different actions. How and where you’re fishing will determine how to use them.

Casting spoons: The basic technique is to cast it out and reel it back. A steady retrieve is usually best. If fish are curious but not striking, try slight variations in the speed or direction of your spoon.

Trolling spoons: Thinner and lighter than casting spoons so they can be trolled slowly. Typically used with depth control rig for open water species like trout, salmon or walleye. Can also be tied onto a rig with a diving crankbait and trolled on a long line to go after species near the bottom.

Topwater/Weedless spoons: Great for predators like bass, musky and pike that tend to hide in thick underwater cover. Cast over the cover, start retrieving and reel just fast enough to keep the lure on the surface.

Jigging spoons: Great for predators typically found on deep structure. Let the spoon freefall down. When it hits bottom, take up slack line until the rod tip is a foot above the water, then work the spoon with short jerks up and down. Usually, strikes occur when the spoon is falling, so be ready.

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Fishing Techniques

Bait Casting
Bait casting is a style of fishing that relies on the weight of the lure to extend the line into the target area. Bait casting involves a revolving-spool fishing reel (or “free spool”) mounted on the topside of the rod. Bait casting is definitely an acquired skill. Once you get the hang of the technique (check out the casting animation), you will be casting your lures right on target into the structures where fish are feeding and hanging out.

Bait Casting

With bait casting, you can use larger lures (1/2 to 3/4) and cast them for longer distances. To get started, you’ll need a rod with good spring action, a good quality anti-backlash reel, 10 to 15 pound test line and a variety of specific bait casting lures.

Spin Casting
We won’t say it’s foolproof, but spin casting is an ideal fishing method for beginning anglers. Spin-casting equipment is easier to use than bait casting. You can use it to cast both light and heavy lures without tangling or breaking your fishing line. Basic equipment includes a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6 to 10 pound test line for casting 1/16 to 3/4 ounce lures. You can use an open-face, closed-face or spin-cast reel for spin casting.
Spin Casting
Trolling
Trolling is done using a small electric motor that moves the boat quietly through the water so fish aren’t spooked. But you can also troll by towing a lure while walking along the edge of a shoreline, bridge or pier. The speed of the boat determines the depth of your bait. And the depth of the bait is determined by the species of fish you’re trying to catch. Use a spinning reel or a bait caster for trolling. Some states don’t allow motorized trolling, so check out your local fishing regulations to avoid tangling with the fish enforcers.
Trolling
Still Fishing
Still fishing is a versatile way to go. You can still fish from a pier, a bridge, an anchored boat or from shore. You can still fish on the bottom or off the bottom in ponds, lakes, rivers and streams for a variety of species. And you can still fish during most seasons and during any part of the day. Your equipment and the size of the hooks and bait you use depends on what kind of fish you’re after. But your best equipment for still fishing is patience. You have to wait for the fish to bite.
Still Fishing
Drift Fishing
Drift fishing allows you to fish over a variety of habitats as your boat drifts with the currents or wind movement. You can drift fish on the bottom or change the depth with a bobber or float. Natural baits work best. But jigs, lures and artificial flies will produce good results, too. You can drift fish on ponds, lakes, rivers and streams any time of the day and year.
Drift Fishing
Live Lining
Your fishing line is “live” when your boat is anchored in a flowing body of water like a river or stream. Use live or prepared fishing bait and keep it on or just off the bottom. Live lining off the bottom allows your line to drift with the current through holes and rocks where the fish may be holding. Your equipment and the size of your fishing hooks and lures depend on what type of fish you’re after.
Live Lining

Chumming
To attract fish or get them biting again, you can throw “chum” into the water where you’re fishing. You can use ground-up bait fish, canned sweet corn, dead minnows in a coffee can for ice fishing, pet food, even breakfast cereal. Or stir up some natural chum by scraping the bottom with a boat oar. Be sure not to over-chum. You want to get them interested in feeding; you do not want to stuff them before they get a chance to go after your hook. Chumming is not legal in all states. Check local fishing fishing regulations to make sure you are not illegally stimulating the hunger of your future catch.
Chumming
Bottom Bouncing
Bottom Bouncing is done from a drifting or trolling boat, and it’s a great way to attract or locate fish during most seasons and times of day. Use a buck tail jig or natural bait and drag it along the bottom. The dragging motion causes the lure to bounce along stirring up small clouds of sand or mud. After a few strikes with bottom bouncing, you can drop anchor and apply other methods to hook the particular kind of species you’ve attracted.
Bottom Bouncing

