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How to Fish During the Cold Fronts

 

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We’ve all had to face it at one time or another – waking up on the day of your fishing trip to a chill in the air and bluebird skies to boot. What you are experiencing is the passing of a cold front, a weather occurrence that can shut down fish, and cause severe headaches for an angler. Fishing will be tough – there’s no two ways about it – but it is possible to put some fins in the boat if you are prepared to alter your delivery.

Try these techniques the next time you face a cold front and watch your catch rate increase dramatically.

What is a Cold Front?
A common definition of a cold front is as follows: “A narrow zone of transition between relatively cold, dense air that is advancing and relatively warm, less dense air that is retreating.”

cold_frontA cold front actually takes a day or so before the drop in temperature sets in and the skies become blue. This typically shows itself in the form of high winds, rainy weather or thunderstorms. It’s those kinds of days where all hell breaks loose, as the approaching front is causing a disturbance as the differing masses come together.

As the cold front approaches, fishing can be excellent. Fish become wired and active, feeding up a storm and hitting baits with ferocious strength. Even the fish know that once the front passes, they will take on a neutral or negative mood, and will develop a case of lockjaw for a couple of days. So, they feed heavily in preparation of this ‘dormant’ stage.

If you can get out on the water as a front approaches, I would certainly suggest it. Enjoy it while you can, because within a day or so, things will be much different.
Post cold front conditions vary greatly from the actual cold front. Clear blue skies, calm winds and colder temperatures are the norm, and not the exception. The change in pressure and temperature seems to shut down the fish, causing them to retreat to heavier cover, sulk on the bottom structure and become extremely inactive.

woods and weedsWhere To Find Fish
After a cold front has passed, fish stage in predictable areas of a lake. Don’t expect fish to be moving around much, nor, will there be much activity in the open water shallows.

For northern pike, thick vegetation or heavy cover are good places to start. Most fish under these circumstances will snuggle into the security of some sort of structure, content to sit still and wait out the prospect of changing weather.  The thicker the cover you can find, the better your chances of having fish present.

Depending on the type of lake, walleye will either seek out a thick weed bed and position themselves smack dab in the middle, or if rocks and boulders are concerned, they will sit right on bottom, remaining primarily motionless.

No matter what the species, seeking out the shelter and comfort of thick vegetation or other structure is a likely scenario. Remaining in a neutral or negative mood is a given

Downsize Your Lures
Although a northern pike may have no trouble hitting a ten-inch lure during a ‘normal’ day of fishing, he certainly won’t be as forthcoming after a front has moved through. Scale back on the size of the lures you are tossing, downgrading to finesse style baits for a better reaction. Since you are downsizing your lures, lowering the thickness of your line is also a good idea. Not only will get more of a lifelike action with your baits, but also less likelihood of scaring away line-shy fish.
Lightweight lures and line are most certainly in, and will often be the only thing that gets the attention of a heavyweight.

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S-l-o-w Things Down
When fish are inactive, the last thing they want to do is chase down a fast moving buzzbait, or a spinnerbait cranked at a lightning fast tempo. They just won’t exert the energy, nor do they have the initiative to do so.

Work your baits in a ‘slow motion’ mentality. Even if it seems excruciatingly painful to be fishing a worm or tube with nary a movement, continue to stick with it. If anything, slow it down even more. Dead sticking a bait is a great technique that can bring positive results.

Think Vertical Instead of Horizontal
A neutral fish has a small strike zone or feeding window. What this means is, unless a lure comes within six-inches or a foot to a fish’s snout, he will not be willing, or convinced to strike it. The closer you can get to the strike zone, the better your chances for success.

Vertical baits work well in this situation because they can spend more time in the strike zone, as opposed to a horizontal bait moving through relatively quickly.

Switch to Live Bait
When the fish are finicky, switching to God’s lures is the way to go – you guessed it, live bait. Minnows, worms or leeches will all work well, and will play on a fish’s natural prey attitudes and preference.
Slip floats, live bait rigs and tipped jigs all have a time and place, and post cold front conditions are definitely one of them.

Scent It Up
If live bait isn’t available to you, making your artificials smell and taste like the real thing is the next best thing to do. Go with tried and true scents, including crawdad, shad and worm. Any extra second you can get a fish to bite and hold on, is an extra second you can get those hooks into him.

Cold fronts don’t have to be the kiss of death in fishing. Although the fish may of changed locations, and be reluctant to hit baits, it doesn’t mean they are uncatchable. All it usually takes is a change of tactics to get into some fish again.

