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Prepare Your Boat For The Upcoming Season

Boats

There seems to be a direct correlation between melting snow and the increasing need for anglers to get on the water. Just consider how many countless hours you, or your friends, have spent sharpening hooks, organizing and reorganizing your tackle box, and the cash you spend on pre-season shopping for supplies.

But here’s a question: how many of you take the time to properly prepare your boat for the upcoming season? There’s no better place to invest your anxious energy than boat and trailer tune-ups and tinkering. Here’s a list of some things you should do before you hit the water this season.

new%20boat_preview

Get The Engine Running
If you didn’t get your engine winterized, you’ll want to do the annual maintenance in the spring, such as: changing the oil and filters, lubricating parts, and cleaning spark plugs. If you winterized your boat, some shops will include a spring start-up in their package to ensure all is working well after the winter. Hooking up a hose to a pair of “ear muffs” or using other flushing kits will allow you to start your engine on land — always a good move before the first outing.

Check Hoses And Connections
You’ll want to check all the hoses and connections from your gas tank to your engine. Have any of the tubes cracked over the winter? Are there any signs of wear and tear visible on tubes or the gas tank? If so, replace worn parts at the beginning of the season. Don’t forget to add new gas to that tank, too, fuel stabilizers will keep gas uniform over the winter, but you want fresh gas running through the engine as soon as possible.

16lund1

1The Blessed Battery
Batteries are a crucial component in boats today. They power fish finders, trolling motors, lights, livewells, and the list goes on. Many guys will have both a cranking and a deep cycle battery in their boats. The cranking is strictly for starting the outboard; the deep cycle is for electronics. Both types of batteries should be charged differently, but charge them fully before your first run on the water. This is also a good time to clean grimy battery terminals with a wire, battery brush.

Working On Wires
A battery is useless without a network of wires to transport its energy to the gadgets on your boat. Check all the wiring in your boat, looking for kinks and cracks in the wiring, replacing sections of wiring if necessary. Tighten any loose connections and replace any year-old electrical tape with new product to ensure the seal will last the season. While inspecting your wiring, also consider tucking some of it away to tidy your boat. There are a variety of products available in the electrical section of hardware stores, such as plastic tie-downs, that will help you organize your boat’s wiring.

Safety Kit
You should already have the appropriate safety gear and equipment to comply with the boating regulations for the vessel you operate. Check this equipment at the beginning of the season and add supplies. This includes replenishing supplies from your First Aid kit that might have been used up over the summer. Replace weak batteries with fresh ones. Ensure you have spares for some basic boat equipment (such as fuses and spark plugs). Also return any items to your boat that you may have removed during winter storage, such as anchors or a tool kit.

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Inspecting trailer tires for wear and tear, greasing bearings, and adding air to the recommended pressure levels are three key steps for spring trailer-tune up. Getting a cover for your bearings doesn’t hurt either and will keep tires grease-free.

Trailer Tune-Up
Don’t forget to check your trailer at the beginning of spring. Start by inspecting your tires, looking for adequate treads and ensure there are no cracks or bulges on the sides. Replace worn tires (if necessary) and add the proper air pressure before any outings. You’ll also want to replenish grease levels and repack your bearings if needed. Next, ensure all the lights are operating properly and check the wiring. Finally, inspect the winch and straps, tightening any loose nuts and bolts, but also checking the strap for signs of wear and tear, replacing if needed. This is important; the last thing you want is the strap snapping when you’re cranking your boat onto your trailer.

Tuning and tightening up your boat as you wait for season-opener is a smart investment of your time. It keeps your boat in good shape, but it’s also an opportunity to spot any potential hazards before they become major problems. Don’t get sidelined this season with boat problems that could have been prevented with a little spring tune-up.

Stay safe and have fun on the water this season!

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TIPS TO CATCHING SPRING WALLEYE

Rick Lahrman caught this nice 29" walleye at Wawang Lake.

Rick Lahrman caught this nice 29″ walleye at Wawang Lake.

If hooking a big walleye is the plan then Wawang Lake is where you want to go whether it’s spring, summer or fall . While walleye are rather active and generally numbers are much easier to find during the spring, but catching BIG trophy sized walleye happens all season long.  Catching these big guys still takes some tactics to reel them in. If the plan is to drop a line, hook a fish and go home happy within a few minutes, the outcome could be disappointment.

