The Hottest Perch Rig on Erie…

….for me anyway, is a rig/concept I came up with a couple of years ago.  The standard perch rig, also known as a crappie rig, consists of two perch arms called lears with two snells attached at the end.  Since in Michigan we are allowed to fish with three rods and a total of six hooks, it has become common practice to fish with two rods, and six hooks. When the action is really good, one rod is all you can handle, but I tweaked the rig a bit.

Almost all the action takes place on the bottom two hooks, so I got rid of the top arm and placed the remaining lear 10 inches above the snap.  Since I tie my snelled rigs in eight inch lengths, the hook rests 2″ above the lake bottom, right in the strike zone for the perch. On the bottom, I have several options, but placement, where I attach the snell is the key.

At first, myself like many others were attaching the snell to the snap where the sinker goes and it worked.  Over time though I learned that this way is a headache waiting to happen. The reason is simple, after catching a few fish the line that makes up the snell  can get tangled or will rub on the edges of the wire that makes up the snap.  To get a fool-proof, rock solid placement for the line, I started attaching it to the eye on the sinker.  Simply run the loop through the eye, snake the business end through the loop, and snug it tight.

No slip, no fuss and less of the line getting caught up in or nicked from the snap.  Now you have the last snell free-floating on the bottom, waiting for a perch to pick it up.  In the picture I have a fly of sorts from Dave Domka’s new bait shop on LaPlaisance Rd, but I think they are available on his website also.  If you strictly launch out Sterling and never make it down that way, no problem.  That was something new to try this year, but a single hook by itself works, and a single bead on the snell just above the hook always works.  Do colors of the beads really matter, I don’t think so, but there is something that make a difference.  Glow beads are a nice change of pace, and since they don’t glow really bright, they don’t spook the fish, but do seem to bring them in for a subtle approach to the baited hook.

Here is a quick rundown for the materials needed to make your own version of my perch rig.

-20 lb monofilament for the main line on your rig.

-12 lb mono or fluorocarbon for your snells, the fc lines holds up better, but is more expensive. Perch don’t have the best vision, so I don’t think the line makes a difference in catch rates.

-#6 hooks, I like the red sickle octopus hooks from Matzuo, but if you like the traditional gold hooks, they work too, but don’t go bigger than a #4 size.

-#5 mm beads for the snell, usually four works best.

-#1 indiana blade, I color mine with Sharpie markers, but silver or gold work ok too.

-#7 Swivel for the top of the rig

#2 or 3 snap for the bottom, sometimes the size three is just easier to deal with

– 4 inch hook lear, available at Janns Netcraft in Ohio

-(2) six mm beads for securing the lear 10 inches above the snap

-1 ounce sinker, that is my preference, but if you like 3/4 oz or heavier than one, go for it.

There you go, the basic instructions for a perch rig,  just like the one I use.  Good luck, and remember, it’s always better when you make your own gear and catch fish!

Copyright, 2017

 

 

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

How to Fizz a Fish

How to Fizz a Walleye: Catch and Release Fish From Deep Water

Posted in Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Perchnado 2017

So I sort of stole the title from the shark movies on that science fiction channel, but “Perchnado” sort of fits the bill after two days of fishing on Lake Erie where the perch were flying in the boat.  There were times when you would want to get the bait back in the water as fast as you can, wait a second or two, and wench them up the water column as fast as you could.  We also got some time on Monday to break out the Church Tackle boards, which proved to be sort of fruitful, but will get into that later.

We had grand plans for Monday, get our limit of perch and then bust out the Deep Husky Jerks, make one long pass back into the bay and call it a good day.  Truth be told, the grand plans hardly ever work out, often too much time is spent doing one or the other to get a limit and we just say phooey on the 2nd part of the plan.  Monday was a very good day though.

