3rd Season Prep for Big Walleye

 

 

Big Eye Custom Lures

Time to break out those deep running, minnow imitating, rattling and jointed kind of baits.  It’s that time of the year for the 3 rd Season of Walleye Fishing to begin in earnest.  That wonderful time of the year when big walleye are in our home waters and you get a chance for that monster to come back to the boat!

First check a few things off your to-do list, just simple things that can wreck your day on the water if you don’t do them.  The biggest thing is to take a good look at your line,  if it doesn’t pass the test, re-spool the linecounters.  These reels are a must have, and I have my old trustworthy Daiwa SG 27 LCA’s rigged up with 15 pound mono.  Before anyone gets their hair up, yes I know its above the suggested 10 lb rating for the dive charts, but I have my reasons.  For one thing I can pretty much assure you that the fish are not scared off by the bigger sized line out on the Great Lakes, and I will include Lake St. Clair in that statement.  How do I know, because my crawler harnesses are rigged with the same line, but with seven-foot leads of 20 lb test.  Hasn’t exactly hurt my catch rate!  Second reason, the difference in diameter is minimal.  I know that if I am marking fish down at 17 foot of water, if I let out enough line to get down to that 17 ft mark, that my baits will run above their heads.  Why is this important, just remember that fish feed up, and rarely down below them.

Next up, check your electronics.  What I really mean is, check your batteries.  Nothing can ruin your experience worse than just not being able to fish.  Check those trolling batteries, starting battery (ies) and accessory battery if you are running one.  It doesn’t take long and it would be worth any amount of time to get that out-of-the-way.  Since ignition requires a spark, check your plugs too.  If the engine doesn’t start, you cannot fish.

Last up, hardware which  can include a variety of things.  If you have been running the same snap on your line all season, give it an inspection.  This small item will be the cheapest item on your list if it needs to be replaced.  Not sure what kind of snap to use, I use a #2 Duolock snap.  #2’s are a good size, and you can use a #1 or even a #3, but to paraphrase Goldilocks, for me the #2 is just right.  Why the duolock, because the snap has a natural round bend which allows the bait to work itself back and forth as it was intended too.  Back before we knew that split rings would cut your line, it was common place to tie the Rapala knot for the lure to achieve the same action.

Checking your hardware also means inspecting your other gear, like the hardware on your planer boards.  I give my Church Tackle boards a thorough inspection.  Give the double action flag system a quick run through, and check tensions and I am ready to roll, or troll to be more precise!

All of these tips are little in the grand scheme of catching a big fish, but if you do not do them bad things can happen.  I have said it before, it could be the difference between catching that big fish, or watching it break-off at the boat.  4th Season is just around the corner, it wouldn’t hurt for you to catch up on that checklist for your ice fishing gear too!

Copyright, 2018

 

 

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

Getting the Jigs ready for the Tourney: Powder Painting

I have three large cases filled with jigs in 3/8th, 1/2 and 5/8ths ounce jigs and yet I felt the need to pour over 160 jigs and tame my wild hair fixation.  Throw in 50 more jigs from Angler’s Quest and the paint lab was a busy place the past few days.  Finally wrapped it up yesterday while cleaning out the eyes of the jigs and put in their cases.

One of my favorite colors in John Deere Green, both for hair jigs and vertical jigging .  The fluid beds from TJ’s Tackle make everything easier.  Before I discovered the fluid beds, I hated dealing with powder; the constant fluffing, uneven distribution and clumping led to some terrible results.

Here are the samples I did using the jigs from Angler’s Quest, and since I will be fishing a tourney this weekend on the Saginaw River, these are half ounce.  I had 50 to play with and went with 12 colors, four each and with the two leftover, I added an extra to two proven colors, Firetiger and Blue Ice.

Super Glows

The Super Glows were hard to do, only because of the difficulty in choosing which patterns to create.  I used some standard spoon references and some inspiration from past winner from my colorado collection for harnesses.  From left to right;  Yellow Tail, Erie Watermelon, Boy Girl and Ludington Watermelon.

