New Baits From Big Eye Custom Lures…

Vader

Vader

…just in time for the fall bite!  We busted out the gear Saturday and went walleye fishing out of Brest Bay here in Monroe.  Both fish came on custom painted baits from Big Eye Custom Lures out of Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Not really a surprise though, was talking with Don Dumas this weekend and we both realized that I have been running his harness spinner blades and custom painted cranks for just about four years now.

As I said earlier, just in time for the fall walleye bite, there are new baits ready to ship on the website.  Actually there are five new paint schemes for the Rapala Deep Husky Jerks (DHJ-12), one is a take off from a spinner blade and the other four are brand new baits!

Boo Berry

Boo Berry

 

Purple Haze

Purple Haze

 

Vegetarian

Vegetarian

 

Paula's Pride

Paula’s Pride

 

Looks like I am going to need some new Plano Stowaway 3700 sized trays for these.  “Paula” is already one of my fave spinner blades, so that crank is going to be a must. Like the purple/pink combination, so definitely Boo Berry. Vegetarian will be a nice contrast, something different to cover the color palate for walleye to choose from….oh hell, not going to fool myself, I will probably get all of them!!!

If you haven’t tried Big Eye customs yet, they are well worth the price of investment, you can find them online at bigeyecustomlures.com, and since I will taking another road trip this Friday, will check out some more of Don’s baits at the Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Clinton, Ohio!  Its that kid in candy store mentality, can’t help it!

Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Product Reviews, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Saturday on Brest Bay

Busted out the Church Tackle TX-22 boards and walleye cranks Saturday morning and headed down to Lake Erie.  Grabbed some supplies at Jeff’s Bait and Tackle, Eric has a good supply of the needed crankbaits to get the job done, picked up some extra Rapala Deep Husky Jerks (DHJ-12′s) and went to the Sterling State Park boat launch. There were quite a few boats, but really could not get a handle on just how many were perching, or chasing walleye.

At the launch one guy was coming back in after fishing solo inside the bay.  Actually, he did say he got out of the bay a bit to get away from the white perch.  He threw the kitchen sink at them, cranks, crawler rigs and spoons without a bite.  The approach made sense, as we noted the water temperature was roughly 54 degrees in and out of the bay.

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We set the lines and the boards out when we hit 20 foot of water just inside the point, straight out from the Sterling ditch and made our way at a 1.5 mph clip, swinging Northeast across the point towards the state line and the Fermi buoys.  Basically going with the flow, or the direction the waves were taking us.  Without a trolling motor it is a whole lot easier to control the boat when or if you get a fish on.

Like the gent at the launch, we through the kitchen sink at the fish and a various depths.  This time though it was all about the different types of cranks. Rapala Deep Husky Jerks, DDT-11 Taildancers, Scatter Rap Minnows on 3-way rigs, Storm Deep Thundersticks and a couple of Reef Runner 800′s.

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We only caught two fish, and they were the only two hook-ups for the day.  Both were males, but as you can tell in the picture, they have started to pack on the weight.  One was 18 inches (bottom) and the other on top of the pic was 22 inches.  The 18 incher came on a specially painted RR 800 from Big Eye Custom Lures, 44 ft behind the board.  The larger fish came on a DHJ-12, also painted by Don from Big Eye, but this time we ran it 80 foot back. You wont find them on the website, but if you order six or more of a bait, you can get them painted up.  With the Reef Runners, you will need to mail six clear Bare Naked RR’s up to Green Bay to get them custom painted.

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Of course, no fishing trip can go unpunished and we had a tangled mess as a result of the 2nd fish. It not only came in heavy, but it was dragging three other lines back with it. Obviously we caught the fish, but had to do some major cutting to get the lines rigged back up and in the water. We never got another fish on our second pass, but the wind was starting to kick up and the whitecaps were rolling so we called it a day.  Managed to get back to the shop and catch the 2nd half of Michigan State’s (Go Green) beat down on Michigan, so it was a good day all in all.

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Copyright, 2014

Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

What Auger Size Suits Your Fishing?