As we headed out into the lake, we almost stopped to fish in a pack of boats in about 23 foot of water (fow), but we didn’t want to be “pack animals” and headed out for deeper water. There were only three boats about where I had some waypoints from last year, and they all had some good separation between them, and none were on “my” spot.  We took our position, dropped the anchor and started fishing.  Less than a minute, probably closer to 30 seconds, BOOM.  First fish came up, a nice 9 inch perch and that set the tone for the rest of the day. Notice the fly of sorts that I was using on the bottom of my perch rig, it’s from Domka Outdoors, and it just gives a bit of flash to the shiner, and also a slightly bulkier presentation.  Which is a bonus when every bait shop in town has really small emerald shiners.  For part of the day I even ran a small Impulse shiner from Northland Tackle in addition to the live minnow to give it even more of a bigger presentation.

For the most part the anchor held, and we were off to a great start, and it really never slowed down.  Some times you go into a lull between bites, not so much on Monday.  All in all, we had 13 doubles (two fish on the rig at the same time), most of them coming on my neighbor Cliff’s line.  We had less than 10 throwbacks where we thought the perch were too small, and kept everything eight inches or bigger.  We had our 100 before two o’clock so it was time to break out the big St. Croix’s and start to troll our way back into Brest Bay.

 

I busted out the TX-12 boards from Church Tackle with the double action flag kit.  I have a tourney on the Saginaw River towards the end of October and wanted to get the flags dialed in before then.  We threw out a combination of deep running husky jerks to see what we could get into.  Standard colors, some customs from Big Eye Custom Lures and to get a little more action for the middle of the water column, the jointed version of the DHJ-12’s (JDHJ-12).  These do not run as deep at the original, but at the 2 mph speed we were trolling, they impart a lot of action to the lure, in my book, perfect for targeting walleye actively feeding in the middle of the water column.

 

Breaking out the boards means I get to bust out some of the tools of the trolling trade,  and in this case the Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech.  Although the TX-12 is quite a bit smaller than the TX-22 or Walleye boards from Church that I normally run out on Erie, they stayed locked in loaded in the Caddy through a pretty bumpy ride out to the perch grounds.  I made sure, several times I caught myself looking back to make sure, never had an issue!  Besides the boards, they hold tools, lures and I even zip tied my hand towel to one of the corners.  When mounting your track, will say this, position them where you will get the most use out of it, those back corners are where we bring the boards back into the boat with a fish on, and they are so handy to have right where you do the business end of trolling!

The TX-12’s handled the bigger cranks perfectly, riding nice and easy through the water.

The trolling pass back in came with one bonus walleye coming back to the boat.  This 18 incher wanted to sink the TX-12, but just couldn’t do it.  It buried the flag and jumped back three or four feet, but we broke out the Cumings net that I always carry while perch fishing, you know, for emergencies like this.  That was our one and only keeper, the weeds took over and fouled up a few lines when we got inside the bay, so we called it quits.

That was Monday Funday, with high hopes Tuesday morning we stopped in at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle outside of Sterling State Park and reloaded with some emeralds, its my one stop shop when launching out of Sterling.  The insulated buckets from Clam Outdoors are awesome for transporting minnows with the aerator.  One frozen bottom of water and the water stays cool for hours.  About 10 am we made our way back out for Perchnado 2.  The winds kicked up a notch compared to the day before, which was nice, there were times Monday when we were covered in bugs.  After a long bumpy ride there were a few more boats out there, but still we had our spot to ourselves so we dropped anchor.

After a minute I was starting to get nervous and then Cliff pulled in the first one.  In the first 30 minutes we had 21 perch in the Catch Counter Big Mouth.  Quick plug, in two days of perch fishing the counter was right on the mark both days.

The waves busted us off anchor a few times, but before we pulled up to get back to the waypoint,  there were 43 perch in the cooler.  Once back on spot the anchor got dropped and it was time to get back to fishing.  Nothing, not a nibble at first, and then one or two came up.  The anchor busted loose again and we dragged it for 100 yards or so before it took hold again.  The wind settled down and it looked like it would hold.

