Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whitefish Action Still Going Strong

Made it out on Green Bay for a few hours Friday afternoon looking for Perch and Whitefish.  The Perch had other ideas, but the Whitefish didn't disappoint.  After checking Choidors Dock, Sugar Creek, and Dykesville for Perch with nothing to show, we decided with an hour left before dark to head in shallow to fish for Whitefish.

We Pulled up on Macos Reef, (which is just north of Dykesville) and drilled a few holes.  I lowered my Swedish Pimple with a minnow head down the hole and immediately noticed a fish on my flasher.  With a little enticing, I had a Whitefish hooked up within a minute of fishing for them!  The Whitefish would come through in small schools or two or three every few minutes and you could usually get one of the Whitefish to bite out of the group every time.

After several hours of nonproductive Perch fishing, the Whitefish action saved the day!  We ended up with 7 Whitefish in an hour and called it a day.  Hopefully I can get back out there and enjoy some more Whitefish action soon!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Flicker Shads Coming This Spring


New Flicker Shads to hit the market in 2011

Hot new colors and brand new sizes will excite Walleye anglers

Notes From Gary Parsons
Hi Guys and Gals,
In the last couple of years we've tried to keep everyone informed about new things, and if possible before anyone else. It's been pretty easy for Keith and I to do this when the news has been about Flicker Shads, as I think that by now most everyone realizes that we work very closely with the Berkley engineers in building and consulting about this family of baits. There is actually much new information that we will be sharing with you in the next few weeks and please feel free to cut and paste or re-post on other sites as we would like to get the word out.

First, we'll leak the three new colors that Berkley will have in their 2011 line up. They are keeping all of the colors from 2010 and adding these three (photos below). Notice that the Sexy Shad and Speckled Gold Shiner have smooth sides! This is very cool, as the visible side flash is noticably increased with these baits! They are telling us that they should hit the store shelves in the beginning of April, and we'll try to update you.
Second, we're proud to announce two new sizes in 2011. The new dynamite little number 4 and a new number 6! Keith and I worked very hard on these and we think that you'll be impressed. They are anticipating that the stores could have these by late spring or early summer and at first might be in limited supply with more being available throughout the summer. This will be the most complete line up of shad baits that any manufacturer has ever had, with more colors, and therefore more "match the hatch" capability! Again we will have more colors and news over the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go Packers!

Its -12° this morning in Green Bay, and the Packers are in Chicago preparing to face the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game.  I consider myself a die-hard fisherman, but in these circumstances I am all about football! 

Hopefully Aaron Rodgers and the boys will bring another NFC Championship Title back with them to Green Bay!  Go Packers, back to fishing soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sturgeon Spearing 2011

The Winnebago System Sturgeon Spearing Season is less than a month away, and anglers are busy preparing for the hunt.  Sturgeon spearing is a local tradition that began back in 1932 and is as popular as ever today.  The sport has been passed down through the generations and continues to attract new spearers every year.  Sturgeon spearing begins on the second Saturday of February and goes until the harvest cap is met. 

Recently the DNR has changed the spearing hours.  Instead of the sun up to sundown season, the DNR has decided to go with a shorter 6 hour spearing day that goes from 6:30am-12:30pm.  The reasoning behind the shorter season is that it allows the DNR to get a better count on the harvest numbers before calling the season.  It also helps the DNR avoid overharvesting of our prehistoric fish.  

This year the season will begin on February 12 and continue until one of the harvest caps is met.  The harvest caps are set at 395 Juvenile Females, 790 Adult Females, and 1200 Males, which is up slightly from last year’s cap numbers.  The DNR will close the season when the previous days harvest exceeds 90% or higher in any of the three categories or if one of the caps is exceeded.

Before the season, the thousands of spearers head out onto frozen Lake Winnebago and cut their spearing holes.  Some years the ice is thicker than others, but either way most spearers use chainsaws to cut the ice and then with the help of several people, push the big block of ice under and away from the hole.  This in itself is a sight to see.

Once the hole is cut and the shanty is positioned over it, spearers then get their shack set up.  Visibility varies from year to year, but regardless most spearers like to lower objects into their hole that increase their odds of seeing that elusive Sturgeon.  A popular method is to construct an “X” out of white PVC.  The “X” is around 6’x6’ and is suspended just off of the bottom.  The white PVC allows the eye to detect the dark shadow of a fish pass over the light background of the PVC.  

Once the “X” is set up, next comes the decoy.  There are many different decoys out there, and many spearers have their own “Lucky” decoy.  Most decoys are made of wood and painted bright or flashy colors which many spearers believe attract the curious Sturgeon.  The decoys can range in size from a foot to 4 or more feet long!  Coffee cans, kids toys, coffee mugs, and many other random human made objects are also lowered into the hole in an attempt to attract Sturgeon and often times work.

