Michigan Walleye Tour: Detroit River/Lake Erie

First the captains meeting Friday night, and then that 4 am wake up Saturday morning and off to the Lake Erie Metro Park for the launch of the Michigan Walleye Tour’s second stop of the season.

Although this time of the year I would prefer to be pulling meat through the water column, the cold temps in the morning this weekend I think will dictate the use of my Rapala’s to get the job done.  That is if the wind predictions are about as fake as the news these days.  As of now they are calling for winds from 14 to 21 mph out of the east or northeast.  That means, quite possibly it will either be called a river only tourney, or if discretion is the better part of valor, we will make that decision ourselves and get our jig on.

Have the St. Croix rods already rigged up just in case we stay in the river.  There are some spots still producing pre-spawn females that will add weight to the bag before it goes up to the scales.  Will have the Lunker City Fin-S Fish and 4″ Wyandotte Worms, topped off with Northland Tackle Sting’r hooks on the rods for an assortment for the walleye to hit.  If the water is cloudy at all, will bulk up by either adding a live minnow, or pull out some 5 inch paddle tail minnows for the size, and little extra action that the tail will provide.

That’s the plan so far……

 

Copyright, 2017

 

 

 

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

Spring Jigging on Erie…LOVE IT

 

There is vertical jigging, which is always fun, but there is something about hitting Lake Erie in the spring and snap jigging blade baits and hair jigs that just makes you want to do it all the time.  Its a shame the season only lasts a month or so, because once you snap the rod tip, and feel the weight of the fish at the other end, its hard not to fall for this method of catching walleye.  Why bring this up now, because yesterday was a very good day on the lake!

My partner in crime, aka my neighbor Cliff and I left Bolles Harbor in the morning and made a bee line for the section of water between Turtle Island and the Toledo Light in Ohio water.   First off, let me say how disappointed I have been lately with my Windfinder app on the phone, west wind all day…not even close.  Try east, southeast all day long, but on a good note, there was hardly any wind until later in the day.

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The water itself was about as brown as I  have ever seen the lake.  No shocker, coming back from Bass Pro in Rossford, you could see that the Maumee River was pumping it out Saturday!  Hair jigs were not going to be an option.  Luckily I had gone to Domka Outdoors new shop at the outlet mall on La Plaisance Road, near the I-75 exit and picked up a few goodies for the trip yesterday, mainly  Captain Jay’s blade bait, in the Sexy Shad pattern.  It went against all accepted rules about fishing dark baits in dirty water, but I have found over the years that whites and lighter colors seem to work really well in the stained water when Erie muddies up.  We called it quits after only getting five eater sized males in three plus hours.

Funny thing, think before you speak is always a good general rule to follow, specially when you are trying to be cocky.  I pulled a classic “me”  yesterday, when I said, “The first one to four (the Ohio limit) has to buy lunch.”  Sounds good in theory, but not when I meant to say, the last one to four has to buy.  The classic fail comes into play when you realize that I was up three fish to one.  Needless to say, I bought lunch at the Harbor Inn!

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We packed up the drift bags after the fifth fish and went looking for some cleaner water.  At the northeast end of the Dumping Grounds, east of Toledo Beach Marina, we found a transition area.  The between zone, not in the soup, and not in  the blue water we saw towards Brest Bay.  Back at Turtle, you could only see the top of the drift bag, and at the new spot, the whole bag could be seen down in the water.  I grabbed my 6’8″ Legend Tournament Walleye MXF rod from St. Croix, with a white, 3/4 ounce hair jig, tipped with a four inch Fin-S Fish in Mackerel and Northland Tackle Sting’r tied on.  Why this particular color pattern, because the Fin-S was still on from last year …. and I like white in the spring!

It was game on from there, first I felt the nibbles, then I felt the weight.  The fish loved the presentation and the way I was presenting it.  Instead of the classic, exaggerated snap action with the rod, I was just bouncing it off the bottom with 6-10 inch lift and fall action.  During the second pass, I tied on the exact presentation for Cliff so he could get in on the action.  Even then, all the action was coming in the bow of the boat until I mentioned how I was just popping it slightly off the bottom and then he got in on the catching too.

