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Tag Archives: Trolling (fishing)

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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15 Top Lures For Pike Fishing

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When 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 now.

Heddon Rattlin’ SpookPMlures_01The Spook’s renowned walk-the-dog style has long been a pike pleaser – especially over grass. The Rattlin’ model’s tungsten BBs emit an intense sound that mimics fleeing baitfish. These rattles also serve to enhance the bait’s walking retrieve. ($6.99, Lurenet.com)

Booyah Pikee

PMlures_02Strong and durable, this ½-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait boasts a tough Vibra-Flx wire frame that stands up to powerful jaws with lots of teeth. The Pikee comes with a 12-inch steel leader for added insurance against big biters. ($5.99, Lurenet.com)

YUM DingerPMlures_03
The 7-inch version of this flexible stickbait does a good job of presenting a baitfish profile for pike and musky. Rig the bait Texas style over weeds or wacky style when working open water. ($5.79, Lurenet.com)

Eppinger Daredevle SpoonPMlures_04a

The 00 size of this classic spoon has seen plenty of teeth mark, and for good reason. The wiggling, wobbling action puts out a lot of flash and vibration to resemble a fleeing baitfish. Trolled or cast, the Daredevle tempts pike and musky in a broad range of depths. ($9.70, Eppinger.net)

Blue Fox Super BouPMlures_05
Big on the visuals and big on fish-grabbing ability, the size 10 Super Bou imitates mature baitfish and sprouts double trebles to snare the toothy predators that seek them. Tandem blades, combined with Marabou, Hackle and Flashabou fibers create a lifelike undulating action, while the free-turning brass gear emits sonic vibration and rattles when it strikes the outer shell. ($21.69, Rapala.com)

Mepps H210PMlures_06
There’s nothing modest about this heavyweight tandem spinner, but big muskies don’t do modest. Nine inches from eye to tail, the 3-ounce H210 emits big-time thump with its twin brass Indiana blades, while a bright 100-percent holographic tail is hand-tied to tandem 7/0 VMC cone cut hooks. ($39.80, Mepps.com)

Suick Weighted Holographic Musky Thriller Jerkbait

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The weighted version of the original Musky Thriller carries its unique shape and enticing wiggle deeper. Holographic finishes shimmer like real baitfish. ($27.70, Suick.com)

Tackle Industries Super D Swimbait
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A whopping 14-inches long with its tail extended, this sturdy swimbait is built around a full Body Lock coil harness that keeps the soft plastic body in place, while connecting two underside trebles to the frame linked to jig head. The 5-ounce Super D counts down at about a foot per second. Jig it, jerk it or crank it; the Super D’s rocking motion and curly tail put on a big show for big muskies. ($13.99, TackleIndustries.com)

Mepps Double Blade Aglia (Size #5)

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The popular Aglia design gains enhanced visual appeal, along with maximum sound and vibration from a second blade. Whether it’s flashing metallic blades or contrasting colors, the dual spinners provide added lift for fishing over weeds or other structure. Vividly colored hand-tied bucktails help make this bait easier for fish to spot. ($6.99, Mepps.com)

Mepps Syclops (Size #3)
PMlures_10a

A real pike pleaser, this sleekly contoured spoon casts easily and trolls effectively at most any common speed. Jig it vertically over deep spots or through the ice. ($4.75, Mepps.com)

Grandma Jointed Lure
PMlures_11b

An old-school classic, the flat body and jointed design yields a wobble and shimmy that drives big muskies crazy. When cast, the bait reaches 3-6 feet; trolled, it goes to 12. Made with high-impact plastic and a tough diving lip, a Grandma will withstand the fiercest attack from a toothy giant. ($17.99, Grandmalures.com)

Northland Fishing Tackle Bionic Bucktail Jig
PMlures_12

Hand-tied with genuine bucktail, this jig features a versatile double line tie that affords the option of vertical jigging deep water or casting and trolling shallow cover. A stinger hook secured to the jig’s Mustad Ultra-Point hook snares any short strikers. ($5.99, Northlandtackle.com)
Cisco Kid Topper
PMlures_13

A torpedo profile body with stainless steel propeller blades on the nose and tail create a big topside disturbance that gets the fish looking in the right direction. Effective for pike and muskie, the Cisco Kid Topper works well at a variety of speeds. ($17.95, Suick.com)

