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Category Archives: weeds

Fishing Walleye When It’s Sunny


 Where to Find the Walleye?

Hot, penetrating sunshine and the sensitive eyes of the walleye can make for a frustrating and energy-draining day out on the water for the enthusiastic angler. Fish become scarce during these trying times and without the proper locations or techniques needed to find and catch these fish, a fisherman can quickly get depressed.

Green, healthy weeds, a handful of jigs and a technique called “dunking” are all that are needed to find success during these “dog days” of summer.

During the days of summer when the humidity and sun become scorching hot, the intuitive walleye will begin his retreat and search for cooler climates for a more comfortable existence. Although common knowledge tells us that walleye and rocks are the perfect pair, the green vegetation that is on Wawang Lake is also a preferred habitat for a walleye seeking shelter. Shallow areas are the number one choice for patterning walleye this way, and plays host to weed-wandering walleye. Water that is relatively clear and is less than ten feet deep are the most ideal characteristics to target for certain success.

 

Green weeds lure walleye in for a number of reasons. They provide a cooler environment, shade from the sun, oxygen, safety and comfort and an abundant food source with an added ambush point for attack. When you put all of these pluses together, you get a sure-fire plan for putting walleye in the boat.

weed diagramWhen the sun is beating down, there will be certain weeds and areas that will draw fish in more than others.  Look for the greenest, most lush vegetation that you can find. These weeds can take the form of coon tail, milfoil or a variety of other species, but they must have a base or openings for the walleye to lurk under and through. Also, try to pinpoint weed areas that are relatively close to deeper water. Walleye feel safer when deeper water is in the vicinity as it provides an escape route – the shallow weed flat, in turn, provides an ideal feeding shelf. One last thing to keep an eye out for is isolated weed clumps in the area you are fishing. Huge expanses of vegetation will hold good numbers of fish, but isolated weed clumps provide a hiding area in a vast space of “coverless” water that roaming fish happen to stumble upon and call home.

  
 

Dunk till you Drop
Dunking is a close-range fishing technique that involves lowering your lure vertically down from your boat into a weed pocket. The maximum amount of line you will use in most situations is ten feet, so be prepared to for some excitement when Mr. Walleye takes a fast swipe at your jig.

There are two ways to approach a weed pocket for dunking – drifting and by using your electric motor. If the winds are calm and you are fishing a large expanse of weeds, simply allow your boat to drift with the breeze and dunk all of the pockets that you can as your boat slowly drifts over them.

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Understanding – Wood & Weeds

Wood and Weeds
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish

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

Weeds and weed line edges are important throughout the fishing season as they (along with gravel bottoms) are used for spawning in spring; shelter, cover and foraging in summer/fall and feeding in winter for all game fish.  When fishing the weeds always keep in mind the “cover within cover” principle – weed points, edges, deep weed lines, transitions from one weed species to the next, channels, clumps and inside turns among others.

Types of Weeds
The presence of aquatic plants is one of the best indicators of whether a lake or a stream will be a good producer of fish. Most aquatic life which fish feed upon requires these plants for food. Plants also provide a fishery with protective cover and life-giving oxygen. Aquatic plants are classified into floating, emergent, submerged and algae varieties as each type has slightly different features.

Floating
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish Floating plants are not rooted and are free to move about the water’s surface. The main habitat for floating plants are backwater areas on rivers and streams where the current slackens and protected bays on lakes and flowages. In limited water movement area’s floating plants can be mixed in with other emergent and submerged plants forming what is commonly called “slop” by creating a surface mat that attracts largemouth bass, in deeper waters slop will hold northern pike and muskie. Fishing slop is extremely fun when the fish are on and you have the right set-up and lures. Fishing the slop requires heavy tackle and line to horse the fish out of cover. Baitcasting reels spooled with low stretch 17lb to 30lb test line, rods rated heavy with fast action are recommended. Lure choices include weedless soft plastics, worms and lizards using heavy sinkers to penetrate the thick vegetation, top water frog and rat imitations are excellent for surface slop fishing, there is nothing more exciting when a bass explodes on one of these. The common North American native floating plants are Duckweed, Bladderwort and Watermeal.

