Fishing's fourth season has seen quantum changes over the past 20 years with sophisticated electronics, power augers, quickly deployed portable shanties, sensitive jigging rods and dozens of options in ice fishing lures light years beyond staggering out with a stick and a spud to sit on a six-gallon bucket like grandpa used to do.
Every winter brings new gadgets and accessories to the hardwater arena. Many of these are children of convenience from the recesses of a wind-chilled mind. Innovation invites improvement, especially from folks who have a lot of time to sit and think while waiting for a bite.
Ice fishing is far less expensive than chasing fish in open water. You can be a pla... more
Another Thanksgiving has passed (I ate too much again), the blaze orange is packed away for next year, and we begin to prepare for the busy Christmas season of shopping, travel, relatives, and yes, more food. There is a crispness in the air that will surely lead to a blanket of snow and a layer of ice on our lakes. Saturday morning fishing shows hit the airwaves featuring nothing but ice fishing and, like a switch, the ice bug is flipped on - it's go time.
What is it about ice fishing for panfish that gets anglers so excited? Two things come to mind; one, fillets dipped in egg and coated with seasoned crushed saltines sizzling in the pan (need I say more?). Second, it's a blast to sit o... more
This time of year is always fun for the family to get out on the ice and do a little fishing," be careful to check ice depth" before taking mom and the kids out. In this article we will discuss 3 locations and 3 techniques for catching Northern Pike thru the ice although there are several others. Pike are great eating, from the frying pan to pickling them but they are under rated due to the "Y" bones and the outside skin is a little slimy when cleaning the fish, although the meat is very tasty.
Most of us know that Pike relate to the weeds most of the year, suspend over deeper water and will sit on the bottom away from the weed's, all these locations have specific techniques for catching ... more
After a big Turkey dinner many guys take their post- Thanksgiving naps, if you ice fish, you are likely dreaming of the first ice fishing trip of the year. In most years, it is only a couple of weeks away, and on special years, only a couple of days away. My family's two favorite species to fish for during the first ice season are northern pike or bluegills. For my son, Nate , it's all about the toothy pike. At 10, he has yet to acquire the patience to sit and watch a spring bobber. Waiting for a tip up to go up is a bit more acceptable. Plus with tip up fishing, we have ample time to work on tearing dad's rotator cuff throwing the football around.
During early ice, the weeds in shall... more
When you watch fish on an underwater camera, you can usually tell if that fish is going to eat just by how the fish is postured. Let's take walleyes for example, walleyes that are in attack mode typically have a different posture the fins are up and the back is arched. All fish including bluegills and crappie have that posture where they mean business. The fish are cruising and alert. These are the fish that make us look good as anglers and there are often key windows through the day where you get this activity. On the flip side, the fish that are not cruising that have their fins tucked tight to the body are much more difficult to catch.
Not very often, but every once in a while ... more
You know that age old comedic saying - "I got ya, Hook, Line and Sinker". Been around for years. Anglers always perpetrate their buddies into a punch line of a joke or story they are playing out, ending it with "giving them" the finale of a ribbing that only a fisherman can give. Same goes on the ice. Lots of ice anglers rig up just as the saying goes, and then carry on to fool their finned quarry. Works, yup? Always the best way? Nope, in actuality, this story is actually best played out without the sinker.
When talking about bite detection while jigging for any fish we are going to pursue through the ice, feel is the ultimate tool for success. But, this is not the feel that most are acc... more
Just as in open water fishing, there are a few really good guidelines for ice-fishing success. Keep these ideas in mind and you'll be more successful on the ice in the early, mid, and late ice-fishing seasons. Here we go!
Location: In any type of fishing, you need to fish where the fish are. In open water, we troll or keep moving while we cast. When you're ice-fishing, you need to keep moving also. The electronics used while ice-fishing are remarkably sensitive. They'll show you if there's a fish down there. If nothing looks at your bait in a couple of minutes, it's time to move to another hole.
With that said, we'll sit on a hole a little longer if we're fishing shallow water.... more
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 our blinds and prepared ourselves for whatever the day would bring. For the previous three mornings, the early flight had been memorable and we were hoping for more of the same on day four.
Although the cloud cover helped attract some flocks to our spread, the total lack of wind made finishing th... more
Big fish frequent the upper reaches of the water column and often go undetected...
Bellied to bottom; prowling from within thick masses of weeds- that's the most common contemplation about the whereabouts of northern pike and what they are doing there.
While it's true many a monstrous Esox entangled in vegetation has been pulled through a hole in the ice, the truth of the matter is trophy-size fish frequent the upper reaches of the water column more often than most anglers realize. Even within inland lakes and The Great Lakes where depths register to triple digits, the larger the fish the higher in the water column they roam.
What are they doing there? Like their lesser brethren dow... more
The beauty of early ice - fish are normally very plentiful and usually pretty easy to catch. The caveat - most of the time, there are too many species biting well at the same time, making it darn hard to figure out which one to pursue on any given day. But, hey, fishing is fishing, and any of the fish that are "snapping" are fun to catch. So, let's take a look at the top 5 on my list and some of my tips on how to catch them once the ice gets here in Wisconsin.
Like most of you, I can attest to the sense of excitement felt when that first sheet of walkable ice hits my favorite walleye lake. First ice is definitely walleye "prime time." Most walleyes during this time frame are stil... more
Keep your line in the water long enough and you'll eventually tangle with a dogfish, perhaps the most maligned rough fish swimming in Midwestern rivers.
Let's be honest here. If you're an angler who pretty much advocates catch and release a great deal of the angling experience is based upon the pull-the pugilistic ability of that critter on the other end of the line to rock your world.
Those folks who say they are sport anglers but revile encounters with drum, ling cod, gar, carp and even white bass have dichotomy in their philosophy which needs reconciliation.
All of these fish species put up a whale of a fight. I submit contention that the dogfish, a.k.a. grinnel, mudfish, bowfin... more
It's not here, but it's near. Ice-fishing that is. It's November. Many hunting seasons are in full swing. Those are an ice-anglers reminders that it's time to start thinking about ice-fishing. Depending on Mother Nature, we could be ice-fishing in just a couple of weeks in the northern states. Now is the time when we should be getting ready to go ice-fishing. If you get ready now, you'll be able to get out on the ice as soon as it's safe. Following are some of the things you can do now to increase your chances for a productive experience on your first ice-fishing trip of the season.
When you go ice-fishing, you've got to put some holes in the ice. Whether you use a power auger or ... more
As winter is fast approaching, some people will start ice fishing on the smaller ponds in our northern region during the next few weeks. As a year round tour guide for fishing, my clients are very excited to catch Perch thru the ice, these tasty fish offer some of the best table fair for the winter sportsman.