The Ice Collection

The ladies love ice, at least that’s the game plan for these four jigs.  Technically these are “Disco” paints from TJ’s and I use them for the base color of the jigs.  From left to right;  Confusion (ish), Blue Ice, Copper Perch and Detroit Gold.

The Greens

These last four might have been the toughest to choose, but while looking through my other boxes I whittled down the choices until these four winners stood alone.  Left to right for the last time;  Antifreeze, John Deere Green, Firetiger and Pimp Daddy.  Like Blue Ice, Pimp Daddy was inspired by the plastics from Lunker City.

Copper Perch

One of my thoughts for this tourney was to come up with some new approaches to try for finicky walleye.  Making up some hair jigs seemed like a logical decision.  Most of my hair jigs are made with the Ultra Minnow jig mold, but in this instance on the Saginaw River, I wanted more of a drop that can be provided with the Walleye Jig mold.  The Copper Perch has a copper flashabou core, then wrapped with medium olive craft fur.

Blue Ice

The Ice in Blue Ice

One of the hair jigs I knew I had to create was Blue Ice.  It’s a jig head that produces, and a rubber body that also does extremely well.  Really this was the no-brainer in the decision making process.  To get the ice effect I used two colors of flashabou.  The top section of the core is blue, while the bottom is silver.  The outer layer is blue craft fur, then the belly section is a fine white fiber version of craft fur.  In the water, the blue and white would stand on its own, add in the ice that will shine through the fur and should be a deadly combination.

There are more hair versions, including Firetiger, John Deere and even Purple Ice, but I think you get the idea.  Besides I have to pack up the gear and prep before heading to Bay City tomorrow.  That and work on a short shopping list at Frank’s Great Outdoors to replace some beat up hooks on …. nevermind, that’s top secret for now!

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Accessorizing the FLX-20 Genz Pack

It’s not a secret for anyone that knows me, I run Vexilar through the ice, in fact I use my Vex all year-long.  Its been a great 14 years with the company as a member of their staff, it is a great company and the units have never once failed me.  My favorite platform has been the Genz Pack from day one, so when it was time to choose my units for the year I jumped on the chance to pick up the FLX-20 mounted on the blue box.

DD-100

There are two things I have always added to my Genz Boxs since they came out with my very first FL-22 HD, first of which is the DD-100.  This little device serves two purposes, the first of which is to act as a battery status indicator.  To be honest, I have never hit that little yellow button since I charge my batteries after each use and a Vexilar will run for days on a charge.  The second feature is that it gives you a digital depth reading,  this I use for a quick reference for setting my dial on the unit itself.

Neoprene Cover

The second accessory is really the one must have for me when it comes to fishing with the Genz Pack.  I have never used a soft pack with the blue box, which left the flat screens of the units unprotected from scratches while traveling.  I treat my equipment like gold and I would be a little more than upset if one of the units ever got nicked up.  Vexilar makes a neoprene cover and for $10, I call it cheap insurance!

The Glo-Ring

This year Vexilar came out with a new accessory that I knew was going to be part of my favorite platform, the Glo-Ring.  I like glow lures, but like many people I get caught up in the moment and often forget to charge my lures up before dropping them down the hole.  The ultra-violet Glo-Ring makes the process easy, no more fumbling around in my pockets for the typical flashlight devices.  The installation was a breeze, just attach the bracket to my blue box, and slide the ring into it.

It has a built-in On and Off switch which easily mounted to the side of my Genz Pack by using two interlocking clear velcro pads that have adhesive backs.  You can “plug” it in with two different methods.  The first is the easiest as most pre-built packs from Vexilar have a charging port already installed and you simply plug it in.  The second way is by using the alligator clips that come with the Glo-Ring.  This method can be used on any pack, inside your Clam flip-over style shanty or for those with permanent shacks, any spare Vex style 12 volt battery.

