Match Perch Rigs to the Conditions



The question is, does it matter which type of perch rig you use?  The answer would be yes of course, just as certain crankbaits work better when water temps dictate their use, or certain spinner blades work best depending on the forage.  When it comes to fishing the Great Lakes, there were two main types of perch rig, and in the last five years a third has come into play, called the Tightline Rig.  It has its time and place, just as the two that still remain the most popular, all three will be discussed, and in my opinion, when is the best time to use them.

Since I already mentioned the Tightline Rig, it will be the first one discussed. Saying that the tightline perch rig cannot be used in all conditions is like saying that Deep Husky Jerks should only be used in cold water, they will of course catch fish all year-long, but I prefer fishing them in rough water conditions.  When the waves are 3 foot plus it becomes a bit harder to detect bites on traditional rigs, but since all three hooks are secured on the main line of the rig, the ability to detect bites in rough water is increased dramatically.


The Spreader Rig just might be the most identified type of rig when it comes to perch fishing on the Great Lakes.  Like the tightline rig, you can use them all year-long, but they shine when drifting for perch.  The most common way to perch fish is to drop anchor and drop the rigs down and get to fishing.  If you want to find active schools of perch, or schools that hold bigger yellow bellies, then drifting is the technique you should be employing.  Then if you wish, you can go back, and drop anchor to where you caught those big fish.


The best all around type of perch rig, is often referred to by another name, the Crappie Rig.  The funny thing to be honest is, I don’t know a soul that actually uses these rigs for crappie. Whether you use two or three hooks, the rig puts more perch in the cooler than all the rest combined in my boat. With the hook lears, or metal arms keeping the minnows away from the rigs main line, perch are enticed to bite without being spooked by the line. The top hook brings the fish in, while the bottom two lines catch most of the perch.  It used to be something to get a double hook up, but now that Michigan allows three hooks, there is nothing like getting three on at once.

As stated in each case, all three types of perch can be used all year-long.  Each rig has their time and place, as dictated by the fishing conditions and your mode of fishing. If you have all three in your boat, then you triple your chances no matter what Mother Nature throws at you.

Copyright, 2016


Posted in Perch Fishing, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

The Art of the Turn (Walleye Trolling)

So you went to a walleye seminar about trolling on the Great Lakes, and one of the topics was on how to speed up your lures without racing your engine.  This is easy to do, and I am sure they explained to  you in some length about making a left or right turn in order to slow down the boards on one side, while speeding up the other side.  Then when you straighten out your troll, the boards on the slow side speed up, which often triggers walleye to bite.


Sounds like a great concept, now just stop and think.  This is not a great concept for all situations.  First, lets talk about what does work best with this method.  Crankbaits work best, specifically those that float or suspend, like a Rapala original floater, jointed minnow, shallow or deep diving Husky Jerk.  If you stop all, or come close to killing the lures/board combination’s momentum, these baits will either rise up in the water column, or hover in a relatively stationary position.

Big Eye Custom Lures DHJ-12'S

Big Eye Custom Lures DHJ-12’S

Can you do this method while trolling crawler harnesses or even spoons while trolling for walleye, the answer is yes….sometimes.  A little background information first, a spinner rig or spoon needs something to drag the presentation down in the water column to where the walleye are.  A lead diving weight like Church Tackle’s Stingray will sink rapidly, a plastic diver like Luhr Jensen’s Jet Diver, will waffle down the column at a slower rate.  This works while anglers are targeting fish higher up in the water column.

Church Tackle's Stingray Diving Weight

Church Tackle’s Stingray Diving Weight

Luhr Jensen Jet Diver

Luhr Jensen Jet Diver

When it doesn’t work with the divers, is when you have more line out than the depth of the water below the boat.  If your turns are too drastic, then your presentation will go to the bottom of the lake and catch both weeds and zebra mussels thus killing any advantage you tried to create by making the turn in the first place.  Have no fear though, you can still do the turns, as long as your lures aren’t hugging the bottom of the lake, but you have to be aware of all the factors mentioned above.


The reason I wrote today’s piece is that while we roll into mid-July, the walleye of the Great Lakes, specially Lake Erie and those found on Saginaw Bay, are hugging the bottom in search of cooler water and food sources.  There is little room for error, so unless running the types of cranks I already mentioned, keep in mind the program you are running on your troll.  Continue to use this method to great effectiveness throughout the year, or not, depending on your methods of putting more fish in the cooler.