With my 12 wood, heated and insulated ice houses on 7 different lakes, the guests are always catching fish at one of these many locations.
We begin by fishing locations that are deeper, such as off the sides of rock bars down at the bottom near or in the soft sediment. Other locations are out in lakes or ponds that have deep brush, around 15 to 50 feet deep or off a long under wat... more
Anytime you become a successful deer hunter, there is plenty of work to be done with the joys of the harvest. From the do-it-your-self processor to the person who takes his deer in for processing, the hunter still needs to gut out the deer in order to keep it from spoiling.
Over the years I have grown to learn from talking with processers that the deer do not all come in the same and that there are people that have no clue what they are doing. Bladders left in the deer, half of the organs, the heart and lungs still in place. Oftentimes, guys bring their deer in a week after it was harvested in these conditions. This certainly does not help with the table fare of the deer. I have been for... more
Energetic tactics reveal big walleye sweet spots
Lots of buzz circulating these days about basin walleyes. We're talking heavyweight fish that roam vast spans of flat, seemingly featureless water. Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba has 'em. The Great Lakes. Prairie reservoirs. Even natural lakes like Mille Lacs, Minnesota host legions of these nomadic giants.
Tell you about a little discovery I've made. Finding these fish isn't the major needle-in-a-haystack deal it's been made out to be. Here's the secret: The same basin areas where I troll Shad Raps® during summer consistently draw big walleyes in winter, too. I call these key basin zones sweet spots-and they're wintertime goldmines. Scan an... more
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 and are within an hour's drive. In a normal winter on the ice, that usually translates into 15 to 20 bodies of water.
Although I do throw in a few new lakes to my repertoire each winter, I primarily go to the same water each year. This gives me a chance to generate a basic knowledge base on a parti... more
Talk about a fishing change of pace. Normally in October, my college buddies Tim, Steve and I would have been planning our annual Musky Trip to Bone Lake, in Polk County, WI. But this year was different. This October, I had the opportunity to go fishing in Chatham Harbor, off Cape Cod, Massachusetts on the Atlantic Ocean. The fishing trip was a renewal of old friendships that spans more than two decades. Because the last few years saw limited success on the Musky hunt and some wild weather, we decided it was time for a change. It was also precipitated by the fact that my friend Tim has a summer home on the Cape for free lodging.
The plan was set in motion about 10 months ago. Ever... more
I am convinced that in order to really catch walleyes through the ice, you have to be good at finding fish. The first people on a school score big. By the time word reaches the bar, the bite is over. People who are always hitting new ice and checking fresh spots are usually one step ahead of the crowds. By venturing out and finding fish, you can also fish much more aggressively for a few different reasons. In order to find fish, you have to check locations and fish through spots fast. Typically, I stop on a spot and drill holes over what I believe are the best locations on a particular spot. Drop down and fish aggressively just to see if anybody is home. Don't bother setting up camp ... more
Perch are one of the tastiest freshwater fish and are a favorite amongst ice anglers everywhere. Catching them through the ice is becoming more difficult but your odds will improve with a solid game plan. You can't catch em if you don't know where they live; the search will turn to destroy more often if the "when and where" is understood. A quick study of a detailed contour map or handheld GPS, and consideration of these areas; shallow bays, mudflats and deep basins, will put you on top of the "feed trough". Hammering into a school of perch is exhilarating, especially when you get into the "Pigs"; those of the 10-14 inch size.
At first ice, shallow bays are a magnet to pig perch and he... more
Many turkey hunters for whom the spring hunt is a serious affair have a different attitude about fall hunting. Talk to someone who has hunted turkeys in fall, and odds are you'll hear something like: "It's not the same as a spring hunt," or "It's almost impossible to bag a tom in fall," or "I get a fall tag just in case I see a turkey while I'm hunting grouse, squirrels or deer."
I may be in the minority, but I am one turkey hunter who can't wait for the fall season. I'll grant you that a fall hunt doesn't measure up to the springtime game of calling and trying to outsmart a wary tom with love on his mind. But now that Wisconsin's fall turkey season runs for more than three months and lef... more
Though summer is over and most have their boats put away for the winter, October is one of the best months of the year for numbers and trophy sized fish. A favorite walleye hot spot is the Turtle Flambeau Flowage near Mercer, WI. I recently spent a day on the water with Jerry "Jerkbait" Hartigan, owner of Flambeau Flowage Sports. Jerry has over 30 years of experience fishing the flowage. Over the course of his guiding, he has never had to bring fish for his shore lunches that he provides upon request. Jerry did say, he had to use rock bass and 10 inch northern pike on occasion though.
The day we picked was very sunny, high pressure with a cold front. Not the optimal time for fishing... more
Three Master Anglers Share Fall River Smallmouth Secrets
For river smallmouth bassers, "fall" carries a wonderful meaning. Across their North American range, smalljaws are on the move. Whether their riverine travels take them on lengthy journeys or short sojourns, bass respond to shorter days and cooling waters in one very important way: with great hunger and aggression.
At the epicenter of a smallmouth's Northern range, anglers who've paid their dues all summer pensively await the arrival of autumn. It's a time when day length and water temperature erode at similarly rapid rates. When leaves begin revealing their first yellows, oranges and reds, smallmouths have already packed the... more
The formation of the decoy spread and how the pocket is positioned contributes tremendously to how birds approach and drop into the spread. Hunters as a rule worry about or place a heavy emphasis on many details that aren't nearly as important as the shape and size of the landing spot which needs to be adjusted accordingly to different situations that arise.
Many hunters are familiar with the traditional horseshoe or "V" formation that creates a nice open pocket. There are many variations of this basic concept and what is most important is a hole or runway for approaching birds to land. A nice open pocket pinpoints where finished birds will attempt to land which creates a shooting op... more
Stevens Point, WI Sometimes it is not the size of the deer that is the prize. That was the case the other night as I trekked into the woods with my son Cade. Cade has taken a newfound interest in hunting. At school this past week he had to make a little poster and include some things about himself. As an eight year old, a lot of different things go through a boys mind. When it came time for him to fill in his favorite hobby, he wrote down hunting. He had recently been telling me that it was his favorite hobby, but I figured he was only telling that to make his daddy happy. Last year I struggled to get him into the woods and was fortunate enough to shoot a doe with him in the stand on one o... more
As the water turns over (going on now) which is well under way in Vilas, Oneida and Iron County in northern WI. in the shallower lakes, the deep clear lakes will be turning quickly, Walleye are already on the bite, big time.
Are we like the great lakes, no, of course not, but we do have thousands of Walleye eagerly biting, right now, for anyone who wants to learn how to catch them and it's easy, this time of year.