Everything folds up fairly compact and still fits nicely into one of my milk crates.

All of these accessories are great for getting the most out of your Vexilar Genz Pack.  You can run each of the electronic add-ons on the classic FL-8se or the FL-18, up to the FLX-12 and FLX-20.  Each of these will do nothing but enhance your fishing experience.

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Ice Fishing, Ice Products, Product Reviews | Leave a comment

Perch are Heating Up on Lake Erie

Thursday I got the chance to hit Lake Erie for some perch fishing with an old friend from the Ice Team Trap Attack days.  It was always fun to fish against Tim because nothing makes you a better angler than to fish against good competition.  Back in 2005, he and his partner won an event on Wampler’s Lake out in Irish Hills.  No small feat since there were some really good anglers fishing back then.

We hit Jeff’s Bait and Tackle for some minnows, mixed it up this time and picked up some  rosey reds to go with along with some really nice emerald shiners.  Just wanted an assortment of sizes to put down to see what the perch would want the most. Tim already had the Michigan 2-Fly Rig on his rod and reel, but we still checked out the assortment on the wall.  I always like getting a couple of packs to mix up the color combinations on the rig.  He went with all Glow Pink and I put down a Glow Pink with a Silver Shiner.  It turned out to be a good combination for both of us, until I hooked the anchor rope and switched to a Glow Orange, but I saved that Silver!  Will retie that for a later trip, its been the most consistent fly for me all year.

Double on the 2-Fly Rig

We set up in 26-27 foot of water, just inside the state line.  Tim didn’t have an Ohio license, thinking he will remedy that next year.  When fishing Erie, you almost have to have both licenses in order to stay on top of the fish.

The fishing wasn’t slow, the best way to describe it would be steady.  We pick away at them and every once in a while they would hammer the baits for about five minutes.  There were a few doubles, but the fish were biting really light.  The best method was to pound the bottom a few times, let it sit for a few seconds and then slowly raise the bait.  More often than not, I could feel just a slight weight difference on the other end and I would set the hook with my St. Croix.

When things slowed down, I would take some Lure Lipstick pheromone enhanced scent that Jeff’s Bait has in stock and just touch up my fly a little with a couple of squirts.  It’s not easy to hit a moving target!  I did get pretty good at it and caught some of my bigger perch while using it.  All the fish we kept were over 8 inches, and most of them measured 9 inch or bigger.

Under a time crunch we wrapped up the day’s trip when the Catch Counter registered 50 perch in the cooler.  It was a good day, and back at the dock after talking to a few people, we learned that we did better than most!

Have a wedding to go to today, but weather permitting, will be back at Jeff’s Sunday morning to hit the lake again!  Have to remember this time to collect my $25 for winning big perch contest a few weeks back!!!!

Copyright, 2018

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing | Leave a comment

Hair Jigs and Catching Smallmouth Bass

Catching bass and hair jigs, for a walleye guy, it just seems wrong in every regard.  Last spring though, I got a little creative with my color patterns and made some smaller sizes for taking a casting approach when targeting shallow water walleye or pitching around structure.  1/8, 1/4 and 3/8 ths of an ounce just seem so small when I am used to making 5/8, 3/4 and 1 ounce jigs for the spring bite on Lake Erie.

Copper Perch

I got really creative with the colors when I picked up some different types of Hareline material.  That’s a brand name by the way, they make a large assortment of fly tying materials.  A friend of mine decided she was going to get into a bass league this year NW of  Chicago.  She’s a good bud and fellow staff member with St. Croix Rods and when she told me about this bass distraction, I let her know that I thought I had some hair jigs for her!

Firetiger

If you want to do something like this Firetiger, take a look at the color options in powder paint from TJ’s Tackle.  They have a great assortment colors, disco’s (ice) and glows.

Blue/Black Craw

In some patterns, I looked jig n pig colors like this black with blue flake head and matching craft fur.