Quick note:  If you want to speed up your lure presentation without making a turn, its quite easy, and virtually eliminates any risk.  You just need to have the clicker engaged on the trolling reels, hit the release on all the reels starting with your outside board rod first, then quickly the middle and inside board next.  After six or eight foot of line has been let out, close the release starting with the outside board, and then middle, and inside board.  Then watch all three of your boards race up into position, you trigger just as many strikes as if you were making those turns.

Copyright, 2016

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Quick Way to Protect your Trolling Rod Tips

This is just a quick tip, but will add years to the life to eye on your rod that everyone refers to as the “tip”.


You are out trolling, you get a walleye on the other end, and the fight begins.  Next comes the planer board being taken off the line, 43 feet left to go before the weight comes into sight. In short time,  the fish sees the boat and starts fighting,  you reel in a bit more line to help your buddy net the fish.  Then you realize that the snap attached to  your weight, or diver, is already up to the top eye.

For this story’s sake, lets just say, everything went well, and the fish went into the net.  Problem is though, if you have a ceramic eye, or even one made of an alloy, the damage may be done.  What happens is that the snap has started to wear a groove, or even nicked the material.  Down the road this will lead to damaged line as it comes in and out of the reel and at some point, you will lose gear and probably lose a fish as a result.

No matter how careful you are, everyone does it, myself included.  In the heat of the struggle, when netting the fish is the most important thing, its easy to lose track of some fundamentals. The round plastic fishing bead is the answer to that, in this case in 8 mm size is a fairly inexpensive solution to add years to the life of your trolling rod’s tip.  I prefer something bright in color, either a chartreuse green or transparent pink, not for the fish, but just as another reminder that the snap is getting close to the end. Ideally, you want some room for the fish to struggle with.

Simply place the 8 mm bead on your line, then attach either a snap, or snap and swivel combination.  The bead will act as a buffer, and protect your rod’s tip from any potential damage.  Will this throw off some diving charts, yes it will, but so what?!  My explanation is this, you see the fish on the graph, and then you let the line out to the desired depth to target those fish.  Walleye feed up, meaning they see their prey above them, not below them and if your presentation is just a little above them by a few inches, so be it.  It will not affect your catch rate once you factor in for the “bead allowance” and you will put just as many fish in the cooler.

I had to do a resupply recently, and went back to my old friends at D&B Fishing.  Darren and Kathy have everything fishing related and not just for walleye fishing.  You see them in their booth at all the state’s big fishing show’s, and they did a great job redoing their website since my last visit.  Where else can you pay a buck for 30 beads, or in my case, $6.10 for a 500 count package?  You will be hard pressed to find better prices anywhere on beads, or a better selection for that matter.

Copyright, 2016

Posted in Do-It-Yourself, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

How to Fish Church Tackle’s Stern Planer’s


Both the TX-007 (top) and the TX-005 (bottom) Stern Planers from Church Tackle have become such useful weapons in my spread of boards while fishing for walleye.  Recently I was asked how do I use them, or to put in better terms, “How do they fish?”  Actually my method has evolved a bit since the first time I dropped a -007 into the water off the back of the boat.


When I started using the -007’s a few years ago, my philosophy was that my stiffer planer board rods were too rigid for the stern planers.  I had a set of four downrigger rods all rigged up, and started using those in the back rod holders for them.  The DR rods were perfect for telegraphing the action of the planers, and would tug violently when a fish would first get on the presented bait.


Problem was this, with a third guy in the boat, and being able to run 9 rods it became a big harder to pay attention to the side planers and the stern units at the same time.  If a silver bass or white perch got on the line, they would still jerk the rod tip, but they tend to settle down a bit, and eventually just get dragged along for the ride.  Us anglers, if we didn’t catch the initial bite were none the wiser.


With some thought, I fixed this issue, not with the rods, but with my Daiwa linecounter reels and working with the modified circle hooks that are used on crawler harnesses.  Staying with the hooks for just a second, I will explain that philosophy.  It doesn’t matter with the VMC treble hooks that come on my Rapala and Storm crankbaits, once hooked, the fish are hooked.  Its when using the crawler harnesses and looking at the what is basically a circle hook with a wider bend.  My solution was to set the stern planers to the desired distance behind the boat, turn on the clicker on the reel, and back the drag off to where the line friction on the spool was held on by the clicker.  When a fish hits, the clicker screams with the line going out.  No more worrying about watching the rod react to the bite, issue resolved.  Only question left was how to react to a fish being on, I will say this, never, ever try to set the hook. You can lose up to 50% of the fish that strike your crawler harness.  This is also where that modified circle style of hook comes into play, you simply tighten up the drag and let the hook and the fish do the work for you.  The more the fish struggles against the tension, the deeper the hook works itself in.