As the thermocline continues to drop down lower and lower in your favorite lake, (if your lake is deep enough for a thermo cline) the daytime activity of the Walleye gets stronger and stronger. The tasty table fare of these fish draws a large attraction for anglers, who are... more
With the catch-and-release ethic so much a part of sport fishing in the 21st century you would think the freshwater drum would be King instead of "The Goat".
Drum, a.k.a. sheephead and many less glorious terms, is the Rodney Dangerfield of rough fish. This designation in itself is little more than piscatory racism. The drum is a hard fighter, willing biter and exceptional table fare.
I believe sheephead should be elevated at least to "sport fish" status like white bass, although gamefish designation is certainly deserved. Drum fight better than walleye and taste better than bass.
If these credentials aren't enough, drum should at least gain respect for their longevity. Becker's ... more
The leaves are changing, the water temps dropping and the big fish go on the prowl triggered by the need to feed before winter. Fishing pressure drops significantly, since many are drawn to the woods for other outdoor pursuits. Take advantage of this time of year to find giant walleyes in Northern Midwest waters.
To find the larger fish in any system in the fall, one has to have an understanding of what they are after and on most Northern Minnesota lakes that means ciscoes. During the fall, ciscoes are looking to spawn and this will draw a crowd. Prime spawning ground will include rocky flats adjacent to shorelines and points that have deep water nearby. Ideally there... more
Preparation is the ultimate key to success in any type of fishing, but when it comes to ice fishing, it is even more important. Ice and winter weather are hard on tip-ups, spools, line, and leaders. Spending a little time getting your gear ready before you hit the ice will help you capitalize on opportunities to actually catch fish.
We all love early ice and fishing tip-ups for walleyes and pike. Time and time again, I fish with friends who pull their tip-ups from the garage the day before we head to the lake without any preparation, yet expecting success. Sooner or later, they are struggling with rusty spools and busted lines while I am catching fish. Tend to your tip-ups at the end and t... more
One man's cheat sheet for knowing when and when not to call on rattling crankbaits
The world of sound additives as they relate to fishing has been a hot topic for decades. Knowing when and where to introduce sound, and then how much of it, is critical to success whether you're trolling for walleyes with leadcore or casting bodybaits over reefs for smallmouth bass.
When it comes to walleyes, typically, I find they react more positively to subtler rattles. This drumbeat plays particularly well in darker water, amidst weed growth and submerged timber, and where rocks form the structural baseline. A fish's instinctive reaction in these situations is more impulsive than a program of stalkin... more
Fall arrives at different times in different places across North America. Right now in the Midwest, we're experiencing beautiful weather, but the fish are noticing a change in the seasons. Water temps are dropping, and the days are getting shorter. The fish know that winter is on the way, and this tells them it's time to fatten up for winter. At this time of year, for a wide variety of fish wherever you might be fishing, live bait is going to be a great way to catch'em. Other presentations will work, but in the fall, you just can't beat live bait in many situations. Last week I was on Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. In the following I'll share our tips for success for walleyes a... more
Understanding how a deer's nose works in its environment is important. I try to tackle the scent problem in four ways: breath, body odor, clothing and filler.
A whitetail deer utilizes its nose probably more than any other sense. It uses it to detect food, mates, danger and everything inbetween. There sense of smell is not that much different than ours, it is, however, more precise and more fine tuned. With that being said, the demeanor of the deer, time of the year and weather all play a role in how a deer will react when presented with different types of scents. We also must realize that the bacteria that reside on us are our enemy, as they produce the gas that makes us stink as... more
The fact that walleye fishing is good come fall is no secret. Realistically one of the best times of year for seeing solid patterns develops with great fishing. Big fish are often fairly easy to target with some consistency. Despite how good the fishing is late in the open water season, there are not that many people out fishing come fall on many major walleye fisheries. Just too many things to do outside like hunting and for many people, they have got their fishing fix for the season long before fall. The only people left on the water are the real diehards and their numbers are few.
Somewhere, there has to be a bite going on where the boat ramp is crowded and people are playing a ... more
Just because it's after Labor Day, doesn't mean fishing season is over. Some of my best months to fish are September and October. The best part of fishing in fall is the huge decrease in boat traffic and anglers fighting for the same fishing spots. As the water cools, it brings the fish from the deep water main lake basin back to a more fishable depth range for the average angler. I consider a depth of less than 20 ft easier to fish.
The shorter days and cooler nights bring the suspended fish to their rocky haunts to put on the feed bag before winter. Rocks provide a perfect place to find crayfish and small bait fish. This time of year I prefer main lake points or rock bars. The be... more
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 oriented. Although I may switch things around a bit in the very late season, for most of the fall, families are key.
There is a reason I am so hung up on utilizing family groupings for my main theme. One of those reasons has to do with observations I have made from watching live geese.
One insta... more
When killing frosts have crisped the bracken, aspen leaves have faded to burnt gold and the red lanterns in every woodland blackberry patch have been snuffed out for the year, then should a man begin seriously to hunt grouse and woodcock, not before, for they are truly October's birds.
You can't hit a grouse you can't see, and shooting at grouse in the September woods is mostly a guess and a poke. Woodcock, unlike grouse, generally fly out of cover, rather than into it, and so present an easier target, but shoot them before the northern flights come down and you're cutting into your local brood stock.
For years, though, we have been blessed with a September opener for both. And so, i... more
The weather may be holding at summer-like temperatures, but autumn is right around the corner and it's time to start thinking about fall fishing. This year, try these tips and techniques for jigging for walleye and you will find time on the water is time well-spent!
On the Winnebago system, where I live, I have found great success jigging over rock piles. When targeting these rocky areas, stay as close to the deepest mud-to-rock transition lines that you can possibly find. These areas usually hold the most walleye and perch at this time of year. Once you locate a rock pile with a considerable number of fish, hit a waypoint and troll around it a few times. Use #7 shad raps in the natu... more
Thoughts of Pheasant Hunting may not be your highest priority until the leaves are falling. But, if you are serious about the sport and want to get the most out of your hunting experience you should be doing something about it right now.
I know many of you feel all you need to do is grab your trusty old gun and vest, toss the dog in vehicle and you are all set. If you want to break from the mold a bit and shake up your routine, some preparation would be in order.
First of all, just how successful have your hunts been the last couple of years? If you're not conjuring up memories of bountiful days, perhaps it's time for a change of scenery-and luck. I hail from South Dakota and wil... more
It's the time of year Great Lakes anglers can catch a stringer full of fish too weighty for one man to carry
More often than not, the best way to find fish in big water is to fish it small.