The spear itself is the next thing to set up.  The spear cannot be in the water until 6:30am, so this is the last thing to prepare for a day of spearing.  Most spears are homemade, some being more complex than others.  Many pitchforks have been transformed into spears by welding barbs on them and adding weight to them.  The typical Sturgeon spear has 4-6 prongs and a detachable head.  The spear head is tied onto a rope that is placed on the floor of the shack ready to unwind.  The rope should be tied to something solid in the shack in case your Sturgeon takes off!  

All of this preparation leads to hours of staring down a hole into the icy waters of historic Lake Winnebago waiting for a chance at spearing a Sturgeon!

Ice Out Walleyes

Here in the Midwest, thousands of anglers eagerly await the first opportunity at getting their boat back in the water.  Typical winters last until late March, which also happens to be the time that spawn minded Walleyes are on a voyage to their spawning grounds.  Rivers are the first to open up since the current of the spring melt eats the ice before the lake ice has a chance to honeycomb and sink. 

Safety at this time is very important, since at any time an ice flow could come down river and cause problems.  If anchoring at ice out, make sure that you can see upriver a good distance and also be able to quickly retrieve your anchor.  I also suggest heading upstream from the boat launch so that you will be able to surely make it back.

Every river is slightly different, but the same techniques will produce anywhere.  At this time the fish are migrating into the current looking for suitable spawning areas.  The fish are not thinking about food at this time, which can lead to tough fishing if you don't serve your bait to the fish exactly how they want it.  The river water is also very cold, which makes the fish somewhat lethargic and light biting when they do decide to bite.

Some guys believe that this is an important time to use a stinger hook on their jigs to catch those light biters, however I look at it differently.  I have noticed that I will get three times as many bites on a plain jig and minnow vs. one equipped with a stinger hook.  Rather than using a stinger hook I prefer to downsize my bait, which increases the odds of the fish eating the hook portion of the jig.  

Inside bends of the river where the main current bypasses to the outside, slack water areas, and deep holes can all hold fish at this time of year.  Each situation calls for a different presentation.

When fishing shallow, inside river bends, a technique known as long lining is used.  This technique is fairly simple once you get the feel for it, and can be very productive when a school of fish is moving through the area.  For starters, you need to anchor the boat sideways in the current and fish on the downstream side of the boat.  The biggest key with this technique is jig size.  You need a jig that will be able to just barely touch bottom on the drop out from the boat a distance.  If your jig is too heavy it will drag along bottom on the pump and also snag up easily.  If your jig is too light, each pump will raise the jig higher into the water column away from the Walleyes.  Once you have determined the right jig size, you may now make a short cast and pump your rod.  You will feel the jig raise off the bottom on the pump, and touch the bottom on the fall.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Automatic Fisherman Update

Well it seems the mid winter lull has finally arrived here in the midwest.  The days are short and quite cold, the fishing as slow as it gets all year.  Even when things are looking this grim, there is still hope.  The Automatic Fisherman offers tie hard fisherman an increased chance at putting fish on the ice during this period.  The key to success right now is finesse.  Tip ups with dacron line and steel leaders will still catch fish, but having an Automatic Fisherman rigged with 8-12 pound flourocarbon and a small hook will outproduce those Beaver Dams all day! 

Another key component to the Automatic Fisherman is right in the name, its Automatic.  If I had a dollar for every tip up that I have approached that didn't result in a fish on the ice I would be a rich man!  When the fish are biting light and spitting the minnow after feeling the tension from a normal tip up, the Automatic Fisherman will hook these light biting fish before they can detect any tension. 

There is also a new product on the market called the Ice Stopper Bobber.  This uniquely designed bobber is filled with a solution that won’t freeze, even in the coldest conditions.  The bobber can freeze into your hole, but the line will still be able to freely pass through the bobber, an important factor when it comes to the fish feeling tension.
The Ice Stopper
The next time you brave the elements in search of some mid winter fish, give these products a try!  Not only will they outproduce standard tip ups, they will get you out of the house much more often!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trolling on Ice

Ice trolling is a new term used in the ice fishing world which involves drilling lots of holes in order to locate the fish.  This technique can be used in open water situations where the fish are scattered on vast structureless flats, in weedy bays where fish may be holding in key areas in the weeds, or even along reefs where fish may be holding on the transition between hard and soft bottom.

Many different species of fish can be targeted by this technique, including Walleye, Perch, Crappie, Bluegill, Whitefish, and even Northern Pike.  To begin, pick an area of the lake that is known to produce during the winter months or an area you feel should hold fish.  Next, begin drilling holes along the structure every  30-50 feet in a zig-zag pattern.  If you are fishing a structureless flat, don't be afraid to spread your holes upwards of 100 feet apart.  Once the holes are drilled, its time to begin fishing.

