Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Jig Bite!

Jim and Dale with another Red Zone fish
Our captain had to head to Saskatoon for a wedding so we jumped in with Dale and Russ in the big 21 foot Ranger. Since there were four of us fishing today we decided to jig. With a water temperature at 46 Fahrenheit, the use of a jig at this of the year is always a great option. As it turned out, we had a tremendous day on the water with 16 Red Zone walleye caught. I have done a lot of jig fishing over the years and I have actually improved on this technique a lot with age.
Friend Jim Price is one of the best jig fisherman I have ever fished with and I have learned a ton from him on how to consistently out fish those around you. The most important part of the equation when you jig fish is to actually feel the jig and the motion you give to it. It might be a slow sweep and drop like Jim likes to use, or small quick hops or just a subtle lift and drop. Whatever the stroke, you have to feel the jig you are using at the end of your line. That’s because when something changes and you don’t feel that jig anymore then a fish has probably got it in its mouth. It’s then you set the hook and even if you miss the fish, chances are you will catch more than you miss.

 Pink and Blue Bite Me Jig in action
EQUIPMENT: When the bite is light like it was on this trip, I choose a medium light action 6 foot Series One rod from Berkley. I have had this particular rod for an awful long time and it’s extremely sensitive. It’s spooled with 8 pound Berkley Nanofil on which is tied a 5 foot tipped of 8 pound flurocarbon using an Albright  Knot. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of matching the equipment to the size of the lure that you were using. On the slow drift I could use a 1/4 ounce jig tipped with medium sized shiner minnow and feel the lure no problem. When Dale put the I Pilot Terrova on anchor mode we had to switch over to a 3/8 ounce because of current speed. That was a critical change so I could feel my jig. And in this case, the walleye were coming up from behind the jig and swimming ahead with it. There was essentially no bite, just a change of rhythm.  With Nanofil line, there is no memory or water retention so it’s great in cold weather and for ice fishing.
It’s also excellent on the hook set and with the Bite Me jig I was using, made by Wayne Tumack of Regina, very few fish were lost. I was using the walleye model in pink/blue and the hook on this was real solid. With a pinched down barb, I made sure to take my diamond hook sharpener to the point. While these jigs are hard to get a hold of, they are really good quality and the shape of this jig reduces drag in current. I had purchased some from Wayne himself years ago at the Last Mountain Walleye Tournament but only got them out of storage after Captain Boyd laid a licking on me and Jim on last year’s fall trip. I wasn't going to let that happen two years in row.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crankin Up the Heat

 Don and the Captain!
The sun broke out on day two of our trip and so did our spirits. Funny how a little sun can cheer things up and erase some of the disappointment of the day before.
Jim and I were in Boyd’s boat again as we headed back down to the river from Tobin Lake Resort where we were staying. A strong west wind made heading out to the big lake an impossibility.
 Jim taking a bit of a break
Given the success we had trolling yesterday (Jim!), we decided to put some time in today, fine tuning our baits and speed as well as depth. Both Jim and I had brought leadcore line along and I decided to switch to it from my Crystal Fireline. I wanted to get a smaller lure down to the fish and leadcore would enable me to do that. It’s one trend that both Jim and I have noticed over the last three years fishing at this time of year, that the smaller lures seem to be more effective overall.
 Flicker Shad on left and Flicker Minnow on the right
That was evident the previous day when Jim lost that monster of a fish at the end of the day on the #7 Flicker Shad, a fairly small lure that will dive down to about 21 feet on thin diameter Fireline. So I put on a #6 Flicker Minnow, the new bait from Berkley that has anglers raving. Since over the last few years, we have pretty good luck with pink jigs, I went for the Flicker Minnow that had a pink nose and chartreuse body. Boyd also found a lure that was catching fish, a perch coloured Live Target in a deep diver.
 Perch Live Target(stock photo-barbless on Tobin)
He had no trouble getting this lure to 21 feet on 100 feet of line. So we all had our baits down in the fish zone with three different profiles and all were catching fish. I ended the day with the largest walleye though, a beautiful fish that absolutely slammed my Flicker Minnow.

As in the previous day, we stayed until dark but the bite slowed down considerably later in the day.

One of the bonus features of the day was being able to witness an extremely rare event, the moon eclipsing the sun.  Check this photo out taken by friend Russ Heatherington.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A wild night on Tobin Lake!

The long range forecast was very encouraging, sun and temperatures getting over the ten Celsius mark, a heat wave at this time of year. We had moved up our annual fishing trip to Tobin Lake, Saskatchewan a week earlier than in previous years. After an uneventful ride from Winnipeg, we caught up with a number of old friends who make this trip so special for us.
On day one we fish with Boyd Holmen, in his eighteen foot Yar Craft, a very nice rig indeed!