To set the scene, NE corner of the grounds and the east winds had picked up a bit.  Not huge waves, but some small whitecaps.  With two bags out, we were drifting about a mile per hour, and our jigs were at a 45-50 degree angle from the rod tip to where the line entered the water.  While going over the peaks and valleys, the depths ranged from 16 to 19 foot of water, and we were constantly stretching out some more braid or taking up the slack as the bottom called for it.  Most of the fish were either stacked in front or behind the peaks.  You just knew there was going to be a bite as soon as you hit the backside of one.

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We were stuck at 11 walleye on what we thought was our last drift when he asked if we should pick up and do it again, and I said lets give it a bit more time.  Sure enough, I hooked into a monster shortly after saying that and as I reached for the net, it came unbuttoned.  Guessing it would have gone in the 8 lb range by just the glimpse I had of it’s back in the water.  Lesson to be learned, on a really big fish, ask for help and let your buddy land it for you!

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We caught a bit of everything yesterday, except for Silver Bass.  The white perch we caught were plump full of eggs, and even snagged a sheepshead down in the mud zone.  What really surprised us when I hooked into what I believed was another eater walleye, and up came a 12 inch perch, which had inhaled my Lunker City bait and squarely, just in front of the eyes,  the hook  had been driven home. There was little doubt that perch was hungry. Stands to reason, some of the best perch fishing on the Michigan side of the boundary is in those dumping grounds.

Jigging in the spring is always fun, and when you have a day like yesterday, even better.  Try on a number of baits until you get everything dialed in, maybe adjust your presentation or methods, and days like Monday happen a little more often than not.  All in all, great day on the water…and lunch wasn’t too bad either!

Copyright, 2016

 

 

 

Posted in Lake Erie, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Handlining with Traxstech Mounts

There are several ways to mount a handline reel for trolling the Detroit River, and honestly any body of water that has a fast current.  If you are from the suburbs of Detroit, know as the Downriver area, you will still find the old school method of mounting a 2 x 4″  across the bow on several boats on the river.  Unfortunately, this method was not foolproof back then or now, and as a result, several of the reels made their way to the bottom of the river.

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As I am getting the boat ready for the Michigan Walleye Tour event on the Detroit River this weekend, its hard not to have noticed both recent weather and the upcoming forecast for our area. Rain, more rain, with some snow mixed in!  Springtime in Michigan, it never fails to throw you a curve.  Last year we had an inch of snow in the boat, and had to nibble the ice off my St. Croix jigging rods.  All I needed was my Clam Kenai Pro shanty in the bow, and I would have had it made.

Unfortunately, that’s impossible to do, and even though I was dressed for the weather in all my IceArmor gear from Clam Outdoors, the conditions were not ideal.  That also means, the need to adapt to the weather, and more importantly the water conditions.  Jigging rocks, love the feel of the rod in my hand and the weight of the walleye at the other end on the jig.  Every time I go fishing, specially under tournament conditions,  there is something new to be learned, and I learned that jigging isn’t always the answer during last year’s two day event.

Church Tackle

Church Tackle

Trolling on the river is the “reel” deal when it comes to fishing dirty, fast flowing water.  Although, I would love to be able to pull my TX-22 planer boards from Church Tackle (and I still might on Sunday) the river was “double booked” this year by the MWC tour crowding in on Friday and Saturday.  This means Saturday is going to be crowded to say the least and as I stated earlier, you learn from prior experiences, and in this case, the answer is a century old, at least on the Detroit River.

Traxstech.com

Traxstech.com

 

Handlining is the solution to the problem of having a river full of boats.  Pulling wire, as it is often referred to for this method of trolling shallow running crankbaits like the Original Floating Rapala.  Which is great, have some reels already, but getting back to my mounting question, I just had to find the right answer to match up with my boat.  Enter the Michigan company, Traxstech which offers a solution for everything you want to mount on your boat, from rod holders to electronics!