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Big Tube Jigs For Autumn Pike

# 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group 6/2013

Wawang Lake is the # 1 choice for the Lahrman Group – Chicago (area), IL

There are few a shorter days and cooling water are signals to northern pike that autumn has arrived. During fall, these sleek predators will feed heartily to pack on energy reserves to help them etter ways to catch pike in cold water than using big profile jigs, and giant tubes are particularly productive baits.

Pike Locations From Early Fall To Ice Up
Fall is very much a time of transition. At the start of autumn, pike will still relate to healthy weeds, but as shallow plants die look for northern in deeper vegetation zones. Tributaries and the mouths of feeder streams on rivers are also good late-season spots as baitfish stage in these areas. Sharp breaks where walleyes hold will also attract pike, which will eat walleyes any chance they get. Rock-gravel reefs and points adjacent to deep water are good whitefish and cisco (lake herring) spawning grounds. These two prey species spawn between October and November, so these structures make prime late-fall pike spots.Current areas also attract pike year-round. As an example, on lakes the narrows between shore and an island often has wind-induced current traveling through it. This pushes in baitfish and pike follow.   Northern wait in ambush in current breaks, such as eddies, outwash holes, and deep pools.

An autumn-sized bait. Pictured here is WaterWolf Lures's 7-inch Gator Tube with a 9/0, 1-ounce jig head.

An autumn-sized bait. Pictured here is WaterWolf Lures’s 7-inch Gator Tube with a 9/0, 1-ounce jig head.

Basic Tube Jigs Tips
Big tube jigs between 5- and 7 inches are a supreme autumn bait. The bait’s thickness also appeals to northern stocking up on calories. When pike are sluggish as a result of cold water these baits also have just enough action to get fish interested. Their multi-filament appendages wave at the slightest movement and are deadly at triggering bites when pike are sluggish. Tubes are outstanding lures to work on swimming retrieves. Pumping the rod tip during the retrieve will add either a side-to-side twitch or an up-and-down bob to the tube depending on its rigging.

When fishing tubes near the bottom, be alert and keep a feel on the bait at all times as it sinks. Tubes fall in a shimmy or a spiral that imitates a dying fish and pike often strike during the initial drop. Once on the bottom, you can use either a lazy, lift-drop swim or a drag-pause retrieve.

Hooking Followers Fall fish can be lazy and follows are common. The best scenario is spotting an aggressive fish a distance from the boat. In this case, try speeding up the retrieve or adding some snaps. This imitates escape-moves and sometimes triggers bites. If the fish appears lazy, slow the retrieve slightly. If working the bait along the bottom, add pauses or experiment with the length of drags. Slow twitches that impart an escape-like dart to tubes can also evoke strikes. If you spot a following pike close to the boat while your jig is traveling upwards, letting out line so the jig falls is your best option.

Tackle useTips Rig tube jigs using a long-shank jig head. Large baits featuring a wide body cavity will accommodate a range of jig-head styles. Also, adding a stinger treble hook on a wire leader to large 7-inch tubes can help with hook-up rates when pike bite short.

pikeBig tubes demand heavy gear.  Use heavy-power bait cast outfits. For deep-water applications, use rods at least 7 feet, and most preferred is a 7-1/2’ for better line control when drifting and moving line for deep-water hook sets.

This autumn try casting tube jigs around deep weed edges and rocky structures. This non-traditional tactic is a great way to boat bragging-size northern pike.

 

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Northern Pike Handling, Filleting & Take the ‘Y’ Bones Out

When it comes to caring for Pike that you plan to use at home, the first and probably most important step in assuring a quality meal is to keep the fish fresh prior to cleaning.   Compared to other popular game fish, the flesh of Northern Pike is among the most likely to deteriorate if care is not taken to keep the fish fresh right up to the cleaning table.   When you plan to save some for the table, one great approach is to wait until later in your fishing trip before you start saving fish to take home.

northern_catch
After filleting it’s best to freeze your filets properly for transportation back home from the lodge.  All your hard work out on the lake could be confiscated by a game warden for the following reasons:

  • frozen in one big blob is considered ‘unidentifiable’
  • failure to keep one square inch patch of skin on the filet
  • packaged improperly (the correct procedure is one fish per package, layed out flat – side by side)

Keeping fish frozen during your stay allows for easy transportation all the way home.  Frozen fish takes the place of ice, however, midway you may want to check the cooler to inspect your filets and add fish accordingly as this could  make a difference at the dinner table.

