Jerry Carlson's Articles

April 2018

Rigged and Ready for Live Bait
by Jerry Carlson
Live bait rigging for walleyes is about as classic a walleye presentation as anyone can find. It is a standard for catching fish on just about any body of water anglers choose to visit. However, there are subtle tweaks to this presentation that can make something great even better. One of the first recommendations I have is to always take advantage of the low visibility of fluorocarbon leaders.... more

January 2018

Love Those Deep Basin Panfish
by Jerry Carlson
Many times I have heard anglers share frustrations over the lack of winter panfish that are showing up in their favorite honey hole. I have been known to make the same complaints from time to time. However, I have also learned the remedy for staying on winter crappies and bluegills. When it comes to location, I am all about deep basins. Although I do occasionally target some weed oriented fish ... more

December 2017

Lake of the Woods: A Fishing Destination
by Jerry Carlson
It had been a couple of years since I made my last trek to ice fish on Lake of the Woods. Because of this fact, I was quite thrilled to be invited to join tourism director, Joe Henry and a group of Ice Team anglers on a mid-March excursion to Arnesen's Rocky Point Resort. Although it was my first trip to Arnesen's, I was quite familiar with this resort. It has been a mainstay in the Lake of th... more

November 2017

Early Ice Panfish Junkie
by Jerry Carlson
The early ice is always an interesting period in the fishing calendar. It is definitely one of my favorite times of the year for angling. Although most of my open water fishing is spent targeting walleyes and bass, when it comes to the early ice period, I most certainly become a panfish junkie. I enjoy eating these tasty fish, I like the fact they are cooperative biters and I appreciate being a... more

June 2017

Thoughts on Big Baits for Largemouth
by Jerry Carlson
I have often had conversations with anglers about their favorite go-to bass lures. This is always an interesting topic as it seems every angler has their own personal favorites. However, most anglers will agree that big baits not only catch big bass, they are also appealing to smaller fish, as well. Over the years, I have heard anglers talk about the crazy things they have found in the stomachs... more

April 2017

Tweaking the Classic Live Bait Rig
by Jerry Carlson
Sometimes I get the feeling that the angling world is moving in a direction of extreme sophistication and technical fishing. I am not against that movement as I have seen the rewards from experimenting with something new. However, I think it is still okay to fall back on the good old basics that continue to put fish in the boat. When it comes to basic walleye fishing, there is little doubt ... more

November 2016

Early Ice: A Quiet and Productive Time of the Year
by Jerry Carlson
It was mid-morning when I stopped to pick up long time fishing companion, Charlie Simkins. Although the air was cool, this particular winter day did not have the bite to it we sometimes feel in early winter. After a short greeting, we loaded Simkins' gear into the truck and we were off. Our goal for this particular day was quite simple. We were going to look for walkable ice so we could get tha... more

June 2016

Fishing the Transitional Edges
by Jerry Carlson
During the course of the year, I fish several dozen different lakes. For the most part, each lake has its own personality when it comes to structure, water clarity, weed growth and the size and quantity of fish. Even though lakes differ greatly in their personality, there are some similarities that help me locate summer bass no matter what lake I am targeting. One surefire concept that will co... more

February 2016

Love Those Winter Panfish
by Jerry Carlson
When it comes to ice fishing, I am definitely someone that thrives on panfish. Crappies and sunnies have a way of keeping me entertained through the entire frozen water period. Occasionally, I get a little grief for not targeting walleyes during the winter months, but I can handle the criticism. There is something about the winter panfish routine that I thoroughly enjoy. That is all the reason... more

January 2016

Put a Little Spring in Your Bobber
by Jerry Carlson
It happens to me several times every winter. Someone that has not experienced the pleasures of modern ice fishing techniques asks me to take them panfish fishing. I gladly oblige. Each time out, there is quite a learning curve that must be gone through. The concept of seeing your bait on the Vexilar and being able to watch the fish as they respond to your offerings is quite fascinating. L... more

December 2015

Targeting Deep Basin Panfish
by Jerry Carlson
It was clear we had the lake to ourselves as we drove into the landing and looked out over the frozen landscape. This out-of-the-way body of water received little pressure during the winter months, especially midweek. As we unloaded the four wheeler, I explained to my fishing partner about the process we would be using to locate fish. I wanted him to understand that working deep basin crappies... more

August 2015

Rainy Lake Keeps on Giving
by Jerry Carlson
This was the eighth year for our group of anglers that make an annual trek to Island View Lodge on Rainy Lake. Although every year is a little different, the one common theme that runs through the entire eight year period is the successful walleye angling we encounter. In 2014, the high water made location patterns a little different than normal. This year, the water and fish catching was back ... more