With that said, ponder the enormity of the Great Lakes. To say these waterways are massive is the understatement of a lifetime. Each of the five is literally hundreds of thousands of acres of water encompassed by thousands of miles of shoreline. Pinpointing the whereabouts of the salmon and trout can be harder than stumbling upon a #14 hook you dropped on a rock strewn riverbank a week earlier.
This time of year, however, anglers are in luck; autumn is the time when the majority of the big lak... more
When I was a kid hours were spent thumbing through old copies of Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. The back of these venerated magazines had pages of intriguing ads for exotic hunting and fishing locations.
One of these fantasy destinations was Andy Myers Lodge in Ontario where a guest could catch trophy musky, pike and walleye. These possibilities were surreal for a young angler who could only experience mediocre carp, bullhead and sucker fishing within bicycle range from home.
A half century later I've been fortunate enough to experience some of the most exciting angling venues in North America. But I had never been to Andy Myers Lodge. When long time pal Ron Barefield asked if I... more
As the water temperature continues to cool down, more and more of our lakes continue to cool down, the Walleye action will continue to heat up, quickly. Make no mistake many, many guides have produced Walleye this past summer right thru the heat wave we all endured. We now, as Walleye anglers, will and have already been experiencing a big improvement in the numbers of fish caught and coming into the boat.
We are going to discuss 3 locations and 3 techniques. Keep in mind, there are several other locations and techniques, such as the Great Lakes and trolling.
"First location", are the creek channel's on many of the Flowages and Resivore's scattered across IL. and WI. These creek channe... more
They glitter. Shine. Shimmer in the light. Minuscule minnows and young-of-the-year fishes are everywhere. Deep, shallow, swimming amongst the thickest cover, suspended high in the water column or bellied to bottom. The fact is there are more of these tiny tidbits swimming about lakes, reservoirs and rivers than any other species with scales.
While there are still days the old adage "big lures catch big fish" holds true, the fact of the matter is the opposite is more often spot on. Over all, little fishes are what larger fish eat; the reality being all sizes and species feast on bite-size prey over the hefty ones every day. This premise drives the recent explosion of micro crankbaits hitti... more
Until just over a month ago I had never heard of a Bimbo Gifford Skunk. When Dells guide Nick Olson mentioned this well-crafted #10 fly/jig in casual conversation I asked if he knew Rick Anderson, owner of the AAA Tackle Shop in Spooner. He did not.
The week before Olson and I absolutely pounded smallmouth bass in the Wisconsin River at the Dells, Anderson had me out on a pontoon boat near Spooner where we absolutely pounded big bluegills on Lipsie Lake. Anderson said we would probably catch more-and bigger-bluegills if we tempted them with a Bimbo Gifford Skunk.
Legendary names like Rapala and Mepps were once just anecdotes where fishers foregathered to rant about their passion. Fis... more
With the hot weather and drought we have experienced this year, crops are shriveling up in most corners of the state. The same belief could be thought of for mast crops and berries. A keen hunter relies on these crops and follows them in his quest for big game. Where the food is the bear and deer will surely be. My thought process heading into last week was to narrow my search down to a few spots over the next couple of weeks to hone in on a spot not affected by the drought. I quickly found out that Mother Nature has other ideas.
The boys and I planted a fall food plot two weeks ago and set up a couple of cameras. We wanted to check out both, and as we headed out the door I though... more
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 welcome conversations that revolve around the sport of chasing geese.
It was over lunch this past summer that I had a lengthy conversation about goose hunting with hunting specialist, Chad Allen. Allen is someone that not only loves all aspects of hunting, he has also turned his enthusiasm for the spo... more
I know this may sound counterintuitive as much of the time we are happy just to find the elusive buggers and simply take what they give us. If you want to up your game a bit and try to weed out the smaller eater sized fish and specifically focus your efforts on the largest mature fish on any given body of water, there are some things you can do help put the odds in your favor. Yes, you will be sacrificing catching high numbers, but I will gladly do this in favor of a few big fish with large numbers of their own inches and pounds.
First of all we must put a bit of thought into the habits and preferences of mature fish before we ever wet a line or consider presentation options. Probably ... more
Much has changed within the underwater world the salmon of the Great Lakes swim. Nowadays, it's more than just the common cyclic climbs and crashes in the population of both predator and prey that have sportfishing catches varying year to year. In addition to Mother Nature's natural order is the introduction of a glut of exotic species flushed from the ballasts of freighters from foreign seas.
To say the water quality differs today from when the salmonid families were first introduced into these freshwater seas in the late 1960's is a gross understatement.
One thing that hasn't been tainted, however, are the wicked feeding benders of Chinook and coho salmon. When the moment's right, sa... more
I have been a professional fishing guide for over twenty years. I have had thousands of people in my boat, from NFL Players to an 80 year old coal miner from West Virginia. Besides the good laughs and interesting stories, we have caught a lot of fish. Only 3 times in 20 years has the boat been skunked! Out of all of the trips, the most enjoyable trips I have had are when I've been teaching a child to fish and passing along the skills to make them a better fisherperson. I have been allowed to teach and watch children catch their first fish and soon after their biggest fish.
My favorite trips of the year are usually the lowest paying; those trips where I get to take my own kids fishin... more
Catching more walleyes on crankbaits sometimes boils down to having a system or program in the boat that enables you to keep the lures in the water in front of fish. When you have a system in place that enables you to hustle and keep lures in the water and also enables you to either stack lures in tight formations or use multiple planer boards, you get lures in front of that many more fish. There is no right or wrong procedure for getting this done in an organized fashion as I have seen a lot of great walleye anglers over the years that had a little bit different game plan but being able to duplicate success, make tight turns and keep lines in the water really is what sometimes seperates t... more
With high water temperatures during this time of year, Muskie Anglers are put in front of several options, some of these options are going to be discussed and presented to you in 3 separate presentations with 3 separate techniques. This article is about day time fishing. This is late summer or pre early fall, depending on your location.
One of the [most popular is the rubber Bulldog and other rubber baits, remember, there are several rubber baits that Muskie anglers are using and there are several rubber baits that are continuing to explode onto the Muskie market. Some of these baits are only 4 to 7 inches long and some are over 20 inches long, some of them weigh as ... more
After nearly a decade of hunting them, Wisconsin's dove hunters are beginning to get a handle on how to hunt this tricky little game bird. According to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reports, hunters have taken around 100,000 doves during each of the first nine seasons. With less than a month to go before this year's September 1st dove opener, now's the time to start planning your dove hunts.
Most folks know by now that there are several options. You either wait somewhere in their anticipated flight path and pass-shoot them, walk them up out of sparse cover, or figure out where they want to be and get there ahead of them.