Blaze Orange over Disco Gold

I also looked at some of my Rapala’s for inspiration, instead of gold and flo. red, I went with something similar but with gold and orange.  Came out pretty good I must say.

St Croix Rods

I packed a lot of rod and reel combinations for my trip up to the cabin and when it came to plying these hair jigs to catching smallies, my two favorite combinations were a six foot, six inch Premier Light Fast Action rod and a 6’8″ Legend Tournament Walleye Medium Extra Fast.  Both rods were a lot of fun catching the bass, but also the many pike that hammered these handtied baits.

St Croix Tournament Walleye Legend

You might be asking why wasn’t I using a Bass Legend rod, the easy answer is I don’t own one, but this was pretty fun so I just might be calling Park Falls, Wisconsin soon.  Some of my hits came on when the jig entered the water and others while I was working the retrieve back to the boat.

Copyright, 2018

 

Posted in Bass, Lure Making | Leave a comment

Doing a little Surf and Turf, Lake Erie Style

It is hard to beat a well-balanced meal, specially when one component is deep-fried and the other 50 percent of smoked goodness comes out of the Weber grill.  A balanced meal is  a 50/50 split, right???  I know, it sounds good, and I was going to have some corn out of the garden, but once again, another section of the garden destroyed by the annual August vacation.

Out of the fryer, it just doesn’t get much better than walleye caught this year.  I, personally am not a big batter type guy.  Too many times I have gone out to eat and although the fish looks perfect, the batter was so thick that the meat below the crisp crust was raw. Despite sending it back several times, they can never get it right, so I pass on the potato flake encrusted temptation, besides my fish better than what they charge $15.00 for.

I will take this fine product of Marshall, Michigan every day of the week over other brands.  Drakes has been a staple in the house since I was knee-high and my Aunt Bess was frying up the pike in the campground that my dad and uncle’s caught on Big Bay. Her cast iron skillet was huge and it just added to memories of how good dinners were in the Upper Peninsula.  Today though I break out the 5 liter deep fryer from Cabela’s, with the fancy magnetic attaching cord.  Instead of making a wet batter, I simply grab a bag or bowl and dry dredge the fillets.  When the little round green light comes on, I will give the bag another shake or give the bowl a few flips and into the oil they go.

With the ribs there has been a progression over the years and every time I think I have it nailed, I do something else that just makes them even better.  Today’s method starts the night before, and the first step is taking off that sheath off the backside of the rack.  I would stay somewhere around 60 percent of the time it comes right off with a little work  and we won’t discuss the frustration levels with the other 40% of the time.  Then I take one of the big meat trays from Cabela’s and submerge the racks in a combination of apple cider vinegar and water, then cover with foil and put in the fridge over night.

In the morning I put a dozen or so charcoal briquettes in starter chimney and let that go for about 15 to 20 minutes until they glow red, meanwhile I line up more in the Weber grill in what is called the snake method, google and watch the videos that come up, it works really well.  My Weber grill is pretty well seasoned so I don’t use a lot of wood chips to get that smoked flavor, and you can just place them on a couple of spots on the charcoal.  When my coals are done in the chimney, I add them to one end of the snake and then put on the ribs on the opposite side of the coals.  I wait until the coals are all lined up just to be sure there that the ash or dust off the coals are all settled and won’t get on the meat.

I season both sides of the ribs with some McCormick’s Season All, then put lid on the grill and make sure you out the vent holes over the meat.  By doing this you will draw all the heat over the meat, and you get a nice indirect heat.  I forget them for roughly three hours, then open the grill and flip the rack over.  Come back in another three hours and do my final step.

The final step involves the homemade BBQ sauce.  I remember when I followed the recipe….once!  Then batches just seemed to grow bigger and have tweaked the recipe over time to add a little more heat, to balance out the sweetness.  Way back when there was a couple who had a show on the Food Network, the Neely’s.  I don’t know where they went but the recipe is still available on the website.  The Neely’s BBQ Recipe is the link.  If you want some more heat, you can use more fresh cracked pepper and if you like, cayenne powder will add a nice little kick.

