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Pike Top Water Lures – How to Use

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that are fascinating. Willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.

Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

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

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

topwaterA Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

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

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

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

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weed bed.

Buzzbaits

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

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

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World Record Walleye #3

Al Nelson

There has only been one heavier walleye recorded by the IGFA than Al Nelson’s massive 10.29-kilogram (22 pounds, 11 ounces) fish that he pulled from Arkansas’ Greers Ferry Lake – a body of water notorious for producing world class walleye.

Nelson was trolling a Bomber lure from his aluminum on the night of March 14, 1982, when the fish hit at approximately 10 PM.

The angler initially thought he had hooked a log, until the log began fighting back. After a 20 minute fight, Nelson had the fish boated and was on the way back to his home dock of Fairfield Bay Marina.

However, a heavy fog interfered with Nelson’s plans and he mistakenly ended up at another marina before eventually arriving at his intended destination at approximately 2 AM in the morning, where it was officially weighed-in, earning him the men’s 6-kilogram (12 pound) line class record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trolling – The Right Way

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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.

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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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The RAP’s Get The MONSTER PIKE!

IMG_0551 (300x400) Trolling Tactics

When it comes to trolling  for Monster Northern Pike, the following lures are a must have for any fishing enthusiast.

While the Northern Pike can easily be caught from shore, or casting from a boat, there is another tactic most often ignored by the fishing enthusiast. Trolling for monster Northern Pike is one of the most proven methods for covering large bodies of water (the preference here at Wawang Lake) and increasing a fisherman’s chances of success.

Northern Pike are Active All Day Long
Because the Northern Pike are active throughout the day, it really is quite easy to tie into one of these lunkers. The trick is to make sure you have the proper drag setting, a wire leader and the right trolling lure. After that, it’s simply a matter of covering the right territory and waiting for that violent attack.

Northern Pike are notorious for quick strikes, long fights and deep dives. They are one of the most sought-after freshwater game fishes worldwide. Considered by many to be the freshwater’s version of a barracuda, these fish are determined fighters and voracious eaters. So, what are the best lures and trolling tactics to catch these fish?

Rapala “Husky Jerk” Suspending Minnows

$(KGrHqNHJFYFD1kCnVlqBQ9,mhoVlQ~~60_35Rapala is world renowned for their full line of balsa minnows and is considered by many fishing enthusiasts as the pre-eminent lure designer. After all, they’ve been making balsa wood minnows since 1936. Their best lure for trolling is the Rapala “Husky Jerk” Suspending lure and it comes in a variety of colors from gold, silver, perch color, bass color and even clear.

These lures can be tolled at controlled depths of 4-8 feet below the surface. In addition, the lure includes a rattle chamber that increases the likelihood of a strike.

Rapala X-Rap XR10 Jerkbait1408862_290

Much like the Rapala “Husky Jerk”, the X-Rap XR10 Jerkbait is a perfect trolling lure for Pike. In this case, it’s all about the X-Rap’s darting and cutting action through the water. When trolling this Rapala, make sure to vary speeds and add some extra motion. The lure is intended to suspend itself and dart once retrieved.

Rapala XRAP Magnums & Jointed Minnows

Both the XRAP Magnum and the Jointed Minnow offer Northern Pike enthusiasts the opportunity to go a little deeper than the two previously mentioned lures. In this case, depending upon the size, the lures can go as low as 30 feet down. However, most effective lures for Pike should stay around the 5-10 feet range, so be sure to purchase the appropriate size.

While many of these lures, including the Magnum and Jointed imagesMinnow Rapalas, are considered saltwater lures, they are still extremely effective when trolling for Northern Pike in freshwater lakes. In addition, because Pike share so much of their territory with Walleye, it’s not uncommon to nail a trophy walleye as well. Either way, make sure to match the rod and line strength with the depth these lures will be fished at.

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Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

As the adage goes, the weakest link between you and a fish falls squarely on the shoulders of your line. With a market saturated with choices, including monofilament, copolymer and braid, shedding some light on the latest to join the fraternity — fluorocarbon — will help you become a more informed, and successful angler.

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The Lowdown
Although not a newcomer to the fishing scene, the buzz about fluorocarbon line has exploded over the last couple of years. In terms of manufacturing, fluorocarbon is a polymer consisting of fluorine that has been chemically bonded with carbon. This chemical makeup has almost the same light refraction rate that water holds, or in laymen terms, it appears virtually invisible when in the water.

A fluorocarbon leader works great when chasing toothy critters, such as northern pike.

Fluorocarbon line has unique properties in comparison to monofilament, making it resistant to degradation from such outside sources as sunlight, gasoline, or DEET (a common component of insect repellant). As most anglers know, monofilament will break down when exposed to such substances — that’s not the case with fluorocarbon.