Gator Jigs

Gator Jigs

 

My only issue was where to start, so I called in Paul Doute from Angler’s Quest Charters, who is also responsible for creating the Gator Jig, a must have for the Detroit River.  Who knew that someday I would be “networking” in the fishing world, but it certainly pays off with the exchange of knowledge.  Paul, who runs perch and walleye charters on Lake Erie and in the river, was able to suggest the right Traxstech equipment so I could create my own “Ultimate Fishing Experience”  when it comes to rigging the boat for handlining.

Backing Plates

Backing Plates

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6″ Track

Lets start off with the foundation for the build, the back plate is for reinforcing/stabilizing the 6″ track that I am going to use.  Since the handline reels are in a specialized location near the windshield of the boat, I went with the 6″ track system.  Even though my Crestliner has some pretty thick aluminum, I still wanted to give it the support for my own piece of mind.  Remember, you have a good chunk of change at the other end, why skimp and take a chance on losing all your gear.

Endcaps

Track End Caps

Then I got the end caps.  I wanted to make sure my mount didn’t go anywhere in the process of getting to our fishing location, or for that matter, in the process of fishing too.  It is downright foolish to take the time and investment in your equipment and not provide for every contingency that could ruin your day on the water.

Universal Bracket

Universal Bracket

The last piece for this build is the Universal Bracket, which will hold your handline reel just far enough away from the boat to ensure the proper method employed while handlining.  Notice the set screws/star bolts, this will lock the bracket into your track through friction.  Put on the end caps and stop fussing, your gear is locked in and ready to fish!

Now you are set to go handlining on the Detroit River.  Well almost, you still need your; reels, shanks, weights, and floating cranks.  Then you will be ready to hit the water fully equipped to fish the way our grand and great-grandfathers did it.  They were the masters of their craft then, and the reason why most tournament anglers still rely on this old school approach today when they hit the Detroit River.

Copyright, 2017

 

 

Posted in Fishing Websites/Stores, Product Reviews, Tournament News, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Church Tackle’s Stingray Diving Weight

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Church Tackle’s Stingray Diving Weight hit the water last year with great success, and this season they are on the market for anglers to purchase.

Stingray Diving Weights

Stingray Diving Weights

They are available in three sizes (#1, #2, #3) to match up with the depths you are fishing, and how much line you want to let out behind your Church Tackle planer boards.  The wide lip allows the weight to really dig into the water column and take your presentation down to wear the fish are located.    The unique design also allows you to fight the fish, not the weight while reeling in a walleye.  With a fish on, the back side of the weight is pulled down, bringing the bait back to the boat much easier.

Size #2

Size #2

Size #3

Size #3

For the angler’s convenience they are available in either the weights being color coated to size, or if you prefer, an unpainted version.  This is a personal choice as to which version you prefer.  Often though, it’s easier to tell someone to grab the orange weight than to try to explain the sizes while changing up presentations on the boat.

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The weights come with two large duolock snaps, for an example I hooked up this particular weight on the bottom hole, which is used when you want to drift with a weight vs using the top hole when trolling.  Also the front section of the weight’s ridged back is thicker in the front, which is why I have the snap reversed on the front.  This method of rigging the snap allows for more range of motion and to let the weight really dig into the water column. I would not attach to the main line using a swivel/snap combination, just using a snap allows the weight to track true through the water.  On the backside, I added a crane swivel and snap combination for hooking up to the lure of choice.  I you want to get less twist, then I suggest going with a ball bearing combination when you set it up.