June 2015

Do Your Homework before Exploring New Water
by Jerry Carlson
Every summer I make an effort to explore a few new lakes to see if there are bodies of water I am not familiar with that need some attention. I also make a concerted effort to spend time looking for new fishing spots on my list of regulars. Either way, there is some research that is done before I get to the landing. Before I even think about venturing to new water, I will check out a map that w... more

May 2015

Worming The Deep Weedline
by Jerry Carlson
When it comes to targeting summertime bass, there are truly a multitude of methods and strategies that will catch fish. These strategies vary from angler to angler and will cater to the demands of working a particular type of bass holding structure. I have certainly been successful at finding and catching largemouth in a wide variety of aquatic habitat. However, if there is one summertime patte... more

April 2015

Adapting to Conditions Is Part of the Game
by Jerry Carlson
As we drove into the lot at Island View Lodge on Rainy Lake in northern Minnesota, it only took a moment to realize this was going to be a different sort of walleye trip for our group. Instead of being greeted by the serenity of the landscape, we were greeted by sandbags and huge pumps spewing water from behind the makeshift dam. It was somewhat disheartening to know there would be little in th... more

March 2015

The Spring Panfish Bonanza
by Jerry Carlson
Every spring, I look forward to the days when I can drop a boat into open water and fish the shallow water panfish bite. For me, this is an enjoyable time that frequently offers some of the best crappie and bluegill angling of the year. Most anglers understand that this early season rush to shallow water is not to spawn. The water is too cold for spawning right after ice out. However, the stron... more

January 2015

It's All About Efficiency
by Jerry Carlson
The deep water basin that typically holds winter crappies was void of activity. There was not one single house in the area and very few old holes. As my fishing partner, Charlie Simkins, and I walked through the region taking readings through the ice with our Vexilars, it became evident why this perennial hotspot was being ignored this year. There were simply no suspended fish anywhere in the v... more

September 2014

Tactical Thoughts for Fooling Canada Geese
by Jerry Carlson
Every year when goose season starts, I hear people talking about strategies that will help them defeat the wiles of the Canada goose. After years of trying to solve this problem, I have come to the conclusion that there are tactics that will put the odds in your favor. However, geese are geese and there are no guarantees. One subject that always comes up in the early stages of the goose season ... more

June 2014

Simple Refinements for More Summer Bass
by Jerry Carlson
As anglers settle into summer patterns for bass fishing and we start working a little deeper water for bucket mouths, I find there are some refinements I can make that will increase my level of success. These refinements are simple yet will get results. One of my favorite presentations for working bass in the spring and early summer is through a presentation called wacky rigging. This concept o... more

April 2014

Refine Your Live Bait Presentation
by Jerry Carlson
There are a lot of different ways to catch walleye and I have tried most of them. Some of these techniques have worked well under certain conditions, others have not impressed me very much. There is one presentation that has consistently been successful for me, especially early in the year. This basic presentation is the live bait rig. Although the live bait rig is often times thought of a... more

March 2014

Follow the Basics for Spring Panfish
by Jerry Carlson
Over the years, I have read a kajillion articles on how to catch spring panfish. Some of them have been excellent and some have been a little farfetched in my opinion. I believe catching spring panfish is not that difficult if one sticks to the basics. The first and most important concept in catching crappie and gills is finding them. I don't care what kind of angling skill a person might have,... more

December 2013

Deep Basin Crappie Towns: A Reliable Strategy
by Jerry Carlson
The public access was almost empty when I pulled in. As I unloaded my four wheeler, I could see a few vehicles still on the ice, but for the most part, the lake was quieting down for the mid day lull. Once on the ice, I pointed my rig toward the cluster of houses at the far end of the lake. As I zipped across the frozen surface, I couldn't help but wonder what I would find amongst the ice shelt... more

November 2013

Five Tips for More Winter Panfish
by Jerry Carlson
Every year at the start of the winter season, anglers get all pumped up about spending time on the ice. They often buy some new equipment and make big plans about how they are going to target fish a little differently this year. However, when it comes right down to it, they frequently fall back into the same rut of doing what they have always done during the winter months. Ice fishing strategi... more

August 2013

Location Can Determine Honker Success
by Jerry Carlson
It was not much to look at. The 20 acre field of small grain was tiny compared to some of the other potential hunting spots in the region. According to the landowner, the geese had pretty much been ignoring it, favoring the larger fields instead. Still, I was totally thrilled to get permission to hunt this field. It had a couple of critically important attributes that would make this spot a sur... more

July 2013

Easy Steps to Becoming a Better Angler
by Jerry Carlson
I believe there are a lot of similarities between golf and fishing and often make comparisons between the two. For instance, no matter how good a person's game is, there is always room for improvement and we strive to become better than we are. Now, let's talk fishing specifics. Every angler I know is looking for an edge to take them to the next level. It doesn't matter if you are a weekend w... more

June 2013

Fishing From The Mixing Bowl
by Jerry Carlson
I arrived in Nevis, Minnesota early in the morning to begin a two day marathon fishing outing with guide and fishing expert, Kelley Cirks. Each summer, Cirks and I hit the lakes in the Park Rapids region in what has become an annual event. As I loaded my gear into his boat, Cirks informed me we were heading to his favorite bass lake to see if we could stick a couple of nice largemouth for photo... more

May 2013

Live-Bait Rigs Are Always an Option
by Jerry Carlson
I love to fish and I love to catch fish of all species. I enjoy scrappy panfish on light tackle. Watching bass squirt out of the water in an effort to throw the hook is always a treat. However, there is no question that there is something special about catching walleye. When it comes to sticking lip on old marble eyes, there are many different approaches to try. Jig fishing and the ensuing "th... more

April 2013

Making Withdrawals from the River Bank
by Jerry Carlson
As I look back on my angling experiences from my youth, there are few memories that grab me like the ones spent fishing for suckers on the banks of a river. Now that I am a few years older and gray is a dominant color in my beard, I still relish opportunities to make withdrawals from meandering water. It is not an easy task for me to put my finger on the specific appeal I have for this spring a... more

January 2013

Minimize the Effect of Auger Noise
by Jerry Carlson
Even though I had my back to the approaching vehicle, I could hear it coming while it was still a quarter mile away. It wasn't that the muffler was bad or the engine was revved, it was the ice moaning and groaning from the weight that was the clue. I watched the fish on my Vexilar, hoping I could get one more on the ice before the inevitable was going to happen. Unfortunately, I didn't get it d... more

December 2012

Snow Geese Arkansas Style
by Jerry Carlson
It was the last day of our Arkansas snow goose hunting adventure with Goose and Duck Smackers Guide Service. The early morning rain that had been promised by the weatherman had not yet arrived. However, the leading edge of the clouds was present making for a spectacular red and orange sunrise. As the guides finished the last minute preparations in the decoy spread, our group of hunters readied ... more

November 2012

Many Lakes, Many Fish
by Jerry Carlson
During the course of a winter of chasing panfish, I like to roam. I find it difficult to return to the same lake again and again, even if there is a respectable bite taking place. New water and fresh ice just appeals to me. My roaming itch is easy to scratch. I don't have to travel hundreds of miles to feel like I have been fishing. Instead, I like to focus on lakes that are relatively close an... more

September 2012

Family Ties Are Strong
by Jerry Carlson
When it comes to laying out decoy spreads for Canada geese, there are many different strategies to draw from. How a person goes about setting a spread depends on a number of variables. These variables include things like personal experience, location, weather and the time of the year. When it comes to my own personal decoy strategy for hunting geese, I would have to say my spreads are family or... more

August 2012

Finish More Geese with Better Concealment
by Jerry Carlson
Unless you are hooked on chasing Canada goose, it is hard to explain the enthusiasm for hunting that starts to develop in late summer. If you are a goose hunter, you know exactly what I am referring to. For us goose hunting junkies, the off season is always too long. When you enjoy hunting geese as much as I do, you look for every article you can find on goose hunting strategies. You also welco... more

July 2012

Working the Walleye-Northern Connection
by Jerry Carlson
Everyone that has fished a reasonable amount has had a northern experience or two they will never forget. These experiences are broad based and include fish that were caught, ones that got away and the ferocious strikes that can occur when a northern hits a hooked fish you are trying to reel in. I find all of the stories about quality northern to be exciting and entertaining. However, I am espe... more

June 2012

Twitch Baits Are a Viable Option
by Jerry Carlson
It had been a couple of tough days for our group on Rainy Lake. For some reason, we couldn't seem to zero in on an early summer pattern that would provide consistent walleye action for our anglers. In an act of desperation, I suggested to a couple of people that we should try something different. I thought perhaps there might still be some northern hanging in the shallow bays and we could targe... more

May 2012

Quitting is for Quitters
by Jerry Carlson
Every year I try to get together with long time fishing friend, Kelley Cirks. Cirks is a great angler that spends a lot of time on the water in the Park Rapids area of Minnesota. Normally, when he calls to say the fish are biting, I can pretty much count on a sure thing. Of course, there is that word "normally." It was early in the morning when I pulled into the driveway of Cirks' residence. He... more

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