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Category Archives: trolling

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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Trolling – The Right Way

1

Trolling can be one of the most productive ways to scour a lake for fish. However, for those that believe it’s simply a matter of tossing out a lure and cranking up the motor, it can also be one of the worst.

Like everything in fishing, the art of trolling takes specific knowledge and techniques in order to catch our aquatic friends on a consistent basis. Adhere to the following fundamentals, and watch your trolling prowess grow in leaps and bounds.

SNaturalStructuretructure Is The Key
Although it is possible to catch fish by “blindly” trolling a lake, paying attention to certain structure areas is fundamental in finding real success. No matter what the specie of fish you are chasing, they all relate to change. Change can mean anything from open water turning into a weedline, humps and underwater saddles, points and islands, and certainly breaklines. Finding these fish magnets on your home lake, and fishing each one differently is the name of the game.

Experimenting when out trolling is the key to success. Zigzag patterns and S-turns vary the movement to your bait, while also attracting added attention from the fish below.

Weedlines
Weedlines are just as the name suggests — a distinct edge or line of vegetation that meets open water. Always troll parallel to the green stuff, following the distinct changes you’ll come across, and try to keep your lure within 10 feet of the edge at all times.

hump1Humps
“Underwater islands,” or humps as they are commonly referred to, are great for attracting and holding a variety of game fish.  Make trolling passes across and around the actual hump, starting with your first pass in deep water and progressively working shallower, until the final pass is directly over top of the hump itself.

Points, Islands
Both of these areas are dynamite trolling spots, but definitely come into their own during rough or windy conditions. Approach points by making a trolling pass directly in front of the tip itself, and also along both edges as it relates to the land structure. If the island you come across has a point, pay all of your attention to that structure area. Islands without points can be simply circled, starting in shallow water and working deeper, depending on the overall size of the island itself.

1339463646_2633432_break594

Breaklines
Breaklines are one of the most prolific structure areas that cough up fish trolling on a consistent basis. What these areas represent are sudden depth changes such as 10 feet to 14 feet, or 18 feet to 24 feet. The key is to present your bait right on the breakline, always trolling parallel to the break and not across it.

Using Your Underwater Eyes
On-board electronics are a must for trolling, allowing an angler to see precisely what is below the boat at all times. Finding those subtle depth changes, locating schools of baitfish and their prey and staying right on the edge of a weedline is impossible without these digital dynamos.

Keep a close eye on your electronics for visible signs of baitfish or structure areas. Electronics are your underwater eyes for what lies beneath the surface.

Although fishfinders run the gamut in terms of price, even the most basic of units will greatly improve your trolling success.

Spend a day zipping up and down the lake while watching your screen, making a mental or physical note (preferably on a topographical map) of all the breaklines, points and humps you come across. Having this information at your disposal will make it as simple to come back later and fish these hotspots.

Another important tool for trolling is a GPS unit. Punching in the coordinates of things such as schools of baitfish, the precise spot an underwater hump is located and where the weedline starts and stops, allows you to come back time and time again to fish that exact same waypoint.

Here are 10 trolling tips to increase your chances when out on the water.

Ten Tips For Trolling Success

1. Experiment with lures. Try everything from shallow to deep divers until you connect with a fish.  Carry a large assortment of diving crankbaits. Different colors and lip lengths will add variety and different qualities to your arsenal.

2. Vary your speed. Constant speed can trigger fish, but changing your speed from faster to slower can result in a fishing frenzy.

3. Never troll in a straight line. Zigzag patterns, circles and L-patterns cause your lures to run at different speeds and in different directions — both excellent triggering factors for following fish.

4. Apply a scent product. Coating your bait with a commercial scent will leave a scent trail in the water, enabling fish to find your bait and strike it.

5. Run your lure at different lengths. The more calm the water, the longer your leader to your lure should be. This wisdom should also be applied when fishing shallow water.

6. Bump the bottom. Making contact with the bottom occasionally will stir up fish and entice them to strike. This is especially productive when targeting pike and walleye.

…….Use A Marker Buoy

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7. Use a marker buoy. Tossing out a marker when you connect with a fish, or when you find a productive hump, will allow you fish the area more thoroughly and will usually mean some extra fish.

8. Use an electric trolling motor. If the fish are extremely spooky, or the water is crystal clear, switch over to an electric trolling motor for a quiet and unobtrusive approach.

9. Use downriggers. For fishing deep water, or for fish that suspend deep, a downrigger can be the key to catching fish. Look for a small hand model that is easy to use and inexpensive.

10. Never give up. Although trolling can be boring and uneventful at times, for those anglers that adhere to these principles and put in the time, the rewards will outweigh the wait.

