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

 

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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

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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

New Way to Remove the Fish Smell

Handling fish, sometimes lots of fish if your day went well on the water, is something we all do.  If you have tried some of the smell removal type items you can buy in a sporting goods store,  you probably found that they didn’t really work all that well.  Some other items work to a degree, but still leave you wanting for that total clean smell.

Last weekend I was at the fishing cleaning station when one angler was passing around a can of Barbasol shaving cream.  He asked if we wanted to try some to remove the fish smell from our hands and arms.  Being somewhat skeptical, I figured why not and found out that it really works well.  Fish smell …. totally gone!

If you want to try this for yourself, or if you know an angler who loves to fish,  give it a try.  Remember this though, make sure you get the green can, its like a menthol smell, and it is the one that works!

Copyright, 2017

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Lake Erie is en FUEGO/2017

I never thought I would say this, but thank God it is Monday!  That’s how it goes after four straight days of doing nothing but netting walleye and reloading crawlers on the hooks.  While running with fellow team member of Northland Tackle and Church Tackle,  Ken Clark of Fishmas Charters,  you limit our five out of six trips, and on the bad day, you still put seventeen quality fish in the livewell.

Church Tackle TX-12’s

We had anywhere from two to five clients in Ken’s Lund 2175 Pro V boat, translation, that is 22 feet of fishing space.  I have to say we had some great people on board,  retired folks, a few doctor types,  a really nice couple from Columbus and some young men just out there feeling their oats and all wanting to catch what Lake Erie is famous for, walleye!  Based on their reactions, all enjoyed their trips with Ken immensely.

Every one of the fish came on a three-part system that Captain Ken employs;  Church Tackle’s TX-12 planer board, and on the business end of the rig,  a Church Stingray Diving Weight ( pick one of the three available sizes, he runs them all)  and with a Crawler Hauler harness from Northland Tackle with #5 and #6 blades.  We literally landed so many fish that we didn’t have time choose new harnesses, just pick a pack and get it tied on as fast as possible.

 

Church Tackle Stingray Diving Weights

Locally here in Monroe, Jeff’s Bait and Tackle (just south of Sterling State Park) has a full line up of the Stingrays and TX-12’s on the pegs..  Quick note for you drifters.  Jeff’s also had a full selection of the TX-6 planer boards from Church.  These are great when you have two to three foot waves, and rig your lines with a #1 Stingray and either a Baitfish Floatn’ Spin or  Floatn’ Walleye Crawler Hauler in a #4 sized blade rig.  The Stingrays aren’t just for trolling.

Northland Tackle Crawler Haulers

 

I knew from the tourney the weekend before where the walleye were, but didn’t expect the quality of the fish to just keeping getting better as the week progressed.  The mayfly hatch is on, and the smaller fish thinned out while bigger fish put on the feedback.  As the day progressed, some days the fish moved down to the bottom third of the water column, while on other days when we had some pretty good waves, they stay suspended and actively biting.

Trip after trip, day after day, this is the type of picture we had at the end back at the docks.  Limits of 12 to 36 walleye went into the livewell, and that one off day, when we ONLY caught 17 nice fish!  Everyone went home happy, and with a bag or three of fish to enjoy later back at home.

Copyright,  2017

 

Posted in Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Buggy Blades for Walleye: The Mayfly Hatch is On

The mayfly hatch of 2017 is on!  In the days of yesteryear, the old time walleye anglers would claim that the bite would shut down during the hatch, but au contraire mon frères.  That’s French, which loosely translated means, not so fast my brothers.  In all actuality, it’s the opposite, the walleye of Lake Erie are putting the feedbag on and its one of the best times of the year to head out and catch some limits of eyes.

Fishlander Confusion

I like certain blades a little more than others, depending on the time of the year.  Does it really make a difference, I would certainly say yes, while others may differ.  That would be their problem, because in my world, I have confidence in those blades when mother nature dictates their use.  Am I right in this belief, certainly because it works for me.  The others, if they are catching fish certainly have the right to make their claims about their fave blades, if it works for them.  My #1 blade during the bite is called Confusion and back in the early 2000’s it was produced by a company called Fishlander which has gone out of business since then.  When I need a few more, I call/email my friends at Big Eye Custom Lures and have some more made up in sizes #4 and #6.  I use the bigger blades for trolling, and the smaller blades for casting Weapons, which in some circles is called a mayfly rig.

Buggy Blades

Gold and copper blades are some of my other favorites to run this time of the year.  From Big Eye, I like Halloween and Copper Oriole, another Fishlander blade that works well is Gold Muffin and Northland Tackle’s Golden Shiner in their Baitfish-Image series of Colorado blades is a seasonal favorite.  I consider these to be buggy colors, because in some degree in their gold, copper, brown, black and orange color patterns, they seem to work the best during the hatch.