Emergent
An emergent plant are a rooted shallow water plant found along shorelines areas, which grows in the water but the stems stand above the surface. All emergent plants flower which allows the reproductive process through pollination by wind or by flying insects. Emergent plants provide an important function on the water’s edge that creates a network root system which resists erosion, where wave action and water flow might undercut banks and a barrier for shoreline sediment. These plants create habitat and food supply for many species of insect, fish, bird, and mammal. The most common North American emergent plants are Lily Pads, Bulrushes and Cattails.

White Water Lily Pads
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish
The lily pad is a perennial flat leafed flowering rooted plant that grows in groups. For the most part they are found along shallower waters in sandy or soft bottomed areas. In clear water that can grow up to six to eight feet. The lily pad leaves are more rounded than heart shaped, bright green from 6-12 inches in diameter with a slit about the 1/3 of the leaf. The leaves float on the surface, the flower grow on separate stalks displaying brilliant white petals with a yellow center and are very fragrant. The flower opens each morning and closes as the sun goes down. A favorite habitat for largemouth bass. However many other species such as northern pike and muskies can be found in the lily pads as well. 

Bulrushes
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish

There are several species of bulrushes known as reeds and pencil reeds. Bulrushes are perennial rooted grass-like plants and can grow to 10 feet tall in shallow water or in moist soils. Reeds generally grow on firm bottoms, bulrush grows in softer mud bottoms. The bulrush brownish flowers appears just below the tip of the stem. Reeds and bulrush provides excellent fish habitat and spawning areas for northern pike and, in early spring, provide nesting cover for largemouth bass and bluegills. Bulrushes attract marsh birds and songbirds. Seeds of bulrushes are consumed by ducks and other birds.

Cattails
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish
Cattails are found in marshes, ditches, shorelines, shallow areas of lakes, ponds, and slow streams, quiet water up to 4 feet deep. They have slightly twisted rounded leaves, and can grow to 5 or 10 feet in height. Cattails are easily identified by their fuzzy brown cigar shaped flower (called the catkin) near the top of the stalk. Cattails spread rapidly when the catkin releases the seeds blowing in the wind or floating on the water’s surface. The cattail habitat helps stabilize marshy borders of lakes and ponds; helps protect shorelines from wave erosion; northern pike may spawn along shore behind the cattail fringe; provides cover and nesting sites for waterfowl and marsh birds such as the red-winged blackbird, stalks and roots are eaten by muskrats and beavers.

 

 

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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Fishing, Fishing TIPS, Structure, weeds

 

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The Underwater World of Freshwater Fish

The fishes world evolves around the ability to feed, reproduce and survive. Cover, Structure, Temperature and Oxygen are the key components. Understanding the waters of their world will help you determine the type of water and where they live.

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Cover & Structure:

These two terms are often confused as the same, but they are not. Cover is defined as a type of structure, natural or man made such as weeds, vegetation, fallen trees, docks, and swimming platforms. Structure is the physical characteristics of the water system; points, rock bars, islands, reefs, humps and breaklines. To understand the difference, if you completely drain the water only the structure will not move.

Breaklines & Edges

Breaklines and edges

Anglers hearing or reading the phrases ”fish caught off the first break” or ”fish caught on the weed edge” may be confused as to their meaning. All active fish will relate to breaks or edges. Weed beds are like “aquatic neighborhoods” providing all stages of the food chain protection from predators or an ambush source for feeding. Breaklines (Breaks) are defined as an area of transition from one depth to another, one cover type to another, one water temperature to another, one water color to another, one substrate to another or any other transition that could influence fish behavior. Cover (weeds) next to a deep water breakline usually hold more fish than a shallow flat.

Humps and Reefs

humps and reefs

Any mid lake underwater structure higher than the surrounding area can be classified as a hump or reef, they are among the most productive structures in lakes and flowages. Walleye and northern pike are attractive possibilities. If weeds, boulders and ledges are present, this structure will be even better, producing more game fish.

Points and Bars

points and bars

Protruding shoreline points and bars offer a diversity in structure and are fish producers throughout the year. Key bottom components are, inside turns and drops offs. Add cover such as submergent and emergent weeds, drowned wood and you have a top attraction for all gamefish.