Bass Pro Shops Thump N Deal Swimbait
PMlures_14a

Equipped with a pair of 4/0 short shank trebles, this big bait swims with a slight side-to-side wobble that can be altered by bending and adjusting the internal non-slip body harness. A steady retrieve works best, but an occasional pause or twitch can turn followers into biter. ($17.99, Basspro.com)

Koppers Live Target Jointed Yellow Perch
PMlures_15

Incredibly realistic body shaping, coloration and fishy detail makes this a hard bait for big predators to ignore. Effective for casting or trolling, the jointed body creates an erratic tail kick that closely mimics the swimming motion of a real perch.  ($12.99, KoppersFishing.com)

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SPRING WALLEYE FISHING + VIDEO

Wawang catch

Think SLOWER SPEEDS for Spring Walleye Fishing – When spring finally arrives, it’s easy to fish too fast and instinctively, you may spray the water with casts and retrieve at break-wind speeds. The lure would spark if it weren’t for the water. Trouble is the walleye aren’t motivated to chase. They want to dine leisurely, to nibble.  They need to hang onto lures.

Before discussing ways to cancel out the walleye lethargy, it’s necessary to first observe on the “where.”

You see, not all lakes were designed with spring walleye in mind.  Certain undeniable characteristics make some bodies of water more qualified Having shallow sections in a lake is the first ideal characteristic. Lakes with sweeping shoreline zones – areas 15 feet and shallower – and maximum depth of 35 feet or less are favorable as well. They warm the fastest, especially if the water is stained and or loaded with sediments. Deep and clear lakes are out, too, at least for now. Save those for midsummer and fall. Walleye fancy certain structure on “spring-oriented” lakes as well. Sand and gravel bottoms are of interest, as are emerging greens. Patches of deceased bulrushes also attract fish, as they house baitfish and sprout from promising hard floors. Add streams and the protected northwest corner of the lake and you’ve got an enticing menu of starting points.

https://videopress.com/embed/pS47mWQZ?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0 https://v0.wordpress.com/js/next/videopress-iframe.js?m=1435166243You know the spots. They’ve been historically proven. All one has to do is pitch a jig to the bottom and ready the landing net, right? Well…not always. To say the least, the lead-headed jig is the deadliest of all lures on spring walleye. They are and forever will be, but occasionally, conditions warrant the presentation of other styles, like spinner rigs, trolling crank baits, dragging live bait rigs, even supervising slip-bobbers.

RR-Slip-Bouncer-Cardbobbers are just what the walleye ordered in cold and sleepy springtime environments. Balsa puts the bait in just the right spot and holds it there, letting it swim, writhe, and tease. No chasing required. Bobbers also fish exceedingly well over obstructions, such as rocks and timber.  Weeds and moss bobbers provide the means to deliver bait continuously to a precise spot.

Rock piles offer a prime example such as; walleyes will pile into the windward flank of a wave driven reef; 90% of the fish might cling to 10% of the structure. In such instances, maintaining boat position is grueling, notwithstanding the evils trolling presents. Fish can get spooked if the hull passes overhead. Anchoring and pitching a slip-bobber is a far better option. Doing so yields control, as well as the opportunity to plant the boat strategically, never passing over the fish. Effective bobber fishing must also entail correct rigging.

Basically, there are two methods   for fixing-up a slip-bobber; the first includes a plain hook and the other is end-weighted with a jig. The second method is preferred, though, but oddly enough, is the least utilized. The end-weighted slip-bobber rig features a 1/32nd ounce jig with a long shank and wide-gap hook.

The Northland Tackle Gum-Ball Jig and Glo-Ball Jig are the best overall lures for this application. The jig achieves two objectives. For one, it, due do its shape and coloration, acts as an attractor, enhancing the bait’s inherent abilities. Secondly, the jig’s bodily weight holds the bait at the selected depth, yet is light enough to allow the bait some wiggle room. Too heavy a jig can render bait totally static. hotspot-splitshot-chartWeighted and painted hooks, which are lures in-and-of themselves, perform similarly. The insect-looking Northland Ghost Grub® is a perfect example. It carries a broad gap Kahle hook, making it marvelous for slipping walleyes. Unfortunately, though, a 32nd ounce jig alone isn’t massive enough to balance a walleye-sized bobber, let alone keep a larger and sprightly minnow at bay. So shot must be implemented, namely, Northland Hot-Spot Split Shot®. Pinch 1, 2, or 3 shot 6-inches to 18-inches above the jig. (How many and what size shot you use must be determined by first testing bobber buoyancy. Add or subtract shot until the bobber, with bait attached, rides just above the surface but isn’t easily swamped.) operate in chorus with the jig as a temptation, especially in stained water and during low light conditions.