Although springtime is the favorite for walleye fishing, anglers need to keep a few things in mind. Everything from actual weather conditions to location and bait can impact the outcome of a fishing trip. The trick is really gauging the action carefully before picking a spot to stay at.    Walleyes like water between 55 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and they move to follow it. In spring you’ll find them in the shallows of lakes and fall they will move into shallower water depending on light and wave activity.

Location Matters in The Spring

coldWhen the waters are thawing, but haven’t turned warm just yet, the shallows are generally the place to go. Anglers often quickly find a few key spots that work very well in the spring months.

It’s important to keep in mind that changing weather patterns can affect where walleye happen to be on a particular day or night. Many anglers swear by very shallow, night fishing to catch walleye during the cooler spring days but this is not always true. Slightly warmer, less windy days might find them a little further out though.

Some places to seek them out include:

  • Shallow points and mid-depths. While walleye are known to move into deeper waters when the temperatures heat up, early spring won’t generally find them there yet. Look along sunken islands and in mid- to rather shallow points by boat. If electronics do not turn up fish action, move on.
  • On-shore/wading. Many anglers find they are better off leaving the boat at home for springtime fishing, especially in the early days of spring. The fish are often found in very shallow waters that can be fished from shore or from piers.
  • Picking The Right Equipment. Having the right bait and equipment cannot be stressed enough when walleye is the catch of choice. These fish have changing preferences. What they enjoy in the hotter summer months is not necessarily what they’ll bite in the spring. Some of the suggested bait and tackle recommendations for springtime angling include:
  • Tackle. Rigs with live bait and live bait with slip bobbers are generally the preferred means for catching walleye during the spring months. Keep in mind if it’s early spring, walleye are getting ready to move to their spawning grounds, so they’re ready to eat.
  • Bait. Walleye tend to gravitate well toward minnows and night crawlers during the early spring months. In some areas, they might prefer noshing on insect larvae like during a mayfly hatch. For this reason, some anglers swear by using marabou jigs and other similar lures.

Spring is typically the one of best times of year to hook a winning walleye, but that doesn’t mean the prospect will always be easy.

 

walleye_catchThe temperatures this time of year, especially in early spring, can be brutal on anglers. Exercising a bit of patience, finding the right spots and paying heed to weather patterns can make a difference.

Remember, the landscape can change from day to day. On cooler days (or nights), they are often found very close to shore, but mid-level areas might hold them when the temperatures start to turn up just a bit.

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CHASING THE ‘EYES’

 

31" walleye - Mark HechtMore people want to know how to catch walleye than any other game fish.  Also known as pickerel, they are often difficult to locate and land. The challenge they present makes fishing them successfully an angling accomplishment.  Yet, for the novice angler finding a lake that has a fisheries management program will without a doubt help you get on those walleye quicker.  So Wawang Lake is where you’ll want to begin.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you head out on the water this season. Early season walleye are best located in shallow waters as they are not long out of spawning and are looking to stock up on feed to replace what was lost as they were preoccupied during the spawn. Shoals with gravel are excellent places to start looking, especially near the drop off to deeper water.

walleye schoolQuite often you will be able to visually spot them in these areas as the water is generally clearer and the walleye will stand out against the gravel bottom. In the water you are fishing, look for the edges of weed beds with a change in depth. This can be in a narrows were the deeper part of the water slopes up toward the bank, or on a bend off a point on the inside of the turn near a sand bar, walleye will be on the edge of these areas. The current is slower here and is a good place for harboring bait and acts like a snack table for feeding fish.

Sunken islands in the lake work well as do old break lines, humps and reefs. If you search the water that you will be fishing in, you should not have too much trouble locating these types of spots.  At Wawang Lake we provide a detailed, contour map of the lake that gets our guests started in the right direction almost immediately.  Supper isn’t too far behind.