Rapala Husky Jerk #14

Rapala Husky Jerk #14

The Stingrays can be used with various types of lures with equal effectiveness.  I would use it most often in trolling with crawler harnesses, but it can also be used with trolling spoons if that is your lure of choice.  To get shallow running cranks down in deeper water, create a six to 8 foot leader made with fluorocarbon ( I use 12 lb test) and then attach your crank bait and drop it down.  If you prefer to run a small deep diving bait, but it wont get down deep enough, like a Storm Hot n Tot or Wiggle Wart, use the same principle to equal effectiveness.

Storm Hot n Tot

Storm Hot n Tot

Copyright, 2017

 

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

Great Lake Walleye Spinner Blades: Which, Where and Why

There has been much discussion lately about the types of spinner blades to use while making, and/or using crawler harnesses to catch walleye.  I am seeing posts on Facebook and starting to get emails asking very direct questions on the subject. Why the big hoopla, you may ask?  You might even be thinking I can catch walleye with any spinner off the shelf, and to a point, you would be correct.  Put me on any body of water with a 1 ounce weight rigged on my St Croix’s, with a #4 Colorado blade equipped harness, and I will be able to catch fish.

My question for you is this, why use a crowbar to drive in a nail, when you know a 16 oz hammer will do the job better?   Yes, you will be able to drive in the nail, but with the right tool you can do it better and easier. That might be over simplifying the purpose of the article, but you get the point, or head of the nail.  With the right tool, in this case a spinner blade, you can get the task done more effectively and you will catch more fish.  So consider this when choosing the right blade for your harness, yes,  you will catch walleye with any blade you put down, BUT if you use the right blade, at the right depth…you will catch more walleye than you ever did before.

#4, #5, #6 Colorado Blades

#4, #5, #6 Colorado Blades

The venerable Colorado blade, call it t he workhorse when trolling harnesses.  Its the beast because it just goes down the water column and gets the job done.  Now lets dissect this blade and figure out how to fish it more effectively, and throw out the #4 size analogy.

For trolling your bait presentation just off the bottom, or getting down and dirty while dragging, there are two sizes that I will drop down there.  Both #5 and #6 blades will be effective in these two applications, and really for this, I will use a #6.  Actually, in most apps, the only two times I will use a #5 is either after being rejected with the bigger size, or to be honest, there was a color pattern only available in the smaller size.

For fishing 4-5 foot off the bottom, this is where I will at times go even bigger, and bump up to a #7 blade.  It looks pretty big, but I like this for bringing fish that are either just off the bottom, or to trigger a big eye to come up from the muck to nail the crawler. If I had to add one more blade for this presentation, it would be the Tomahawk, or also called, the Hatchet blade which creates a lot of “thump” while being pulled along.   If you are paying attention, you will start to see a theme as I fish higher in the water column, and yes Virginia, size does matter.

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To fish what can be called the middle grounds, or the middle of the water column, I still want some of the thump and vibration of the Colorado, but I also want to add some size and flash to the presentation.  They key here is twofold, the first, I want the fish to be able to see the blade, and the second is for the walleye to feel it going through the water.  There are three blades that will fit this technique; the Whiptail, the Chopper and large #8 Indiana blades.

#8 Indiana Blades

#8 Indiana Blades

Of the three, the Indiana will produce the least amount of vibration, but is still highly effective, because the length catches the fish’s attention.  The whiptail is perhaps my favorite for fishing the middle grounds, elongated like a willow, but with a unique curve it produces a lot of  vibration while still producing the flash I want to trigger fish from below.  You could call the chopper blade the bastard child of an Indiana and Colorado blade.  In the nose of the blade you have the shape of the indy blade, and the rear end has the cup of a Colorado.  It gives you the length to produce the flash, and the backside produces the noise.

Fishing the top of the water column can be highly effective, but more so in the spring over deep water, or when the lakes are soupy with runoff clouding things up.  Now to bring back the Indiana, love this blade when fishing up high because its produced several 10 pound plus walleye for me over the years.  Ideally, I drop it over the side when there is either cloud cover, or the water is stained.  If this sounds like 75% of your spring fishing, you should have some Indiana’s in the boat!  The length gives me my flash for triggering fish high in the water column, while still producing some thump.