Start in the first hole using a flasher to mark any fish and your bait of choice.  If you don't mark a fish in 5 minutes, its off to the next hole.  Continue hole hopping until fish are located.  Once you have located the school of fish, you can then settle down and set up tip ups and your ice shack!

This technique is not for the lazy fisherman, since it requires some effort, but don't worry those that put in the extra effort often go home happily with a nice meal of fresh fish!
Ice Trolling Success

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tying Spawn for Trout Fishing

The art of tying spawn has been evolving for the past decade.  Ten years ago anglers used one color netting and used regular string or line to tie their spawn sacs together.  Today, thanks to technology, we have more options and can tie them with ease compared to the past.

To begin, an angler needs to get spawn, or fish eggs, from a freshly caught fish.  This can be a challenge at times, since spawn is often the best bait during tough fishing conditions.  Once a female with spawn is caught, it is important to first bleed the fish out by cutting a gill plate on each side of the fish and allow the blood to bleed out into water.  This will get most of the blood away from the eggs.  Blood taints the eggs, so you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.  

Once the fish has been bled out, you can begin extracting the eggs from the fish.  If the fish is really ripe, you might be able to simply squirt the eggs out of the fish by pressing on the belly and holding a container under the fish to catch the spraying eggs.  If this doesn't work you will have to use a knife to remove the eggs.  Begin by slicing from the anus towards the belly of the fish.  Be careful not to pierce too deep, which could lead to damaging the eggs.  Once the stomach is opened up, the eggs can be removed by hand.  If the eggs aren't fully developed they will be in the form of skein.  The eggs will be held together by a membrane which can be removed from the fish by cutting on both ends of the skein.

Once the eggs are out of the fish, you can begin tying spawn sacs.  There are many shapes, sizes, and colors that can be tied.  River conditions will dictate how you should tie your eggs.  When ice fishing, water clarity is the main factor to consider when choosing how to tie your spawn sacs.

Dirty, high, or fast water generally mean bigger and brighter, while clean, low, or calm water tends to mean smaller and more natural presentations.  

Once you have assessed the conditions, you can begin tying the proper spawn sacs.  Regardless of conditions, I like to have a variety of colors and sizes of spawn with me on any given day, since Trout, for whatever reason, tend to want something a little different every day.  

The art of tying spawn sacs isn't developed overnight.  It will take some trial and error to get good at it and learn what will be productive in certain situations.  For beginners, there are a few essential items to get started.  Spawn netting is the first necessity, which can be found at most tackle shops.  Magic Thread is also needed, since it is used to tie the netting together and hold the eggs in place, and can also be found at most tackle shops.  A bag or container to put the eggs in prior to tying the spawn sacs in needed, as well as baggies to place the finished spawn sacs in.  I also use a marker to label the bags.  I like to state what type of eggs it is, the color of the netting, and the date I caught the fish.  I will also label whether it is spawn or skein.  You will also need a scissors to cut off excess netting as well as cut the skein into chunks small enough to tie into sacs. I have noticed over the years that sometimes the fish want the skein natural, just hooked onto a bare hook, and other times will not touch it unless it is tied into a sac with netting.

If you plan on getting into the sport and tying lots of spawn sacs, I strongly suggest getting a spawn tying machine.  These are relatively inexpensive and will save you lots of time in the long run.  The machine enables you to tie the spawn sacs in different sizes and with whatever color netting you choose.  With or without the help of a spawn tying machine, you will be on your way to creating your own bait by hand, something that doesn't often happen in today's world!

Curing eggs is another popular tactic that will be discussed a different day, but is primarily used when you have more eggs than you can use in the short term.  By curing the eggs, you extend their life for up to a year if frozen and over a month if refrigerated.  

I hope these tips will put you on the right path the next time you land a nice female trout!  Good luck fishing and check back soon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Ice Fishing Products for 2011

Frabill has come out with some new baits that you should have along with you on your next ice fishing trip.  Frabill has taken their LIVE-FORAGE® patterns from open water directly into the baits used through the ice.  The LIVE-FORAGE® MOXIE MINNOW® is a vertical minnow bait with a slow flutter action that can be deadly in tough conditions.  The LIVE-FORAGE® MOXIE MINNOW® is available in 8 lifelike colors and 3 different fish catching sizes.

Another new bait that should be in your ice fishing arsenal is the FISH-FRY MINNOW® TRAP, which is a horizontal minnow imitation bait that is also available in 8 lifelike colors and 3 different sizes.  These new baits are the perfect choice for open water areas where the fish are roaming.  The fish will key in on this bait from a distance and have a hard time not taking a bite!