 
Vertical Jigging
Jig fishing is popular and challenging. Why? Because the person fishing is creating the action that attracts, or doesn’t attract, the particular type of fish he or she is trying to catch. Here’s how it works. Cast out and let your jig hook sink to the bottom. Then use your rod tip to raise the bait about a foot off the bottom. Then let it drop back to the bottom. You can jig up and down, side to side or up and down and sideways. Jig rigs come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and can be used with or without live fishing bait.
Vertical Jigging

Jig & Live Bait (minnow, leech or worm)
Attach the live bait to your jig hook and use it to bottom hop or sweep through your target area. To bottom hop, cast to the target and let the jig sink. Then reel in slowly, twitching the rod with every third or fourth turn of your reel. To sweep, cast to the target and drag the jig parallel to the bottom while reeling with a fairly tight line. Slow and steady gets the fish when you’re sweeping with a jig and live bait.
Jig & Live Bait

Surface Poppers
There’s nothing quite like the sudden, exciting rush of a fish rising to the surface and exploding onto your lure. Surface poppers are a style of top-water fishing bait that get their action from a cupped face carved or molded into the front of the lure body. Cast your popper out to the target area and let it settle briefly. By taking in small amounts of line slowly, the cupped face “pops” along the surface, imitating the action of prey, such as small insects, small frogs or even a small injured fish. To increase your chances of landing your catch, resist the urge to set the hook immediately when the fish strikes – let it take the popper under the water first – then set your hook firmly.

Using Spoons
Spoons are among the most popular lures and are easy to use. Some are thin and light, some are thick and heavy. And different spoons have different actions. How and where you’re fishing will determine how to use them.

Casting spoons: The basic technique is to cast it out and reel it back. A steady retrieve is usually best. If fish are curious but not striking, try slight variations in the speed or direction of your spoon.

Trolling spoons: Thinner and lighter than casting spoons so they can be trolled slowly. Typically used with depth control rig for open water species like trout, salmon or walleye. Can also be tied onto a rig with a diving crankbait and trolled on a long line to go after species near the bottom.

Topwater/Weedless spoons: Great for predators like bass, musky and pike that tend to hide in thick underwater cover. Cast over the cover, start retrieving and reel just fast enough to keep the lure on the surface.

Jigging spoons: Great for predators typically found on deep structure. Let the spoon freefall down. When it hits bottom, take up slack line until the rod tip is a foot above the water, then work the spoon with short jerks up and down. Usually, strikes occur when the spoon is falling, so be ready.

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15 Top Lures For Pike Fishing

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When the stars align and the feeding window is open, a big  pike will hit anything that moves. Your bait selection doesn’t matter and all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience this feeding-frenzy action once or twice a season. The rest of your time hunting trophy pike will be spent cranking, casting, and waiting. The right presentation will make the difference between a bite and a follow-up. So, don’t waste all of your effort pitching second-rate lures. Here’s our round up of the best pike fishing baits on the market right now.

Heddon Rattlin’ SpookPMlures_01The Spook’s renowned walk-the-dog style has long been a pike pleaser – especially over grass. The Rattlin’ model’s tungsten BBs emit an intense sound that mimics fleeing baitfish. These rattles also serve to enhance the bait’s walking retrieve. ($6.99, Lurenet.com)

Booyah Pikee

PMlures_02Strong and durable, this ½-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait boasts a tough Vibra-Flx wire frame that stands up to powerful jaws with lots of teeth. The Pikee comes with a 12-inch steel leader for added insurance against big biters. ($5.99, Lurenet.com)

YUM DingerPMlures_03
The 7-inch version of this flexible stickbait does a good job of presenting a baitfish profile for pike and musky. Rig the bait Texas style over weeds or wacky style when working open water. ($5.79, Lurenet.com)

Eppinger Daredevle SpoonPMlures_04a

The 00 size of this classic spoon has seen plenty of teeth mark, and for good reason. The wiggling, wobbling action puts out a lot of flash and vibration to resemble a fleeing baitfish. Trolled or cast, the Daredevle tempts pike and musky in a broad range of depths. ($9.70, Eppinger.net)