Another key factor in preparing gourmet meals using Northern Pike is to avoid saving Pike in the freezer for periods of time.  Pike flesh contains a particular Amino Acid that breaks down fairly quickly while fish are stored in the freezer too long. So even if you’ve taken great care to keep the fish fresh up to this point, you could be disappointed when you pull out a package of fish that you’ve been saving for that special occasion.  Because Pike are not well suited for long-term storage, at the simple rule of thumb is Pike are to be eaten within a couple of weeks. 

Removing the “Y” bones from Pike fillets is part of the mystery that has kept lots of otherwise willing anglers away from using these fish in recipes and removing these small bones is really easy! Even the smallest Pike can be easily de-boned by anyone who can fillet a Walleye or most any other fish. In fact, even the term “Y” bone is a misnomer because this so called “Y” bone really isn’t much different than the strip of bones that you’d remove from a Walleye or any other fish caught in our waters. It just happens to be sandwiched into the grain of the fillet where it is protected from “frying out”. 

This is one of those times when it would be easier to do the job than it is to describe how to do it, but look at the picture of the finished fillets and you’ll get a good idea of how to follow these instructions.

npBegin by filleting the fish and removing the rib bones as you would a Walleye or most other freshwater fish. Once you have taken the fillet, study it for a minute. Take a look at the centerline that divides the fillet horizontally and notice the row of light bones visible halfway between this centerline and the top (fishes back) of the fillet. You will be making one cut on each side of this row of bones. You’ll also see that the flesh has a “grain” much like the grain of a nice oak board. The “Y” bones run with this grain and you can use this grain as a directional guide when making your cuts.

COMPLETE DIAGRAM BELOW:

Cut 1:
Start by making a cut just above this row of bones that you can see (and feel). This first cut will be shallow (about ¼ inch) and it is perpendicular to the fillet. This simple, straight cut is used mostly as an access cut to get your knife into position for the next step. Using the tip of your fillet knife, you’ll be able to feel the edge of your knife contact the bones at the inside corner of this “L”  where the bones turn toward the top of the fillet. When you feel the knife contacting those bones, take care not to cut through them.

Cut 2:
Turn the edge of your knife toward the top of the fillet at about a 45-degree angle and follow this edge. You’ll be able to see the bones as you gently slip your knife-edge along this edge. Stop the cut before you reach the top edge of the fillet.

Cut 3:
This is the finishing touch. Start this cut below the row of bones on the side nearest the centerline and simply follow the same angle that you used to make cut 2. As the edge of your knife moves toward the top of the fillet, you’ll begin to feel this strip of bones peeling away from the rest of the fillet. Trim along these edges as needed to remove the strip and voila, you’re finished.

ybone


So There you have it, all you need is a little faith in yourself, a fairly good fillet knife and a little practice. You will soon learn that there is really no trick at all and before long your family and friends will be standing in line at dinner time waiting to sample your newest Pike recipe.

ENJOY YOUR NEXT FEED OF PIKE!

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Fishing, Northern Pike, pike

 

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Best Baits: Top Lures For Pike Fishing

 

IMG_20150603_115338912_HDRWhen the stars align and the feeding window is open, a big pike will hit anything that moves. Your bait selection doesn’t matter and all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience this feeding-frenzy action once or twice a season. The rest of your time hunting trophy pike will be spent cranking, casting, and waiting. The right presentation will make the difference between a bite and a follow-up. So, don’t waste all of your effort pitching second-rate lures. Here’s our round up of the best pike fishing baits on the market right

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PIKE – The Fearless Water Wolf

Wawang_42_mikeNorthern Pike are at the top of the food chain in most lakes in Ontario. They eat just about anything. Walleye, Perch, Chub, Shiners, Frogs, Snakes, Birds, Bugs and other Pike are all on the menu.

Traditional Locations:

Small to medium size Northern Pike generally stay in thick weeds and close to shore. They will stick to the back of bays where water warms up quickly with the morning sun and they have lots of weeds to hide in.

You can find big Trophy Northern Pike in the back of bays and in thick weeds as well but generally the really large Northern Pike are more likely to hang around points leading into bays, narrows between islands or in river current. They need breathing room and like to ambush bigger prey like Walleye. They like to hang around areas where Walleye are migrating through.


Deep Water Pike:

On Wawang Lake where there is a good population of whitefish, many of the massive trophy pike will go deep to feed.  Whitefish have more oil and are far more rewarding in calories than walleye or small pike. Deep water pike fishing is something few people ever think about trying. There will be 20 to 25-pound pike patrolling the bays and points but the really big 35-pound+ pike will be down deep.
Wawang_Lake_Dardevl

There are two ways to catch them down deep. You can jig with lures like you are ice fishing or troll for them. To troll down deep for Pike is basically the same as trolling deep for Lake Trout. The difference is you use Dardevle Spoons or bigger Muskie lures. This is not a popular way of fishing because you are not going to catch smaller pike like you do close to shore and with a limited amount of holidays, most people prefer to see action and hope them come across a big one.