If those benefits weren’t enough, fluoro will not absorb water (another factor in line failure and degradation in monofilament), is denser than H20 so it sinks, has greater abrasion qualities, and is highly sensitive with a decrease in stretch.

Sound too good to be true? Those all are facts, although independent testers are beginning to question the claim of fluoro’s decreased stretch properties — the jury is still out on that one. For now, take the manufacturer’s word on it.

To achieve all of these benefits, however, make sure the line you purchase is 100 percent fluorocarbon. Not all of them on the market are 100 percent fluorocarbon so check on it before you purchase.

All in all, fluorocarbon brings some excellent advancements to the forefront of line development. Like anything, though, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here is the nitty-gritty on those.

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Best Uses For Fluorocarbon Line
T
he two most intriguing properties fluoro holds,  are its near invisibility and a significant resistance to abrasion. The advantages of invisible line are great — with clear water applications, finicky fish, and finesse presentations. Catch rates can increase significantly when faced with these tricky situations, and switching to a line such as fluorocarbon can see a dramatic upturn — especially where stealth is concerned.

With more anglers concentrating on abrasive structure areas (rocks, wood, docks, snags), using a tough line that can hold up better. Fluoro can bring the added benefit of toughness and resistance when facing these conditions.

Increased sensitivity — a factor that makes many anglers fall in love with braid — is also worth a look with fluoro. Presentations such as tossing crankbaits, jigging (especially deep-water and drop-shotting), and working soft stickbaits can be done more effectively with fluoro.

Clear water and finicky fish are ideal conditions for tossing crankbaits with fluorocarbon.

Fluorocarbon’s sinking properties also make it beneficial for those trying to gain extra depth when fishing certain lures, be it crankbaits or wacky worms, as well as ensuring that they sink at a faster rate of speed.

If the stretch claims are true, sinking the hooks into fish more quickly during certain situations (deep-water jigging comes to mind, as stretch can impede hook penetration), puts fluorocarbon out on top again.

The Downside To Fluorocarbon
The following situations are not necessarily disadvantages, but more so occasions where fluoro may not be the best choice.

If working slow moving topwater baits — think Pop R’s — fluoro’s ability to sink may impede both the action of your lure, as well as your efficiency in picking up line for wrist and arm movements.

Although many improvements have been made, fluorocarbon line does exhibit a greater stiffness and more of a memory than traditional lines. This can cause problems when using spinning gear (due to their small spools and the manner the line comes off), as well as on baitcast gear if braking systems are not properly adjusted. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Of course, expense has to be mentioned when dealing with any fishing product. Expect to pay significantly more for fluorocarbon line. Prices vary across the board, with some line economical and others high-priced.  Therefore, read specific reviews, heed positive reports, and ultimately make an informed decision before buying. Utilizing a backing on your reels, such as monofilament, to cut down on cost is definitely recommended.

IMG_0551 (300x400)Leader Material
Many folks also use fluorocarbon line as a leader material, as certain situations don’t warrant a full spool of fluoro.  Carolina rigs are another good choice for fluoro leaders, as are drop shots, walleye jigging, and when trolling or casting for toothy critters. Again, if it is only your offering that will benefit from the use of fluoro, then tying on a leader is the way to go.

Deep-water jigging is a great technique for utilizing fluorocarbon line.

Knots are a hotly-debated subject with fluoro line — tie one wrong or improperly, and line failure at the knot can certainly occur. Spending a little extra time getting that knot perfect can make all the difference. It’s definitely not as forgiving as mono, at least in knot strength.

Ask five anglers their preference and chances are you’ll get many different answers. Suggested knots to try are Uni to Uni, Blood, and Surgeons, although there are a host of others. Again, experiment and see which works best for you.

As for line to lure knots, Palomar and the Double Clinch seem to get the most play. Whichever you choose, lubricating the knot is paramount to decreasing the risk of failure, as well as ensuring that line doesn’t fall on top of other layers. Similar to doing your homework on the best line, investigate the best knots before heading out for the day.

As you can see from this overview, flurocarbon line can bring some specific perks to fishing. Although not advantageous to all situations you may encounter, I’d recommend introducing it to your arsenal this season in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Line will always remain the most crucial link between you and that trophy fish, so choose wisely.

 

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World Record Walleye #2

Scott Smith

The heaviest walleye ever recorded with fly tackle was caught by angler Scott Smith on March 26, 1999. Smith, who had been guiding two friends on a steelhead trip all day, was finally able to do some fishing for himself. Not long after he picked up the fly rod, he hooked up to the massive walleye, which he first thought to be a snag. After playing the fish for 10 minutes, Smith was able to land and weigh the 5.44-kilogram (12 pounds) fish before he released it alive. The fish earned Smith the men’s 4 kilogram (8 pound) tippet class record, and was caught on an egg pattern fly

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Flash Baked Walleye Fillets

bakewalleyewawangresort

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