Several types of baits work well for walleye. Favorites are crank-baits. Rapalas (straight or jointed) (floating or sinking) (suspending or rattle types). Next are the walleye divers, which imitate baitfish so accurately that walleye can’t resist them if presented properly.

illustration
Start using these baits with a stop motion, jerking the bait through the water instead of steady retrieves. Suspending lures are fished in the same manner, letting them sink to the bottom and then start jerking softly about a foot or so at a time. This allows the bait to sink slowly again to a predetermined depth before being tugged forward and up again. This motion represents smaller food chain species chasing and feeding which will attract larger fish and cause them to feed on the smaller fish.
Vertical jigging - 1
If fishing is more what you are after rather than angling try using minnows or leeches. Keep the leech stretched out as long as you can without ripping it.  Use a pickerel rig and hook a second hook to each. Do this by placing the second hook over the barb on the first hook and letting it trail.

Now you can hook the leech on the first hook and pull the tail down over the second hook. A bigger leech is more inviting than a small rounded one. Be sure not to have more than four hooks in total on your rig!

For trolling spinners or jigs with a larger hook use minnows and choose a medium to large minnow. Hook through the mouth, then out the gill, turn the hook then hook through the top of the head just infront of the doral fin.   This allows the minnow to swim freely and walleye often will mouth the bait, turning it and playing with it before swallowing it. Watch closely for light taps on your rod or float, and be prepared to set the hook at this point.

3 WAY

If trolling or cast retrieving is your preference then try using a three-way swivel on your line with the bait trailing, and the center swivel used to attach the weight. Do this by tying on about one foot of lighter line to the bottom eye of the swivel. The lighter line will break off easier in the event of a snag, saving the rest of the line. I use about four feet of line from the swivel to the bait, giving the bait lots of freedom to move side to side or up and down when retrieving the cast or trolling.

walleye_catch

 

The foregoing methods are pretty much fail safe, but it remains that walleye are as challenging to fish as they are good to eat. So the best advice is to get out there and try it for yourself. Enjoy the day and the fishing will fall into place!

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Bucktail Jigging For Weed Walleye

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When walleye head to the shade of the salad, or cruise along the edge of vegetation, a bucktail jig can be your greatest tool for seducing them to strike. Not only is the undulating hair a visual stimulant, but also the erratic cadence of the bait as it is ripped and jigged with vigor.  Working bucktails is a different game than with regular jigs, but the technique speaks for itself with the big results you’ll be rewarded with.

A standard bucktail jig is comprised of a lead head, with layers of bucktail tied and glued to the collar of the bait. Strands of tinsel are often interwoven, adding an additional aspect in terms of visual attraction. When moving, the hair forms a streamlined body, replicating a baitfish perfectly.   At rest the hair fans out, adding a different dimension in terms of appearance.  In comparison to a jig and plastic, the bucktail is far superior in terms of weedlessness, making them an excellent choice when the cover becomes thick and the walleye go into hiding.

The Laws of Rip Jigging

Rip jigging is a specialized technique that can produce astounding results.   The premise is simple:  flip a bucktail jig out twenty feet or so.   Let it make contact with the bottom vegetation, then give a quick and sharp snap of the rod, breaking the jig free from the snag and sending it up and above the cover. Repeat process. Depending on the mood of the fish, rips can be positively violent or more controlled.   You will find that the warmer the weather, the more aggressive you can be.

Walleye are an opportunistic feeder. They will conceal themselves in the thickest of   cover, waiting to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish as it swims by. Ripping a bucktail jig through the salad will easily get their attention (due to the   commotion it causes) and make them commit to the speedy meal before it gets away. Depending on the mood of the fish, they will either smack it as it breaks free from the green stuff, or rise to engulf it as it slowly falls back down. This is one technique that has worked well is the fall period. Fish will raise their activity level and feedbag at this time, and when the wind howls and the fish move shallow, you can definitely get into a bunch of them – BIG ones too! In terms of tipping options for rip jigging – go the route of none.   Minnows and worms won’t last long with the constant weed contact, and due to the speed of the retrieve (and split second reaction time),  it doesn’t makes much of a difference in terms of catch rates.