Wood and Weeds

woods and weeds

Drowned wood, laydowns, brush plies composed of fir, pine, oak and maple typically lasts for years. By contrast birch and poplar provide cover for two to three years before decomposing to remnants. Drowned wood is terrific cover. The more complex the branches below the surface the better for fish. More branches more cover for a game fish to ambush prey. Finding “good” drowned wood means finding plenty of fish.

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Jigging Up Walleye

IMG_4040

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

10425425_10152083313292581_6402217722305236724_n

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

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

oddballjig2

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

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

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Jigging Up Walleye

IMG_4040

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

10425425_10152083313292581_6402217722305236724_n

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

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

oddballjig2

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

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

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Understanding – Wood & Weeds

Wood and Weeds

Underwater World of Freshwater Fish

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

Weeds and weed line edges are important throughout the fishing season as they (along with gravel bottoms) are used for spawning in spring; shelter, cover and foraging in summer/fall and feeding in winter for all game fish.  When fishing the weeds always keep in mind the “cover within cover” principle – weed points, edges, deep weed lines, transitions from one weed species to the next, channels, clumps and inside turns among others.

Types of Weeds
The presence of aquatic plants is one of the best indicators of whether a lake or a stream will be a good producer of fish. Most aquatic life which fish feed upon requires these plants for food. Plants also provide a fishery with protective cover and life-giving oxygen. Aquatic plants are classified into floating, emergent, submerged and algae varieties as each type has slightly different features.

Floating
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish Floating plants are not rooted and are free to move about the water’s surface. The main habitat for floating plants are backwater areas on rivers and streams where the current slackens and protected bays on lakes and flowages. In limited water movement area’s floating plants can be mixed in with other emergent and submerged plants forming what is commonly called “slop” by creating a surface mat that attracts largemouth bass, in deeper waters slop will hold northern pike and muskie. Fishing slop is extremely fun when the fish are on and you have the right set-up and lures. Fishing the slop requires heavy tackle and line to horse the fish out of cover. Baitcasting reels spooled with low stretch 17lb to 30lb test line, rods rated heavy with fast action are recommended. Lure choices include weedless soft plastics, worms and lizards using heavy sinkers to penetrate the thick vegetation, top water frog and rat imitations are excellent for surface slop fishing, there is nothing more exciting when a bass explodes on one of these. The common North American native floating plants are Duckweed, Bladderwort and Watermeal.

Emergent
An emergent plant are a rooted shallow water plant found along shorelines areas, which grows in the water but the stems stand above the surface. All emergent plants flower which allows the reproductive process through pollination by wind or by flying insects. Emergent plants provide an important function on the water’s edge that creates a network root system which resists erosion, where wave action and water flow might undercut banks and a barrier for shoreline sediment. These plants create habitat and food supply for many species of insect, fish, bird, and mammal. The most common North American emergent plants are Lily Pads, Bulrushes and Cattails.

White Water Lily Pads
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish The lily pad is a perennial flat leafed flowering rooted plant that grows in groups. For the most part they are found along shallower waters in sandy or soft bottomed areas. In clear water that can grow up to six to eight feet. The lily pad leaves are more rounded than heart shaped, bright green from 6-12 inches in diameter with a slit about the 1/3 of the leaf. The leaves float on the surface, the flower grow on separate stalks displaying brilliant white petals with a yellow center and are very fragrant. The flower opens each morning and closes as the sun goes down. A favorite habitat for largemouth bass. However many other species such as northern pike and muskies can be found in the lily pads as well. 

Bulrushes
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish
There are several species of bulrushes known as reeds and pencil reeds. Bulrushes are perennial rooted grass-like plants and can grow to 10 feet tall in shallow water or in moist soils. Reeds generally grow on firm bottoms, bulrush grows in softer mud bottoms. The bulrush brownish flowers appears just below the tip of the stem. Reeds and bulrush provides excellent fish habitat and spawning areas for northern pike and, in early spring, provide nesting cover for largemouth bass and bluegills. Bulrushes attract marsh birds and songbirds. Seeds of bulrushes are consumed by ducks and other birds.