 This turned out to be the nicest day weather wise but probably our slowest of the three days we fished. We started out a little differently than we usually do by dropping down bottom bouncers and spinners. On our first pass along the river channel in 21 feet of water, we landed three keeper walleye. We then decided to head to the Saskatchewan River mouth to check out the jig bite. On our first drift we managed a number of eating size walleye in the 18 to 21 inch range, with a couple of red zone fish (over 55 cm) thrown in for good measure. About two in the afternoon we decided to get out the trolling rods in order to try and trigger some bigger fish to bite. Friend Jim Price had to his go-to lure on, a shad colour #7 Berkley Flicker Shad.  This bait far out produced anything that Boyd and I put on this day.
Jim was fishing it on 14/4 Fireline, and let out 110 feet of line on the average to get down to the 18 foot range we were fishing. While Boyd and I ended up catching some fish as the sun started to go down,
Jim out fished us more than two to one on that bait. As is usual practice, we fished till dark and there was an intense bite the last hour before sunset. We had a few doubleheaders and the fish size was getting bigger.
Fifteen minutes after sunset, Jim’s rod bent over double under the weight of a really heavy fish. In low light conditions we always use our clickers on our Abu Garcia line counter reels so we can hear if we get a fish on. Well, Jim’s clicker was screaming as line went out. Quickly Boyd and I got our lines in, with Boyd putting the kicker motor in neutral, and putting the I Pilot Terrova in anchor mode.

I grasped the net and extended the handle on the landing net as I perched on the back platform. We all had our headlamps on, to illuminate the water as we waited for this monster to appear. Jim’s fish had taken out 80 feet of line off his spool and it was taking him some time to make any progress on regaining it. Finally Jim had the fish to 40 feet, then 30, and finally at 20. Bingo, the fish rolled and the lure popped out, just before we were to get a look at it. Jim has landed many extremely large walleye in his career but losing this fish really shook him up. I have been in the boat when fifteen plus walleye have been landed and this fish certainly looked to be of that calibre judging from the fight it gave and way it bent the rod.

It was a subdued crew that night that headed home for a supper of fresh walleye.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Huge walleye caught in Winnipeg!

Local angler Joel Magnifico caught the fish of a lifetime this week while wetting his line by his home on Lyndale Drive in Winnipeg.
 “I was using cut Goldeye, and I fish the area quite frequently since it's down the street from my house. At first I thought I was reeling in a decent sized catfish but once it decided to briefly show itself, my heart immediately started to race. I ditched the rod and jumped to/in The water and heaved it on shore. I have never seen a fish like it before.”

The walleye measured 84 centimetres (33 inches) and on a portable scale is weighed 6.8 kilograms.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PK Spoon fools some large ones!

 This jumbo fell for the PK Spoon on a lift and drop flutter.

Late fall is one of the best times of the year to find big smallmouth bass schooled up off of points at the mouth of bays. Most of the time, these fish are aggressive and love a piece of metal jigged in front of their face! Case in point was yesterday on Lake of the Woods, Ontario while fishing with top North American bass angler Jeff Gustafson. 

Jeff loves to catch both largemouth and smallmouth but the largies on this day were proving a bit difficult to catch. In order to keep us on fish Jeff would move out to deeper water every once in a while so we could catch a jumbo smallmouth.
 PK Spoon was catching everything!
 I had packed a PK Spoon just for such a contingency. Jeff caught the first smallmouth of the day on a jig but the PK spoon shone all day and caught some monster smallies. Kevin Stobbe also caught a couple nice smallmouth, but his were on a jig and shad bait. Most of the fish were in about 20 to 25 feet of water. From here on the fishing will only get better!

Kevin Stobbe gets in on the action!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fishing with Gussy!

I was out on Lake of the Woods today with one of the best bass anglers in Canada and in North America. Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson took time out of his busy schedule to take Hooked Magazine owner and publisher Kevin Stobbe and myself out for a day on the water. Jeff is a busy guy, so his commitment to a day in the boat was much appreciated. It was a beautiful morning as we launched the boat at Pye’s landing on the northeast end of the lake.
Certainly way out of line for this time of the year. Jeff was determined to try and catch a largemouth, his favourite fish, but as is fate, this was not the day to catch them. Try as Jeff did, not one came to the boat. Having said that, the smallmouth kept saying to Jeff, catch me please.
And catch some jumbos we did. Most were caught on small jigging spoons in 23 feet of water…and they were large!

Jeff now has some time to recuperate before he starts planning another FLW tour and his many other time commitments. Thanks again Jeff for taking us out, much appreciated.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

It was a cold west wind blowing, a continuation of the trend for the last week. The only difference that it wasn't
Friend Bryan Gray with a nice walleye
 from the north and temperatures were slightly higher than the two Celsius we had been getting. After launching at Selkirk Park, we headed south to see if any fish had moved down river closer to Lockport. While we saw a lot of catfish busting the surface chasing bait, we did not get a bite in the three hours we tried in that section. I marked quite a few fish in 16 feet of water, but not takers, not even a sauger. The water was real dirty, full of leaves and debris and the current was reasonably strong, but not out of control.  I believe water quality was the difference here. Which meant the boat went on the trailer and we headed down to launch at the End of Main. While the road is full of potholes and muddy in spots, as long as you take your time all is good. Use the right side, or east side of the launch. This side is a little steeper on the drop. We tried a few different spots in the four hours we fished this end, but the only action we saw was in a section known as the cut, about a five minute boat ride north. About  ten boats were anchored on the edge of the
 Anchoring properly was the this American angler has two anchors down and his troll motor to control swing!
drop from about 12 to 16 feet and fish were being caught by almost all of them. Small jigs and shiner minnows were the ticket but boat anchoring was the key. A straight sideways anchor with no swing was the key. I had two anchors and my troll motor on the back of the boat down to prevent any swing. This allowed a real precise sweep and drop of the jig, which was the key in triggering the bites this day. Some big fish in the 8 to 10 pound range were landed…but patience is the key. You have to remember, most  times the Red  is not about numbers, but real big walleye!