Blue Fox Super BouPMlures_05
Big on the visuals and big on fish-grabbing ability, the size 10 Super Bou imitates mature baitfish and sprouts double trebles to snare the toothy predators that seek them. Tandem blades, combined with Marabou, Hackle and Flashabou fibers create a lifelike undulating action, while the free-turning brass gear emits sonic vibration and rattles when it strikes the outer shell. ($21.69, Rapala.com)

Mepps H210PMlures_06
There’s nothing modest about this heavyweight tandem spinner, but big muskies don’t do modest. Nine inches from eye to tail, the 3-ounce H210 emits big-time thump with its twin brass Indiana blades, while a bright 100-percent holographic tail is hand-tied to tandem 7/0 VMC cone cut hooks. ($39.80, Mepps.com)

Suick Weighted Holographic Musky Thriller Jerkbait

PMlures_07
The weighted version of the original Musky Thriller carries its unique shape and enticing wiggle deeper. Holographic finishes shimmer like real baitfish. ($27.70, Suick.com)

Tackle Industries Super D Swimbait
PMlures_08

A whopping 14-inches long with its tail extended, this sturdy swimbait is built around a full Body Lock coil harness that keeps the soft plastic body in place, while connecting two underside trebles to the frame linked to jig head. The 5-ounce Super D counts down at about a foot per second. Jig it, jerk it or crank it; the Super D’s rocking motion and curly tail put on a big show for big muskies. ($13.99, TackleIndustries.com)

Mepps Double Blade Aglia (Size #5)

PMlures_09
The popular Aglia design gains enhanced visual appeal, along with maximum sound and vibration from a second blade. Whether it’s flashing metallic blades or contrasting colors, the dual spinners provide added lift for fishing over weeds or other structure. Vividly colored hand-tied bucktails help make this bait easier for fish to spot. ($6.99, Mepps.com)

Mepps Syclops (Size #3)
PMlures_10a

A real pike pleaser, this sleekly contoured spoon casts easily and trolls effectively at most any common speed. Jig it vertically over deep spots or through the ice. ($4.75, Mepps.com)

Grandma Jointed Lure
PMlures_11b

An old-school classic, the flat body and jointed design yields a wobble and shimmy that drives big muskies crazy. When cast, the bait reaches 3-6 feet; trolled, it goes to 12. Made with high-impact plastic and a tough diving lip, a Grandma will withstand the fiercest attack from a toothy giant. ($17.99, Grandmalures.com)

Northland Fishing Tackle Bionic Bucktail Jig
PMlures_12

Hand-tied with genuine bucktail, this jig features a versatile double line tie that affords the option of vertical jigging deep water or casting and trolling shallow cover. A stinger hook secured to the jig’s Mustad Ultra-Point hook snares any short strikers. ($5.99, Northlandtackle.com)
Cisco Kid Topper
PMlures_13

A torpedo profile body with stainless steel propeller blades on the nose and tail create a big topside disturbance that gets the fish looking in the right direction. Effective for pike and muskie, the Cisco Kid Topper works well at a variety of speeds. ($17.95, Suick.com)

Bass Pro Shops Thump N Deal Swimbait
PMlures_14a

Equipped with a pair of 4/0 short shank trebles, this big bait swims with a slight side-to-side wobble that can be altered by bending and adjusting the internal non-slip body harness. A steady retrieve works best, but an occasional pause or twitch can turn followers into biter. ($17.99, Basspro.com)

Koppers Live Target Jointed Yellow Perch
PMlures_15

Incredibly realistic body shaping, coloration and fishy detail makes this a hard bait for big predators to ignore. Effective for casting or trolling, the jointed body creates an erratic tail kick that closely mimics the swimming motion of a real perch.  ($12.99, KoppersFishing.com)

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Fall PIKE Fishing

31The Ontario archery hunting season will be open mid-September and it’s a tortuous time of year, because the urge to hunt is so strong after a long off-season. Yet, while the bush beckons the hunters, Wawang Lake is still here – promising what is arguably the best fishing of the whole year!

That’s because the cool autumn months before winter are prime days to catch fish, and BIG fish, in generous quantities. Why? Because fish feed more voraciously during the fall than any other time of year. They instinctively know that winter’s coming, marking a cold-water period of low activity. So, predator fish bulk up for winter by packing in as much eating as they can. This time also coincides with the fall spawn of baitfish.