Cattails
Underwater World of Freshwater Fish
Cattails are found in marshes, ditches, shorelines, shallow areas of lakes, ponds, and slow streams, quiet water up to 4 feet deep. They have slightly twisted rounded leaves, and can grow to 5 or 10 feet in height. Cattails are easily identified by their fuzzy brown cigar shaped flower (called the catkin) near the top of the stalk. Cattails spread rapidly when the catkin releases the seeds blowing in the wind or floating on the water’s surface. The cattail habitat helps stabilize marshy borders of lakes and ponds; helps protect shorelines from wave erosion; northern pike may spawn along shore behind the cattail fringe; provides cover and nesting sites for waterfowl and marsh birds such as the red-winged blackbird, stalks and roots are eaten by muskrats and beavers.

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Successfully Catch More Walleye

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick-Wed-5-25-2016-26.5inchWalleye
Bigger walleye don’t want to feed often, they want to eat in one full sweep, on a big baitfish like a perch or shad or a fat shiner, when they can. If that size baitfish isn’t available, they’ll stick around and feed on lots of smaller baitfish.

Give ‘Em A Blow
Wind also affects where you can find active walleyes in June.  You can start getting summer weather patterns in June, especially late in the month, but before everything really gets wild weather-wise, this time of year you can get winds that create an excellent bite. A good, steady wind will stack fish up in most lakes, and you can find walleyes feeding in the weeds or along rock edges.

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

Catching Walleye at the Bar
To catch these big walleye bellying-up to the salad bar in search of a mouthful by offering them precisely what the hungry predators came for: big live baits.

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

27 Mike Devasure

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

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

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Northern Pike

Length and Weight (general information)

Pike grow to a relatively large size; lengths of 59 in and weights of  55 lb are not unheard of and have been recorded in Wawang Lake.

The heaviest specimen known so far was caught in an abandoned stone quarry, in Germany, in 1983. She (the majority of all pikes over 18 lb are females) was 58 in long and weighed 68 lb. The longest pike ever recorded was 60 in long and weighed 62 lb.

Reproduction

Pike are known to spawn in spring when the water temperature first reaches 48 °F.  The males are first at the spawning grounds preceding the females for a few weeks. The larger females tend to be earlier than the smaller ones. Mostly a female is followed by several smaller males. When a pair starts slowing down the male will put his tail under the female’s body and release it’s sperm that is mixed with the eggs due to the tail movement.  The spawning consists of a great number of these moves several times a minute and going on for a few hours a day. Every move between 5 and 60 eggs are laid. A female can continue the mating for three days in a row. After the mating the males tend to stay in the area for a few extra weeks.

The color of the sticky eggs is yellow to orange, the diameter is 2.5 to 3 mm. The embryos are 7.5 to 10 mm in length and able to swim after hatching but stay on the bottom for some time. The embryonic stage is 5 to 16 days, dependent on water temperature (at 66°F and 50°F, respectively). Under natural circumstances the survival from free swimming larvae to 2.9 in. pike is around 5 percent.  Pike can reach the reproductive stage in a year, femails being 11 in., males 7.4 in  Pike normally live 5 to 15 years but can be as old as 30.

herring size

Typical Lake Herrings

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School of Lake Herring

Life expectancy and growth are dependent on circumstances. Some Canadian populations grow to great lengths in a short time while eating nutrient rich herring.  Wawang Lake is abundant in lake herring and support many  trophy sized northern pike.


Feeding

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Northern Pike Fry

The young free swimming pike feed on small invertebrates starting with daphnia, and quickly moving on to bigger prey like isopods like asellus or gammarus. When the body length is 1.5 to 3 in. they start feeding on small fish.

The pike have a very typical hunting behavior; they are able to remain stationary in the water by moving the last fin rays of the dorsal fins and the breast fins. Before striking they bend their body and dash out to the prey using the large surface of tail fin, dorsal fin and anal fin to propel themselves.