The first two options make for tough shooting. Passin... more
In the summer, fish can be found in a lot of places in a body of water. They'll be wherever their food is, and their food can be in a lot of places and take a lot of forms. In some lakes the fish will be eating suspended shad, or crayfish that are over rocky bottoms, or perch that are hugging the bottom, or leeches that are just out swimming around, or,,,well, you get the idea. Fish can be in a lot of different places in the summer. One really consistent place to find a wide variety of fish is a weedline. Weedlines attract a variety of fish, and these fish are usually willing to eat your bait. Here's how you can catch fish on the weedline now and for the next couple of months.
The w... more
Numbers of Smallmouth Bass and big Smallmouth Bass are frequently caught in lakes while fishing down deep during the heat of the summer months. We will go over 3 specific locations and 3 techniques so you too can produce these bronze back warriors, NOW.
This article is geared towards lake fishing.
First, we are going after suspended Smallmouth Bass, these fish are at times deeper than the structure they are relating to but the fish are not on the bottom and are easily seen on most fish locaters. Locating them can be done by looking off the sides of rock bars, rock humps, sand bars, a long bar connected to a point that extends out into the lake, necked down areas of a lake such as, betwe... more
Big fish will typically push smaller fish off of a spot if the big fish want to set up on that spot. Bass fishing is probably the best example of locations or spots that are typically big fish spots because so often, we can readily see what makes a location so attractive. Not all docks for example are the same. Some docks have a better scour hole from a big motor powering up on a boat lift. Docks with wheels or tires might have better structure below the dock that attracts fish for example. A particular dock will produce a big bass and a few weeks later, the same dock will hold a different big bass providing the spot has had a chance to rest. Some rock piles just have the complexity an... more
Smallmouth bass are on a full-blown feeding binge right now downstream from the Wisconsin Dells dam on our namesake river.
Extremely low water levels have concentrated baitfish by the gazillions close to rocks in shallow water, close to much deeper water and near riffles several miles below the dam where a sign cautions "no rentals beyond this point."
Thousands of smallmouth bass are working like tanned, finned border collies bent on corralling three inch long river shiners, chowing down on the slower members of these vast schools of baitfish.
Understanding the predator/prey relationship is a major key in consistent fishing success. At the Dells success on smallmouth is a simple mat... more
Old beliefs die hard.
Take walleyes, for instance. Let's look at three common beliefs regarding walleye behavior.
In summer, they go deep, right? Some do, some don't, depending mainly on three key variables: water temperature, oxygen levels and food availability. In many lakes and reservoirs with shallow weed beds, the vegetation offers those three variables, along with ambush cover, so a fair number of walleyes hang out in the weeds all summer.
Another belief is that walleyes are finicky eaters, light biters, slow-moving critters. Not true! Walleyes can move nearly as fast as pike and muskies and they will slam a bait with the ferocity of a bass. Recent underwater video footage sho... more
Over the last few years jig worm fishing has become very popular. Very versatile, a jig worm can be used in deep weedlines, skipped under docks, and of course, finesse fished around shallow cover. A jig worm is simply a lead head jig with a piece of plastic on it. With the increased popularity of the jig worm, manufacturers have created a jig with a larger hook, usually a 1/0 or 2/0 hook. This larger hook aids in better hook ups. The real beauty of the jig worm is that it works when fish are spooky in shallow waters or during cold front conditions when nothing else seems to work.
For fishing a jig worm, my favorite set up is a spinning combo. I like a 6'6" or 7' medium action rod wi... more
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 especially intrigued by situations where one finds northern interested in eating your catch, particularly when your catch is walleye!
I can't even begin to count the times when northern have tried to strip walleye off of my hook. In fact, there have been a few cases when the gator was so serious abou... more
Since I began fishing Lake Michigan back in the early 1970's, I've seen many changes to our fishery. Through the years these changes in water conditions, forage base and exotic species have caused ups and downs in our ability to put delicious meals into our coolers and onto our dinner tables. Through all the changes, one thing remains constant, the excitement of spring fishing!
For my money, the most exciting time of year on Lake Michigan is SPRING TIME! After months of seeing my boat covered up in the yard and dragging a sleigh around as I drill holes in the ice to chase whitefish and perch, I can't wait to make those first trips back out onto the big pond to set my lines for some ta... more
It was over twenty years ago when the Delavan Lake rehabilitation project occurred. The project was to reduce the phosphorous level in the lake, which grows the weeds and eliminate the rough fish population. It was a huge success making Delavan Lake one of the best fisheries in the state. Like all things, over time, things change. Once again Carp have arrived to the ecosystem, not in enormous numbers as before, but enough to hunt them with bow and arrow (bow fishing). In Wisconsin it is legal to shoot rough fish with a bow and arrow. A rough fish is an undesirable fish species that is seldom eaten such as suckers, carp or bowfin to name a few.
I recently had the opportunity to try ... more
Contrary to popular belief, the vibrations and gyrations of bodybaits (aka crankbaits) often prevail over the standard spin, flash and roll of conventional metal
Cast. Troll. Fish them high in the water column or low. Tie on a bodybait and ply any of the Great Lakes for trout and salmon and you'll often have the upper hand.
Spoons, spinners, flashers and flies are standard issue anywhere trout and salmon swim. It's not that the aforementioned don't catch fish. But contrary to popular belief, the vibrations and gyrations of bodybaits often prevail over the standard spin, flash and roll of metal lures. This is especially true when the bite is unpredictable.
But not all bodybaits ar... more
Door County pokes its thumb into Lake Michigan like a hitch-hiker looking for a ride. Between the thumb and the central Wisconsin palm, lie the waters of Green Bay. Along the eastern edge of the thumb, rock outcroppings and sheltered harbors define the rugged coastline of Lake Michigan. The Door Peninsula offers hundreds of miles of shoreline, more than any other county in America. Most of it is smallmouth water.
Until recently, smallmouth bass took a back seat to the Door's other fish species. Brown trout, Chinook salmon, northern pike, perch and walleyes have traditionally drawn anglers to the Door Peninsula. The bass have always been there, but new regulations and the rise of the... more
If rotary dial cell phones were available, I would have one. The next best technology for a simple river rat is one of those Trac Phones where you buy pre-paid minutes.
Mine is held together with duct tape and the "3" button is broken, So if you want to reach me out on the water and you're calling from a number with a "3" it will be awhile before I get back to you.
This phone has a voice mailbox, which I've never activated. People call it anyway. The phone beeps every time it locks in on a different tower and the phone asks me if I want to "listen" or "ignore".
Maybe a smart phone would figure I wanted to "ignore" after the 200th time this option was selected. My dumb phone res... more
As the weather begins to warm in earnest and we trend into the Summer months, we see not only the air temperature rise; but more importantly-the water temperature. Just as we tend to become much more active, fish of all species respond in kind, particularly my favorite-walleye's. Meaning we can now begin to leave behind some of the finesse tactics that are so common early in the open water period.