Basically, the baitfish school-up to move into the spawning grounds and the predator fish follow them.

One such predator in the mix of the fall bite is the magnificent Northern Pike.  As anyone who knows Wawang Lake – it’s stuffed with these jaw, snapping monsters! Our pike hunters love the way they look, strike and fight. They have the attitude of a pitbull on steroids! Even a 3-4 pounder can give any angler a thrill. Add twenty pounds and you have a serious freshwater battle on your hands.

One of the best ways to catch a bunch of pike in the fall is by trolling and covering a lot of water. Before hitting the water, have a game plan. Study the Wawang Lake map of the lake and identify the steep breaks where shallow water drops off into deep structure. These are potential hotspots.

If the shallows in these spots are weedy, look for weedlines that are still green. Weeds that have already laid down and are beginning to decay do not hold fish like they did in the summertime. Fish like GREEN weeds, for the leafy cover they provide, and dying weeds don’t offer the same concealment. On a particular weedline, the top fish-holding locations are points and inside turns. These are key ambush areas at any time of year, including fall.

If the lake has no green living weeds, then other types of cover are your next best bet. Rocks are ALWAYS dynamite areas to target big pike, particularly if they’re out on a nice point. Add wind ripping into or over that point, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for big gators laying in wait. The wind creates current that pushes bait into the point, where opportunistic feeders are always hanging around After determining which weedlines, rocks, points, etc. that you intend to target, the next decision to make is lure selection. During the fall, northern pike like to eat big meals. So opt for baits that have a large profile.
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Lure suggestions to start with: ·

  • a big jerkbait like a 9-inch Suick in Firetiger, Perch or Red/White – always clipped to a steel leader. ·
  • 10″ Swimming Joe (Bucher) baits in firetiger, perch, or walleye – a proven overall best
  • Other proven performers are big spoons, paddle-tailed swim baits and bucktails. ·
  • If picking up stray weeds is a problem, troll a jumbo spinnerbait or weedless spoon like a Johnson Silver Minnow.   ·
  • Add a large twist-tail grub body to the shank hook on spinnerbaits and Silver Minnows, to increase the size of the bait’s profile, enhance vibration and for a splash of color.

Once you get on a weedline depth (typically 10-15 feet), watch your sonar and stay on that contour. Pike aren’t afraid to hit a fast-moving bait, so I usually begin with a troll speed of about 2.5 miles per hour. If that doesn’t get results, try slower or faster speeds – even up to around 5 miles per hour even.

Leave your rod holders at home when trolling for pike, because you’ll get a lot more bites if you continually work the lure with quick, hard jerks; steady pull-and-drop movements; and erratic twitching. Pike will routinely follow behind a bait, and the instant it “pauses” it often triggers an aggressive strike!

41

Fast trolling regularly results in an immediate hook-up, especially if you’re using no-stretch braided line instead of monofilament. However, we prefer braid for trollling, because the line transmits the wobble of the lure to your hand and lets you know if the bait is running properly or whether you’ve picked up a stray weed.

The fall trolling pattern for northern pike can provide you with some of the most action-packed fishing of the year. Handle the fish with care and release them healthy so they go into the winter months stress-free. And don’t be afraid to keep a couple of 3-4 pounders for the dinner table. Pike is an amazing fish to eat, especially if you de-bone it to remove those nuisance “Y” bones. Or, leave the bones in and opt for pickling instead. The pickling process turns the bones to mush, and there’s a better than pickled northern pike!

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Spoon Styles for PIKE

Nick-Tue-5-24-2016-38inch

Even within the ranks of diehard pike fans, few fully consider the variables in spoon design, size, and finish that determine whether pike spoons get a strike or get passed on our attempts to mimic reality.  The strike-stirring wobble and flash of spoons has seduced countless otherwise cautious gators over the years, and continues to do so today.

First, note that spoons as a lure category are riding a rising tide of effectiveness for pike in many waters. It’s a case of a lure coming full circle with the rise and fall of angler use, and corresponding level of fish conditioning to it. While spoons were once the most common—if not the only—type of lure pike saw in many systems across the continent, their use in many waters waned as pike became conditioned to this presentation.

Prime Factors
Of all the variables that come into play in selecting the right spoon, choosing one that provides the optimal running depth and speed are most important. It sounds basic, but many otherwise savvy anglers skip this key building block in their rush to address other elements of the presentation, such as differences in finish or color pattern.