Big Eye Custom Lures Willow Blades

Big Eye Custom Lures Willow Blades

Then we have the willow blade, either run a pair of #4 or #5’s in tandem, or bump it up to a #7 or #8 to run by itself, either way is highly effective.  I will say this though, I prefer the big blade to stand alone.  Often a walleye will attack and swipe at a spinning blade and miss the hooks, having a teaser in the front with no bite, often leads to missed hits.  Others may say something different, but that  has been my experience.

When, where and why for the willow blade?  Obviously I am talking about the upper section of the water column.  This blade produces the most flash of all the blades written about previously, but little in the noise/thump department.  That’s ok, I like willows in clear sky conditions, or when I am doing a zig-zag troll in and out of lightly stained water, and crossing back over to clean water.  Often I can get fish to chase baits out of the soup and attack the bait in clear water.

These are the blades I use, and although not always used in these defined situations, they tend to be the best presentations, under the prescribed conditions.  Is this the ironclad rule, far from it, but they are the guidelines I use, much like the 50 degree water temp rule is for changing from pulling cranks, to when its time to start dragging meat.  Meaning there is some crossover, and don’t get so rigid in the usage of the blades, but I think you will catch more walleye if you follow these suggestions.

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Now this last blade, is just to show off because I was lucky enough to get some when Fishlander went out of business.  Since they were also a trolling spoon company, they produced Super Glow paint schemes.  They made a run of Colorado blades with the glow paint, and if you can special order some from one of the companies out there, I highly recommend that you do.  The glow blades shine in low light conditions, murky water and night fishing, plus the glow lasts for two to three hours.

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Copyright, 2017

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

2017 Michigan and Ohio Fishing Licenses

Just purchased my Michigan and Ohio fishing licenses for the 2017 season.

Your Michigan license is good until the end of the month of March, but the new year went on sale March 1st if you want to get that out of the way!

Nothing new to report with the Ohio licenses, but your 2016 ended on Feb 28th, so you need a new one to fish the other side of the line.  Also, remember that the walleye limit is back down to four 15 inch fish, until it goes back up to six on April 1st.

Posted in DNR Updates | Leave a comment

The TX-007: The Rattlin’ Planer Board

 

TX-007 Stern Planer

TX-007 Stern Planer

The TX-007 Stern Planer Board from Church Tackle, radicalized the way walleye anglers attack walleye through the water column. Instead of ignoring 1/3 rd of your track through the water, the -007 lets you target the fish that you actually see on your graph and the depths you see them at.

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When you add some noise, you kick it up a notch.  On the -007 Stern Planer, there is a plug in the back of the cone that allows anglers to adjust how the planer rides by adding or subtracting water.  Instead of doing that, pull the plug and add some regular air gun type BB’s, a dozen to 15 will do the trick.  It creates a lot of noise.

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When running 75-100 ft behind the boat, I like to run the TX-007’s down in the water column, almost off the bottom.  If I extend my distance between the boat and the planer, I like to target the top of the water column with a high running bait like these willow blades from Big Eye Custom Lures.  This application also works well in the spring with shallow running baits like Husky Jerks from Rapala.

Big Eye Custom Lures Willow Blades

Big Eye Custom Lures Willow Blades

You couple the fish calling noise of the BB’s in the -007, and then run a crank 20 to 3o behind the planer, or a harness with a light 1/4 or 3/8ths oz weight, you have created a highly effective fish catching combination.  The BB rattles in the -007’s call the fish in, while the lure presentation catches them.  How effective is it, when I run the TX-007’s I find that they catch just as much fish as my TX-22 or Walleye Boards do while running off the sides of the boat.

Church Tackle Stingrays

Church Tackle Stingrays

Just one more way to use the innovative products that Church Tackle continues to produce.  Try this application with their new Stingray diving weight, specifically in the #1 size, the far right one in the picture above.  The Stingrays track true and dig in the water column, allowing you to fish deeper with less line behind the planer.  This makes the rattles even more effective.