For a half hour, it was dropped the line down, hit bottom and wench them up.  The jaw jerking action was so good, I had to mark it, #136 on the GPS.  We had a slight stoppage in the action, and then it was game on again.  As the counter clicked higher and higher, I would name the perch after some of my favorite Detroit Lions; #54 Chris Spielman, #56 Joe Schimdt, and had to click off everyone on the Silver Rush defensive front; #60 Bubba Baker, #75 Dave Purifoy (EMU Hurons), #78 Doug English and #79 Bill Gay.  After tight end David Hill #81, it got a bit harder to think of names, but luckily the last 19 came in pretty quick and I didn’t have time to dwell on it anyway!

By 2 pm we were done again and heading home.  I broke out the twins, the Tumble Drumm scalers and loaded them up for a long evening of cleaning fish.  Twenty-five at a time, counting them out as I went, they were right on with what the Catch Counter read on the counter.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Clam=Ice Fishing: New products for the 2017/18 Season/Shanties

I got a sneak peek of most of the new product back in August, but its time to go through the whole list on the website and see what “must haves” are out there for the upcoming ice fishing season.  It was a great experience to see the new gear up close in Minnesota before ordering new gear.   Because of that I missed some gear last year, so I will throw in some from last year too.

Kenai Pro Thermal Stealth

In fact I am going to start with the one item I know missed out on last year, the Kenai Pro Thermal Stealth.  I liked my Kenai Pro from the year before, so there were many things I liked about the new version before I saw it.  Perhaps the best part was the tub, or sled section of the shanty itself.  The tub section is more elevated than most shanties, and this is a bonus for many reasons.  You can sit in it comfortably without getting your legs extended out in front of you, or having to haunch over the hole while sight fishing.  When comparing to other single man shanties, there is more than enough room for anglers to set the hook on a fish.  What does the Thermal Stealth version give you?  Total blackout when the windows are closed, this is a sight fishing angler’s dream shack, your hole is lit up and you can see farther down the water column!  The material also heats up on a bright day, eliminating the need for a heater on most days.

Stealth Spearfisher

Hub style shanties offer anglers the most room and fishable space than any other style.  I was blown away by the attributes of the Jason Mitchell 5000 Thermal last year.  The Stealth Spearfisher is the same size so I get that same nine foot across space as the 5000, but I now get that fused layering thermal of the Kenai we already talked about.  When I saw this at Clam’s headquarters in MN, I knew right away what kind of anglers were going to go crazy over it,  anglers who love to spear pike!  Every year since the hubs came out, people have been asking me which one would be the best for spearing, now I have the perfect answer!  Not only that, but you could get a crew 3-5 guys together, sit over a weedbed and everyone be sightfishing.

Hey, did you know its the 20th anniversary of the Ice Team?  More than any other company Clam has revolutionized ice fishing with its innovation through constantly creating better products for us, the anglers who use them.  To celebrate the anniversary, Clam celebrates its Fish Trap heritage by the dressing up two coops that started it all, the Legend (formerly known as the Pro) representing the single seat division, and the iconic Voyager.  I still have my first generation Voyager TCX, and just last year, sold the last of my Pro’s.  Well built products to be sure!

Speaking of the Voyager, which back in the beginning was actually a 3 seat shanty back in the early 2000’s, Clam has brought that option back through the X300 Pro Thermal.  The ultimate big water shanty is BACK with a vengeance.  Everything is included with this shack; runners, cover, hitch and even indoor lighting.  But what I really like that you can enter, or exit through side doors, the back or the front panel in the super thick 1800 denier thermal fabric.  It is a beast, and will be a big hit for not just anglers on the Great Lakes, but those on some of the biggest inland lakes across the ice belt.

As the week, and weeks progress, will be checking out more from Clam and my other sponsors like Vexilar Marine Electronics and Jiffy Ice Augers for example.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Ice Fishing, Ice Products | Leave a comment

Detroit Beach Boat Club Perch Tourney: September 2, 2017

Its that time of the year again, it is the perch tournament at the Detroit Beach Boat Club, this Saturday!    Cost is $20.00 per person and the payout is 100 percent.  There is a big fish prize, and will pay out the first three places based total of 30 perch.  Below is the link to the club’s Facebook page with more details.