Depth control is key and to address this key concern and apply them throughout prime spooning periods. In spring, lures like the light, fluttery Williams and Doctor spoons work best.

Pike move into the shallows of bays where the water is a bit warmer. Light spoons are ideal for the 2- to 5-foot depths where pike often lie. And they fit the speed part of the equation, too—light spoons hold their wobble and produce good flash, even when fished slowly.

Light is a relative term, but thin, light-for-their-length options such as the 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Original Doctor or 4-inch, 1/2-ounce Eppinger Flutter Chuck are good examples. In general, Beattie focuses on spoons up to 5 inches long throughout the season, relying mostly on 3- to 4-inchers early in the year.

Pete-Fri-5-27-2016-37inch1

We typically don’t get to sight-fish in tea-stained waters, I make long casts into the back ends of bays, often around last season’s reeds or other remnant vegetation. Inlets can be key, as can the presence of baitfish.  Often, a spoon provides all the action needed, though at times a twitch or pause triggers strikes better than a straight retrieve.

Heavier-for-length spoons, such as 4-inch, 3/4-ounce Williams Wabler and classic Dardevles,  in deep water, particularly during fall, when targeting large pike suspended over rocky, main-lake structure such as points and reefs.  A hefty, hard-thumping spoon is a killer in fall, when pike feed on big, fatty baitfish such as smelt and lake herring.   Water depths range from 15 to 20 feet cast out, count the spoon down about 8 feet, and begin a much faster and more animated retrieve than in spring.  Move the spoon faster, using a steady retrieve with plenty of pops and jerks of the rod tip.

Fine Tuning Techniques
Once you dial in depth and speed, you can fine-tune other variables such as size, shape, and color, which determine what the pike sees and feels once the spoon is in the right area, moving at the right pace. Having a well-stocked spoon larder is a plus, including an assortment with the same color pattern in different shapes and lengths. These tools let you dig deep into the nitty-gritty of profile and vibration, while keeping color constant.

Given the pike’s amazing abilities to detect vibration, you can bet on the wobble and vibrations produced trump profile in the grand scheme. Pike are accustomed to sensing and tracking prey by vibration before they’re able to see it—whether it’s out of visual range or hidden from view by cover. This helps explain why a spoon that sounds and feels like a 1-pound sucker attracts more interest from big, aggressive pike than a dainty offering that feels like a fingerling.

Putting these concepts into practice is a matter of learning how spoons work at different speeds, and matching their actions to the conditions at hand without sacrificing depth or speed. Describing and categorizing wobbles is a personal matter.

  • Dardevle:  1-ounce Dardevle’s rolling, stuttering cadence as a wupwupwup
  • Huskie Devle goes more like woo-woo-wuppa, as in each wobble sequence it stutters left-right, then wuppas sharply back to the left.

As you study the locomotion of each spoon style and size, note the frequency and intensity of wobbles, stutters, and swerves it makes, along with the width of the spoon’s path through the water. Time on the water and a good memory—or better yet, a journal give you an appreciation of each spoon’s actions and help you put together a comprehensive set of spoon strategies.

DD

Spoon Presentation
During a tough bite or on heavily pressured water, even a well-stocked spoon box stumbles now and then, calling for special tweaks to turn the tide.  A simple trick when dealing with pressured pike is downsizing to a 2.5-inch Luhr Jensen Tony’s Spoon, and adding a ReelBait Fergie Spoon Clacker to the front of it because a pike’s yen for this combo has proven excellent pike fishing while fishing walleye.

Practice a variation of the classic lift-fall cadence. When pike stalk but don’t strike, retrieve with the rod tip high (about the 10 o’clock position), then snap the tip to 12 o’clock and lets the spoon fall backward on slack line while lowering the rod tip. The move puts the spoon in a following fish’s face, often triggering a strike. A heavy-bottomed spoon like the Dardevle shines for this technique, though thin, light spoons are easier to fish in shallow water and often produce a more erratic fall, which in itself can be an added trigger.

Think tubular and remove a spoon’s treble hook, trims the nose off a 2-inch, soft-plastic tube, insert the hook in the tube and reattach it to the spoon.  The tube’s tentacles look like a baitfish’s tail moving through the water, and can increase strikes, and another tweak is adding a holographic eye to the spoon, which often boosts bites as well.

fallpike

At times, use a spoon with a softbait trailer with an exaggerated lift-fall motion to create an outlandish show. Trollers relentlessly strain the deep weededge with heavy spoons, diving crankbaits, and the like, quickly removing reckless pike from the population.

Start by snipping the tail section off a 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow Grub; usually the tail and tail base are enough.  Thread this on the treble of a thin-metal, flutter-style spoon—a favorite is a gold, 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Williams Ice Jig, with the mid-body hook removed. The combination of a fluttery spoon and softbait tail produce a fall that’s tantalizingly slow, but very flashy and mildly erratic (mostly straight down). Middle-distance or short casts are fine then guide the spoon into open pockets within beds of cabbage.

Let the spoon fall 4 to 8 feet or more (as depth and vegetation allow) on a semi-slack line, maintaining a bit of control but not impeding action. Then lower the rod tip and rip the spoon back up, either in one sweep or a series of snaps, then let it flutter down again. Repeat the process as you work the spoon to the boat.

Combine the core elements of depth and speed with size, action, and flash—then mix in a few tricks as needed and you’ll be well on your way to a hot spoon bite that will provide excellent results.

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Flicker Minnow vs Flicker Shad?

Which one – when?

Pro Angler Gary Parsons talks about the Flicker family.

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Sun Low – Think Top, Sun High – Think Bottom

Easing from spring into summer, presentations takes on a timing pattern throughout the day based on the phrase…One thing to keep in mind… Depth control matters relative to the time of the day…

depth control matters

Starting at the predawn launch until around 8 AM, the two rigs garnering the most action are the top water and buzz bait rods since the Sun is still low on the horizon and fish are more active closer to the surface.

As the day ages the top water bite often slows and there’s a switch to mid-depth presentations. Accordingly the rods rigged with a spinner bait, crank bait, swim jig or slow sinking stick bait start to see more use…

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Once the noon hour approaches and  high in the sky make another transition to rods rigged with weighted plastics, jigs and deeper crank baits since fish tend to adjust to deeper cover during this hours.

If the trip is a day-long on the lake, the lure selection trend typically reverses as the sun slides downward towards the western horizon…In other words, around 4 PM the mid-depth selection comes back into play and the focus returns to the top water baits after 6 PM.

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Get More Out of Any Fish Finder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep it simple and consistent

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

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

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

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

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

Recognize school formations

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

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

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

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

Attack formation

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

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

Wall-to-wall carpet

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

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

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

Explosion

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

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

Zoning in

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

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

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

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

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Fall PIKE Fishing

31The Ontario archery hunting season will be open mid-September and it’s a tortuous time of year, because the urge to hunt is so strong after a long off-season. Yet, while the bush beckons the hunters, Wawang Lake is still here – promising what is arguably the best fishing of the whole year!

That’s because the cool autumn months before winter are prime days to catch fish, and BIG fish, in generous quantities. Why? Because fish feed more voraciously during the fall than any other time of year. They instinctively know that winter’s coming, marking a cold-water period of low activity. So, predator fish bulk up for winter by packing in as much eating as they can. This time also coincides with the fall spawn of baitfish.

Basically, the baitfish school-up to move into the spawning grounds and the predator fish follow them.

One such predator in the mix of the fall bite is the magnificent Northern Pike.  As anyone who knows Wawang Lake – it’s stuffed with these jaw, snapping monsters! Our pike hunters love the way they look, strike and fight. They have the attitude of a pitbull on steroids! Even a 3-4 pounder can give any angler a thrill. Add twenty pounds and you have a serious freshwater battle on your hands.

One of the best ways to catch a bunch of pike in the fall is by trolling and covering a lot of water. Before hitting the water, have a game plan. Study the Wawang Lake map of the lake and identify the steep breaks where shallow water drops off into deep structure. These are potential hotspots.

If the shallows in these spots are weedy, look for weedlines that are still green. Weeds that have already laid down and are beginning to decay do not hold fish like they did in the summertime. Fish like GREEN weeds, for the leafy cover they provide, and dying weeds don’t offer the same concealment. On a particular weedline, the top fish-holding locations are points and inside turns. These are key ambush areas at any time of year, including fall.