Dunking For Fish

Although it may seem unsuitable dunking the weed pockets for walleye is a tried and true technique. Shallow water and expansive weed flats make up the playing field for this tactic, and a stout rod and bucktail jigs round out the arsenal. Pounding depths between four and 10-feet is your best option, and clear water is always your best bet. Work weed flats and clumps with the wind or an electric motor, lowering a heavy bucktail jig into every hole and edge you drift over.  Let it sink directly to bottom, and give it a few lifts and drops before moving on. (leave the bait in each hole for at least ten seconds before trying the next.) Walleye will bucktailsituate themselves on these edges, both inside and out, pouncing on any bait that free falls into their lair. Visually, this is a fun and exciting tactic to employ, as most fish are actually observed sucking up the bait in the blink of an eye, and quickly charging back into the weeds! A lightening quick hook set and medium-heavy rod is recommended if you hope to put a net under the belly of any of them. Tipping your jig with a minnow or worm is an excellent choice for this short-line tactic, as the fish has more time to be convinced to strike, and scent can be a contributing factor for that.

Swimming Them In When walleye are scattered over weed flats, and the vegetation is low and uniform in height, swimming a bucktail jig back to the boat can be a hot ticket. The rules are simple: cast your bait out and start reeling in, keeping your jig just above the weeds, and imparting the odd lift or two into your retrieve. This will allow you to cover large areas of water, and help you pick off those fish that are actively cruising while feeding. Your presentation will resemble a minnow making its way along bottom, and an easy meal in the eyes of our yellow predator.

Top Ten Tips For Bucktail Fishing

1.  For clear water conditions, match the hatch when it comes to colour. Murky water requires brighter hues.
2.  Braided line gets the nod for working bucktails in the weeds.
3.  Check line regularly throughout the course of the day.
4.  Apply ample amounts of scent to the hair of the bait.
5.  Choose high quality jigs that sport strong and laser sharp hooks.
6.  In rough conditions, choose brighter colours that will aid in attracting fish better.
7.  Lighter jigs work better for swimming, while heavier jigs work best for ripping and dunking.
8.  Heavy equipment is key. This is no place for ultralight combos or low diameter line.
9.  Watch for line movement or “bumps.” This can often signal a fish.
10.  Take note of where fish are found. Then search for other areas on the lake that are similar in make up.

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CHASING THE ‘EYES’

 

31" walleye - Mark HechtMore people want to know how to catch walleye than any other game fish.  Also known as pickerel, they are often difficult to locate and land. The challenge they present makes fishing them successfully an angling accomplishment.  Yet, for the novice angler finding a lake that has a fisheries management program will without a doubt help you get on those walleye quicker.  So Wawang Lake is where you’ll want to begin.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you head out on the water this season. Early season walleye are best located in shallow waters as they are not long out of spawning and are looking to stock up on feed to replace what was lost as they were preoccupied during the spawn. Shoals with gravel are excellent places to start looking, especially near the drop off to deeper water.

walleye schoolQuite often you will be able to visually spot them in these areas as the water is generally clearer and the walleye will stand out against the gravel bottom. In the water you are fishing, look for the edges of weed beds with a change in depth. This can be in a narrows were the deeper part of the water slopes up toward the bank, or on a bend off a point on the inside of the turn near a sand bar, walleye will be on the edge of these areas. The current is slower here and is a good place for harboring bait and acts like a snack table for feeding fish.

Sunken islands in the lake work well as do old break lines, humps and reefs. If you search the water that you will be fishing in, you should not have too much trouble locating these types of spots.  At Wawang Lake we provide a detailed, contour map of the lake that gets our guests started in the right direction almost immediately.  Supper isn’t too far behind.

Several types of baits work well for walleye. Favorites are crank-baits. Rapalas (straight or jointed) (floating or sinking) (suspending or rattle types). Next are the walleye divers, which imitate baitfish so accurately that walleye can’t resist them if presented properly.

illustration
Start using these baits with a stop motion, jerking the bait through the water instead of steady retrieves. Suspending lures are fished in the same manner, letting them sink to the bottom and then start jerking softly about a foot or so at a time. This allows the bait to sink slowly again to a predetermined depth before being tugged forward and up again. This motion represents smaller food chain species chasing and feeding which will attract larger fish and cause them to feed on the smaller fish.
Vertical jigging - 1
If fishing is more what you are after rather than angling try using minnows or leeches. Keep the leech stretched out as long as you can without ripping it.  Use a pickerel rig and hook a second hook to each. Do this by placing the second hook over the barb on the first hook and letting it trail.

Now you can hook the leech on the first hook and pull the tail down over the second hook. A bigger leech is more inviting than a small rounded one. Be sure not to have more than four hooks in total on your rig!

For trolling spinners or jigs with a larger hook use minnows and choose a medium to large minnow. Hook through the mouth, then out the gill, turn the hook then hook through the top of the head just infront of the doral fin.   This allows the minnow to swim freely and walleye often will mouth the bait, turning it and playing with it before swallowing it. Watch closely for light taps on your rod or float, and be prepared to set the hook at this point.

3 WAY

If trolling or cast retrieving is your preference then try using a three-way swivel on your line with the bait trailing, and the center swivel used to attach the weight. Do this by tying on about one foot of lighter line to the bottom eye of the swivel. The lighter line will break off easier in the event of a snag, saving the rest of the line. I use about four feet of line from the swivel to the bait, giving the bait lots of freedom to move side to side or up and down when retrieving the cast or trolling.

walleye_catch

The foregoing methods are pretty much fail safe, but it remains that walleye are as challenging to fish as they are good to eat. So the best advice is to get out there and try it for yourself. Enjoy the day and the fishing will fall into place!

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Pickled Northern Pike

Pickling is a quick, easy way to prepare northern pike for year-long enjoyment, particularly when accompanied by crackers, mustard and a strong  Ale.

Other fish can be used here, but pike works the best. Be sure to freeze the fillets to be used for a minimum of 5 days prior to pickling – this helps to kill cysts that may be present in the meat.

Pickled Pike Ingredients

5 pounds of pike, chunked
2.5 cups of canning salt
1 gallon of bottled water
1 quart distilled vinegar
5.5 cups of sugar
4 teaspoons pickling spice
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion cut into pieces

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In a plastic container dissolve the 2.5 cups of salt in the gallon of bottled water and add chunked fish. Refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Remove fish and rinse in cold water. Cover fish with white vinegar for 24 hours and refrigerate.

Remove fish from vinegar and pack in jars with pieces of onion. Cover with the following solution.

–1 quart distilled vinegar
–5 1/2 cups sugar
–4 teaspoons of pickling spice
–1 cup dry white wine

Bring all ingredients to a boil except the dry wine. When solution has cooled add the dry white wine and cover fish. Seal with lids that have been scalded. Refrigerate at least one week before eating.

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Early Season Walleye Jigging Tactics

Jigging for Walleye

Using jigs can be very productive but too many anglers aren’t fishing them correctly. Just starters, understand that you won’t always feel the thump of a walleye when it strikes a jig.

Guys expect that sure bite or hit. Many times you don’t feel it. So often you  drop the jig down and it stops. Maybe you’ll just feel some extra weight.

Concentrate on your rod, and don’t wait too long to set the hook.

2 walleye catch2

The right rod helps here. When jigging, use a 6-foot, 8-inch or 7-foot rod when jigging with a light-action and fast tip. This really helps increase the number of bites he detects, which translates into more fish.

Use a short shank jig for live bait and a long shank jig when combining that live bait with a dressing. The latter can be plastic, Gulp, or maribou. If you face a tougher bite, use less bulk and movement in the water. Don’t vibrate your offering as much. Listen to the fish to extrapolate their mood, then up size or downsize properly.

Under most conditions, avoid stinger hooks. If you’re missing strikes, however, and want to try a stinger, use it properly. Just let it free-fall behind the lure.4595-fireballs

You get fewer bites with a stinger, so if you’re missing fish, drop that rod tip first, and let them take it.

As for jigging actions, think beyond just lift-drop. That’s fine if it’s producing, but often just holding it at one depth, say 3 inches off bottom, is enough. Let that minnow work.

If you want to get creative, try quiver jigging (gyrating the rod ahead of the reel), snap-jigging, dragging, or just casting and retrieving jigs.

Also, use a heavy enough jig to contact bottom, but not so heavy that fish blow it out. Vertical jigging should offer just the right weight to tick the bottom.

And if you feel a bite, set the hook hard. Really swing that rod tip up.  Always tie your jigs directly to the line. Suspend it periodically out of the water and let it unravel to eliminate line twist and tangling.

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Fishing, Fishing TIPS, Walleye Fishing

 

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