Archive for March, 2009

Linecounter Reels

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

With the advent of the trolling guides available to anglers these days, linecounter reels really are becoming “must have” equipment.

One of the questions I recently had in an email dealt with this; what brand, what size, what line…etc.

To me it was a no brainer,  Daiwa has done it longer and better than anyone else.  The newer Sealine LCA series just took their product to the next level.  Not saying that Shimano does not make an excellent LC reel in their Tekota series, but why spend a $150 plus when I have some the best reels already.

What reels fall in the next tier lower than these top dogs?  Again I would have to go with Daiwa, in their Accudepth Plus series.  Decent reel, accurate counter and a fair price in the 50 dollar rage give or take.  These are often available in combo deals where the rod is basically a freebee.  Always a nice thing.  For a higher price, Ambassadeur makes a 6000 series linecounter, but as an introduction model a few years back, they had something to be desired.  Lots of improvements have this reel a lot better, but with the price hovering about a 100 bucks, it is not in the Sealine ballpark.  Another second tier reel would be the Shakespeare Tidewater, decent for the price, but prone to slippage in counting the line out.

What models do I use, the Sealine SG 17 LCA and SG 27 LCA.  I have the 17′s for drifting and inland lake trolling and finesse rigs.  These go on 7′ and 7’10 medium casting rods that one might use for bass fishing.  Providing a nice balance.   The 27′s are my mainstay on the trolling rods on big water and can also double up while salmon fishing.  These rods are 8 foot and 8’6″ in length.

If you are using some of the bigger rods like an 8’6″ or 9′ downrigger or board rod,  and you want to salmon fish also, by all means do not be afraid to pull double duty with the bigger SG 47 LCA.  All you have to do is change out the line.  BUT, if that is an option for you, fill most of the reel with 40 or 30 lb cheap line, connect to some quality 10 or 15 lb mono to top off the spool for walleye trolling.

One thing you can do is spool up with a braided line.  I use 40 lb Power Pro, and I know, I hear it all the time…..that’s too heavy!  You are right, absolutely, but its the size of 10 lb monofilament folks.  The same size the trolling guides use in their dive charts.  Then when and if I go salmon fishing, I don’t need to switch out the lines.

Latest From Erie:Walleye

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Had to go down to Ohio yesterday with my neighbor to pick up some sweet corn seed, and since we were in the neighborhood, we made our way towards Port Clinton.

Talked it up with a couple of boats coming off the water at the Wild Wings launch.  Consensus is that there are fish to be had in deeper water on the outside edge of the mud line.  Guys were drifting hair jigs, either orange or purple were working.

Went in to Port Clinton and ran into the boys from Silver Streak/Wolverine Tackle delivering orders to the Fisherman’s Wharf tackle shop.  They were dropping off some custom painted cranks only available at the shop,  can’t tell you the name of the cranks, but the paint scheme had to do with those hot panties from last year.  My one and only clue to be given.

Reports were the same there,  there are eyes to be had, and next week with the warmer temps staying in place, the fishing should explode.

How to Overcome the Chocolate Soup

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

When muddy water has you stymied, there are a couple of solutions that will still allow you to have a successful trip out on Erie while you chase walleyes.  Really this can apply anywhere, but with the lake in our backyard lets stick with the big water we have.

First principle is that old adage, “Go Big, or Do Not Go At All”,  “Or Stay Home”.  Whichever you prefer, they both work.

Give walleyes the biggest presentation available in your tackle bags.  This applies to cranks, jigs and blades.  Going slow will also help in the cold water we have at the moment, leave your presentation in the strike zone longer.  Cranks are easy, big Rapala F-18′s (Original Floaters), HJ 12′s and 14′s (Husky Jerks) and big Smithwick Rogues.  Big baits, big bodies = better chances.

Double up your jigs, combine plastic and live bait for bigger presentations on your hook.  Stack live bait over a plastic minnow or lizard. Big hair jigs scented with Gulp or live minnows, beef up the profile of the bait.

Big blade baits like 3/4 oz Cicadas and the biggest offering from Vibe or similar type baits from other companies.  Big blades also apply to big spinners on your crawler harnesses.  Boost up the profile and the noise factor.

Noise leads into the second way to attract fish in muddy water.  Rattles in your baits,  rattles added to your baits, all produce extra noise to enhance the baits naturally producing vibration.  Big ol’ Rattlin’ Rogues, Husky Jerks, Rattl’n Shad Raps are just some of the cranks you can use. 

You can add tube chambers in the plastic baits, or get some slip on rattle tubes like those produced by Northland Tackle.  They have collars, and you can put them on any jig that has the barb on the hook shank to hold plastics in place.  Slide on, then add your plastic or live bait.  Locks everything in place nicely.

Rattle beads are available to produce noise on the crawler harnesses as well.  These are a little harder to shop for these days, but are still being produced.  With a little internet time, you can surf some up.

March 26th DNR Fishing Report

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

On Wednesday April 1, 2009, all anglers 17 years of age and older will be required to have a new 2009 Michigan Fishing License. Copies of the new Fishing Guides are available at all license vendors. With many seasons closed right now, anglers are reminded that it is unlawful to take or attempt to take any fish outside the open season. The inland lakes are providing some good crappie and bluegill fishing while the rivers are good for steelhead.


Southeast Lower Peninsula

Lake Erie - Muddy water is to blame for slow catch rates.

Huron River - Steelhead are being caught above the coffer dam when using a jig and wax worm. Those fishing below the Flat Rock Dam are taking fish on flies. For crappie, take some minnows and check out the backwaters.

Detroit River - Word has it the walleye have moved up into the Trenton Channel. Those fishing near the Edison Plant have caught fish when using live shiners or plastic baits. No limits yet but some big fish have been caught.

Saginaw Bay - Shore anglers are getting a lot of small perch in the cut at the end of Palmer Road. Boat anglers out from the mouth of the Pine River are moving around to locate fish. The perch runs are just getting started so the action should only get better. Along the Inner Bay, boat anglers are launching at the Patterson Road ramp and trolling for walleye near Spoils Island, the mouth of the Kawkawlin River, out by the Spark Plug (Buoys 11 &12) and off Parish Road.

Kawkawlin River - Has perch fishing activity on the lower river at the bridge on State Park Drive. This area also has a pedestrian walkway that serves as a shore-fishing platform.

Saginaw River - Perch anglers are getting fish in most of the marina basins and in the Bay Aggregate cut.

Quanicassee River - A few perch are being caught from shore but anglers will need to sort out the small ones.

Sebewaing River - Has good perch fishing in the marina and the river but many were small. Anglers were averaging 20 to 25 perch. There are bigger fish to catch but the trick is to move around and find the fish.

Pigeon River - A few legal lake trout were caught in the river when using minnows. Those fishing off the pier at Caseville were taking some whitefish.

Pinnebog River - The sucker runs are just getting started.

Southwest Lower Peninsula

St. Joe - Pier anglers are taking the occasional coho, brown trout, and whitefish. The action was still on the slow side but should pick up in the next few weeks.

St. Joe River - Water levels are still high making it difficult for those wading but the boat anglers are doing well. Good steelhead action below the Berrien Springs Dam for those floating spawn, flies or using Wobble Glo’s.

Kalamazoo River - Steelhead are being caught up near the Allegan Dam.

Rabbit River - Is producing some steelhead.

Grand River at Grand Rapids - This week could very well be the peak of the steelhead run. Anglers are bouncing spawn sacks and yarn off the bottom or floating spawn, flies or jigs and wax worms under a bobber. Those on the Fulton Street Bridge are back bouncing with spawn. Riverside Park is good for bluegills and crappie when using minnows, leaf worms or wax worms.

Grand River at Lansing - The steelhead have made it to Lansing though not in big numbers. A few fish have been caught over at Moore’s Park and the North Lansing Dam. Not much on the resident fish other than a few gar taken over at the North Lansing Dam. Prairie Creek near Ionia has good steelhead action.

Rogue River - Steelhead are hitting on flies and spawn.

Reeds Lake - Rumor has it anglers are taking 10 to 12 inch perch on minnows. Bluegill and crappie were also caught.

Muskegon - Pier anglers are taking steelhead and brown trout.

Muskegon Lake - Strong winds have hampered fishing. When boats can get out, they were catching some perch over near the sand docks.

Muskegon River - Anglers are catching steelhead all the way up to Croton Dam. Try yarn, spawn, flies or Hot-n-Tots.

White River - Is producing some steelhead.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Sturgeon River - Steelhead fishing has begun. A few fish were caught by early season anglers.

Thunder Bay River - Is giving up some steelhead.

Fletcher’s Pond - Was producing crappie, bluegill and perch.

Higgins Lake - Rain this week will more than likely take the shoreline ice out and start the melting process for the rest of the lake. Ice fishing here is pretty much done. It could be a few weeks yet before there is enough open water for boats to head out.

Houghton Lake - The shoreline is starting to break-up and the rest of the lake is getting soft. Ice fishing here is done as well.

Au Sable River - Anglers were catching suckers in the Mio Pond.

Tawas - Still some ice fishing activity in the Bay but not for much longer. Perch were caught inside the harbor but many were small. Walleye were caught over the reef in 10 to 15 feet of water. Boats trolling off the mouth of the Tawas River and those casting rapalas near the mouth are getting some walleye.

Tawas River - Shore anglers are catching steelhead and suckers.

Au Gres - Boat and shore anglers fishing just off the mouth of the river are taking good numbers of walleye.

Au Gres River - Is still a bit high but anglers are catching steelhead. Most are fishing the East Branch near the Singing Bridge. The railing on the newly renovated walkway should be finished this week.

Rifle River - Hook and line anglers are out in good numbers to catch suckers as the run is just getting started.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Traverse City - The shoreline ice is breaking up and it will not be long before the rest of the ice is gone. Anglers should avoid going out on any remaining ice. Launch ramps are still iced in.

Boardman River - Steelhead anglers are doing well when floating spawn, wigglers or wax worms under a bobber.

Fisher Lake - Has open water and no fishing activity.

Glen Lake - The ice on Big Glen has open water along the shoreline and should not be considered safe. Little Glen was still producing some nice perch along the weeds in 12 to 14 feet of water and the occasional rainbow trout. The ice is quickly deteriorating so extreme caution needs to be used.

Betsie River - Catch rates are improving as more steelhead move into the river.

Lake Missaukee - Ice fishing is done.

Lake Cadillac - Ice fishing is basically done. Anglers are advised to say off any remaining ice.

Lake Mitchell - Ice fishing is done here as well. Boat anglers are waiting for the launch sites to open up.

Manistee - The pier anglers are out and boats are trolling the harbor.

Manistee River - Steelhead fever is catching on as decent numbers of fish continue to move into the river.

Ludington - Is not seeing much action from boat or pier anglers. The parking lot at the launch still has a good amount of snow piled up.


Bass Lake - Has fair to good splake action.

Imp Lake - West of Watersmeet is producing some splake and bluegills.

Lake Ellen - Near Channing is also producing splake but the fish were smaller.

Keweenaw Bay - Although anglers are still venturing out onto the ice, conditions are changing daily. The ice though thick in some places is honeycombed and getting softer every day and the shoreline is starting to open up. Extreme caution needs to be used. Lake trout action was spotty in waters 230 to 260 feet deep. Anglers continue to target Old Mission, Jentofts, and the Whirl-I-Gig. A few coho were taken out from the Fall’s River, Sand Point, Perch Corner and the Tire Shop north of Baraga when jigging 5 to 12 feet down in 10 to 40 feet of water. Try white with green Swedish Pimples along with a Do-Jigger and flute spoon. Those fishing a foot off the bottom have picked up some round whitefish, burbot and lake whitefish. Perch were caught in 15 to 40 feet of water out from the Baraga Marina.

Marquette - Pack ice has blown into the bay making access almost impossible. Pack ice is very dangerous and can close in around a boat in no time at all. Anglers need to use extreme caution. When conditions improve, anglers might want to head out in the Upper Harbor for chinook and coho. Both the big and little bubbler was producing some limit catches for those using jigs with cut bait or half a crawler.

Menominee - Ice fishing in the Bay is done as conditions are dangerous.

Menominee River - Anglers are using Boom Landing and the Stephenson Island boat launches to get on the river. Stephenson Island has a dock in however Boom Landing does not. The launches at the marina, the lighthouse and the Mystery ship have too much ice to launch at this time. The mouth is starting to open up, but it will still be a while before it can be fished. Boat anglers fishing the middle of the river near the islands have caught walleye and brown trout on minnows or different colored rapalas. Lots of perch were caught in the open waters when jigging minnows but many were small. Those fishing through the ice near the docks need to use extreme caution. Fish numbers increased near the Hattie Street Dam where some nice walleye and brown trout were seen. Walleye anglers are jigging minnows or casting lures. Good colors were blue and silver, orange or anything that looks like a perch.

Little Bay De Noc - Ice conditions are getting worse. Shoreline ice is breaking up, the pressure cracks have opened up and the shipping channels near Escanaba are now being used. A few perch are still being taken near Kipling when jigging minnows and wigglers out from the tanks in 8 to 25 feet of water. The bigger fish seem to be in the deeper waters. Good whitefish action off Sand Point when jigging spawn in 80 feet of water.

Munising - Ice conditions for Munising Bay and Trout Bay were stable for the most part but extreme caution needs to be used. The ice is thinner between the Grand Island ferry dock and Grand Island. Extreme caution needs to be used near the rivers. The Anna River is flowing rapidly and cutting through the ice and the Au Train River is getting soft near the mouth because it is melting from the bottom up. Ice near the mouth of the Rock River was holding but no one knows for how long. Au Train and Trout Bay had slow fishing with only a couple coho caught. A couple coho and whitefish were caught off the mouth of the Anna River. Sand Point continues to be the spot for splake, coho, burbot and smelt.

Munuscong Bay - Has been slow with only a few anglers targeting perch on the north end near Fowlers Bay. Try minnows in 3 to 5 feet of water.

Cedarville and Hessel - The ice is still holding however caution needs to be used especially with the warmer temperatures. Musky Bay in Cedarville has begun to pick up along with Duck Bay where anglers are catching lots of perch. Many are small but the action is fun.

Crappie thoughts on line choices

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I was re-spooling the Cardinal 301′s a couple of nights ago that I bought for perch fishing late last fall to go with the new St Croix Avid 6 ft. UL’s.  I was putting 5 lb Power Pro on the aluminum spools for keeping a non-stretch tight line with the perch rigs.  During the winter I had put on 6 lb Trilene  mono for walleye fishing on the spare spools.

Started to think what will I put on those spools for spring pan fishing.  Why not keep that same line on, after all I just bought it in December, its still fresh.  Some purists will say,  its 2 lb all the way.  That the fish truly can be line shy, and  they would get no argument from me.  Not even if they said split the difference, and spool up 4 lb line.  No argument, good all around choice, you betcha.

But, if I can save a few bucks, and I do like to do that, my mother used to call that frugal back in the day, why not make a simple adjustment.  So keep that line, and if there are fish in the area and they aren’t biting, make an adjustment.  My adjustment is to add about 4 foot of Vanish to the end with a wet back to back uni knot.

It gives you all the advantage of 2 lb, and because the invisibility factor, the strength of 4 lb line.  I even have a 6 lb spool left over from the ice season, so in weedy  situations, I can still get my invisibility factor with the strength I needs

Have you got your boat ready? there be walleye to be had

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

From Lake Erie to Saginaw Bay, folks are getting their boats out and ready to fish, some are fishing already.  This is a great time of the year to get out and get some early fishing in.  Here are some pics of friends who have been fishing Saginaw Bay since the ice broke out a couple of weeks ago.

The first pic is of good friend Adam Marchbanks with a nice healthy looking eater. Adam caught this one on a #14 clown shallow husky jerk, 60 foot behind the boat.



Here is Rick who was breaking in his new boat, who could blame the guy, new toy and great fishing equals a good day in anyone’s book.  Rick caught this beauty on a Shad Rap imitation from Renegade available at your local Walmart for about 2 bucks.  He ran it about 35′ back because it is a diving bait.



You may notice the clothing that the guys are wearing, heavy hunting gear along with ice fishing suits are always a good choice for the early big water season.

Loving Ebay 2day

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Its always worth taking a look at ebay while building your crawler harnesses for the upcoming year.

I just picked up 200 VMC #6 treble hooks, with shipping for less than 34 bucks. 2x strong Barbarians with the good sharp cone cut points.  If you were to buy in the store, an easy 30 bucks per 100.

Don’t expect to find this kind of deal the first time out, shop around, look around.  Might take you a week, maybe two, or in my case THREE WEEKS.

Granholm Keeps Nibbling Away at Profits

Friday, March 20th, 2009

In a further effort to kill all forms of small business, the governor takes another swipe at the state’s fishing industry, this time taxing in the form of additional fees on those involved in the charter fishing business.

New this year, kept secret until the forms were sent out for renewing captain’s licenses, are two new fees.

First, there is a new big water  user fee for those who run charters off the Great Lakes.  These people are not rich, in a good season a boat might bring in $60,000.  Not clear, bring in only.  Then you put in fuel costs which are taxed, boat and tackle which are already taxed, bait which is taxed, repairs, inspection fees, insurance for boat and passengers….the list keeps going folks.  Then kick in mother nature, and you do not even come close to making that much!

Second, if you use live minnows, you will be required to have a bait license.  Why? They already buy bait from licensed dealers, they already have to carry around the VHS certified free paperwork!

Guess they figured there wasn’t any more room to tax tobacco and alcohol, they had to come up with new and inventive ways to steal from those trying be independent.

I have emails sent out to Senator Randy Richardville, and Representatives Kate Ebli and Kathy Angerer to get their responses.  When they show up, will let you know how they stand, agree/disagree and what they had to say on the matter.

hot n tot pygmies and pas lures

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Been saving this one since I came out with the Storm Lightning Shads last fall for use as divers.  Some of us remember that wonderful old company, Storm Lures, pre-Rapala buyout that is.  They had tons of lures that worked for all manners of fish, with very few busts.  The Hot-n-Tot Pygmy was not one of the failures.

Much like the famed Erie Dearie, the Pygmy was a highly effective weight forward spinner used in catching walleyes out on Lake Erie.  As times change though, and folks switch over to dragging meat on crawler harnesses, the Pygmy still has a place in my tackle box.  These days, with the hook snipped off, its become an effective diver and with the spinner in the rear, an attracter as well.


Simply cut off the back hook, and replace with a snap n swivel, and attach crawler harness.


Another great lure to use as a diver is the PAS version of the weight forward spinner, equipped with a diving lip.  Here is the catch though, the PAS lure comes in two versions, one with a hook like the Erie Dearie or Pygmy and one with a harness attached.  The hook version sells for about 3 bucks, the one with the harness, about $5.50 to 6 bucks.  Buy the hook version if you want to try this diver out,  its cheaper, and you get to put on the harness of your choice.


Remember, harnesses are your basic throw away lure, one day and done.  You should be saving every component; hooks beads, blades and clevises.  Simply rebuild as needed, just add your own line.

The diver charts for both lures are available in the Precision Trolling books.  Give them a few more feet for adding blades which are probably going to be bigger than what comes with the lure in the package.

Cold Weather Walleyes Need the Slow Approach

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

While tackling the seasons anglers need to consider many variables in fishing for cold water eyes.  Like in the pike topic the other day, walleyes want the slow approach when temps are chilly below the surface.  Whether you use cranks or blades this time of the year, dial down the speedometer on the boat.

I am a harness guy, give me a meat rig and I can pretty much fish with anyone on the big water, no matter the season.  This time of the year presents a certain type of approach to catching eyes, you want to fish slow, but you have to have enough speed to get the blades spinning.  The solution is to choose plastic.???

Mack’s Lures offers a special blade unique to the walleye world, a spinner made of plastic.


This unique blade spins freely with the line going through the center hole, and because it is made of plastic it will spin at at slower speeds.  My favorite ones are the “Mirror” blades at the bottom of the pic, just because of the finish.