Pike-having-just-caught-a-frogThe fish has a distinctive habit of catching its prey sideways in the mouth, immobilising it with its sharp backward pointing teeth, and then turning the prey headfirst to swallow it. It eats mainly fish, but on occasion water voles and ducklings have also been known to fall prey to pike. Young pike have been found dead from choking on a pike of a similar size.   Northern pike also feed on frogs, insects and leeches. They are not very particular and eat spiny fish like perch and will even take sticklebacks if that is the only available prey.

The northern pike is a largely solitary predator.  It migrates during a spawning season, and it follows prey fish  to their deeper winter quarters.  Sometimes have observed groups of similar sized pike that might have some cooperation and it is known to anglers pike tend to start hunting at the same time, so there are some “wolfpack” theories about that.Pike-feeding-on-another-pike

Large pike can be caught on dead immobile fish so it is thought that these pike move about in a rather large territory to find the food to sustain them. Large pike are also known to cruise large water bodies in shallows, probably pursuing schools of prey fish.

Smaller pike are more of an ambush predator, probably because of their vulnerability to cannibalism. Pikes are often found near the exit of culverts, which can be attributed to the presence of schools of prey fish and the opportunity for ambush.

Sport Fishing

8Lake fishing for pike from the shore is especially effective during springtime, at which stage the big pike move into the shallows to spawn in weedy areas, and later many remain there to feed on other spawning coarse fish species to regain their condition after spawning. Smaller jack pike often remain in the shallows for their own protection, and for the small fish food available there.
For the hot summer period and during non-active phases the larger female pike tend to retire to deeper water and/or places of better cover. This gives the boat angler good fishing during the summer and winter seasons. Trolling  is a popular technique.

More and more pike are released back to the water after catching (catch and release) and on Wawang Lake it’s mandatory, but northern pike can easily be damaged when handled. Handling those fish with dry hands can easily damage their mucous covered skin and possibly lead to their death from infections.

Since they have very sharp and numerous teeth, care is required in unhooking a pike. It is recommended that barbless trebles are used when angling for this species as it simplifies dehooking. This is undertaken using long forceps, with 12 in artery clamps the ideal tool. When holding the pike from below on the lower jaw, it will open its mouth. The pike should be kept out of the water for the minimum amount of time possible, and should be given extra time to recover if being weighed and photographed before release. If practising live release, it is recommended to call the fish “caught” when it is alongside a boat. Remove the hook by grabbing it with a pair of needle-nosed pliers while the fish is still submerged and giving it a flip in the direction that turns the hook out of the mouth. This avoids damage to the fish and the stress of being out of water.

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Compared to other fish like the eel, the pike does not have a good sense of smell, but it is still more than adequate to find the baitfish. Baitfish can be used as groundbait, but also below a float carried by the wind. This method is often used and best done in lakes near schools of preyfish or at the deeper parts of shallow water bodies, where pike and preyfish tend to gather in great numbers.

Popular Lures

Pike make use of the lateral line system to follow the vortices produced by the perceived prey, and the whirling movement of the spinner is probably good way to imitate or exaggerate these. Jerkbaits are also effective and can produce spectacular bites with pike attacking these erratic moving lures at full speed.

A collection of popular northern pike lures - but not limited to.

A collection of popular northern pike lures – but not limited to.

For trolling, big plugs or softbaits can be used. Spoons with mirror finishes are very effective when the sun is at a sharp angle to the water in the mornings or evenings because they generate the vibrations previously discussed and cause a glint of reflective sunlight that mimics the flash of white-bellied prey. Most fishermen tend to use small lures but often that is not advisable because pike have a preference for large prey. When fishing in shallow water for smaller pike, lighter and smaller lures are frequently used.

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Jig Fishing For Walleye

Vertical jigging can be an invaluable technique, especially when it is placed into the mix with trolling, casting and static-line methods. It can be another powerful weapon in the angler’s arsenal, but, unfortunately, it is perhaps not used as frequently as it should be.

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The advocates of vertical jigging state that not only is it a fun-filled way to while away the hours, but it is also a highly productive way to fish. Many anglers dramatically increase their success rate when they begin to use a vertical jig.