DBBC Perch Tournament

Entry forms can be found at DBBC’s upstairs bar 734-289-3222 and Jeff’s Bait (1756 N. Dixie, Monroe 734-289-4901 (CASH ONLY PLEASE, so you can get paid in cash!)

Normally the entries need to be in by Thursday night, but I didn’t see it mentioned on the page, just to be safe I would get in there Thursday, or at the latest Friday before 5pm. That’s just my guess.

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Tournament News | Leave a comment

Dropping the Bomb(s) on Fall Walleye

You’re going to ask me why am I talking about walleye on Lake Erie when the perch season is in full swing, and my snarky answer is going to be, “If you snooze, you lose.”.   In this case it could be the wall hanger of a lifetime! At no other time will you have a better opportunity to bring back perhaps the biggest fish you will ever catch on Erie, specially in Michigan waters.  Think about it, just last year during the late fall, early winter crankbait season, a 14+ pound walleye was caught out of Sterling State Park.  If you drop a few lead “bombs” down the water column, you can increase the amounts of bites, I practically guarantee it.  I would say 100%, done deal…but we are dealing with fish here.

Time to go through my bag of weights and make sure everything is in order before hitting the water.  Most of the time I have little use for these smaller tackle type storage bags anymore.  The inventory has exceed their use, that or I just have too much “stuff”, but for the remaining bit of time, they are great for organizing some of the tools of the trade.  In this case, my 15 year old Plano bag is used for storing all my trolling weights.  They range from 1/4 of an ounce all the way up to 6 ounces.

Traxstech Planer Board Caddy

Because of the wide range of weights that could be deployed, my board of choice is Church Tackle‘s original Walleye Board.  It is because of the sliding external keel that makes this board my choice for the late fall.  No matter which weight I decide to snap on, with a simple twist of two screws, I can adjust the board to ride just right in any wave condition.  Personally I like the front end of the board to be slightly out of the water, it makes the board ride better and with or without the Double Action Flag System, easier to detect any change in drag that could either be a lazy eye or a small bunch of weeds at the other end.

When going out in front of Sterling, you can be in Michigan, or you could be in Ohio where the rules are slightly different.  Michigan allows three rods, OH only two.  When we do crossover the line, the Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech allows me to safely store my “extra”  Church board.  What do I mean by safely?  It means no more accidently sitting on the board (which is not comfortable) or even stepping on it by mistake.  The boards lock so well into place, I can run at high speed from one waypoint to another without worry.

Snap weights are great during the fall for several applications.  I can run them with my Deep or Shallow Husky Jerks from Rapala.  I am not a huge fan of letting out a mile’s worth of line to get to the desired depth where the fish are, just allows for more time for the fish to come off the hooks.

2 ounce bell sinkers

Lockjaw Clip

 

One of my favorite sizes to run is the 2 ounce, and I can never have enough of them.  I even went up into the shop and poured some more using my mold from Do-It.  The only problem, was they didn’t have the built in snap to attach to the clip.  No problem, I just deconstructed a #8 duolock snap, and then snapped everything back into place.  I can now attach the weights to the traditional clip, or when running through heavy weeds, the Lock-Jaw Clip from Church Tackle.  Nothing knocks these clips off the line.

HD SnapWeight Kit

Go big or go home kind of kit, this is my heavy duty snap weight kit.  I made this up for deep water fishing out on the lake.  All things 30+ foot of water, it includes 4 and 6 ounce pencil weights and some more Lock Jaw Clips.  I had a great website source, a cat fishing type site in fact, but, unfortunately for some reason they no longer sell the sinkers, any kind of sinkers in fact.  You can probably kill some time on Google and find a new source, but I have my kit already made up…back to the whole, you snooze you lose thing.

Daiwa/St Croix/Deep Husky Jerk combination

 

#9 Deep Shad Rap

So what types of cranks can you use with snap weights, and my serious answer is any kind you have in the box(es).  That said, I run them most often with jerkbaits like Rapala’s Shallow Husky Jerk.  Other types of baits that work are deep diving baits that seem like they dive deep on an inland lake, but only get to the middle of the water column on the big water.  Perfect example is Rapala’s deep diving #9 Shad Rap.  It has a slow wobble that entices walleye to bite in cold water, but doesn’t dive very deep with 100 foot of line out of the Daiwa Sealines.  The baits are also made of solid balsa wood, which means there isn’t any internal rattle system.  In order to make the best use of this unique bait’s attributes, you need to dial in where the fish are in the water.  Dropping down 3 or 4 ounces of lead eliminates most of the guess work!