 

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When it comes down to finding an auger that suits your personal fishing needs, size really does matter.  Every company out there offers a selection of sizes that will fill the needs of individual anglers, the question is, what size works for you.  Full disclosure, as most readers out there already know, I work to promote Jiffy ice augers.  I run strictly propane due to the harm ethanol inflicts on engines, specially small engines like those mounted on augers.

Hand augers are nice at first ice, but when you drill 30 to 150 holes a day, they get old really quick.  So for the sake of this article, going to talk strictly about what power augers have to offer.  While the drill operated augers are cute, I haven’t seen one where the batteries last longer than a season or two of steady ice fishing, so again, for the sake of this piece, going to stick with the traditional style power auger.

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Six, 8 or 10 inch?  Since most companies offer these three sizes, I am going to make the discussion centered on these options.  They are good ones, and will suit the needs of just about every angler that loves to ice fish.  Each one has a niche, or a purpose when considering the type of fishing and fish you are going to be pursuing.

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First size for discussion is the 6 inch.  For panfish, there is not a better size when it comes to cutting holes.  Bluegill, crappie and perch will fit through the hole with ease. In those rare cases where the fish is bigger than the hole, they can be worked up to the surface with a little effort.  If you want to get involved in tournaments that are dedicated to panfish, no other size readily available for the consumer, will go through the ice as fast as a 6 inch cutting system.  With my Pro4 propane auger, equipped with the STX blades, there isn’t a standard auger on the market that will drill as fast as me while keeping on top of the panfish during a tourney.

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The 8 inch auger is the catch-all size, a hole size for all applications….sort of.  For the “Average Joe”, the 8″ will do everything you want it too for just about all applications.  Lets say you are the weekend warrior type, you drill a few holes for panfish, maybe chase a few inland lake walleye, or set some tip-ups for 35 inch or smaller pike.  As good as the “8″ sounds, it does have its limitations and also a bonus for a specialized tourney tactic.

The 8 inch hole will allow you to bring walleye up to the surface on any body of water, but depending on the tactic, it can be undersized.  On big bodies of water, the fish can be much bigger, and getting a 30+ inch walleye turned around can be difficult. Difficulties often lead to losing fish right at the bottom of your hole.  You can see the size, you get teased, then it is off the hook and swimming away.  Also, if you are using an oversized bait, or  heavy one because you are fishing in deep water, you have to be extremely careful not to get the lure caught on the edge of the hole. Nothing is worse than seeing your fish pinned against the ice and you have little chance of getting it free without losing it.

The 8 inch does have a place in my panfish approach under a specialized approach to catching them.  Sight fishing is the one time I want an 8″, doesn’t matter if I am fishing for fun, or tourney fishing, it makes the right sized hole for this method of fishing clean water lakes.  If you haven’t been sight fishing, there is nothing like it unless you are using a camera.  Inside a dark shanty, the water below the hole lights up like a TV screen, allowing you to watch your jig, the fish and even lets you adjust your approach to fit the mood of the fish.  The eight inch hole just gives me a bigger television screen to look through. Often you pull your shanty from spot to spot, this is where my Pro4 Lite shines. Because the auger is lighter in weight, the combination of auger and dragging my coop around, doesn’t lead to any type of fatigue during a tourney, and I can keep on top of the fish during the allotted time slot.  Would a bigger auger work even better, you bet, BUT the panfish purists/diehards will raise a fuss and you do have the extra weight to consider.

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The BIG TEN INCH, ok as a kid…loved this Aerosmith song, and the reference could not be helped.  When chasing the pigs; walleye, northerns, lakers or salmon, the 10 inch auger is a must.  Just based on the size of the fish alone, begs that you use an auger that drills a hole big enough to get it on the ice with least amount of complications possible.  Any such instance could lead to a fish coming unhooked, which means you either lost that wall mount or picture of a lifetime.  Talking a little to home, when hitting Lake Erie, or taking that 2.5 hour trip to Saginaw Bay, the possibility of getting a bigger walleye is not out of the question.  If you are using a #5 or #7 Jigging Rap, and a lot of fish were caught on them last year, they can get caught on the ice at the bottom of the hole.  The 10 inch allows you some wiggle room to get that hog turned and heading up the hole.