If the lake has no green living weeds, then other types of cover are your next best bet. Rocks are ALWAYS dynamite areas to target big pike, particularly if they’re out on a nice point. Add wind ripping into or over that point, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for big gators laying in wait. The wind creates current that pushes bait into the point, where opportunistic feeders are always hanging around After determining which weedlines, rocks, points, etc. that you intend to target, the next decision to make is lure selection. During the fall, northern pike like to eat big meals. So opt for baits that have a large profile.
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Lure suggestions to start with: ·

  • a big jerkbait like a 9-inch Suick in Firetiger, Perch or Red/White – always clipped to a steel leader. ·
  • 10″ Swimming Joe (Bucher) baits in firetiger, perch, or walleye – a proven overall best
  • Other proven performers are big spoons, paddle-tailed swim baits and bucktails. ·
  • If picking up stray weeds is a problem, troll a jumbo spinnerbait or weedless spoon like a Johnson Silver Minnow.   ·
  • Add a large twist-tail grub body to the shank hook on spinnerbaits and Silver Minnows, to increase the size of the bait’s profile, enhance vibration and for a splash of color.

Once you get on a weedline depth (typically 10-15 feet), watch your sonar and stay on that contour. Pike aren’t afraid to hit a fast-moving bait, so I usually begin with a troll speed of about 2.5 miles per hour. If that doesn’t get results, try slower or faster speeds – even up to around 5 miles per hour even.

Leave your rod holders at home when trolling for pike, because you’ll get a lot more bites if you continually work the lure with quick, hard jerks; steady pull-and-drop movements; and erratic twitching. Pike will routinely follow behind a bait, and the instant it “pauses” it often triggers an aggressive strike!

41

Fast trolling regularly results in an immediate hook-up, especially if you’re using no-stretch braided line instead of monofilament. However, we prefer braid for trollling, because the line transmits the wobble of the lure to your hand and lets you know if the bait is running properly or whether you’ve picked up a stray weed.

The fall trolling pattern for northern pike can provide you with some of the most action-packed fishing of the year. Handle the fish with care and release them healthy so they go into the winter months stress-free. And don’t be afraid to keep a couple of 3-4 pounders for the dinner table. Pike is an amazing fish to eat, especially if you de-bone it to remove those nuisance “Y” bones. Or, leave the bones in and opt for pickling instead. The pickling process turns the bones to mush, and there’s a better than pickled northern pike!

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Spoon Styles for PIKE

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Even within the ranks of diehard pike fans, few fully consider the variables in spoon design, size, and finish that determine whether pike spoons get a strike or get passed on our attempts to mimic reality.  The strike-stirring wobble and flash of spoons has seduced countless otherwise cautious gators over the years, and continues to do so today.

First, note that spoons as a lure category are riding a rising tide of effectiveness for pike in many waters. It’s a case of a lure coming full circle with the rise and fall of angler use, and corresponding level of fish conditioning to it. While spoons were once the most common—if not the only—type of lure pike saw in many systems across the continent, their use in many waters waned as pike became conditioned to this presentation.

Prime Factors
Of all the variables that come into play in selecting the right spoon, choosing one that provides the optimal running depth and speed are most important. It sounds basic, but many otherwise savvy anglers skip this key building block in their rush to address other elements of the presentation, such as differences in finish or color pattern.

Depth control is key and to address this key concern and apply them throughout prime spooning periods. In spring, lures like the light, fluttery Williams and Doctor spoons work best.

Pike move into the shallows of bays where the water is a bit warmer. Light spoons are ideal for the 2- to 5-foot depths where pike often lie. And they fit the speed part of the equation, too—light spoons hold their wobble and produce good flash, even when fished slowly.

Light is a relative term, but thin, light-for-their-length options such as the 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Original Doctor or 4-inch, 1/2-ounce Eppinger Flutter Chuck are good examples. In general, Beattie focuses on spoons up to 5 inches long throughout the season, relying mostly on 3- to 4-inchers early in the year.

Pete-Fri-5-27-2016-37inch1

We typically don’t get to sight-fish in tea-stained waters, I make long casts into the back ends of bays, often around last season’s reeds or other remnant vegetation. Inlets can be key, as can the presence of baitfish.  Often, a spoon provides all the action needed, though at times a twitch or pause triggers strikes better than a straight retrieve.