super-glo-panfishkit-200pxThe Glo hook.  Again, the jig program is superior, since it presents a bigger and brighter target and keeps the bait in check, but when the bite’s light, an old fashioned hook is priceless. The size of the hook used is dictated by the type and dimension of the bait in hand. Sizes 2 and 4 live bait hooks match well with minnows; 2’s with shiners and other large minnows and 4’s with fatheads. Size 4 and 6 hooks are best suited for leeches. Shot spacing with a plain hook is the same as with a jig; build in 6 to 18 inches.

Once more, it’s prudent to tighten the gap in colored water and widen it when the water’s clear.  Setting depth is comparably as important as rigging. With an alligator-clip style depth finder affixed to the hook, slide the knot up the line until the float plunges 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface, which in reality means the bait will ride 6 to 8 inches off the bottom. Unless the bite dictates otherwise, shallow springtime walleyes operate tight to the bottom, so keep the goods low. How you present is a final consideration.
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Every angler has a “foolproof” approach for setting a slip-bobber. Some guys choke down a cigarette before tightening down; others count, “one, one thousand…two, one thousand” etc. until reaching thirty or more, and then set. Along like some, the more anxious types that reef back at first sign the bobber has moved. Unless you’ve already established a personal, bullet proof process, try counting slowly to 3. With a sharpened hook, low-stretch line, 6 ½ foot or longer pole, and a sweeping but assertive hook set, that fish should soon be at boat side.

It’ll be tough to do. Changing ways is never easy by giving up the customary troll and power drift for an anchor for a different type of presentation.  When the walleye are located, and or their mood is subdued, nothing bests the bobber.

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UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT WALLEYE PATTERNS

Walleye in Wood and Brush:

5045378679_2afff95b5dIn many lakes drowned wood and brush are the main dominate cover that walleyes rely on as a food source and shade from the sun. You will find scattered walleye around almost any type of submerged timber, stumps, logs, and trees that have eroded from shorelines. To increase your chances on finding a walleye hotspot of drowned wood and brush here’s a tip, deep water. The best wood is in or near deep water. A tree toppled off a steep river bank leading into deep water will hold more walleye than one laying in shallow water. Find a stump field flat next to an old river bed on a flowage and you’ll find a walleye magnet.

During early spring when the winter thaw occurs and high water floods rivers and flowages try shoreline brush and lay downs as this will harbor small baitfish and insects that walleyes feed on. As the water begins to drop walleye will move back to deeper water.

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

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Finesse fishing in wood and brush requires fine wire weed less hooks (size 6-8) on a split shot rig, brush guard jigs from 1/8 to 3/8 oz., both tipped with live bait. These presentations will increase your hooking percentage and eliminate snags. When fishing deep water try a slip bobber rig. Don’t be afraid to drop your bait into the thickest tangle of brush and logs, the larger walleyes are usually found where the cover is densest, you may lose a few rigs in the process but the rewards are well worth it.

Suspended Walleyes:

Locating and catching suspended walleye can be a difficult task. Finding suspended walleyes requires the use of a graph or LCD (liquid crystal display) depth finder. Once fish are located you must present the bait or lure precisely at that depth. For Wawang Lake one of the easiest techniques to do this is a slip bobber rig set at the depth walleyes are found. If walleyes are a few feet from the bottom rather than lowering the bait try floating the bait up off the bottom using a slip sinker rig with a floating jig head or a float attached to the leader. You can also Vertical jigging - 1

catch walleyes off the bottom by jigging vertically with jigs, blade baits and tail spin jigs, just keep the line taut to feel the strikes.

On large bodies of water such as the main, deeper sections of Wawang Lake the most effective and popular presentation for suspended walleyes is trolling with artificial lures.

  • Why Walleyes Suspend

Water Temperature: In deep clear lakes walleyes will seek deeper water after feeding to avoid sunlight. On stained lakes they often move more laterally than deeper if the water temperature stratifies into layers. By moving laterally they will maintain in the same temperature layer. Walleyes that feed on reefs will suspend off the reef to rest, not to feed.