Anti-Freeze Patterns

Anti-freeze patterns are another excellent option for running behind my Church Tackle TX-22 boards during the hatch.  Anti-freeze comes in several color patterns, and they vary greatly depending on the blade they are painted on.  A silver blade which is the norm gives off a very shiny greenish-yellow.  While on a copper blade, the shine is more gold-ish in color.

Church Tackle Stingrays

Normally with the lake starting to heat up, I would say fish the bottom third of the water column, but with the mayflies rising up from the bottom and going to the surface, walleye are actively feeding all along the water column.  With this in mind you cold run any size Stingray diving weight from Church to cover the entire column.  In fact, while I was getting some ice and crawlers from Jeff’s Bait Shop near the entrance to Sterling State Park,  I found out that they have the entire lineup of Stingrays in stock.

The Tourney Cooler

In conclusion, which is English for the end of the article, if you are an angler who struggles during the mayfly hatch, think about getting buggy with your blade patterns.  For myself, these are all patterns which have proven their worth during the hatch.  In the mornings cover the whole water column, as the walleye will be actively feeding, and as the day progresses and the sun rises, start running your blades lower and watch your catch rates increase.  Watch your speeds and for what its worth, try that 1.2 to 1.5 mph range to put more walleye in your cooler, or livewell as the case may be.

 

Copyright, 2017

 

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

The Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech

After all my spring tourneys, it’s finally time to get back to Lake Erie and catch some walleye for no other reason than the love of fishing.  Which means I installed my latest piece of equipment on the boat, the Planer Board Caddy from Traxstech.  We put it through the test this past Saturday on the lake with my TX-22 planer boards from Church Tackle, and I liked everything about it!

Traxstech Planer Board Caddy

The hardest thing about the install was carving out the flotation foam under the gunwales of the boat.  Crestliner really knew what they were doing back in the day!  Once I did that it was fairly easy to place the washer, locking washer and nut onto the bolt to install the mounting track to the top surface.  The caddy itself is light in weight, and didn’t require a backing plate under the gunwale.

Mounting Track

Backing Plate

Quick note about the backing plate, I would use your best judgment on whether you need one or not.  The aluminum on my Crestliner is pretty thick and rigid.  Some materials on today’s newer boats may be thinner and will require a back plate.  Also, consider what you are mounting to your boat,  if I was mounting one of the trees available from Traxstech with its higher center of gravity, I would definitely want a back plate underneath to provide extra support.

Daiwa Sealine SG 27 LC3B

Positioning your own Planer Board Caddy is your decision, but make it wisely, you only get one shot at it.  What I mean by this is consider where it will be the most effective for you while you fish, and will it still be handy, but not in the way at the same time.  Also, if you are using rod holders like my Scotty’s or a similar product, I placed my trolling rods in the holder, to make sure I could easily remove the rod while not catching my Daiwa Sealine’s handle on the caddy itself.

Let it rip, your boards aren’t going anywhere.  When your drift is done, and its time to pick up and go back to the hot waypoint on your GPS, leave your planer boards in the caddy, and get back to that hotspot as fast as your boat and mother nature will allow. I was impressed by how well the TX-22’s rode in the caddy. Sidenote:  You can used a variety of makes and models of planer boards, they will all work in the caddy.  I choose Church products because I believe they are the best and they have a model for all my fishing needs.  Which means for you, if you run Walleye Boards which are slightly bigger than the TX-22, or if you run the smaller TX-12’s, they all fit in the Traxstech caddy.

Why did I get the Planer Board Caddy?  Convenience was certainly a factor, you bring your board in with a fish on, or to simply check your lines, the caddy is right there to hold your board securely while you do your business.  The other factor, is the  pin cushion effect…you have no idea how many times somebody in the boat has sat down on one of the seats, only to jump up from having sat on a board, more specifically, the tow arm!  In  addition, you don’t need to worry about stepping on them if they land on the floor or sliding around while fighting a fish.  Organization is a key here, not only for your fishing experience, but the longevity of your equipment also.

Tool Holder Too

Besides holding your boards, the Planer Board Caddy holds a variety of additional items.  On this last trip, I stored pliers and jaw spreaders in the caddy’s.  To help keep track of the walleye going in the box, a fish counter can be hung on it, as well as used lures.  Also, a good place to clip in, or zip tie some fish towels to keep them close by if you need to wipe your hands for any reason.

End Caps

One last suggestion, I would definitely get the end caps for your tracks.  I can already see where I would be leaving the cap on the backside of the track permanently so the caddy doesn’t slide off.  Yes, the caddy itself does have set screws to prevent sliding, and after fishing all day long, and traveling pretty fast on the water, my caddy’s never budged.  But in my mind, it’s a inexpensive product that will further protect your investment.