Back to the meat, so after about six hours I will coat the top of the rack with the BBQ sauce and then flip into a large piece of tin foil.  Add some more sauce to the backside of the ribs and close up the foil and put the lid back on.  In roughly two more hours your ribs wont be fall off the bone, but the bones will fall out of the meat, it’s that tinder.

There you go, surf n turf….Lake Erie style!

Copyright, 2018

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Lake Erie’s HOT Perch Bite!

Finally got back on the water after a brief hiatus and it was like we never left the hot bite.  It has gone from another great walleye year on Lake Erie, right into full perch mode like last season.  Sunday was the time to get some and the lake didn’t let us down.

Catch Counter

Pulled into Jeff’s Bait and Tackle bright and early, which is just down the road from Sterling State Park and loaded up on all the essentials.  Shiners, 2-Fly Rigs, ice and plenty of beverages because the winds were light and it was going to be a hot day on the water. I didn’t forget the Cold Snap cooling towels either and they were definitely needed before the end of the day.

Drove down the road to the boat launch at the state park and headed out into Brest Bay towards a certain area  south of the 1 and 2 buoys.  Not knowing for sure where to anchor up, we went on a search and seek mission, which turned into search and destroy soon after.  What I mean by this, is one of my best methods for finding a good school of perch is to get the poles in the water and start a drift until the perch tell you where they are.

St Croix Premier Ultra Light

Keep in mind several factors while trying to do a drift, first and foremost the winds have to be right.  We had a nice little chop on Sunday so the technique worked perfectly in conjunction with the 1 ounce bell sinkers I poured the week before in my Do-It mold and my trusty St. Croix Premier six foot ultra light spinning rod. Now if the wind is kicked up a few notches you might want to break out the drift bags, or if your boat is equipped with a bowmount trolling motor you can slow your speed down enough to make this an effective method of finding a school.

I popped a nice 12 inch perch right off the bat, and as soon as I got it back in the water another fish came up just that quickly.  Don’t have to hit me too hard in the head not to know we were on some fish.  I carefully walked up to the bow and after a little wiggling to get it out of the box, dropped the anchor.  Again, walking carefully back to the stern, I looked around to see we were all by our lonesome, not a boat around.  There was a big pack to the north, and another flotilla of boats south and east of us….perfect!   I have a philosophy in the works,  and fishing in a crowd creates too much competition.

Northland Mini-Smelt

Northland Impulse Bro’s Bloodworm

Contemplate this for a second, lots of boats can draw your fish away because at some point you will be going at it hot and heavy and the perch are flying in the boat.  All it takes is one time for everyone in the boat to have their rods out of the water and the perch will move off in search of more food.  Think about, a fish is driven by food and sex, and this time of the year, momma’s eggs aren’t quite in their prime 😉  Without too much structure available below Lake Erie’s surface, those fish are constantly on the move.  If you fish the crowds, you probably already guessed, but those perch have already moved off to the next boat’s offering before you get your rod back in the water.  One solution that I have come up with is leave a decoy rod in the water rigged with plastics to hold their interest just long enough for you to get the real deal back down to the bottom.  Northland Tackle makes some excellent soft plastics for the decoy rig and they will pull a few fish throughout the day.  The Mini-Smelt and Bloodworm imitate the perch’s natural forage and when put on the 2-Fly Rig with that extra flash created by the fly, they put keep the interest of the fish peaked.

Double on the 2-Fly Rig

The fishing was steady all day, dropped the 2-Fly Rig down the water column, catch a perch.  Drop the rig down, give it a jiggle and catch a perch.  Drop the rig down, drag it around the boat a bit and …you guessed it….catch a perch.