The fish begin to spread out and away from their traditional spawning grounds in search of plentiful food sources in which to replenish themselves from the rigors of spawning as well as achieve their annual growth potential, which is limited to just a few short months in the Northern climates ... more
As a guide, I believed that the most effective game plans just kept walleye fishing straight forward and simple. There are plenty of folks in this business who try to make fishing really complicated and you can make fishing akin to rocket science if you wish I however made a living as a guide by dumbing the process down. I found that by keeping the process simple, I could accommodate people with a wider range of experience and skill levels without making fishing intimidating. I didn't want to set out and prove my angling abilities or show off some superior intellect that is not what I wanted to be. My goal was to take people out and put them in a situation where they could catch fish, ... more
Working deeper for summer Crappie is very normal for most of us, let's go over 3 specific techniques and locations for catching these tasty fish. To start with (location # 1) I teach clients how important deeper wood and or brush piles are, as these wood structures provide cover not only to the Crappie but also a host of smaller young of the year hatchlings of different species of fish and of course larger game fish.
Once the structure has been located by using our electronics, I mark the spot by dropping out a marker buoy on top of the spot then we cast small jigs tipped with small minnows to the underwater wood. I use 6 pound test Berkley Fire Line in the smoke color on all my Crappie a... more
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 target these fish for a morning instead of stubborn walleye.
As we motored into a bay, I explained the concept we would be using to trigger our fish. We would be fishing suspending, shallow running jerk baits over the tops of the weeds. However, instead of a cast and retrieve approach, we would utiliz... more
Written in conjunction with Tony Roach
Springtime arrived earlier this year than maybe anytime over the past century. It's been a truly remarkable season of prematurely warm weather - not that we're complaining. But even the old-timers, who were around to fish the Original Rapala Minnow, can't recall another year like this one. Melting ice ended the frozen water period almost before it started. Warm sunny March, April and May days warmed the shallows rapidly, injecting the water with virtual espresso shots of activity. With remarkable climatic conditions like these, it's no wonder that anglers have been left scratching their heads, wondering aloud and to themselves: How will the walleyes ... more
The old saying 'what goes up must come down' can be applied to walleyes after their spring spawning run in a river. Legions of 'eye chasers will be out there jigging and rigging for their myopic Manitou when the fish head upstream. Few-if any-remain on the water when consensus amongst the most revered local river rats is that the big parade is over.
Many head for other rivers where the walleye wedding march plays a week or two later. Others stow their rods and get back to work. Our exceptionally warm spring this year has thrown classic walleye thinking right out the window.
On the Mississippi where I'm a full time guide pulling cranks on three-way rigs is usually a May tactic. This y... more
The Big Perch are biting now and with early ice out across most of the mid western states this year, spawning has taken place ahead of schedule for several different fish species. It's not just the Walleye we should focus on this opening season, the Perch are also on the bite now and they are feeding very aggressively, just like the middle of June.
Fishing the drop offs, including slow moving current areas and the new weed growth that is close to their spawning area, is very productive for us.
Using small Crappie minnows in conjunction with a 1/16 oz. jig, casting out, allowing the jig to sink a few feet and then starting a slow retrieve is a good method for boating several of these ta... more
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 had the boat hooked up and was clearly pumped about the prospects of a good day of bass fishing.
As we drove to the lake, he filled me in on the bite that had been taking place. With the spawn over and the fish recuperated, the bass had moved into the cabbage beds and were hungry and ready to ea... more
Trolling for walleyes used to be regarded as more of an intimate affair. The boats twenty or thirty years ago were typically much smaller so we sat closer to the water. Before specifically designed trolling rods and line counter reels, crank baits were often trolled with low profile bait casters or spinning reels. All an angler needed was a six foot medium action rod. Line was watched, lure vibration was felt (even with monofilament) and a person who trolled every night could calculate how much line to let out and where to pump the rod tip to create the perfect trolling pass.
Fast forward a few years and trolling for walleyes transformed. Multiple rod spreads are desired. Most ang... more
Eddie Salter, the Hunters Specialties turkey guru from Evergreen, Ala., once described spring turkey hunting as "the All-American sport."
"It's all about sex and violence," Salter said. "That old gobbler thinks he's about to make love and you're there to try to kill him."
Salter's salty tongue was not tucked into his cheek when he shared that observation 25 years ago during a seminar at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show. Salter pared spring turkey hunting down to its bare essence. Without sex, there is no spring hunt. Without violence, there are no dead turkeys hanging at the end of the day.
Turkey hunters would do well to remember Salter's characterization of their sport b... more
With the unseasonably warm March and cool April all attention has turned to hitting the lakes for some open water fishing. With gamefish season closed, my fish of choice is panfish. The opening day for gamefish in Wisconsin is the first Saturday in May.
April and May is actually a great time to fish. The weather can be quite comfortable and the boat traffic is much less than in summer. And the fish can be very active in pre-spawn location. The fish of choice for me are the bluegills and the crappies.
In spring I tend to find the active bluegills in less than 3 feet of water. I will search for the warmest water in the lake. I choose locations like the backs of bays or chan... more
Northwoods guide Greg Bohn has fished for walleyes at night since he was 7 years old.
His uncle, who owned the old Woods Motel and Resort in Arbor Vitae, would drive him to a dock or a pier so he could fish well after dark. Sometimes he'd ride his bike if he couldn't catch a ride. After a few hours under the moonlight, he'd usually head back home with a nice stringer of walleyes and panfish.
Bohn kept right on fishing after dark when he became a professional guide about 35 years ago. He realized the vacationers who wanted to fish in one of the hundreds of lakes around Minocqua were often too busy during the day with family to wet a line. Working men and women had jobs when the s... more
People who like to fish like to talk about different things that can impact their fishing success. The number of factors that can impact our fishing success are many, but one thing that we often come back to is lure color. Beginning and expert anglers alike are always trying to figure out how much impact lure color has on our fishing success. Following are some thoughts on lure color.
In the minds of many accomplished anglers the lure color question is this simple: Sometimes color matters, sometimes it doesn't. When the fish are biting, they'll often hit any color you put out there. When they don't want to eat, color becomes one of several very important considerations. There are t... more
Walleyes are flexible, their lives spent adapting to ever evolving surroundings. This opposed to the fact that many walleye anglers are inflexible, set in their ways. Such was the case fishing alongside friends and relatives as a punk kid who should be happy just to have a seat in the boat.