As you can see, trolling is a specialized and productive technique for connecting with fish. Follow these do’s and don’ts, and be content in knowing that the mighty “trolling gods” will always shine down on you!

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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.
564681_10151012137062581_668998774_n

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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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.
564681_10151012137062581_668998774_n

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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Knowing Lake Structure Is Important

The real secret to catching more fish is knowledge! The more you know, the more fish you’ll catch. Fish relate to lake structure like people relate to things around them. Here you’ll find out what kind of structure fish relate to so you know where to find them.

100_0391
Look for tips identified by a slip bobber
Chance are pretty good that you live under a roof and have a kitchen. And, if you left your home to drive to a town a few miles away you’d probably take a road and not drive through a field to get there. (At least I hope so )

So what does all that have to do with fishing? Fish need food and shelter just like we do and lake structure provides both. Also, when fish travel they normally follow familiar structure between two points.

Knowing what structure fish like will help you find fish. And finding fish is half the battle!

Some of the most common lake structures are Points, Bars and Breaks.
lake-structure1
As you can see in this picture a Point is where visible land extends into the lake. The land is surrounded by water on three sides.

A Bar is shallow water surrounded on three sides by deeper water. The most common type of Bar is an underwater extension of a Point. Another Bar may just be an extension of shallow water into deeper water with no visible above water Point.

The bigger the Point or Bar the better since they attract and hold more fish.

A Break is noticeable change in depth and is sometimes called a drop-off. In many lakes the primary Break line is where the depth changes from around 5-10 feet to 15-20 feet. In shallow, bowl shaped lakes a Break may only be a depth change of a few feet or even less. Breaks serve as travel routes for fish.

The steeper the Break, the better.

The top edge of a Break is called a Ledge. A lake usually has a few Breaks and Ledges that form the decent into deep water.

hump_saddleOther common fish holding structure are Humps and Saddles.

A Hump is sometimes called an underwater island or even a mid-lake bar. This picture has two Humps.

A Saddle is deeper water that leads up to shallower water on two sides.

We can’t forget about Fingers, Inside Turns, and Outside Turns. Fingers are small extensions of a Bar or Hump into deeper water.

Inside Turns are where a Finger meets a Bar. Points and Bars have Inside and Outside Turns as well.
turnsThe picture can probably do a better job of showing you what these are .

Inside Turns are usually a better choice for finding fish.

Finally, we need to define Inside Weed Lines, Outside Weed Lines and mention Rock Piles. An Inside Weed Line is simply the shallow side of a weed line while the Outside Weed Line is the deep edge of a Weed Line. Outside Weed Lines provide travel routes for fish as well as a great place for fish to hide and ambush other fish.

Rock Piles are important to mention because they’re an excellent place to find fish.

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Fishing Spoons

The good old reliable spoon. You may have one in your tackle box faded and worn over time.

The good old reliable spoon. You may have one in your tackle box faded and worn over time and possibly a little rusty after sitting in your tackle box for years.

The metal fishing spoon lure was believed to be first used back in the 1840’s. Spoons are a simple design, an oblong shape, concave on one side that catches water producing a wobble and light reflecting flash imitating a fleeing or crippled bait fish. Because spoons appeal mainly to the sense of sight they work best on clear or lightly stained water conditions.

The long standing popularity of spoons results from ease of use as a fish usually will hook itself when it grabs a spoon. Spoons work best for larger predators such as northern pike and walleye that are our main fish species on Wawang Lake. The action of a spoon is based on it’s shape and thickness. A long spoon will display a wider side to side wobble than a shorter spoon. A deep concave spoon will also produce a wider wobble than a flatter spoon. Thin spoons used for trolling have an erratic wobble compared to thick spoons but thick spoons have advantages as well, the extra weight casts better, sinks faster and will run deeper than thinner spoons.

There are five types of spoons:
Casting, trolling, weedless, jigging and the surface spoon.

Spoons are stamped, forged or molded from brass, copper, steel, lead, plastic or wood. Most are painted on one side with a polished metallic surface on at other side to reflect the sunlight making the spoon visible. Some spoons have a hammered or rippled finish that transmits light in multiple directions such as baitfish scales scatter light.

When casting or trolling a spoon the speed is critical for success, if fished too slow or too fast the spoon will not wobble properly, you should experiment to find the precise speed for each spoon to perform its best. When casting a spoon anglers will cast 10 to 20 feet beyond the area they believe the fish are and retrieve through the strike zone. For flat line trolling from behind a boat the speed and amount of line out should be the main consideration, as well as in using depth control rigging such as downriggers and dipsey divers.

rattle_spoon
Rod Action with Spoons
Dependent on the species you’re targeting, small spoons for stream trout, larger spoons for bass, pike and salmon or vertical jigging for walleyes the preferred choice when casting/jigging spoons is a stiff tipped fast action rod. Ultra sensitive, soft action rods are not recommended as they do not telegraph the fish strike as quickly a fast action rod will accomplish. Your success in using spoons is to immediately set the hook upon feeling a fish bite.