 

Lure Lipstick Enhancer

After that wind shift out of the east that we always seem to get this time of the year, someone chirped on the radio that the bite had ceased.  I told my buddy I have something for that, I busted out the Enhancer product from Lure Lipstick and gave it a couple of squirts and dropped it down. There wasn’t any waiting period as the rod telegraphed that tell-tale thump and another perch came up the water column.  That one and the next five literally inhaled the minnow and fly combination and helped us knock off the next twenty fish to reach the century mark.

Two Tickets=100

Nothing like getting your limits, bringing the fish back to clean and having exactly the numbers you are supposed to have in the cooler.  We stopped fishing when the counter on the Catch Counter reached 100.  I iced everything up that night because a storm was rolling in and I couldn’t set the Tumble Drumm scalers up in the rain.  Something to do with electric motors and moisture…etc.  Monday morning hits and I roll out of bed and hit the shop to get everything set up to clean some perch.  I have two of the scalers and started counting them,  25 in each one.  After they were done, I counted them out again, 25 each.  The Catch Counter has never failed me in keeping an accurate count which can be huge.  The last thing I want to do is be one or two fish over my limit just in case one of those green trucks pull up to the boat at the launch!   

Can’t wait to check the weather and pick out a day to get back out!

Copyright, 2018

 

 

 

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

Beat the Heat with a Cooling Towel

Have you ever been out on Erie on a day, much like today, and there is barely a breeze and the temperatures just keep going up and up? I have too and by not doing anything I could tell that the heat was about to get the best of me.  There is a way to combat the heat, and you wont break the bank in doing so.

 

Several years ago I bought two of these “cooling” towels on closeout at the end of the season at Menards up in Escanaba.  Sounded like a good idea and the price was right, and hindsight being 20/20, wish I had bought out the rest of the stock.  The towels themselves are pretty pliable out of the container, but will dry to a stiffness like cardboard.  No fears though, I place them in the bottom of my cooler, stack on the beverages and fill with ice.  By the time temperatures start to rise, enough of the ice has melted away and soaked into the towels.

The towels I have are 33.5 x 13 inches, not sure if this is roughly a standard size or not, but it works great for cooling down my noggin.  You can wrap around your neck, but I usually just put right over my hat and head and let the cool water soak down slowly.  It’s not a traditional towel and the material really holds the moisture allowing you to beat the heat.  Definitely a must have in the boat by the time July hits and the high temps drag into August.

Copyright, 2018

Posted in General Topics, Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Walleye Fishing | Leave a comment

Getting Technique Specific with Walleye Harnesses

First there were colorado  and indiana blades, then came willow blades and after that came the whiptails.  Throw into the mix some hatchets and choppers and you get a wide selection of spinner blades for crawler harnesses that do a great job of putting walleye in the box. The question is if they catch fish, how can you possibly make them better?  The answer would be where do you run them in the water column while targeting walleye. When targeting bigger fish, another key component would be when or what time of the year it is.

Early in the spring,  the big fish are up higher in the  water column due to the cooler water temps and food sources.  This is the time of the year when there are 1,000’s of walleye anglers in the Detroit River or further south jigging the dumping grounds and reefs in Michigan and Ohio.  Meanwhile there are lots of big walleye in the three bays hugging the coastline along Michigan’s shores. These spots should not be over looked when you want to target big eyes on this side of the state line.

Big baits equal big fish or so the story goes and this philosophy is more true during the spring that most used to believe.  The old belief was that you ran smaller baits in the spring, but some of the spinner rigs being run on my rods start with blades being three inches or greater in length.  There is a method to my madness and a lot of experience that went into creating my philosophy on what blades to run in specific sections in the water column.

Milky water

Let’s start out with the dirty water scenario because let’s face it, how often in the spring is the water really that clear with all the rain and runoff flowing out into the lake.  I have caught plenty of 10 pound plus walleye in the spring and some will be shocked to find out just how high in the water column they were caught. No matter how filthy the water is, keep in mind its going to be cleaner up high, since most of the sediment will be falling through the water column and settling  on the bottom.