Copyright, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Right Walleye Rod for the Task at Hand: Jigging

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I saw a post on Facebook asking what would a good walleye jigging rod, and naturally I thought to myself, I have a St. Croix Rod for that.  Then I started thinking, how can I apply this to other walleye fishing applications?    Since I am proud to be associated with St. Croix, my examples will be Croix’s jigging rods, but for the reader, think of this in more general terms.  To the point, look for these characteristics when you are looking for a rod to do a certain task.

Avid Spin

Avid Spin

River Jigging Rods:  Whether it is in a river surrounding or snap jigging on the big water or inland lake, I want my rods to have an extra fast action.  I mentioned this in an ice fishing article when I was talking recently about using the Avid ice rods, the tip loads up fast and then the backbone of the rod sets the hook for you.  My two set-ups I have involve the Avid Series and then the Legend Tournament Walleye Series rods, both in spinning models.  I run the 59 and 63 MXF rods in each series, that means a 5’9″ rod in one hand, usually on a structure side of the boat, maybe a breakwall for instance.  In the other hand,  6’3″ rod, more often than not I am using two rods at the same time.  I have the handles on the spinning rods set up so I can reel with either hand when I have a fish on.  After a little practice, it’s not hard to do and highly recommend a little patience while you get used to it.

Legend Walleye

Legend Walleye

If anyone tells you that you need a medium heavy rod to fish a fast current like the Detroit River, to use an old term, balderdash!  If you were to survey 100 professional anglers, I would say that only 5% use anything heavier than a medium rod.  That said, if you go with a lesser quality rod, you might need that extra power to get the same hookset that you would with either of the two St. Croix models I mentioned already.

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Snap Jigging:  Snap jigging can be referred to two particular methods when fishing for walleye.  The first, since I live pretty close to Lake Erie, will start with the drift and snap version.  This method employs the use of drift bags to slow your “troll”, which means, instead of casting to cover water, let the boat do the work for you.  Your line enters the water at roughly a 45 degree angle and when you feel bottom, snap your rod tip up, and then let it settle back to the bottom.  In order to keep that 45′ angle, change the weights of your presentations accordingly based on your drift speed.

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The other version entails anchoring in one position, using your electric trolling motor most often.  While doing this method, don’t take the word anchoring too literally, but if you want to throw out an anchor, you can if you want, but if you doing a controlled drift over an area, this method still applies.  Simply cast your bait (hair jig, blade bait, lipless rattle, or jigging minnow) and wait for it to hit bottom.  At this point, you snap the rod tip back, reel in some slack, and while keeping a tight line, wait for the presentation to make contact with the lake bottom and repeat.  You will feel the bite at either of two times, first when you snap the jig, or when you start to reel in the slack on the fall, so be ready to set the hook if anything feels “off”.  This can be done on big water like Lake Erie, or a inland body of water like Houghton Lake.

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In order to accomplish this method, again I will point to the Avid and LTWS rods, but will also mention a few more options.  My favorite rod for this method comes in either series, both 68 MXF.  More length than the river style jigging rod for taking up the slack over a greater distance, for lighter lures (since you can be casting) you can use a Medium Light Xtra Fast action, and St. Croix makes this in a 6’9″ rod in either series. If you like a casting reel, this is where this combination of rod and reel shines.

Premier Casting

Premier Casting

Legend Bass

Legend Bass

One of my first St. Croix’s that I bought off the shelf, was a Premier 7 ft Medium, Fast action casting rod.  If you were to compare this to a spinning rod, you will see the rating is a bit stiffer than the spinning models.  If you want a better rod, then look to the Legend Tournament Bass Series,   there is a 6’8″ and 6’10” rod in MXF that will make this method work like a beast.   There is also a 6’10” MLXF, if  you are finessing a bit on an inland lake.