Spoons & Leaders
Anglers using casting, weedless or trolling spoons should attach their lines via a leader with a ball bearing swivel and snap or a combination snap ball bearing swivel.This allows freedom of movement for the spoon and will keep the fishing line twist to a minimum. For surface and jigging spoons the best is to tie directly to the eyelet or snap. Both will work better without too much play at the lure line connection.

pike1
Spoon Attractors
The main fish attracting component on a spoon is the flash, some spoons have additional attractors placed on the spoon or are added by the angler, they are: Clickers: Two small willow spinners on split rings located the end of spoon for vibration and noise. Flippers: A small oblong piece of plastic (red or yellow) for added color attached on the split ring and hook. Trailers: For added color and profile Feathers / Tied Tail / Soft Plastic or Pork Rind.

Spoon Colors
If you ever had the opportunity to open Grand Pa’s old metal tackle box it would be safe to say you would find quite a few of the traditional red and white casting spoons that where popular back in the 1940’s – 50’s. Following the same path as crank bait lure companies spoon manufactures have over the years introduced hundreds of new colors patterns and finishes using prism, holographic, glow and glitter all to enhance  vibrant colors and flash of spoons.

In selecting spoon colors to build your tackle assortment, the choices can be overwhelming but some colors have been tried and true over the years. For casting spoons in clear or slighty stained water the classic colors of red and white with nickel back, black and white with nickel back, yellow five of diamonds in red with brass back, and combinations of nickel/silver – gold/brass are your best bet. On stained or darker water use, firetiger with brass back or orange/yellow and nickel combinations.

For trolling spoons on Wawang Lake the universal best color is all silver or gold with including combinations of red/white, yellow or green hues to mimic the forage of perch or herring.  Listed below is a reference guide to help you identify the common types of spoons and how they are used:

Traditional Casting Spoons

CASTING

Stamped metal casting spoons are also known as Traditional or Canadian spoons. All display the distinctive back and forth wobble action as they run underwater based on their oval shaped cupped bodies. Casting spoon sizes range from ultra light 1/36 ounce for panfish up to over 3 ounces for big muskies, pike and lake trout. The most popular sizes are 1/4-3/4 ounce used for bass, walleyes and pike. All casting spoons have either a treble or a single hook attached with a spilt ring which allows the hook to swing freely as the spoon wobbles.

 Trolling Spoons

TROLLINGTrolling spoons are much thinner and lighter than casting spoons, a typical 3″ trolling spoon only weighs about a 1/8 ounce which makes them too light for casting.. They are designed to be fished using a depth control trolling system such as off a downrigger or diving plane. With the wide fluttering action they are an excellent lure choice for walleyes.

Weedless Spoons

WEEDLESS
When fishing in thick cover, aquatic weeds, wood and logs, you can’t beat using a weedless spoon to provoke a fish strike. Most feature a single hook design welded on the body with a wire guard to prevent most snags. Experiment with different retrieve methods. Try twitching and pausing letting the spoon settle into open holes. Or straight retrieve over and through the cover. Tip the hook with a trailer for added attraction using a soft plastic grub or pork rind. Weedless spoons come in 1/4 ounce up to 1-1/8 ounce.

 Surface Spoons

SURFACEWhen conditions are right during the summer months, large predator fish like pike will take refuge in thick cover. This is an ideal situation for using surface spoons. When cast over heavy matted vegetation the spoon floats with the hook riding upward avoiding being caught up on snags. Most surface spoons are made from plastic’s with a few in wood with having an added attractor, mainly rubber skirts. When fishing surface spoons point the rod tip directly at the spoon whether you’re retrieving straight or using a jerk pause method. Upon a fish strike, never set the hook until you feel the pressure of the fish, then set the hook. As with all surface lures fish have a tendency to miss the lure, keep the lure moving even if the fish misses usually they will come back to strike again.

Jigging Spoons

JIGGING
When you locate a deep water school of fish such as walleye on your electronics, one of the best presentations to reach them is vertically jigging. Jigging spoons are made of metal or tungsten, are flat, thick and heavy and flash when jigged. They are designed to get down quickly reaching the deep water holding fish. When fishing jigging spoons all of the action is applied by the angler using short jerks to encourage strikes, but keep in mind many strikes happen on the fall of the jigging spoon as well. Keep a watch on your line as it falls, if it stops or twitches set the hook. The best tackle for jigging spoons is low stretch line of 12-20 lb. with a medium to medium heavy fast action rod.

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