Now that the discussion is coming to a close, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy three different augers.  Like I mentioned, the 8 inch auger will get the job done for most of the ice fishing populations, but you still have some options if you want to specialize your approach a little bit.  For an example, you go out and get a Pro4,  8 inch auger this year.  Most companies will allow you to purchase the lower units/different sized augers after the initial purchase, I am not telling you which brand to buy, but I do love my propane augers ;)  So staying with the example, you have some buddies who want to plan a couple of big water trips for walleye.  You can order the 10 inch lower drill assembly direct from them, and now you have two augers in one.  And because of Jiffy’s unique E-Z Connect Collar, switching the assemblies is a snap.

The second possible scenario could start with the 8″ again, or possibly the 10 inch.  So you start with one of the bigger holes sizes, but you love your panfishing.  Chasing or staying on top of panish is often the key to catching a limit and speed cutting through the holes is  a must, you can order the 6 inch assembly with STX blades for this approach.

Point is you can have more than one auger if you wish, but you can have one auger to accomplish three different types of fishing, and cover all your bases and save yourself some coin in the process.  It doesn’t hurt to have two augers at some point, but if you want one to do everything imaginable, there is your solution.  Most importantly, have the equipment to fit your needs, and have fun catching some fish this winter through the ice. It really is a great sport and it offers some great chances for anglers to catch their fish of a lifetime.

Copyright, 2014

 

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

A “MUST HAVE” for your New Ice Fishing Shanty

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A couple of weeks ago I shared the idea of painting the interior of your shack to make it easier to find things in a dark house while fishing.  Yesterday the subject of this article arrived, and it was time to get it installed so I can move forward in putting the rest of my new Kenai Pro from Clam Outdoors together.  The Runner Kit which is crucial with any shanty that you buy.

Anytime you pick up a new shack to ice fish with, consider a couple of options that will make your life easier.  One is the trailer hitch or mounting kit if you have a tow bar already, which if you don’t have a machine, you can still walk it out onto the ice.  The travel cover is a nice feature to keep your gear secure and dry while dragging or pulling your shack.

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But the Runner Kit is an absolute must to protect your investment, and lets face it, we invest a lot of time and money into our favorite winter sport.  It would crazy not to protect the sled, or commonly called a tub, against all the winter conditions.

You might say something like, “Well I have a mount on my machine, so I really don’t need the runners.”  Not so fast folks, slow down and think it all out before making any rash decisions.  There are times where the ice will not support a machine, and you are forced to walk.  Now you are dragging your shack over gravel or pavement parking lots to get to the ice.  You might point out that you drop your shanty off at the edge of the ice and then park your vehicle. Don’t be fooled into a false comfort zone people. Ice can do just as much damage as a hard-surfaced parking lot.

You bust out finances as your last argument for not getting the runners when you purchase your shanty.  I get that, times are tough in this fragile economy.  This might be your first or second year of ice fishing, and there is more gear you want to get with your hard-earned money to make ice fishing a success this year.  I get that, I weigh costs versus items I need or want all the time.  I will say this though, the runners are a must, whether you get them this year or next, don’t wait too long.  Also, it is so much easier to install the Runner Kit before you put the rest of the shanty together, so if you can swing it money wise, do it now.

One last helpful hint, call your local retailer before you go in and purchase your ice shanty, make sure they have it in stock.  It is hard to look at your shanty in its box while waiting for the Runners to get transferred to your local store, or waiting for them to arrive in the driveway because you had to order them.  If you have to wait, do it, because as we all saw last year, ice fishing equipment can go fast when we have a good winter!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Breaking down the Gear for Erie’s 3rd Walleye Season: Cranks and Boards

Like I mentioned the other day, it is just about time to put the perch gear away and get back to catching some walleye.  Not just any walleye, but the big gals who are heading towards their winter feeding grounds to put on the weight.  Not sure where all the little eyes go during this time period, but the 10+ pound fish seem to be everywhere!