To sum it up, there is a St. Croix rod for that.  And in all seriousness, there is one that will fit either of these types of jigging, and whether or not you want to stay traditional and use a spinning reel, or break out the casting reels and get it done like that.  Regardless, when it comes to jigging, you will be prepped for the lakes or rivers with either of these two methods.

Copyright, 2017

Posted in Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Ice Fishing the Fronts: When to go BIG

While everything is still fresh in my mind, let’s get this out there.  Just got back Monday night from fishing a NAIFC ice tournament on Lake St. Helen here in Michigan.  We weight in 8 crappie and eight bluegill, and for what seems like at least five years or so, we actually had two straight days of solid weather.

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What does this mean for an angler trying to get a heavy bucket to the scale,  it means you can fish a bigger jig than you normally would put down the hole.  A little background information, the crappies tend to run much bigger than bluegill, and they tend to bite better in the morning than when the clock starts ticking towards noon.  Because of these two main reasons, they normally get targeted first by anglers fishing the tourneys.

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Normally, in the tourneys  the size of the jigs tend to run smaller than most people use.  A 2 or 2.5 mm jig, with a 18 or 16 hook, would be the norm, with the occasional 3 mm/#14 jig being used.  When you have a few days in a row with stable weather fronts holding over a lake, you can fudge the numbers a bit to the bigger sizes.

500-8

Since we were fishing in 10 foot or less of water depths on Lake St. Helen. I chose to start my morning crappie hunt off with a 4 mm/#12 tungsten jig.  I started off with a silver jig, rigged with plastic.  Silver and plastic combinations tend to be good crappie presentations, but after getting rejected once, I grabbed another rod with a blue 4 mm jig, and hooked on three spikes (a fancy word for maggots) and dropped it down the hole.  My partner and I were fishing a good weedbed,  and I started off pounding the presentation two foot above the vegetation.

As they say, game on!  My first two holes produced 10 inch crappie.  After hole hopping a bit, I had four more in the bucket.  Then around 10 am, I went back to my original hole and got my biggest one of the day,  right at 11 inches in length.  Not a huge one, but for the bite on St. Helen, it was a good fish.

At this point it was time to move and try to get on some gills to finish off our bucket for the weigh-in.  Unfortunately for my partner and I, this is where the train came off the tracks.  We never caught any of the fish that we had found during our days spent pre-fishing.  For the record though, I dropped down to a smaller 2.5 mm jig and livebait presentation.  The thought process was simple, the gills we found were more finicky than the crappie.  Plus, by the time we wrapped up our crappie, most of the weedbeds that held fish had been driven across, and pounded by other anglers.  It was time to coax them into biting by going into finesse mode.

Point of the article is this, when weather patterns hold steady for a few days, the fish will adjust.  Won’t say that they get comfortable, but through years of observation, they do tend to get more aggressive for that initial morning bite.  If you are a panfish ice angler, in these conditions, do not be afraid to go a bit bigger out of your comfort zone.  Also, since we were fishing in somewhat shallow water, that is the reason I went with the 4 mm presentation.  Under these same weather conditions, and I had been fishing in deeper water for crappie, I would drop a 5 mm/#10 jig through the holes in a heartbeat.

 

Copyright, 2017

 

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St. Croix Rods 2017 Winter Sale

Buy a Rod, Get a Free Shirt

Buy a Rod, Get a Free Shirt

Latest promotion for the spring of 2017;  Buy a rod, and get a free tee…and worry less!

 

Big discounts on ice fishing and headwear gear over on the St. Croix Rods website.

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Avid Glass Ice Rods

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Avid Jigging Rods :  My favorite walleye rods!

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Legend Silver Ice Rods:

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Mojo Ice Rods:

Super Finesse Spring Bobber Variety Pack: Four pack to cover all your bases!

Super Finesse Springs:  You pick the ones you need!

Head Gear:  Hats, Sun Masks and Beanies

Search the website for other great products and sales from St. Croix Rods…the best rods on earth!

 

Copyright, 2017

 

 

 

 

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