In fact, in some locations, vertical jigging is not simply one of the beneficial tactics, but it is the most productive method of fishing for walleye. The advantages of vertical jigging are numerous. For example, it is widely accepted as a cost-effective technique. In addition, it only requires a small amount of physical exertion and, most importantly, it is a basic approach that can be adopted by anybody.

imagesGFPQKYIDThe success of vertical jigging is made possible through the accuracy of the technique. Rather than trolling wide expanses of water, it is required that the angler does a little research first. By establishing the structure of the lake or river that you are fishing in, you can locate the positions that are most likely to contain the walleye. Of course, if you have radar equipment, then you will find pinpointing the walleye spots even more easy, but this is not necessary and a comprehensive map of the water should be sufficient.

There will be times when establishing the position of the fish leads you to the deep sections of the lake or river. If you are fishing for walleye in particularly deep waters, you may wish to consider using a partial glow head and spinner blade on your jig, as this is a great combination for deep fishing or trolling.

In terms of bait, when it comes to vertical jigging it really is a matter of choice. Any bait can be used, so, if you find that minnows, crawlers or leeches work best for you then, by all means, use any of those. Personal preference is such a large part of successful fishing.

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More good news for beginners is that vertical jigging can allow for a margin of error. In other words, if you have let a walleye get away, but you know it is still Nature-Jigs-1-Whiteunder your boat, the vertical rig allows you to get right under the boat to try for a second chance. With many presentations, you may not expect to get a bite until the bait has reached the lakebed. However, with the vertical jig, you are just as likely to find success as the bait is on its way down. Subsequently, it is always a good idea to be prepared for those walleye.

Vertical jigging, or V-jigging as it is sometimes known, is an extremely enjoyable way to fish. It relies heavily on skill and technique, which is hugely satisfying for an angler. However, that does not mean to say that it is difficult to learn. Even beginners can take to vertical jigging and c

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an be extremely successful with this method

 

 

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Fishing Walleye in the Weeds Pt 2 – with Video

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Now that you know why weeds attract walleye, whether it’s cabbage, milfoil, or your local variety of pondweed, how do you catch them?

Three Tips for How to Catch Walleye in Weeds
Obviously fishing walleye in the weeds presents its own set of problems. Some people get annoyed by continually stopping to remove vegetation from their bait. If that’s you, this might not be your best technique for how to catch walleye. But if you’re willing to put up with this little inconvenience in exchange for a nice batch of walleye, then read on.

1.  Fish walleye vertically.
This might mean sneaking up on an opening in an otherwise congested weedbed to drop a jig into the hole as vertically as possible. In fact, that’s the way I catch more walleye from weeds than any other technique. Drop the jig to the bottom, bounce it up and down a few times, and then move on to the next spot and drop the jig again. Usually, if the spot holds a fish, it will hit the jig in the first 15 seconds. They tend to hit it on the drop, so keep a tight line as you drop the jig down.

2.  Target the cruisers.
Walleye in weed beds tend to be loosely schooled and cruising through the area, looking for a pod of bait fish. When you find one fish, work the area over well – others are sure to be there. This is where you can often taken a limit, or enough for a shore lunch, in an area the size of the hood of a pickup.

3.  Aim for ambushers. Another great spot to catch walleye is along the deep edges of weedlines on a steep drop-off. The steeper the drop, the more distinct the weedline will be. You can search the area with a deep-diving crank bait, then spin around and drop your jig down when you contact a fish. In this case, walleye tend to be ambush feeding rather than cruising. They find a good-looking spot and back themselves into the edge, facing out. When something that looks like an easy meal comes by, they slide out and grab it. Again, catch one and a half-dozen more walleye are likely to be there.

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Reelin’ ’em in
Once you catch a walleye in thick weeds, you might have a challenge getting it out – especially if it’s a big one. Using a stiff fishing rod with lots of backbone and a fast tip has its advantages. Spool it with 10- to 20-pound super line so it won’t stretch. (Care must be taken when using this technique since damage to the walleye or other fish species is certain.)  Crank your drag down pretty tight and when you hook a fish, quickly wrestle it to the top. The key is to lift it as straight up as possible to avoid getting wrapped around the stems of weeds.

The best time of the year to catch walleye in the weeds is late June and through July and August. If you are looking for a meal of tasty walleye fillets, go snooping around a bed of cabbage this summer.

Catching Walleye in the Weeds – Video

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