Whiptail blades

#8 Indiana Blades

Considering all this, I still want some flash on my presentation to attract the walleye below, but because of the dirty water I still need some thump to attract the fish that are swimming roughly at the same depth so I can attract that lateral bite. This can be accomplished by running two of my favorite blades for this approach, a large #8 indiana blade and an unique shaped blade called the whiptail.  These blades are long and lean much like a willow blade, but with their slight bend in the blade, they produce a little more noise and that will pull fish from both below and side to side of the bait.

Church Tackle TX-22

When setting this bait up, as most of you already know, I want the baits that ride higher up in the water column to be the greatest distance from the boat.  The proven theory is simple, if they can see the bait that high in the column, then they can see the boat and they will be easy to be spooked away.  I always make my big water harness leads between five and 8 foot in length, not so worried about the exact length as some may be, but I do want the presentation to be away from the weight. I am more concerned with the length of my trolling rod and how easy it will be to net the fish.  That said, I will run a quarter to half ounce weight, and then let out 10 to 25 foot of line before attaching one of my Church Tackle planer boards and letting it  out into position. Then I start switching it up to cover the rest of the water column.

Big Eye Custom Lures Willow Blades

Now if the water is clear of debris and floating sediment then I will break out the willow blades and either run them as a single blade rig or if I want a bigger presentation I will pull them as a tandem blade harness.  The next blades down would be the indiana’s and whiptails because I want that bit of thump down in the water column.  Then depending on the depth or time of the year I will employ some heavier weights with one and two ounce weights.  These will be on the second board out in the trolling program, or in the middle of the presentation.

Church Tackle Walleye Board

On the last board out, or the one closest to the boat,  will be my deeper presentation. This provides fewer chances of the fish being spooked by the boat this way.  Then depending on the depth of the water I will use 2 or three ounce weights.  Now here is a good tip for running big weights with planer boards.  To avoid sinking your board with the heavier presentation, adjust your spool tension knob on your trolling reel, this a different adjustment than your drag and is located near the star drag.  Clockwise is tighter and will slow down how fast your board drops back.  Translation, the greater the tension, the greater the resistance while dropping back and will not allow the board to sink. I could get technical and throw in some water and resistance equations, but why get lost in the weeds so to speak.

Walleye Boards

One more side note with your choice of boards, I love my TX-22’s for pulling cranks and lighter weights.  If I wanted to pull leadcore, heavy weights, say three to six ounces or big discs or divers then my choice of boards would be Church’s Walleye Board, also known as the TX-24.  I could still do a lot of things with the TX-22, specially in deeper water, but I have a philosophy about the amount of line running behind the board.  The least amount possible is ideal.  Now this doesn’t mean I will be using leadcore or any type of diver, but I will be using the heaviest amount of lead as I can possible get away with.  Prime example would be I have 31 foot of water at 1.3 miles per hour dialed in at 42 foot back to be on the bottom while running 2 ounces.  If I wanted to attempt to do this with a smaller weight, it would be a lot more line running behind the board.  More line equals more opportunities for a catastrophe to occur. Meaning, increased chances for losing a big fish.

Big Eye Custom Lures.com

Hatchet Blades

 

Down below towards the bottom third of the water column is when it’s time to bust out the masters of thump.  Colorado blades and hatchet blades are idea for drawing fish from side to side for that lateral attack, while still allowing you to attract fish from directly below.  I know I said that the other blades were optimal for drawing up fish through the water column and its true, but then we were talking about drawing fish from the top 2/3 rds of the lake, while the thumper style blades work the best the bottom third.

Tandem Fishlander Blades

Now if you want to really create havoc down below, try running colorado blades in semi connection.  Sometimes called cowbells, this method is easy to do yourself by interlocking two #2 or #3 folded clevises.

When you do this the double spinning blades keep a continuous flash n thump presentation that the walleye have a hard time ignoring.  This type of offering shines with a lot of fish on the screen, early or late in the day.  Walleye have excellent eyesight compared to other fish in Lake Erie and while they don’t exactly stand up and take notice, they certainly do get called in by the combination of noise and flash provided by twin blades spinning.