My last tip, and I must be in some type of coffee induced euphoria to share this one about another crankbait, but here goes. If you are from Monroe County, here on the western shores of Lake Erie, you are most likely fully aware of the great fishing we have from shore at night, and you know that jointed cranks are the most effective ones to use.  Unlike the Deep Shad Rap, this bait doesn’t get much attention, but it should, its a walleye killer on Erie, specially for suspended fish.  Like the Rap, it doesn’t dive extremely deep for the big water, but it does have the rattles built in.  It is the Deep Jointed Husky Jerk, quite the mouthful.

Can you see it? DJHJ-12

The first time I put this lure in the water, the only thing sticking out of the walleye’s mouth was the bill of this Glass Purple Perch DJHJ-12.  The Firetiger in the first picture, took one of our walleye during a tourney on the Saginaw River.  These are an incredible bait at various speeds and against a current too.  With the addition of a snapweight on the line, they a become deadly tool in your arsenal!

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Escanaba, MI to host TWF Walleye Tourney on July 30, 2017

The Walleye Federation (TWF) is having a one day tourney in Escanaba,  Michigan on July 30th…that’s this month folks.  Its a two person team tourney and the entry fee is $200+federation membership fee for the event.  You could qualify for the National Team Championship and possibly the Masters Walleye Circuit.  Click on this “fact sheet” to learn more about this particular tourney on one of Michigan’s premier walleye fisheries.

Posted in Bays de Noc, Lake Michigan, Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Busting out the Weapons

Weapon Rig

Its perch fishing time out on Lake Erie, but its also one of those times where I like to break out an old friend, the Weapon Rig.  Sometimes referred to as a Mayfly Rig, this simple contraption is a walleye catching setup.  If the perch fishing starts to slow up, or if the stars line up and we manage to limit out in short order, its always fun to start casting for eyes.  Besides, I have a lot of crawlers left from the trolling season.

Before somebody starts in on me, I know, weapons are used all walleye season long.  One reason I start using them know is that space on the boat can be limited, so when I take out a few perch rods, there is room for a casting rod or even a spinning rod for someone else to use.  Nothing like putting a hookset on a walleye while using a weapon on the other end of the line.

The rig itself is pretty common place in the world of fishing.  Basically its a modified Carolina rig, about 20 in length.  A single #4 octopus hook, five 5mm beads, a #1 folded clevis, with a #3 or #4 Colorado blade.  At the other end, make a loop with another 5 mm bead in the loop, then not to be redundant, tie a double loop knot.  Then slide the loop through an egg sinker and attach to your main line with a snap and swivel combination.  Weights for the sinkers can vary, while its probably most commonly used with a 3/8ths or 1/2 ounce, I like a 3/4 ounce for casting with my 7 foot, St. Croix medium/fast Premier rod.  I just like casting reels, so that’s why I have the heavier sinker.  If I was to use my 6’6″ Premier spinning rod, medium light/fast, then I would lighter weight, but still would prefer the 1/2 ounce sinker.

Why do I use these two rods, call it being nostalgic.  These were the very first two St. Croix rods that I bought almost 20 years ago and they hold a special place in the arsenal.  So much for only having a 5 yr warranty that come with the purchase of a Premier, these rods are awesome.

You basically fish this rig by casting out, and then in your head, start counting while the sinker falls in the water column.  Once you start catching fish, count down to the same depth every time.  You can also drag this rig on the bottom while drifting your boat with the current.  If the current is moving the boat a little to fast, throw out a couple of drift bags to slow you down.  In a pinch, I know guys that will even throw out one or two five gallon buckets.