Those formative years were banked on Lake Geneva in Southern Wisconsin fishing with my Dad. We fished for bass, northern pike, muskies, and panfish during the day - walleyes always reserved for sundown and the wee morning hours. My Dad insisted that you couldn't catch walleyes during the day. Locals supported this stubborn stance claiming that walleyes only bit at night or under lowlight conditions, an... more
I am going to relay a couple of things that may be known to some of the more savvy walleye anglers out there, but may not be to the vast masses of anglers. In doing so, I will also share how to combine the two into what I personally feel is the hottest livebait technique available today.
What I am referring to is using the slow death method of presenting a half crawler, typically delivering it via a bottom bouncer. What this amounts to is a purposely kinked Aberdeen style hook that causes the half crawler to slowly spin just oh so seductively. Walleye's whether they are in an aggressive, neutral, or even negative mode will readily respond to this. Making it the first choice for a nu... more
Read Spring Steel on Lake Michigan Tributaries - Part I: Tackle and Tactics
Rainfall and runoff vary up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline, so the spring steelhead run may be in full swing on one river before it starts somewhere else. The southernmost rivers - the Pike, the Root, the Milwaukee and the Menomonee - usually see the first new fish in early March, and the run progresses up the shore to end in Door and Marinette counties sometime in May. Steelhead run up nearly every stream that feeds Lake Michigan. Some are crowded with anglers, others virtually unfished.
Kenosha's Pike River is a small stream that doesn't see as much pressure as the larger Root River in Racine. Get o... more
We often find walleyes at late ice in shallow water. We often find walleyes at some point each spring in shallow water. Walleyes typically spawn in shallow water and there are all kinds of reasons for fish to be shallow early in the season. Warmer water, the right bottom composition for spawning and enough memories from catching fish shallow in the past makes looking deep early in the season hard for many anglers. Yes there are going to be many patterns happening in less then seven feet of water on many fisheries early in the season and these shallow locations are a great starting point especially when water temperatures start to climb and the weather is stable but across the board on ma... more
While most boats leave the landing in pursuit of other popular sport fish, I slide aside and pounce on perch
Historically, perch have been known as "the other fish." You can see it within livewells throughout the Midwest. Walleye anglers are more than happy to keep a clutch of jumbos that happened to be mixing with their primary quarry; crappie catchers aren't quick to release a stray 'eater' that wandered onto the area, either; even hardcore bassers will find the time to fill their livewells if enough jumbos reach the hook on their soft plastics.
I, however, search for perch on purpose.
I prepare ahead of time by specifically gearing up for them, and shake loose all temptations to... more
February brings our families annual trip to the Gulf coast of Florida. This year the trip was to Cape Coral, FL. We fly there, so I have to leave my boat at home, but I am a fisherman so if there is water, I have to find a way to fish. We figured out after the first year, that Florida has a lot of water, and Cape Coral is no exception. Ever since that first year we always bring our fishing gear. Without a boat, I am back to my youth with shore fishing or wading. The week long stay had many obligatory family functions, but the fishing crew was able to fish for a few hours each day from shore. The fishing crew consists of my son, Nate (9) and my brother in law, Jeff (older than 9).
Depending on where you live in ice-fishing country, the end of the ice-fishing season is maybe a couple of weeks away or maybe a month away. Regardless of the time remaining, late ice provides perhaps the best fishing from a couple of standpoints. The bite will usually be pretty consistent, the fish will be bigger because the spawn is getting closer, the days are longer, and they're also warmer. Yes, the ice-fishing season is winding down, and that's a good reason to get out every chance you get. And, if an ice-fishing opportunity doesn't readily present itself, you need to make an excuse to go. That shouldn't be hard to do. Here are some things you should keep in mind for late-season ... more
You seldom see a snowplow attached to the front end of a Corvette. Such a rig could probably do the job. But flying the 'Vette down the road to a shed where the plow truck waits is a more ergonomic use of both these "tools".
Some anglers have a sports car with a snowplow attitude when it comes to selecting the most deadly walleye weapon yet created: the jig.
The basic quarter ounce ballhead jig may put marble-eyes in the boat when you land on top of a hungry pod of fish. But walleyes are in a neutral to negative feeding mood most of the time. Tweaking your jig selection and presentation usually spells the difference between catching fish and catching lots of fish.
On any given day ... more
You could say we northerners sometimes migrate with the geese, or more like snowbirds, to places far from the frosted lands. No doubt, the warm sun on one's back is reward enough, but for many anglers, it's the pursuit of openwater alternatives that lure us southward. For me, even a week or two below the Ice Belt recharges my fishing soul and preps me for the final few weeks of ice fishing.
This past November, veteran walleye chasers Mark Brumbaugh, Tony Roach and I had the opportunity to track walleyes in Arkansas. We were like three giddy kids, knowing the potential and possibilities that lurked in Lake Ouachita. Trailering down, our big Lund Pro-V's became our navigational chariots. B... more
Strong perch patterns occur across the board at late ice. Typical locations include gravel and sand, subtle rolling structure that is connected to the shoreline is often productive. During the late ice period, perch often move shallow and if there is atypical rule of thumb regarding shallow perch, it is that they are aggressive and on the move. These fish run in packs and don't stick around. These nomads can be difficult to locate but when you find them, they often bite. Some lakes turn on during the day when the sun pops out, other lakes are morning and evening bites where the bite peaks when the sun is on the horizon. What is universal however is just how aggressive these fish get wh... more
Written in conjunction with Brian "Bro" Brosdahl
Crappies call like the Siren's song. No matter where on God's green earth - or frozen planet for that matter - Bro is presently placed, he hears crappies calling. Most often, during the dark days of winter, they whisper things like "come here big boy" and "catch me if you can" through feet of snow-packed ice. Bro answers with his auger and an appetite for eaters. Sometimes, though, southern breezes carry the faint voices of crappies, black and white, from fisheries down yonder. Lately, the enchanting summons harps from crappies on Arkansas' Lake Ouachita.
"Yeah, they call to me," Bro admits aloud about the voices only he can hear. "Mor... more
Wisconsin's Lake Michigan tributary steelhead fishery attracts anglers from all across the United States, and for good reason. Twenty-five Lake Michigan streams support annual spawning runs of steelhead, or lake-run rainbow trout, that provide super fishing for a good portion of the year.
The action begins in late summer or early fall on some streams and runs into May, and the season is open year round. Check the Trout Fishing Regulations Guide for details.
In midwinter, you can have nearly any stream to yourself. The steelhead you find in the rivers now are mostly dark fish that came up last fall and have spent several months in the deeper holes. Sometimes, you can coax one into tak... more
Many ice anglers associate the end of January and beginning of February with mid winter doldrums. Many anglers believe that first ice and late ice is the best ice for fishing and the in between ice not so good. There is some truth to the midwinter doldrums particularly with smaller lakes. Now not to say a lake less than five hundred acres cannot be red hot in the middle of winter because they can but smaller water does seem more sensitive to a few factors that can ruin a bite. My own personal opinion, I believe some small lakes just get hit and as the fish get caught, the fishing gets tougher because fish bite better when they are competing against more neighbors. Remove half the fish ... more
When you're ice-fishing, just like when you're open water fishing, there are days when the fish get finicky. They might be finicky due to weather conditions, or it could be fishing pressure that has them closed-mouthed. Whatever the reason, just like in open water, there are some things you can do to get fish under the ice to bite even when they don't want to. Here are some of those things.
When fishing pressure is the cause for the fish to get selective, you have a couple of options. Probably the best option is to get away from the pressure. If the lake you're on has a lot of people fishing the community hole, get away from the community hole. You can move to the edge of the activi... more
With Brian "Bro" Brosdahl
Few see them. Others either dismiss the sightings as hooey or are cursed to believe but never catch even a fleeting glimpse of one. These, you might call freshwater poltergeists, can be as common as the ghosts of missing mariners on pirate vessels, but still scarcely witnessed. Believers see them. Brian "Bro" Brosdahl sees them, and then catches them like genies in a bottle.
Bro is haunted by humungous panfish. They keep him awake at night. Cause him to swerve to the shoulder daydreaming on the way to find them. Difference between Bro and other ghost hunters, though, is his success rate. Bro captures them on hook and on film. And then like any steward of blueg... more
Late winter brings about opportunities. Certain species begin lining up like 2-for1 day at "Old Country Buffet." Yellow perch, in particular, become extremely active during the final weeks of the ice season.
Some real monster perch get stuck this time of the year, and I'm not talking the thumbs down size, but the 10, 12, and 14-inchers we crave to catch. These egg-laden chubos cruise mud flats and weedbeds devouring about anything that crosses their paths. For the angler, mobility is the key to finding schools of these marauding perch, most encounters happening in anywhere from 10 to 30-feet of water. Consequently, you need to be flexible and diligent in your searching scheme. But once lo... more
Mother Nature has made little ice this past week but those waters which wear winter lids haven't lost ice since the Packer's season melted away.
Days are getting longer. Come Superbowl Sunday we will be playing the back nine of winter-as least from a fish activity perspective.
On those lakes with 'safe' ice fish are in mid-winter pattern. Essentially this means active biting at dawn, dusk and when weather is passing through. At other times the fish may swim up and lick the frosting but are not eager to eat the cake.
A small amount of oatmeal laced with Berkley Gulp can trigger a brief feeding frenzy as it waffles down through the water column below your hole. This invasion w... more
Nowhere in Wisconsin do anglers look forward to ice with greater anticipation than around the shores of Lake Winnebago and its sister lakes, Poygan, Winneconne and Butte des Morts. As soon as there is a three-inch shell on one of these lakes, they start to venture out.
Most anglers are anxious to get through the first-ice flurry of near-shore, walk-on fishing so they can settle down to winter's main event: tube-fishing for walleyes.
I was introduced to tube fishing by Joel Taylor, of Omro, who spends nearly every day on the ice. Because he fishes so often, Taylor finds walleyes, and other anglers find him. If he wants to fish alone, he has to resort to borrowing a shack or vehicle from a... more
More anglers than you'd think eat bait. Not because they have to as a result of today's hard economic times, but simply because they want to.
Now I'm not talking nibbling on waxies and grated white cheddar sprinkled over a wheat wafer, but instead, gorging on a main course of succulent smelt after an evening of intentionally targeting these fanged torpedoes through the ice. It's all because smelt-the very silvery-sided forage that pack the bellies of popular predator fish like pike, walleye and trout-is a delicacy for any angler who bears taste buds. Their flesh is sweet, yet mild in flavor. (The smelt, not the fisherman.)
Snip; slit; scrape; rinse; repeat. The process for cleaning sm... more
Written with Tony Boshold
Redefining "Classic" Ice Fisheries
Some of the best walleye fishing you can imagine is occurring in places you might never think to look. Historic numbers of fish up to 10-pounds, even larger, are today living and thriving in lakes and reservoirs that only five years back were nearly empty of these coveted freshwater animals.
In the scope of the past two to three decades, given all the ups and downs that have occurred within these freshwater environs, there's a new "normal" in the realm of productive walleye fisheries. The fabulous fishing has for years remained something of a secret-until now. The secret is this: Some of the best walleye waters alo... more
The subject matter I write about has always had a strong focus on education, whether it be about fish location
and behavior or in presentations and the associated lures used to elicit a positive response. I would like to
continue on with that theme and implore some of you (probably the majority of you) to self-educate yourselves.
What I am referring to is the now all too common practice of following the crowd particularly as it relates to
ice fishing. In this case, there is no strength in numbers. Ever notice that by mid-winter on any given body of
water that there are a couple of large clumps of houses tightly packed together? Do you honestly think that the
majority of fish are cong... more
Northern pike typically bite all winter long, but the most consistent action for the biggest pike comes almost without fail as soon as the ice will hold an angler and his gear. Why is this so? Some say it's because cooler weather and the increased vulnerability of baitfish caused by the decline of weed cover trigger a pike feeding spree. When a lake freezes during this time, the spree continues for a week or two. Sunlight penetrates through thin, clear ice, enabling sight-feeding pike to spot food more readily now than when thick ice and snow shroud a lake's surface.
Where The Pike Are
Northerns prowl constantly, but their movements are somewhat predictable. In early winter, look for t... more
Just as there are a lot of ways to catch walleyes in open water, there are several very productive lure types for taking walleyes through the ice. But if a survey was taken among anglers who like to chase walleyes during the ice-fishing season, I'll bet a spoon would be the most popular lure. Spoons are popular because they produce. There are a lot of different spoons available to the ice angler, and each spoon has a characteristic of its own. Here are some ideas for using spoons to catch walleyes that are under the ice.
The action of the spoon is of prime consideration. Some spoons fall fast, others have more of a fluttering action as they drop to the bottom. Both have a place in o... more
Delavan Lake is one of the finest fisheries in Southeastern, Wisconsin. This awesome fishery is playing host to Lake-Link's 2012 Ice Fishing Jamboree. The lake is an hour from Milwaukee and one and a half hours from Chicago. Delavan Lake is roughly 2100 acres with a maximum depth of 52 feet. The lake has many different fishing opportunities, whether it's deep water yellow perch or weedline walleyes. The shallow bays make available a lot of Northern Pike and bluegill action.
In early February, northern pike action will be on the weed flats or on the first break of the weedline. The best depth is 6-12 feet of water. They key locations are by the outlet by North Shore Drive, the west... more