As the months lead into summer many of these guidelines will still run true with a slight tweaking that will be needed by you the angler.  As the water warms up, consider shrinking the water column.  What I mean by this is that as the water heats up, start shrinking the amount of water that you target with baits.  Where you might have targeted walleye hanging out in the top five foot of the water column early in the spring,  you can now almost consistently eliminate that section of the water column.  You will still be able to pull a big fish right around daybreak up high, but to be certain those bigger fish will head down towards the bottom of the lake as the day progresses when the sun rises and water temperatures heat up.

People will consistently ask, why do I pull meat exclusively after the water temps hit roughly 47 degrees?  I know the guideline is that magical 50′ mark, but honestly if you don’t try harnesses earlier than that, you will be missing out on some really great fishing. Meat always catches fish, think about it.

My philosophy is that no matter what you drop down, a harness will always catch fish where a spoon or crank may not.  Because even though the fish in the area may be actively feeding, and this is true specially for the bigger fish, they may not want to chase a bait moving that fast.  This is key, something I have noticed consistently throughout the decades, the bigger the fish, the lazier they get.

They find that comfort zone where they can feed on a regular basis without too much effort.  If you find yourself second guessing this, go back to the spring techniques and think about how slow you pull your baits through the water. Sure the water is colder and the fish tend to be sort of sluggish because of that, but the concept holds true.  Look at the size of the fish most get in the warmer months while pulling spoons and cranks,  they tend to run on the smaller side.  That’s not to say you won’t get a good fish, but if you are getting a 4 lb walleye, you just might have missed your chance at a 6 or 7 lb fish.  Then if you mix in the where to run different types of blades, you optimize your chances of getting that big fish no matter what the season is.

 

Copyright, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Ice Fishing | Leave a comment

Perch Fishing: One, Two or Three Rods

You have to love the great state of Michigan, it truly is an angler’s paradise.  Just think we could live in Ohio and be stuck trolling with only two rods, or even worse Minnesota where only one rod can be used per angler.  Seriously people, what does it matter if it takes you 28 minutes to get a limit or four hours…but I digress, this is all about the perch, and nothing but the perch.

It seems like every year I see the same guy over and over again.  He has his three rod holders off the back of the boat, think he is using spreaders, but never with a rod in his hand.  This is a marvel to me because if I am fishing with two rods and one rod goes off, it seems like 99 percent of the time, my other rod has been stripped.

Right off the bat I would say scrap any thought you might have of using a third rod and think about this rule of thumb.  Start off with two rods i f you like to fish multiple rods, it doubles your chances.  I like using a rod holder in its highest possible position where if one rod gets bit, I can place the opposite rod in the holder and hopefully lift several feet out of the perch’s strike zone.  Hopefully there will still be minnows on by the time I get the other rod back in the water.  Then after several minutes if it doesn’t get a hit, you can check your bait.

Now, lets say the bite is going hot and heavy, you just don’t have time to be playing with two rods.  Drop the rod down, and the fish bite and then you crank them right up the water column and into the Catch Counter they go, and repeat.  Love those kind of days.  Consider this, everyone in the boat is doing as good as you are, and there will be times where every rod will have its bait out of the water at the same time.  I have this belief if that you are on a roaming school of perch, once their food source is gone, they will move off in search of more to eat.  In can happen in seconds.

This is when I will use a second rod, in a rod holder with what I call my decoys.  Taking the exact same rigs that I am using on every other rod with once noticeable difference.  Instead of live bait, I will use some scented plastics on the hook.  This method seems to hold the attention of the fish just long enough for me to get the perch off the hooks, re-bait and get the presentation back down as fast as the 1 oz sinker will make it drop.  There is the one big tip of the day for catching more perch and keeping the school in session!

Copyright, 2018

 

 

 

 

Posted in Lake Erie, Perch Fishing, Saginaw Bay | Leave a comment