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They are so hungry, that despite this fish having already taken a 10 inch gizzard shad, with the tail still not all the way down yet, that it took a big Deep Husky Jerk two years ago on a troll outside of Brest Bay.  Although it can be true that big baits equal catching big fish, it still doesn’t hurt to pack some of the smaller lures like Rapala’s #10 sized Deep Husky Jerks, sometimes they see the smaller tackle as an easier meal.  So with that in mind, I take the kitchen sink out with me!

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Right now, the kitchen sink means 32 Plano Stowaway trays in the 3700 size.  That is until I send in some more baits to get custom painted by Big Eye Custom Lures up in Green Bay.  Although the last couple of years would show that the big eyes love the DHJ-12 in really cold water, it doesn’t hurt to have some of them painted up with some custom colors.  What is the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”?  Well, why not when it comes to throwing out the kitchen sink to catch more walleye, too?

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When it comes to pulling cranks, it is time to break out Church Tackle’s TX-22 planer boards.  They are perfectly balanced and show every little nibble, and that is before considering the Double Action Flag Kits are installed!  This year there will be a twist thrown in.  It kind of goes back to the kitchen sink philosophy, dragging shallow #14 Husky Jerks and #11 Scatter Rap Minnows  with a 3-way swivel and a 2 oz weight.  This will give the fish the option of a bigger bait on one hand, and a livelier option on the other hand.  And if that new tactic wasn’t a big enough twist, am going to run the rig behind Church’s new(er) TX-007 Stern Planer!

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That is quick looking into a part of the man cave upstairs in the shop.  It is in a bit of transition from open water into full-blown ice fishing mode, but we aren’t there quite yet. Not with all the trolling to look forward to before the ice closes down the season!  You can tell my favorite color on the ice is “Blue”, love my Fish Traps from Clam Outdoors.

Enough of that though, its time to wrap this up for today!  More on Lake Erie’s 3rd season soon!

Copyright, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Lake Erie’s 3rd Season is Almost Upon Us: Spooling time!

This time of the year is what I like to refer to as Lake Erie’s 3rd walleye season. You have spring jigging and some early trolling during 1st season.  Then you have the 2nd season with pulling crawler harnesses and spoons.  With a short break taken for perch fishing, the 3rd season is right around the corner.  That time when the big girls come home before the ice covers the lake.

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The walleye are starting to head back to their pre-spring spawn haunts, and for those that fish Michigan waters, that means Luna Pier, Brest Bay and the waters north towards the Fermi buoys.  Although the walleye fishing never really died off this year, the big ones like this 12.25 pound fish are heading this way.  If you are ready to put the perch gear away, then it is time to get ready!

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One of the first things I do in preparation for the fall trolling bite is to take all the Daiwa trolling reels off the St. Croix’s and start stripping line.  Years ago I ran nothing but braid on my reels, but for costly reasons if nothing else, I went back to mono for trolling.  I still kept quite a bit of the old braided line for backing, but these days I top the reels off with 15 lb monofilament. Have found that 300 to 350 feet of line covers all possible situations.

Is it the perfect line size?  All I can tell you is that it is for me.  Not that I wouldn’t be happy with 14 lb test, I just picked up a sweet deal while working one of the Bass Pro spring shows and bought a spool that had over 2000 yards on it.  I think the 14 or 15 lb choice is the right one for Lake Erie, and even most, if not all of the bodies of water on the Great Lakes.  There are rocks, zebra mussels and big fish that can tear up smaller test mono lines.

Even though all the trolling information out there is based on 10 lb mono, going bigger doesn’t bother me.  If the fish are down to say for an example 18 feet, I check my Precision Trolling info and let the line out to match 17 to 22 foot depths.  Why is an easy question to answer, the bigger line will run higher than information tells me it will go because of the increased line diameter of larger sized line.  In reality what happens below the surface is that I have covered all the bases.  I am running a little bit on top of my fish finder marks, right through the school, and just under it where some bigger fish might lay in wait.

 

www.BigEyeCustomLures.com

www.BigEyeCustomLures.com

 

Now, its time to get the reels back on and break out some Rapala’s from the factory, or those like in the picture, custom painted by Big Eye Custom Lures.  Have caught some really big fish with these Deep Husky Jerks in size 12 the last couple of years, and they will be going on the rods first to see what we can get to bite!

Copyright, 2014

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

A Nice Modification to your Fish Trap!

Last year Clam Outdoors introduced a great feature to their flip-over style Fish Trap ice shanties, a layer of grey inside their tubs.  What this did was make anything that might fall into the sled while fishing easier to locate against the lighter background.  It was such a big hit, that this year they added it on to some more models, and next year more models will have the feature also.

This year, I picked up my first single man Fish Trap upgrade in more than 10 years.  Although I loved my original Pro shacks, I wanted to be even more efficient on the ice, so in order to avoid extending poles, I went with the new Kenai Pro.  This shack is the one for me for several reasons.  Two features make it a sight fisherman’s dream; the higher seat makes looking down the hole easier than ever, and without the quilted thermal material offered on a lot of models, no excessive light gets in.  That is a must for sight fishing!  Another feature is simply the height of the tent itself, even when I am not sight fishing, I don’t have to worry about snapping rods on the hook set when you have those days when the wind is whipping and it is brutally cold outside!

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That said, the grey interior on the sled is not offered on this model …. yet!  So, I borrowed the idea of fellow Clam pro staffer Steve Berry, and decided to make it happen on my own.  My first choice for painting the tub was DuPont’s Fusion paint, because it bonds to plastic.  My local ACE Hardware only had it in white and I thought that would be too bright.  After talking to one of the helpful employees, I went with this Rust-Oleum product which also works on plastic, and it came in “Winter Grey”, perfect!

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Anytime I am putting one of my new shanties together, a pair of saw horses are a must.  Way back in the day, when I had an apartment, I would use the kitchen table.  When company would come over, I must say I did get some strange looks when they saw a shanty on the kitchen table!  Anyway, the saw horses are a big help and makes the job a whole lot easier when you can work with an elevated platform.

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First I dry wiped any large particles of dirt out of the sled, then took some glass cleaner to get any small fragments out before applying the paint.  I let that dry for about 20 minutes, and then applied blue tape, the kind for painting to avoid any overspray.   That was easy to do, even for me and I strongly dislike taping things off.

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The painting process itself was fairly easy.  I shook it up the can for several minutes, and once I started painting just kept the can moving constantly to avoid any runs of excess paint.   I will say this though, I would install the runners that protect your tub’s bottom first.  Unfortunately I had two things working against me, during our packing back from Clam’s HQ in Rogers, MN, my runners got put into my buddy’s shanty box, so I have to wait a few days for the installation.  The other factor, to be honest…I couldn’t wait to see the outcome, I just had to paint it right away!

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Loved the outcome, and even if I did not have the runners to install before putting the rest of the shack together, I would suggest adding another coat.  One reason, the paint was priced really reasonably at around $4.00 a can, and the other reason, if it looks this good with only one coat, it should look twice as good with the application of another layer.  The more I think about it, for right around $15 bucks total, I just might add a third coat.

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If you love the idea that Clam introduced last year, and the shack you want doesn’t have the grey interior option yet, or even if you want to give your old Trap an upgrade, here is your fix.  On the older shelters, I would take as much of the hardware off as you can, bust out the old Sunday paper and a lot more tape before applying your coats of paint.  You don’t want to take off your tent, you already have it secured around the lip of the tub.  Tape and paper as best you can before getting started. Ideally, you start out with a new tub, and who knows, you might love your shack, but if your tub could use replacement, Clam has those too!

Copyright, 2014

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

Good Morning … from Minnesota!

Ice fishing is literally around the corner, from where I am sitting this morning that is.  Here in Rogers, MN, you will find the new home of Clam Outdoors, which was actually built last year.  Not familiar with the name, then you haven’t been in an outdoor store during the cold weather months and have not seen all the blue ice fishing shanties on display.

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Here I am, down in the breakfast area of the local Super 8, waiting for the time to come around to go to our Ice Team Pro Day.  Its a combination of talking ice fishing, which is always a good thing,  and getting aquainted with all the new ice fishing items that Clam will have to offer for the 2014-2015 season.  There is a lot of new gear in store for the upcoming season!

Most of the new items are up on the website now:  www.clamoutdoors.com .

You can get a sneak peak of all the new gear on the webite now, get an idea of what you are looking for way before you head into the stores to go shopping this fall.  Actually, quite a few retail stores are starting to get their ice fishing gear in right now, and some are even starting to get their ice sets out on the floor with more to come soon.

With that teaser for the rest of the day, its time to head back to the room and get ready to tackle the rest of the day.  More to come!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Seminar: Topics of Discussion…Part 3

To use spreaders or not, that is the question!

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In most cases, my answer is a resounding no! But, there is always a “but” to every fishing philosophy.  And, in some cases there is a place for spreaders in my perch fishing arsenal. Sometimes the perch themselves dictate that action, while most times it is the style of fishing that guides me.

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If you are employing a rod holder, or using multiple rods like you can in Ohio (2) or Michigan (3) they can be very useful.  If holding both rods, then I will almost always prefer the rig.  Again, let the perch dictate what they want, and in some regards the wind and waves as well.

When the wind is kicking, I like the rig over the spreader.  You can use the rod to keep in contact with the bottom with the rig.  With a spreader, specially in a holder, then the spreader is going crazy and can end up being a tangled mess when you bring it up to check your bait. On calmer days, while using a holder, then the spreader tends to be much more effective.

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This is the one type of spreader you will never find on my boat, or in my perch fishing arsenal.  Changing your weights is crucial in order to be effective.  Having a standardized spreader to fit all situations is limiting your yellow belly catching potential.  Some days when they want the spreader, but are biting light, they want to mouth the bait a bit before taking it all in.  If  you are using a heavier weight, then they tend to spit it out because they can feel the weight.  Another good thing about lighter weights when it comes to spreaders is that the current can be strong enough to push out of that perpendicular alignment.  This allows the spinners a little more action, which can attract perch in.

I like to have a variety of weights with me.  When it comes to the spreaders though, my range of weights goes to the lighter side.  3/8ths to 3/4 oz gets the job done, with 1/2 and 5/8ths in between, I have just about every possibility covered.

Tomorrow, rigs and why I like them best!

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing Seminar: Topics of Discussion…Part Deux

10610679_10203797745775484_5864171300943625998_nYesterday I started discussing potential topics for a perch fishing seminar I am going to be doing for the Huron River Sportfishing Club.  The first discussion was on minnow care, a key to any successful perch fishing trip. Next up on my “weapons list” would be the rod and reel component of perch fishing.  Since the line is so important, will talk about that too. Perch fishing is all about the feel.  Feeling your sinker on the bottom, and either the slightest nibble or that jack hammer attack when it comes to setting the hook. The first area to be addressed would be rod selection.  Now this is more of a personal choice and I prefer an ultra light or light action rod.  I use spinning rods from St. Croix’s Premier series.  An Avid or Legend would be sweet, but the Premiers do the trick nicely.

They work well with a 750 or 1000 sized spinning reel. Speaking of reels, a decent drag is required, but necessarily a high dollar one.  Something in the $50 to $70.00 range would be plenty.  In some cases, depending on the bite, you really wont use the drag, or you will want to keep it tight and just jerk them up as possible.

In my book, spooling your reel with a non-stretch braid is essential! While working in conjunction with your rod and sinker, your line will be like an early detection device.  Literally telegraphing every action taking place on the bottom of the body of water you are fishing.  Since in most cases boats are anchored, line diameter is not an issue.  In fact a little overkill is not a bad thing.  Because braids are much thinner than monofilament counterparts, anywhere from 8 to 15 lb will do the job nicely.  At the most you are looking at a 6 lb diameter, and with the thicker lines, than say a 5 lb braid, you wont have to change out the braid as often as the smaller test lines. Lets face it, braided line is not cheap!

More tomorrow on perch topics.

Copyright, 2014

Posted in Perch Fishing | Leave a comment