Wawang_pike_lures

Lures & Flies:

Northern Pike hit just about anything that moves. The best lures to use are lures that come out of the fish’s mouth easily without harming the fish like Dardevle and Spinner baits. Mind you, over the last 30 years so many people have been using Dardevles for Pike fishing that many Pike have learned to stay away from them on some lakes. They are still considered the top Pike lure by most people. Many believe the red-&-silver Dardevles works best in clear water while the yellow-five-of-diamonds Dardevles work best in murky water. Dardevles have also been called DareDevils but the proper spelling is Dardevle.

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Nick Welter – Hartland, WI

Fly-fishing for Pike is also gaining in popularity. Anglers are finding that you can cast your fly into small open patches in the middle of thick weeds and pick up Pike that are not practical to go after with traditional lures. Fly-Fishing looks cool and romantic on TV commercials and movies but it’s a lot harder then it looks and can be a very frustrating way of fishing if the pike are under shore cover like large over-hanging trees. Flies are also dangerous to the fish because they get swallowed way down where it causes more harm to the fish. If you are going to fly-fish, please use large barbless Pike flies.


Below is a list of good Pike lures.

Pike Trolling Lures:

• J-ll Jointed Rapalas

• J-13 Deeper Jointed Rapalas

• Ziggy Lures

• Willy Lures

• Wiley Lures

• Believers

• Swimwizz

• Large Mepps Bucktail Spinners

• Lucky Strike Wooden Muskie Plugs

• Heddon Muskie Plugs

Pike Casting Lures:

• Dardevle Spoons

• Williams Weedless Pike Spoon

• Tinsel Tail Spinner

• Large Bass Spinner Baits

• Crank Baits

• Jerk Baits

• Suick

• Large Mepps Bucktails Spinners

• Rattle Baits

Pike Flies:

• Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny

• Dahlberg Diver

• Red & White Pike Fly

Top Water:

• Heddon Spook

• Jitter Bugs


Top-Water Using a Spook

Wawang_Lake_spookTop-Water fishing for Northern Pike with a Hedon Spook is an art form that seems to have been lost and needs to be carried on to the younger generation. There is no fishing method for Pike that is more exciting then Working the surface with a Spook and getting those Monster Pike splashing at the surface. Over the years we’ve seen people try to fish with Spooks and they just can’t get it right so we are going to show you the most exciting Pike fishing method known. Since we we very seldom hear of anyone using these lures and it’s time we get people back into using them.

1st) You have to cast your Spook out. The perfect spot to cast a Spook is over-top a thick weed bed that is just under the surface, in between patches of lily pads or along side Bulrushes. The whole purpose is to be able to fish in places that are not practical for other lures.

2nd) Once your Spook hits the surface, don’t start reeling in yet. Give it a couple of yanks so it makes splashes on the surface like a wounded frog or bird. Many times the Pike will hit the Spook before you start reeling in.

3rd) This is the tricky part. You have to hold your rod up as high as you can and pull the line tight so your fishing line is not in the water or even touching the surface. Your line has to be out of the water or the Spook will not make the proper motion when you reel it in.

Start to reel in slowly at a constant speed. While reeling in you have to jerk your rod every second. When you jerk your rod, the Spook will slide to one side. When you jerk it again, it should slide to the other side in a crisscrossing motion. You have to get a rhythm going. As you are reeling in, your Spook splashes from side-to side and this drives the Pike crazy.

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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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Don’t Overlook the Pike’s Reflexive Response

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Northern Pike are impulsive and will often at times strike through reflexive responses even when they’re not hungry or actively feeding. They are susceptible to being provoked into striking a fast moving lure that crosses their field of vision.

A favorite blue and silver Rapala Husky is a great lure to cast as far as you can with the wind, then proceed to retrieve the bait with a rapid crank, crank, crank, …pause, rip (and repeat) motion back to the boat. Soon by the second cast you’ll begin to see the fruits of your efforts.

rapala-husky-jerk

Within an hour you’re sure to experience rewards with this frenzied cast and retrieve method of fishing. It is something many know and witness before but for whatever reason some anglers avoid this technique never fully understanding how powerful this approach really is . It’s only natural to fish more carefully when things turn slow and you may have to remind yourself to break out and try something loud, large and fast to get the fish to strike again. Take advantage of a fishes’ evolutionary response to strike reflexively the next time things get slow on the water. It’s sure to reawaken their feeding response and put more fish in the boat.

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