Heavier-for-length spoons, such as 4-inch, 3/4-ounce Williams Wabler and classic Dardevles,  in deep water, particularly during fall, when targeting large pike suspended over rocky, main-lake structure such as points and reefs.  A hefty, hard-thumping spoon is a killer in fall, when pike feed on big, fatty baitfish such as smelt and lake herring.   Water depths range from 15 to 20 feet cast out, count the spoon down about 8 feet, and begin a much faster and more animated retrieve than in spring.  Move the spoon faster, using a steady retrieve with plenty of pops and jerks of the rod tip.

Fine Tuning Techniques
Once you dial in depth and speed, you can fine-tune other variables such as size, shape, and color, which determine what the pike sees and feels once the spoon is in the right area, moving at the right pace. Having a well-stocked spoon larder is a plus, including an assortment with the same color pattern in different shapes and lengths. These tools let you dig deep into the nitty-gritty of profile and vibration, while keeping color constant.

Given the pike’s amazing abilities to detect vibration, you can bet on the wobble and vibrations produced trump profile in the grand scheme. Pike are accustomed to sensing and tracking prey by vibration before they’re able to see it—whether it’s out of visual range or hidden from view by cover. This helps explain why a spoon that sounds and feels like a 1-pound sucker attracts more interest from big, aggressive pike than a dainty offering that feels like a fingerling.

Putting these concepts into practice is a matter of learning how spoons work at different speeds, and matching their actions to the conditions at hand without sacrificing depth or speed. Describing and categorizing wobbles is a personal matter.

  • Dardevle:  1-ounce Dardevle’s rolling, stuttering cadence as a wupwupwup
  • Huskie Devle goes more like woo-woo-wuppa, as in each wobble sequence it stutters left-right, then wuppas sharply back to the left.

As you study the locomotion of each spoon style and size, note the frequency and intensity of wobbles, stutters, and swerves it makes, along with the width of the spoon’s path through the water. Time on the water and a good memory—or better yet, a journal give you an appreciation of each spoon’s actions and help you put together a comprehensive set of spoon strategies.

DD

Spoon Presentation
During a tough bite or on heavily pressured water, even a well-stocked spoon box stumbles now and then, calling for special tweaks to turn the tide.  A simple trick when dealing with pressured pike is downsizing to a 2.5-inch Luhr Jensen Tony’s Spoon, and adding a ReelBait Fergie Spoon Clacker to the front of it because a pike’s yen for this combo has proven excellent pike fishing while fishing walleye.

Practice a variation of the classic lift-fall cadence. When pike stalk but don’t strike, retrieve with the rod tip high (about the 10 o’clock position), then snap the tip to 12 o’clock and lets the spoon fall backward on slack line while lowering the rod tip. The move puts the spoon in a following fish’s face, often triggering a strike. A heavy-bottomed spoon like the Dardevle shines for this technique, though thin, light spoons are easier to fish in shallow water and often produce a more erratic fall, which in itself can be an added trigger.

Think tubular and remove a spoon’s treble hook, trims the nose off a 2-inch, soft-plastic tube, insert the hook in the tube and reattach it to the spoon.  The tube’s tentacles look like a baitfish’s tail moving through the water, and can increase strikes, and another tweak is adding a holographic eye to the spoon, which often boosts bites as well.

fallpike

At times, use a spoon with a softbait trailer with an exaggerated lift-fall motion to create an outlandish show. Trollers relentlessly strain the deep weededge with heavy spoons, diving crankbaits, and the like, quickly removing reckless pike from the population.

Start by snipping the tail section off a 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow Grub; usually the tail and tail base are enough.  Thread this on the treble of a thin-metal, flutter-style spoon—a favorite is a gold, 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Williams Ice Jig, with the mid-body hook removed. The combination of a fluttery spoon and softbait tail produce a fall that’s tantalizingly slow, but very flashy and mildly erratic (mostly straight down). Middle-distance or short casts are fine then guide the spoon into open pockets within beds of cabbage.

Let the spoon fall 4 to 8 feet or more (as depth and vegetation allow) on a semi-slack line, maintaining a bit of control but not impeding action. Then lower the rod tip and rip the spoon back up, either in one sweep or a series of snaps, then let it flutter down again. Repeat the process as you work the spoon to the boat.

Combine the core elements of depth and speed with size, action, and flash—then mix in a few tricks as needed and you’ll be well on your way to a hot spoon bite that will provide excellent results.

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