  • Forage:

Walleyes are typically known to relate to the bottom for feeding, this is especially true when they feed on immature insects, particularly mayfly nymphs that hatch on the bottom. But other favorite forage do not necessarily relate to the bottom such as open water baitfish like shad and ciscoes that can be found almost at any depth. At times walleyes will be opportunistic feeders by ignoring their temperature and oxygen preferences for an easy meal by suspending in open water just below bait fish schools that dimple the surface.

  • Oxygen:

During the summer on lakes that stratify, the deep water may lack sufficient oxygen which forces the walleyes to suspend or use shallow water cover such as weed beds.

  • Toxic Gas:

In many cases walleyes will suspend to avoid high levels of toxic gases that accumulate near the bottom. This happens during the summer months on calm sunny days when the maximum amount of sunlight penetration promotes decomposition of organic bottom sediments releasing carbon dioxide and methane gas. This moves walleyes higher in the water column, as much as up to 10 feet. On windy days when the water is churning this prevents the gases to accumulate so the walleyes need not suspend.

  • Post Cold Front Walleye:

It’s no question that the toughest time to catch any species including the walleye is after a cold front. Blue bird skies and cool temperatures follow the front’s passage. This results in the walleye tightly hugging the lake bottom or buried into the weeds. Their feeding window is very limited if at all. When they do feed it will be short. Depending on the cold front severity it may take a number of days of stable weather to resume normal fishing activity.

WALLEYES_ON_THE_ROCKS

When faced in this situation here are a few tips that may improve your success.

  • There are two key points for Cold Front Walleyes Live Bait & Super Slow
  • Fish very early in the day or in the evening. Cold front walleyes are best active during low light periods or night.
  • Fish deeper during the day: (5-10 feet) than normal as increased sunlight from cold front clear skies will drive walleyes deeper
  • Downsize live bait:Walleyes are in lethargic state during a cold front, small live bait will work better than larger ones. Use 2″ fatheads than 4″ red tail chubs
  • Downsize jigs: Try a 1/16 oz rather than an 1/8oz tipped with live bait. A lighter jig will drop slower and gives the walleye extra time to strike. Retrieve very slowly. Walleyes will not hit fast moving baits during this period.Attach a stinger hook to the jig: Many times a walleye will just nip the bait and let it go, with a stinger hook you will hook a good percentage of these short striking walleyes.
  • Go light on line:

Cold front walleyes are line shy, use 8lb clear monofilament or fluorocarbon.

  • Try Weeds:

Some walleyes will bury into the weeds rather than seek deeper water. These walleyes will also resume normal activity before the walleyes in deeper water.

  • Murky Water:

On shallow water lakes than have murky water stirred by strong north winds that usually come after a cold front, try fishing mid-day and shallower. The water temperature is the warmest and the level of sunlight is not a factor due to the water clarity.

  • Clear Lakes:

If you’re fishing a clear water lake with no luck move to a river or stained lake because they are not affected as bad as clear water

Clear Water Walleye:

26" WALLEYE

26″ WALLEYE

Fishing walleyes on clear water lakes (Visibility 10 feet or Greater) is quite the challenge. Walleye in clear water are easily spooked by sound or movements (boats). On sunny days they will retreat to depths of 30 plus feet only to move up shallow to feed during early morning and evening hours. On windy chop or overcast days they follow the same dawn dusk patterns but some feeding occurs during the day.

The best suggestion we can offer you for walleye fishing clear water lakes is to keep your set-up presentation in a stealth mode and again keep noise and boat movement to a minimum. If you’re anchored keep the boat as far away as possible from the targeted structure while casting. For trolling use inline planer boards to spread the fishing lines 50 feet away from the boat.

If you’re using a live bait set-up keep the hooks as small as possible and use ultralight 10# test line on slip bobbers and slip sinker rigs. Jigs also produce well on clear water lakes but stay with natural colors black, purple and brown. The same goes for artificial lures, match the hatch that resembles the baitfish, black & silver, black & gold, and perch finishes rather than hot fluorescent colors. Long slender bodied minnow type lures will be the best performer.

Dark Water Walleye:

  • Walleye fishing on stained or dark water tends to be more consistent than on clear water lakes. This type of water is also less affected by weather changes, especially cold fronts. With the lack of sunlight walleyes will stay shallow most of time and are easier to locate and catch. If the visibility is less than one foot try bright and noisy artificial lures which are easier for the walleye to detect. If you prefer live bait add a fluorescent attractor or spinner.
  • The best fishing times on dark water is mid-day between 10:00-5:00 rather than dawn and dusk. The night bite is likely to be poor. Sunny calm days will out-perform cloudy windy days. The best lures for dark waters are crank baits that vibrate and have rattle chambers and inline spinners in fluorescent colors. Jigs will also work surprisingly well even though they do not produce any sound. Use fluorescent and glow in the dark (phosphorescent) colors tipped with live bait.
  • On stained lakes with visibility of 3 feet or greater, live bait set-ups are a better choice than artificial lures. Add a brightly colored attractor or spinner to your live bait rigs to help attract fish.
  • Locations:

With weed growth on dark water and stained lakes being very limited find the weed edges and cast perpendicular to the edge. Shallow reefs and rock humps will also hold fish regularly.

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The Benefits of Early Spring Fishing

Fishing for walleye early in the spring offers two undeniable benefits – the fish can be fairly easy to find, at least compared to other times of the year, and the fish can be the biggest you’ll catch all year. Do you need any other reasons to fish in the spring just as soon as the weather will let you?

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Walleye fishing can sometimes be a tough proposition at other times of the year. But after ice-out, the biggest fish with the most advanced metabolisms begin to stir first, and that means big hens that have been forming up their eggs over the winter. “Pre-spawn fish can be the easiest of the year. Basically, that’s because the bigger females are starting to stage, starting to go into their spawn patterns.

Deeper water in the spring usually means looking for fish in 15 to 35 feet of water.  They’re feeding when they can, but they’re not feeding as much as they do in warmer water.

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So, you’re concentrating your search out and away from, but in proximity to, places where the walleyes will eventually spawn. Deep water close to a gravelly shoreline, for example, or deep water adjoining a hard-bottom reef or island with a gravel shoreline, are all good places to start looking in lakes.

Pre-spawn and spawn periods vary according to how far north you are. In northern waters, walleyes need warming water temperatures to mature their eggs. Water in the mid-40 degree range is about when they start the spawn proper, so pre-spawn is taking place in that period when the water is less than that ideal spawning temperature.

Spring methods
Methods that work in the spring aren’t all that difficult to figure out, either. Keep in mind that the water temperature is still low, producing somewhat sluggish, lethargic fish. That means you have to fish slowly and deliberately, really working over an area and being patient and fishing slow.  You really have to change your methods to match the water temperature.  That means using smaller baits and slowing down your presentation. Take it easy a little bit. Even the active, bigger fish are lethargic.

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The recommended method for this time of year is vertical jigging. Use a short, 6-foot, medium-action rod with a fast-action tip for sensitivity but with plenty of backbone for bigger fish, spooled with 8- to 10-pound-test line. It’s a slow presentation and when you get bit, a lot of times you’ll only feel the slightest tap, even from a 10- to 12-pound walleye. Sometimes it just feels like a little bit ofa added weight. What’s happening is they’re coming up and inhaling the lure.”

A favorite lure is a Jiggin` Rap chrome/blue, or a Swedish Pimple. Tie the lure with a duo-snap, and then, 18 inches up, attaches a ball-bearing barrel swivel.  Use a swivel because what you’re doing is vertically jigging and letting the bait rest.  Jig it, and let it settle for five to 10 seconds. Then jig it again. The barrel swivel prevents line twist and imparts so much more action to the bait at rest.

Time of day?
Does it matter when you fish in the spring, in terms of the time of day?  Not really. Spring fish can be active at just about anytime, from dawn to dusk. Time of day and light penetration or the warmest parts of the day versus the coldest parts of the day seem moot, because most of these fish are going to be deep anyway. As our guests can testify they’ve taken BIG fish and limits of fish at all times of the day.

What can play a role, of course, are currents. Current is obvious on a river system, but it can be less obvious on a lake system but still present, particularly on reservoirs with an inflow and outflow that can be pretty heavy in the spring. Slack areas with deep water around points, islands, reefs and shoals can be real hotspots at this time of year.

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Perhaps more critically, incoming currents can highlight areas where walleye are heading later to spawn, and by fishing off these areas now, you’ve got a good shot at finding pre-spawn fish.  This would include our spring-fed outlets.

“Most of the lakes have an inlet and outlet, have at least some place or places that are a current source. On a lot of systems, walleyes go up those places to spawn, a big walleye factory. They’ll make their spawning runs up creek arms. At pre-spawn, they’ll be just off those areas, staging. Look for any place with an influx of current, and fish off of it to find the pre-spawn walleyes.

Spring can produce some astonishingly big fish. The bigger females can add a couple of pounds purely with the weight of their eggs.  The further along they get toward maturity and spawning, the bigger their weights.

Vertical jigging a top spring method
Walleye love a trolled crank bait, stick bait or worm harness. But in the spring, trolling may be just too fast for big, lethargic walleye to respond. That’s where vertical jigging really comes in to play.c

bJigging allows you to fish slow, thoroughly working an area, putting your jigged offering right on their noses and tempting them to move an inch or two, flare their gills, and inhale what’s in front of them.

Top choices include jigging spoons, roundhead jigs with bait (minnows, leeches or night crawlers), Whistler jigs and even blade baits. “Rest” your jig on the bottom in intervals of 5 to 10 seconds, and jig with an easy motion, not too fast. The strike can be very subtle – just added weight or the jig stopping – so stay on your toes.

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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

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Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

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These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one.

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TROLLING TACTICS FOR WALLEYE FISHING

Scenario: Warm, misty overcast evening in August. Mid lake rock humps topping out in the 16 to 22 foot range.

Usually, by late August many walleyes in deep clear lakes begin to leave their summer home ranges,suspended over deep open water, and migrate onto nearby rock and gravel humps. More often than not, the best humps top off at a range near the lake’s thermocline. For example, if a lake typically thermoclines at 22 feet, humps in the 18 to 22 foot range are most apt to hold fish, while shallower cropping structures will be less productive.

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When these mid lake humps are small, one can usually do quite well jig fishing them, but more so these humps tend to be large. This is when board trolling a spread of crawler harnessed spinner rigs anchored to bottom bouncing weights off planer boards is the key way to catch them. This is precisely the situation Joe is faced with in this segment. The mid lake rock/gravel structure is very large with a number of smaller “spines” topping out in the 14 to 18 foot range; however, most of the rock/gravel structure is much deeper at 22 to 26 feet.

The small spines are holding the fish, but they are somewhat difficult to stay on top of and pinpoint precisely in open water. This problem is easily solved by repeated trolling passes using this board/bottom bouncer/crawler harness system. Trolling ever so slowly, once any bottom contact is made, you can literally drag an armada of tempting tidbits across these spots and find these small groups of walleyes that are utilizing these spines.

imagesCAMIT1B6The rigging trick here is to set out just enough line below the planer board so it will catch, or better termed “tick”, the top of these spines, yet not get hung up. The best way to accomplish this is by staying as vertical as possible with your set up. Using a larger weight, in the 2 ounce class, in order to stay as vertical as possible, let out just a tad more line than the spine depth tops. For example, measuring out around 20 feet of line between board and the bottom bouncer (Rock Runner) weight is nearly a perfect setting for 16 to 18 foot humps. It might require a bit more line length in strong winds and big waves, but not in soft winds and slow trolls.

ff-graph1Troll very slowly across these humps; just fast enough to activate the spinner and keep the spinner/crawler harness suspended off the bottom. Watch the board closely and you will notice when the Rock Runner weight is touching bottom. It will make the board bounce back. This is a key time to watch for a strike. Strikes, by the way, will respond on the board by the board jerking back in a tug-like fashion. Within a few seconds, the weight of the fish will then start to drag the board out of its original position destroying its side ways angle, and placing it more directly behind the boat. Then, it’s simply a matter of crankin’ the fish in and re rigging.

Throwing a floating marker off a reef after a fish is caught is a good idea for reference, as is punching in the coordinates on your GPS system. As soon as you get a strike, before pulling the rod from the rod holder, immediately reach for a floating marker and pitch it over the side. Also, heave the marker just past the outside of the planer board that’s showing the strike. This places you as close to the exact location of the strike as possible. All return trolling passes can then be made precisely close by the actual spot where the strike occurred.

Summer trolling reefs with bottom bouncers, spinner harnesses and a crawler rigged off planer boards is a super hot tactic. It is especially good over large mid lake reef structures that may be more difficult to fish by casting and jig fishing. At the very least, this system enables you to cover a great deal of water very efficiently, and quickly eliminates the dead sections of a large reef. You can then refish the spot more slowly with finesse jig fishing presentations if you wish.

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