Or…

 

Now for my next Traxstech product purchase, I have two more tracks on the boat where I mount my handline reels in the spring for fishing the Detroit River.  A beverage holder would certainly save drinks being spilled on board.  Or, to get the beverage holder, with additional tool storage, that will be the next question.  I am quickly learning just how much Traxstech has to offer when it comes to rigging a boat out for making fishing easier and more enjoyable!

 

Copyright, 2017

 

 

Posted in Detroit River, Do-It-Yourself, Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Weekend Walleye

While today we give thanks for those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, I was able to get out on Saturday and hit Brest Bay with my neighbor Cliff.  Beautiful day for fishing, and breaking out the Crestliner to put some fish in the fryer.  With all the tournaments for the most part behind us, it was time to get back to basics and start pulling some meat out on Lake Erie.

Church Tackle

Saturday I continued to pull the TX-22’s with Church Tackle’s #2 Stingray weights with a combination of Big Eye Custom Lures and Northland Tackle #6 Colorado blades.  As I mentioned, we pulled meat, but I came close to breaking out the “fake” baits to rig on the hooks.  These are, in at least my arsenal, a combination of Impulse 6″ worms from Northland, and Zoom Trick Worms.  The Trick Worms are a floating worm, and with my  3 hook rigs, these two presentations are a killer combination when the white bass and white perch are stripping the live worms off the hooks.  They also help with all the short walleye we have been seeing over the past couple of years.  Can you use other types of worms,  of course, but I have found these effective and Zoom offers some serious colors to choose from.

Church Tackle Stingrays

Impulse and Trick Worms

The breakdown for Saturday is this, on the first pass we set up in 24 foot of water just south of Stoney Point and made our drift southeast to northwest.  We picked up two on that pass, not enough to be dedicated back to that path for our second pass.  Next up, we ran out just bit north of our previous location, close to the state line in 27 fow, and made our drift back towards Fermi.  Two more in the box,  still not a hot bite though.  Lastily, we ran out to the line, between Stoney and the Raisin channel.  This time the wind was more out of the east, so our drift was straight in to the west.  Nothing started clicking until we got into 22 fow, and then it was boom, boom…etc.

There was a 45 min  stretch where we didn’t have all six rods in the water at one time.  The fish were hitting the baits while letting the line out, they were hitting as soon as we engage the reels, and they kept hitting while the boards were running straight and true.  We heard people on the radio saying they were having doubles going off.  Which means, they had two fish on at the same time.  Us on the other hand, had doubles going off on each side of the boat…at the same.  It continued like that until we finally put our 12th walleye in the cooler, which by this time, we were well inside Brest Bay.

We also managed to drag in a dozen keeper sized perch, of which we kept 6 good sized eaters in the 8-9 inch range.  Those will be perch po-boy sandwiches at a later date and time.  The walleye, well they went to yesterday’s dinner, my version of surf and turf.  What goes good with fresh walleye, some smoked baby back ribs that were on the grill for 7 hrs and some pasta salad.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Cooking, Food, Lake Erie, Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

its BACK, the Detroit Beach Boat Club Tourney!

As much as I love getting into this fine local tourney….it drives me CRAZY that with all the fine walleye fishing available in the Monroe area, the boat club is the only place/organization that holds an annual walleye tourney in this area.  The bait shops don’t, unless you count the big fish prize at Jeff’s every weekend, none of the local businesses get involved.  Can you imagine the turnout if a certain furniture manufacturer held and event,  it would be the single biggest walleye tourney in the Midwest.

Rant over,  its been a pet peeve of mine know for over a decade.  That said, the Detroit Beach Boat Club’s annual walleye tourney is a great, fun event.  You have a generous amount of time to fish, and believe me, that extra hour or two can come in handy.  Several years ago it was 2 pm and we didn’t have a single fish in the boat, then we trolled over one of my favorite spots and pulled 18 in the last hour.  Your luck can change that quickly.

I did mention the event being fun, and of course catching fish is always fun, but its more than that.  Back at the dock/boat slips, its all about comparing notes, who did what, and what were the hot lures…etc.  I have always said you can learn so much during a tourney, even the fun local ones, they are better than most seminars.  Its also a great time to catch up with old friends and getting the chance to make some new ones.

To summarize, pay the $25 entry fee….its cheap admission for a great time on the water, and back on land as well.  Its all about fishing, having some fun, and hopefully at the end of the day, getting a some cash in a little white envelope, even if its just for catching the biggest sheepshead!  Believe it or not, we have a separate strategy just for that category 🙂

 

Copyright, 2017

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