If you like to drift and cast, start using this method as early as late April out on the lake.  Besides not using a lot of gas, this style of fishing is just plain fun for the angler.  Like jigging there is nothing like having the rod in your hand and setting the hook when a walleye takes the bait!

Copyright, 2017

 

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Tip for Tighline Rigs

Perch Tightline Rig

The perch fishing season is starting to get into full swing, and with that many anglers will be hitting Lake Erie in search of yellow bellies.    One of the most popular rigs out there is commonly referred to as the tighline rig.  Much like the original concept of the dropshotting technique for bass fishing, the hook is placed directly on the line so the anglers can feel the bite.

Some manufactures will use crimps to cinch up the hooks, but when I make my own I use 5 mm beads.  I double loop the line through the bottom bead to hold it tight in place, and then single loop another bead above the hook in order to get that tight fit.  Does the color of the beads matter, not really, but if I had to say I had a favorite, anything that glows will work to catch the perch’s attention.

St Croix Rods/Daiwa Reel Combos

I have three different set-ups for perch fishing, and if the bite is hot, will fish one rod at a time, if the bite is slow, then because I live in Michigan and mostly fish MI waters, I may employ all three at once.  For the more traditional crappie style rigs, I will use my St Croix Premiers, in 6 ft Ultra Light or 6’6″ Light action.  For the tightline rig, I break out my Avid casting rod, a 6’9″ Medium Light, Xtra Fast action and tip.  It makes sense since it was developed as a dropshot rod.

1 ounce bell sinker

Here is the big tip after the lead up.  Best all around sinker size on Lake Erie is a one ounce bell sinker, and instead of holding it tight to the lake bottom, I want it to fish just a hair above the bottom.  The reason why is because in order to feel every bite, the line has to be tight, no slack involved at all.  When you fish the sinker on the bottom, your line might become a little “loose”, and can result in lost fish.  Feel free to occasionally pound the bottom, and stir up some silt, perch like that because they think its being created by some type of prey.  It can drive them into a feeding frenzy and when they get called in by the disturbance, they find your presentation and get on the hook!

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Lake Erie, Lure Making, Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Counting Perch, with the CatchCounter

With all the perch coming back to the boat on the crawler harnesses lately, it really has me thinking about the perch fishing that will be starting soon out on Lake Erie.  At least for me that is, those that perch fish year round tend to be rather tight-lipped, as if the trollers and drifters would suddenly drop their walleye gear and make the switch over to perching.  Well, they certainly do taste better, so they might not be totally crazy, but in my boat, it would be crazy not to take along my cooler with the Big Mouth Catch Counter mounted on it.

The counter mechanism on the Catch Counter counts every perch as you drop it in the funnel section and down the chute.  You can try to keep track with the little hand counter/clicker, but I can 99.9% guarantee that you have to stop at some point and counter every single fish in your cooler or bucket to make sure you have an accurate count of how many perch you have.  Whether you are allowed 50 perch in Michigan, on Lake Erie, or 30 perch in Ohio waters, one ticket by either DNR will make you wish you had a Big Mouth on your boat.

While you are out on the boat, put a bag of ice in the cooler and through my experience it will last you all day long.  Once you start dropping perch in, they actually insulate the ice while keeping the perch cold.  Have a smaller boat, or maybe you are fishing an inland lake, the Big Mouth will fit on the lid of a five or six gallon bucket as well.  The Big Mouth design also makes it universal for fishing all sorts of panfish like bluegill and crappie.

Catch Counter @ Jeff’s Bait/Tackle

 

734-289-4901

I was in Jeff’s Bait on Saturday getting ice for the last walleye trip we had, and saw a section of shelf full of Big Mouth Catch Counters.  As I mentioned before,  you can mount these to a cooler or if you prefer, a five or six gallon bucket,  it’s just a small DYI project that you can do in your garage.  With pretty much the month of July left to walleye fish, most anglers will be turning their attention to perch fishing on Erie,  and with only eight units on the shelf at Jeff’s they will be selling fast.  Get yours so you don’t have to wait for the store to restock.  The Catch Counters really are one of the must haves on the boat while perch fishing.

 

Copyright, 2017

 

Posted in Community News, Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment