Archive for March, 2012

Stinger Hook Storage When Fishing Jigs

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I came up with this idea before the spring bite took off, and after using it on the water, its awesome.


I took a foam pad, and cut it in half ( I know, the best cutting job I ever did with a pair of scissors),  took the straight edges of the foam, punched in two holes and loosely attached with zip ties.  This formed a cover to protect the hooks (and myself).  It was so handy this weekend just to be able to open, grab a new one and flip the “lid” back down.  No messing with tangled hooks is definitely a good thing!

Warning:  this is extremely light in weight, so if its windy out on the water, store in a somewhat sheltered area.


Copyright, 2012

Jigging Hair on Lake Erie over the Weekend

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Saturday was a nice start, Sunday was even better!

Started Sunday out with running through the fog out to the Toledo Light to do an East to West drift back towards Turtle Island.  A quarter mile into it using blade baits and nothing, mean while, watched three guys from Ohio snapping hair jigs put a few into the net.  Problem was we didn’t pick up any minnows at Matthews Bait ‘n’ Tackle on the way out.  It was a good thing that I had brought my river plastics bag with me for the trip and I busted out some Alewife and Glow 4 inch Fin-S minnows and settled on white and chartreuse/green jigs.  After a couple of hits on the glow and putting three fish in the box on the alewife bait, I was glad that Captain Dan from  had been at the MI-OH Sportfishing show in Feb.  That’s where I got the Fin-S minnows from in the first place anticipating heading up to the Detroit River at some point this spring.

Since we had a late start on Saturday, the gear was rigged up already, we decided to hit it again on Sunday morning and see what damage we could do.  We hit Matthews in the morning and grabbed some nice looking walleye minnows before launching again out of Bolles and heading south towards the dumping grounds.  Started a drift that lasted 20 minutes or so, and came up empty.  Pulled up the socks and headed for the Toledo Light.

Set up the drift socks and settled in for the first pass with the wind coming out of the Northwest. Got one, two more on the white jig.  Nothing had been cooking on the green jig combo from Saturday, so switched up and pulled another white jig out, but rigged it with Northland’s new Impulse 3.5″ Paddle Minnow in Smelt.  I was jigging with two St. Croix rods, my 6’3″ Avid in my left, and 6’8″ in my right, both MXF.  The key is to have the handles set up so when a fish gets on, you can drop the opposite rod, and start reeling with your newly freed hand.  It might take a little bit of practice, but its not too hard really.  In the meantime, my neighbor switches over to white also, and since he had been losing too many emeralds, he rigged his jig with a 4″ Fathead Smelt Minnow.


We get a few more fish and then we lost track of them for a little while.  A buddy calls out on the radio and reports back that they are doing well on blade baits.  My neighbor starts thinking out loud about putting a new blade on, then his rod doubles over like it was on cue and pulls up a nice eye. Being the jokester, I have to ask him what color blade he was going to try now?  The hair jig stayed on!

As the day progressed, we pick a few more here and there, but because the wind kept shifting, we would angle our drifts to go back over the “hot spot”.  Eventually we got our 8 fish Ohio limit and since we had some time to spare we headed for Michigan waters to try and get four more over the line.  Set up in front of Consumers and in ten to 15 minutes I caught the last four, splitting the catch on both the Fin-S and Smelt minnows.  We pulled the lines and headed back to the harbour,calling it a day.

All the fish we caught were males, ranging from 15.25 to 24 inches, with one throwback which measured at 14.5 inches. Probably lost seven more fish on the way up.  Not a bad day for four or five passes out on the lake.

Copyright, 2012

Perch Fishing: make your own rigs, make a kit at home, adapting and putting fish in the cooler

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

Recently I mailed off some perch rigs to Warren, Michigan, and it got me thinking about creating a post with a collection of previous topics.  Call it a volume of perch information, all in one post.

How to make a standard Perch/Crappie rig:

Create your own kit at home, complete with snells, weights, and rigs:

Some techniques and equipment to make your perch fishing experience a better one:

Taking an existing idea, and making it more effective while perch fishing:

And a little more “do-it-yourself” info:

Copyright, 2012

Captain Jay’s Blade Baits: How to fish, and where to find them

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

I had an opportunity again this spring to talk to Captain Jay Nieman at the MI-OH Sportfishing Show, and with the spring blade bite in full swing, no time like the present to review some key information to make your next trip successful.

First off, if you have never jigged with one of Capt. Jay’s blade baits its a good idea to watch this video that was featured on the Michigan Out-of-Doors show.

To get another look at a previous post from last year,  you can click on this link below….

One of the best places to find them is located right here in Michigan, TJ’s carries the hottest Lake Erie colors for only $3.50 each.  Go to “Color Select”, and choose a color you want to see and it will display the blade pattern.  To go straight to the “blade page”  follow this link below….

Without a doubt this is the type of fishing you want to be doing this year with the water being cloudy again this spring.  The vibration of the lift call them in, and the fall triggers the bite.  Last spring was a LOT of fun, snap the jig up, come down with a controlled fall, then when you go to snap the jig up again, you feel the weight and then the rod tip would bend over with a fish on the other end.  There is nothing like catching walleyes with one of these baits on a rod and reel combination, its a whole new ball game when you are used to trolling.

Copyright, 2012

Michigan DNR Fishing Report: 3/22/2012

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Southeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Warm weather has fish running early. Perch and walleye are spawning now, which is about ten days earlier than normal. Anglers who normally wait until April to fish perch in the rivers will want to get out there now so you don’t miss the run.

Lake Erie: Is producing walleye for those jigging or trolling. It will likely still be a week or two before the fishing really heats up but those willing to accept fewer bites could have a chance at some large fish that are usually present in the early spring. Limit catches were reported in Ohio waters.

Huron River: Is producing carp and small bluegills. For steelhead try Flat Rock.

Detroit River: Boat anglers are catching walleye in most of the river including the Trenton Channel.

Clinton River: Is producing suckers.

Harbor Beach: Boat anglers are heading out but no reports came back in. The Edison Plant has been operating and discharging water down the channel, but it appears to have attracted a lot of carp. This is a good time for anglers to have some fun while fighting some really big fish.

Saginaw Bay: Boat angler were launching at the mouth of the Pine River and perch fishing out near the commercial nets off Palmer Road however be ready to sort out the small ones as it appears the warm weather may have temporarily driven the bigger fish out to deeper water. Boat anglers are catching a good number of walleye off the Pinconning Bar as well as between Linwood and Parish Road. Try crawler harnesses, crank baits, husky jerks, reef runners or shad-raps in 16 to 22 feet of water. Perch fishing at Bay Port and the Bayshore Marina was hit-or-miss, but both spots are worth looking into on any give day. Lots of shore fishing at Caseville where a few nice perch were caught. Pier anglers also caught a couple whitefish and a few walleye. At Port Austin, they are getting a few perch at the mouth of Bird Creek.

Saginaw River: Boat anglers are catching perch from the marina basins.

Quanicassee River: Has lots of shore anglers catching and sorting perch however they are getting enough bigger ones to keep them fishing.

Sebewaing River: Also has a lot of perch anglers.



Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Inland lake fishing for bluegills and crappie is starting to pick-up. Carp have already been spotted in shallow waters.

New Buffalo: Is producing some limit catches of coho and steelhead.

Dowagiac River: Has good steelhead fishing.

St. Joseph: Anglers were catching steelhead and catfish from the piers.

St. Joseph River: Steelhead fishing has been good especially near the Berrien Springs Dam. Sucker fishing was also good.

Silver Lake: In Branch County is starting to produce a fair number of bluegill.

Union Lake: In Branch County was giving up some 10 inch perch. Those fishing along the east end of the lake caught redears.

Kalamazoo River: Still has good steelhead fishing however the run will be winding down soon.

Grand River at Grand Rapids: Is producing steelhead and catfish.

Grand River at Lansing: The occasional steelhead has been caught over at Moore’s Park Dam and at the point where the Grand meets the Red Cedar. Anglers are using spawn, spinners or crank baits. Good colors to try are chartreuse and fire-tiger. Catfish are hitting on dead minnows, stink baits, crawlers and small bluegills.

Lake Interstate: Is producing some nice bluegills in deeper water. Try a wax worm under a slip bobber. The lake is south of Lansing towards Potterville.

Jackson: Boats are taking to the inland lakes for panfish.

Lake Ovid: A few boat anglers are getting out but catch rates were still slow in part due to the cold water temperatures.

Muskegon River: Has good steelhead fishing.

Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Alpena: Brown trout are being caught near shore. A lot of people are trying for walleye in Thunder Bay, but it takes a while for Lake Huron to warm up even with this fine weather.

Thunder Bay River: Is producing a fair number of steelhead.

Harrisville: Has a good number of steelhead in the harbor including fresh fish. The DNR began planting fish here as part of stocking method study. The fish have a coded-wire tag in their snouts that will tell the division what stocking method they represent. Be sure to contact us if you catch one of these fish.

Au Sable River: Has a good number of steelhead.

Tawas Bay: Pier anglers inside the harbor are sorting perch and generally getting enough keepers. Boat anglers fishing outside the breakwall caught a few lake trout, whitefish, walleye or the odd brown trout. Most are still-fishing with minnows or spawn. Walleye action off the mouth of the river was slow but those going further south and fishing off Whitestone Point caught lake trout, a couple salmon and the odd brown trout when trolling body baits in 20 feet of water.

Tawas River: Has steelhead in the lower river and suckers are starting to run.

Au Gres: Those trolling caught a few walleye in 20 feet of water off Point Lookout.

Au Gres River: Is producing perch however you will need to sort out the small ones.

Rifle River: The sucker runs are underway and a good number of them have been caught on sponges. Fish were up as far as the Melitta Road Bridge. Anglers will want to get out because the rapidly warming waters could make for a short spawning season.

Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report

Frankfort: Pier anglers casting spawn and spoons have caught brown trout. Boat anglers are also getting some fish when trolling body baits.

Betsie River: Has good steelhead action.

Lake Cadillac: Anglers are starting to target crappie however the ice just came off the lake so water temperatures are still cold.

Manistee: Pier anglers casting spawn and spoons have caught brown trout. Boat anglers are also getting some fish when trolling body baits.

Manistee River: Has lots of steelhead for the taking. Try tossing flies or jigs with wax worms. Anglers are reminded that the Little Manistee River is closed to fishing until April 1st.

Ludington: Boat and pier anglers have started to catch brown trout.

Pere Marquette River: Steelhead fishing is very good with lots of fish in the river.


Upper Peninsula Fishing Report

Keweenaw Bay: Those fishing off the rock dock next to the L’Anse Marina have caught a couple steelhead on spawn bags. Boat anglers are heading out and catching coho, brown trout and steelhead when trolling in 20 to 40 feet of water from the L’Anse Marina to the red rocks at the head of the Bay and between Sand Point and Old Mission. Those jigging caught lake trout.

Marquette: Both the Upper and Lower Harbors are ice free. The launch ramps are open but the docks were not in yet. The beach access off the bubblers has been closed by the city due to the warm weather. Anglers were mainly coho fishing off the bubblers. A few boats are trolling between the Carp River and the Chocolay River.

Menominee: Boats trolling near the mouth and along the shoreline are targeting walleye and trout when jigging a minnow or trolling rapalas. Catch rates for trout were slow but those targeting walleye have caught a fair to good number of fish.

Menominee River: The surface water temperature was 42 degrees. Anglers were trolling from the mouth up to the Hattie Street Dam for trout and walleye. Shore anglers were doing well for walleye on Stephenson Island and on both sides of the river near the dam. Early morning or late evening produced the better catches. Most anglers were jigging with zip lures or using jigs with minnows but a few nice fish were also caught by those casting rapalas.

Cedar River: Has opened up but the stretch between the mouth and first rapids was high. The high water levels along with the speed of the flow will make steelhead fishing difficult. Those trolling north and south along the shoreline of Green Bay have caught a few walleye and pike when trolling spoons.

Little Bay De Noc: Ice season is officially over, even though the Bay is still ice covered in most areas it is breaking up and is not safe. The North Shore launch has been opened but the docks were not in as of this report. The warm temperatures have shore anglers heading out to fish for steelhead in the rivers.

Au Train: Is ice free. The Brownstone launch is usable for boat access but the dock was not in. Anglers fishing offshore at the Rock River caught a couple steelhead on a single egg. Boat anglers were trolling for coho but no catches were reported.

Munising: Small craft may now launch at both Sand Point and the Anna River. The city launch was also ice free however the docks were not in. Ice is no longer a concern for boat anglers. Coho action was slow for those jigging or trolling. A few splake were caught and those jigging from small boats did catch some whitefish.

Grand Marais: The bay is ice free and the launch has been partially dredged. Small to mid-size craft should be able to launch now. The pier has some open fishing near the Lighthouse Museum but the rest of the pier is still covered with ice and snow which should melt rapidly with the warm temperatures.

Munuscong: The ice is going quick so anglers need to use extreme caution. A few perch were caught west of Dan’s Resort but anglers were staying in 2 feet of water.

Cedarville and Hessel: Have bad ice, conditions are no longer safe.

Carp River: Steelhead are starting to show up near the mouth.

Time for Crawler Harnesses: another crazy spring

Monday, March 19th, 2012

If the bite hasn’t started already, it will be soon.  If the guys up on Saginaw Bay are already pulling meat with success, Erie cannot be far behind.  With surface temps almost reaching 55 degrees inside Brest Bay over the weekend, that time should be now.  The only reason I would temper the enthusiasm is because out in the main lake where the water was clean temps were back down to 48.7′.  Even last year when the water was superheated by the silt and sun combination, it was still the end of April before we started pulling meat on the spinner rigs.

This year I must admit, I am way behind on tying my snells, which means I haven’t even started yet!  After stripping the rigs last fall, I still have to sort out my hooks, and put the ones that need to be fine tuned into the “needs to be sharpend pile”.  After not touching up some of these hooks, the pile has gotten pretty big.  Its time to find a good hook sharpener and get busy one night and knock them out.

Reef Runner Colors: where to get the newest versions for 2012

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I know I just wrote up a piece for custom colors, but if you want something off the peg that will get the job done, there is only one website I have found that consistently has the newest patterns first, and that is  Here are some of the new colors below:


Bam Bam



Toxic Purple


Frost Bite


Dr Electrode



Psycho Susie



Copyright, 2012

Jig Clamps from TJ’sTackle

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Last month I went into full gear getting ready to jig the Detroit River in case I would get blown off the lake in April during the MWT tourney.  One thing to do was build up the jig collection, and to paint them I ordered the 3 inch powder paint fluid bed from .   Also, part of that first order was 3 extra cups and some new colors.  I learned two things very quickly, the first being that the fluid beds really do produce the most even coat on a jig, and secondly, I was going to have to cure them in an oven before getting them wet.  After dropping one, I had to repaint the spot where the paint had chipped off.
I played around with making some different type racks to cure the jigs in the oven.  I was lacking in the necessary skills to construct something out in the shop, and broke down and ordered the jig clamps from the website. Got them yesterday in the mail, and from 3 pm till 11:30 pm last night, would rotate two racks at a time into the toaster oven, which allowed the first two racks to cool off during the 20 min cure time, at 350′ degrees.  I used an old toaster oven that had been replaced with a newer one out in the shop, and had it running the whole time, worked like a champ.

Five minutes after taking a rack out, the jigs were cool enough to handle and I would hook them over the edge of a big coffee can/hanging inside to avoid Sparty the curious kitten from getting hooked himself.  Then would reload those two racks and wait for the timer to go off to start the process all over again.  I quickly noticed that while placing the jigs in the clamps that you do not need to push the hook section too deeply behind the orange material.  In fact, if you do so, it will result in some tearing.  The clamps are tight enough/stable enough so it is not necessary, just push the bend down to where the pointed barb is at the edge.

Halfway through the whole process, I realized that if you angle the jigs about  70′, with the eye up, that the paint around the eye would not close in, which makes it very difficult to clean again.  This way the paint just melts down and blends back over the jig’s top section.  Comes out nicely this way, and a very even top coat.

Its not an exaggeration with TJ’s claim in the video’s on the website that paint won’t bust bust off or chip, but that  you can still dent the lead after the curing is done.  I dropped a few to the cement floor, and that’s exactly what happened.  Was really impressed with the whole set up, from start to finish.  If you decide to start jigging in the spring, or in the river all year long, it will pay dividends to visit the website and get started.

Sidenote, if you want to check out the product in person, TJ’s Tackle will be set up with a full display at the Grand Rapids show this weekend!

Copyright, 2012

Get in on Church Tackle’s Gift Promotion

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Get a free gift when you purchase $20.00 or more off the website for a limited time.  Planer boards, flag kits, snap weights and more gear available online.

Newest Trend in Walleye Crankbaits is Custom Painting

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Fishing is anything, if not a true sport that follows the latest trends in techniques, baits and technological advances.  Remember the red hook and line phase?  Look in the shops and check out all the newest electronics with their side scanning capabilities on the tech side of the sport.  Baits are no different, or any less crucial when it comes to walleye fishing.  The difference is that in the newest trend, you actually takes an existing bait, and makes them even better.

Custom painting is not really new to the fishing world, my first experience with it revolved around taking chewed up muskie baits and getting them repainted locally.  Now, I am not saying it all started with muskie lures, but if you look around the Midwestern states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, many of the roots can be traced back to these big lures.

These days its not muskies baits, but the walleye baits turn to get a new coat of paint.  The difference is in that for most cases they not are getting the new face lift because of bite marks and paint chips.  Perfectly good baits are getting a new look offered only outside the normal channels, custom painting walleye cranks has become an ever expanding cottage industry throughout the states were walleye are prevalent.  What started I believe in Michigan with big numbers, has spread to Wisconsin and beyond.

In some cases you provide the baits, while in others you can buy the bait already painted.  Regardless, you are going to pay for the bait, paint material and expertise that it takes in creating these gems, so be prepared to pay anywhere from ten to twelve dollars.  Being the economical angler that I am, I too suffered from sticker shock at first, just at first though.  It was not long before I hit the water with a few of these baits and enjoyed success landing several NICE fish on the waters of Lake Erie.

My first experience came through Captain C.J. Baker  (Puddle Jumper Charters) and Wolverine Tackle .  I had just met C.J. and Chip at the Bass Pro fishing weekend at Great Lakes Crossing.  Not two weeks later, I ran into them again in Port Clinton while they were dropping off some custom painted Reef Runners.  They were painted up like  Silver Streak’s Pink Panties pattern and I picked up a couple based on the success I had the year before with the blade on my crawler harnesses.  Now when you visit a fishing show where Chip/Wolverine has a booth, the custom painted cranks have a permanent place in their display booth.

My next experience with custom baits came through the website which has evolved into .  These customs are under the JT’s Custom Tackle banner and are painted locally here in Michigan.  They are painted by tournament angler’s because they know what patterns will put more fish in the livewells of dedicated walleye anglers everywhere. If you were at the MI-OH Sportfishing Show here in Monroe, you had a chance to see many of these Deep Husky Jerks (Rapala DHJ-12′s) up close.

Since last July I started fishing blades available from Big Eye Custom Lures, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  That was the first year I believe that Don Dumas, the owner and tourney angler himself, started to really get involved with custom painting cranks. After spending a winter building up some inventory, Big Eye now has these custom painted Reef Runner 800′s and Rapala Deep Husky Jerks (DHJ-12′s) available on his website :  .  They have been selling fast so email Don or keep checking back, for availability.  If you have some baits already, you can mail them to Green Bay to get painted as well.

These guys are just a few of the people that I have experience with already, and have fished their baits with success.  There are more out there, and look forward to putting more patterns of these custom beauties in the water and seeing the boards jump back with a fish on.  When I do, will keep everyone updated with the latest sucess story.

Copyright, 2012