You can also read more about Church Tackle’s Stern Planers with these previously written pieces,  click on the link and learn more!

Planer Board 101: an introduction to the basics

Going to Church on a Saturday, Church Tackle that is!

New from Church Tackle for 2015

Drifting for Big Water Walleye

Copyright, 2016

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

Church Tackle’s New Stingray

Church Tackle from Sodus, Michigan keeps introducing product in mid-season to keep things fresh.  Last year it was the TX-005 Stern Planer, the little brother to the TX-007 which I have been using since they came out a few years ago.  That same season they introduced the flag kit for the venerable TX-12 mini-planer.  This year they have introduced a new diving weight called the Stingray.


The weights come in three sizes to match not only fishing conditions, but more importantly, where the fish are located in the water column.  For an example, the fish are up high in the column, but you still want to get enough line out behind your board so not to spook the walleye below.  Use the .7 ounce size to get the job done, at a rough rate of 1ft down for every three feet of line let out at 1.2 mph, 15 foot of line would put your presentation at a five foot depth.  Use the heavier weights accordingly, and if you want to fish a down rod, leave the clumsy bottom bouncers at home and use the 2.7 ounce weight.


I got the chance to see the diving weights in action last week while fishing with the clients of Captain Ken Clark of Fishmas Charters. I have known Capt. Ken since last October when we were paired up to fish the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club’s Fall Memorial Classic tournament on the Saginaw River.  He was fun to fish with then, and I picked up a few tricks using the Stingray’s while fishing together last week.  We left Sterling State Park  the first day at six o’clock and once we hit the Michigan/Ohio line, he pointed the bow west and made our first run using Northland Tackle Crawler Hauler spinner rigs behind the weights. From ten foot down to 33 ft, we put 17 fish in the live well on the first pass.


The next day we even boated an a steelhead on one of the Stingray/Northland combinations.  I have never caught one on Erie, but I know it is not uncommon for the walleye anglers who pull spoons to catch one here and there, but rarely this late in the year. It was also the first time I had ever heard of one being caught on a crawler harness.  It makes sense though, some of the color patterns of Northland blades are very close to patterns painted on the bigger trout spoons.


I like the design of the Stingrays for several reasons.  First off they sort of remind me of the smaller diving discs, but since they aren’t made of plastic you won’t have the holes worn out after a solid season’s worth of use.  The second reason is that they take a big bite out of the water,  the 3:1 ratio of line let out, to depth is very accurate at normal running speeds for spinner rigs, but they could also just as easily be used for pulling spoons if that is your main method of netting walleye.  The final thing I like about the design is in the unique shape of the Stingrays compared to a disk.  You will notice that the back half of the weight is left open to form a tail, and unlike a disc, when you are fighting a fish you don’t have that extra drag while reeling in.  This makes it easier to reel up, but since the fish is being pulled smoothly through the water, they don’t start fighting until they see the boat and then its game on.  It reminds me of the types of plastic divers that have a trip device to make fighting the fish easier, but without all the extra hardware, a very nice feature engineered into making the diving weight.

These have been released to retail stores according to Captain Ken, but I haven’t been able to find them online yet.  Ask your local store that carries Church Tackle products and have them ordered in.  A great example would be Frank’s Great Outdoors in Linwood, Michigan, Frank’s has a huge selection of Church products.

Copyright, 2016



Posted in Product Reviews, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend: June 11 & 12th (side warning)

free fishing weekend_summer

Michigan’s second free fishing weekend is soon, this weekend in fact.  Below are all the details.  Here is my own warning for those fishing Lake Erie Saturday and Sunday,  make sure you are in Michigan waters if you only have a Michigan ID.  This is the weekend that the Ohio DNR loves to drive their boats up and check for Ohio licenses.  Since the state lines were drawn like a drunken sailor after the Toledo Border War, before Michigan was even a state, they catch quite a few people each year.

So enjoy your weekend of fishing across our great state, but if you are fishing Lake Erie, make sure you have your Ohio license!


Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekends: An annual tradition

Summer Free Fishing Weekend graphic

Two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy one of Michigan’s premiere outdoor activities, Michigan Fishing, for FREE!

The 2016 Free Fishing Weekends are scheduled for this winter: February 13 & 14 and this summer: June 11 & 12.

All fishing license fees will be waived for two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply.

For many, the annual Free Fishing Weekend has become a tradition – a time to get together and have some fishing fun. While some may find time to reflect while fishing, there are no limits to variations on a great theme! Experienced anglers who offer a child or young adult the chance to take their first fishing trip can provide a rewarding experience for all. People who fish tend to understand the natural aquatic network of plants and animals that help to sustain fish as well as the regulations that govern fishing in Michigan.

Research shows that young people today do not have access to fishing opportunities that were enjoyed by generations before them. Some of the reasons: living in urban or suburban areas where fishing access is not readily available, competition for time by an ever-increasing schedule of special activities, and too little time for unstructured leisure.

Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

So grab a rod and your family and friends, and let’s go fishing!

Copyright, 2016

Posted in DNR Updates | Leave a comment

One of those Red Hot Days on Erie


This past Saturday was one of those days where  you could do nothing wrong, the “hooking” was so good, we actually had to take two rods out of the water!  Every time we turned around there was another fish on at the end of the line.  Where they the keepers we were looking for, not even close would be the correct answer.  We literally went through 60 some walleye before we got the 12 legal sized fish we needed for the cooler.

Unfortunately with less than a week to go, they were not the tournament fish we will need for this Saturday’s Detroit Beach Boat Club tourney.  We were bringing back so many 6 to 14.5 inch walleye and one even slipped through the mesh in my Beckman net.  If anything, we learned where not to go on Saturday.

This is a sign of how many fish were in the water, I took two of the rods out of the water because we couldn’t keep up with the boards going off.  I was getting calls that I couldn’t answer, and never even sat down for roughly two hours straight.  They would hit as the Walleye Boards from Church Tackle were going back, and they would hit as soon as I shut the spool off and the boards started their race to get into a trolling position.  I should have switched up to my fake worms, but looking back, there really wasn’t much time to think about alternative plans.


Unlike last Saturday where we were seeing some mayfly husks on the water, the only thing floating on Saturday were weeds east of Stoney Pointe.  We did mark several bait balls with some pretty good hook marks in the middle of them.  If I was to give an educated guess, there are so many year classes swimming around, there won’t be too many mayflies reaching the surface this year.

Here was the program, everything mayfly related color pattern was catching fish.  My seasonal bug favorite is an old Fishlander spinner blade, in copper Confusion.  Unlike other brands that have a purple dot thrown in, these older blades have chartreuse, orange and pink dots.  I usually don’t buy into the colors of beads, but have had so much success with matching those colors of this particular blade, that I have been doing it for years, and its become a must in my program.  Other blades that caught fish were Big Eye Custom Lures’ “Halloween” with its unique orange side, and Northland Tackle’s Golden Shiner.  The odd color in the mix that didn’t mix with matching the hatch, was Northland’s Pink Dace.  Maybe because pink is always a good color, or the fact that the whole bubblegum backed blades have become a thing the last couple of years on Lake Erie.  Either way, they will be in the mix when rigging the rods for next Saturday.

Speed varied, between 1.3 and 1.5 mph.  We tried to kick it up a notch to keep the smaller fish off the rigs, but that didn’t matter one bit.  They just kept whacking the boards back and burying the flags.  Who would have thought that I would have been complaining about catching over sixty walleye in one day, but I must admit, I was whupped by the time we put that 12th walleye in the well.  Using Bass Pro’s 2 ounce fish weights, we were running most of the baits 26 foot behind the boards, in 28 ft down to 23 foot of water.  For the most part we had a Southeast to East wind and for the sake of steering, we went with wave patterns.

I have mentioned those fish weights from BPS before, and was told that they weren’t in the Auburn Hills store.  I have talked to some of my contacts, and unfortunately they have been discontinued.  But, they may be come back at some point.  I also called corporate HQ, and every single store in their system is sold out of the 1 and 2 ounce.  The only sizes left are the 1/2 and 3 ounce on their website.  I even called Franks Great Outdoors because they sold them as well, but they are also out of stock.  Guess its time to call Rednek Outfitters!

Copyright, 2016

Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

The Annual Detroit Beach Boat Club Walleye Tourney: June 11, 2016

Its almost that time of the year again, the Annual DBBC Walleye Tourney will be in a few weeks, on June 11, 2016.


This is really a great local walleye tournament, besides the fact that it is our ONLY local tourney in the area.  The price is right at only $25, and to keep things close, there is a slot limit of only one fish over 25 inches in length for the five you weigh-in.  There is a big walleye contest, as well as one for the biggest sheepshead to be weighed in.

There is the link provided on the Michigan Sportsman forum, but there are the particulars:

$25 per person in the boat

You must turn your entry fees in by June 9th, upstairs at club’s bar.

6am to 3pm, must be back by three to weigh in the fish, and you can dock at the club.

Five fish can be brought to the scales, but only one can be over 25 inches in length

Big Walleye and Sheepshead contest/cash prize for each category.

When you drop off your entry fee, it is helpful if you put the money in an envelope.  On the envelope, write down the members of your team, team name if you wish, and a contact number.

Any further questions, you can call Kurt Raschke at 734-497-8605.

Come down for a nice time, talk to the other anglers about fishing and good luck to all.

Copyright, 2016



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

Saturday on Brest Bay: back to dragging meat

IMG_3813Monday funday again, and a good time to look back at a pretty good day fishing this past Saturday.  After watching my brother’s house for a couple of days, watching his four neurotic dogs, and making sure my niece’s two new guinea pigs survived, I was ready to hit the water. Loaded up my neighbor Cliff’s new boat, and we headed for the bait shop.  Jeff’s Bait and Tackle had some really nice looking crawler’s, and since I already had the crawler harnesses tied on, we moved on to Sterling State Park to launch the boat.

After leaving the dock, we ran into Captain Ken Clark of Fishmas Charter’s coming in with some happy clients.  Have known Ken for a little under a year now, and we are both on staff with Church Tackle and Northland Tackle.  He had fished on the south side of #1 and #2 buoys, and I let him know that I was running up to the Pointe and would report in later.


We set up in 24 feet of water, and with the wind blowing the waves to set up a  Northeast to Southwest drift back towards the bay, that was the tack we took for our first drift.  Before we had four rods in the water, Cliff pulled in a short 14 incher, and then I brought  two more fish to the boat.  Five minutes, three hookups, you would think we were rolling in the eyes.  For that first drift we did, catching three more legal sized walleye on a combination of Big Eye Custom Lure #6 spinner blades.  Really no pattern to report; pinks, purples and a combination of white patterns all caught fish during the day.


Pulled up the gear and went back for another pass after catching five white perch in a row.  Went back along the same track, and Erie being Erie, didn’t catch a single fish.  We did everything the same; ran the two ounce Bass Pro fish weights at the same depths, and kept the speeds right in the same zone at 1.2-1.4 mph.  After not catching, we picked up gear, I ran the harness lines to check for nicks in the line, because you never want to lose a fish because your harness is wore out.  And to be honest, I hate losing good blades because I was too lazy to make sure the gear wasn’t in good shape.



Although the skies were overcast most of the day, my thought process was that the fish had gone out to deeper water as the day progressed.  As the sun comes up on most warm days, I have found that the walleye seem to progress out to deeper water to find their comfort zone.  Saturday was not normal so I didn’t worry about it, wrong, should have followed my hunch right away.  We set up in 26 fow and our drift  would take us towards the river channel.  You would think the strategy was going to quickly pay off when we landed our first walleye shortly after getting all six rods in the water.


Not so much though, it was a grind to get six more fish in the boat, but we were catching.  We did lose a nice one at the boat that had some weight to it.  You can almost always tell its a walleye because they will come in smoothly, like dragging a weight, but if they stay down, its probably and eye.  The second tell tale sign is that they don’t go crazy until we what we call, “seeing the boat.”  That is when the thrashing starts, since my rigs are tied to 7 foot in length they usually go nuts when I can see the weight.  If they are head shaking before that, 90% of the time its usually a sheepshead.

Quick Note: Whether my blades come from Big Eye or Northland Tackle, I hand tie all my own gear.  My general rule of thumb is that I want my harnesses to be as long as my rod will allow.  There are two factors when considering the length of the rig versus the rod,  first off is total length, which is simple enough.  The second is the action of the rod, and although my Premier Glass trolling rods are a medium/moderate action, they don’t have a lot of bend to them.  All this means is that I can tie my rigs a little bit longer, and for those big spooky walleye, it keeps the meat away from the lead weight, even if it does look like a fish.  If I was using a softer glass rod, say a downrigger rod for an example, which has a lot of give/bend to the rod, I would tie the rigs 5 to 6 foot in length, depending on the length of those rods. It is all about being to handle the rod with a fish on, and being able to get the net into position.


Finally we got our 12th fish to finish off our two man limit for the day.  It was also our biggest fish of the day coming in at 7.75 pounds.  Thought we had the winning weight for the walleye contest at Jeff’s Bait. We get to the bait shop feeling a little confident, which always seems to be a bad thing when it comes to fishing.  Case in point, the winning weight was 8.8 lbs, over a pound more than we had. As they say, that’s fishing.

Copyright, 2016



Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

For Sale: 46 Reef Runner 800’s


Selling 46 Reef Runner 800’s for $230.00, most have never seen the water, and thinning out my tackle box.  These are both stock and custom colors.  Cant ship, but will meet up near Sterling State Park, Monroe, MI.  Email me at if interested. SOLD

Posted in For Sale, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment