The Search Continues: Walleye & Pike in Saskatchewan
Locating fish on new and different types of lakes can be challenging. What works on your usual fishing holes, more times than not, won’t be as productive on unknown lakes. Not all lakes are created equal and this couldn’t be more true than in Saskatchewan. Boasting 68 different species of fish, inhabiting more than 100,000 lakes in Saskatchewan, the differences are as vast as the province itself. My “home” lake is a man made reservoir that was once a river system. It now holds an abundance of walleye, pike and perch. This flooded river channel provides exceptional habitat for these fish as well as their forage.
The southern Saskatchewan lakes I frequent range in depth from 0-60ft with my typical target depths from 6-30ft. More often than not, the middle range of these depths is the sweet spot for the longest period of time through the winter, which is about 12-24ft. Locating fish with extreme differences in structure and depth can be challenging especially on a reservoir lake. Drilling a hole in one spot at 18 feet of water, then taking two steps and drilling another hole and being in 35ft can be a challenge, but also rewarding when these close proximities of depths are available. Typically, when you find yourself in this situation, you have hit the old river channel and this can be a productive spot at certain times of day and year.
Timing is everything
We all know that fish move around, but knowing when and where they will end up, is always a challenge. I spend countless hours before ice up scouting spots, mapping the lake both on my electronics and in my head. So in my opinion, the more information you can collect throughout the year will make all fishing seasons more productive. When scouting late in the fall I’m looking for weed edges that will be decaying as the ice shows up. These edges will be key areas at first ice, for feeding pike and walleye, as these areas are habitat for our target species and their forage.
At this stage you’re going to want to focus on shallow waters of about 6-12ft. If you can find a weed edge near a drop off you hit the jackpot as these fish will feed along the weed edge adjacent to an escape route near the depths. As the season rolls on and the ice thickens, fish will be headed for structure and this is where things can get confusing. Early to mid winter I head for points and breaks, typically near wood or rock structure that I’ve marked on my GPS during open water in the fall. This seems to be where the fish are in ambush mode which will produce some aggressive bites, but not for long.
Feeding patterns change as pike and walleye do what I call “selective eating” as we reach mid to late winter. These fish are now transitioning into a morning and night bite pattern on vast mud flats. During this time, they roam to feed and when they are full, they will head to that deep river channel. I rarely fish the 25+ft depths at this time of year as I find those fish have just finished eating and are not interested in my offerings. I also don’t like to risk barotrauma to the fish at these depths. This can be a frustrating time of year if you’re looking to catch fish all day. If you’re willing to slug it out, the morning and evening bite usually makes the slow mid-day worth your while.
Now, as we get to that time of year when you’re looking at the snow melting off your boat, most anglers have had enough of the ice and well, guess what? I’m just getting fired up! This is the time of year when the fish are putting a serious feed on before the spawn which typically yields my biggest fish of the year.
During “March madness” I move closer to bays and river channels. Theses river channels seem to act like a highway as the fish move up out of the channel to feed as they are headed to staging areas near their spawning locations. During the end of the season I forget the middle depth ranges and position on 6ft shallow and 18-25ft deeper edges. These fish that are deep wont pass up an easy meal during this time of year and the ones that are holding in the shallows are there for one reason, and that’s to eat.
Now the above may apply to my home lake but like I said, not all lakes are created equal. Typically any structure is good structure on most basin or pothole lakes where structure is few and far between. I recommend an app like Navionics if you’re going to head out to a new lake in pursuit of those big fish, or a different species altogether. There is an abundance of information and technology available to us now and if that fails, I will always do it the old fashioned way and talk to people. Most anglers will be happy to divulge information so that you can have a successful day on the ice, and if they don’t, then you probably don’t want their advice anyway.
Knowledge of what fish are feeding on is the key to a successful day on the ice. I try to select lure patters and types based on available forage in the lake and my target species. The utilization of an underwater camera and flasher to determine how the fish are reacting to different lures and baits can be invaluable information, especially when trying new lakes. I have seen fish take off like a rocket as soon as I move a lure and a simple size or color adjustment is all it takes most times. Have you heard guys say “I saw lots of fish but they just wouldn’t bite”? I have, so many times, and I always ask did you change colors or sizes? 90% of the time the answer is no.
There are so many choices these days when it comes to lure selection but I have never seen a lure more versatile than the Kamooki Lures Ltd. SmartFish. This is a lure I use extensively in the summer and one of the very few that get moved over to my ice fishing tackle come winter. The variety of color patterns Kamooki offers makes matching the forage base in almost all lakes simple, with my three favorites being Natural Perch, Walleye, and Fire Tiger. The 3 sizes available allow an angler to make small adjustments based on target species and aggressiveness of the fish. On my home lake, walleye can be very finicky and five times out of ten wont touch anything bigger than the 2.5” version, but if I’m on a bigger body of water with a typically more aggressive and bigger class of fish, I will size up to the 3” version (The same goes for pike from 3” to 4” sizes).
When targeting pike, I will exaggerate my color selection to maintain the attention of the fish with something bright or shinny. When vertical jigging the Kamooki Smartfish, a variety of presentation types can be used, and I typically deploy these on the same fish until it strikes.
For pike, I aggressively rip-jig the Smartfish 0-2 ft off bottom with a 1-3ft lift 3-4 times then, I simply pause at or above the fish and wait for a reaction. If this fails to tempt or better yet, trigger a strike, I will then bounce it on bottom a couple of times and slowly “flutter jig” the Smartfish while raising it upwards. This usually re-activates the fish’s attention and will often strike if they didn’t first attempt.
For walleye, I use the same “flutter jig” method with a less aggressive approach starting on bottom and fluttering it as I raise it up 1-2ft, then allowing the Smartfish to fall back to bottom. Another technique is to bottom bounce the Smartfish. The key principal here is in two phases. First, the attracting phase which is a series a bounces on bottom stirs up sand, silt and mud. Second, which involves allowing the bait to settle on bottom, will trigger walleye to attack and devour the easy meal in front of it. The Kamooki Smartfish is perfectly designed for this method with its nose down, tail up design. Let the fish tell you what they want by learning to read your electronics. Making a mental note of how the marks (fish) are reacting or following will keep you in the know throughout the day.
Here’s a tip from Exist To Fish Canada Editor in Chief Jamie Wilson “A triggering phase is this; when a walleye, pike or any fish for that matter, becomes interested, simply reeling the Smartfish away which mimics a fleeing baitfish will more often than not, seal the deal”. He continues “call them in with the vibration and rattles, get them keyed into the presentation, then, trigger a response. Predators such as pike and walleye are programmed to attack when a baitfish swims away in fear. When jigging the Smartfish, you will find that it swims upward with an erratic spiraling action so make sure to always tie on a quality snap swivel to combat line twist”.
Don’t be afraid to try different speeds and levels of aggressiveness when jigging. If a fish comes in to investigate, but doesn’t hit, alter your tactics slightly the next time that you see a follower on the sonar.
When using hard baits or lipless cranks, I rarely attach bait which alters the action and natural presentation of the lure. When forgoing bait, I have encountered fish that followed and were interested in the lure, yet, just wouldn’t commit to the visual cues I’m presenting to them. To remedy this I use Liquid Mayhem on all of my lures. You see, fish are mainly visual feeders, but when visual cues aren’t enough, scent definitely comes into play in my opinion. Matching the scent to the available forage in the lake to will make for a truly natural offering, and thus, prolonged success and consistency. My go-to scents when targeting walleye and pike are Pike/Muskie (Sunfish) and Walleye (Garlic Minnow). Liquid Mayhem sends out a powerful “scent trail” which is enticing due to the fact that amino acids and proteins from real baitfish are present. Due to the cold water in the winter, Liquid Mayhem stays on lures a long, long time. I simply apply a line of it to the belly of any lures or artificial baits and when I feel it has worn off, I just re-apply.
When targeting walleye and pike through the ice I keep my tackle simple. I have two small tackle organizers that fit in my pockets. One, I have filled with various tungsten and standard jigs up to ¼ oz in various colors. In Saskatchewan we are not able to use live minnows so my jigs are tipped with frozen minnows, night crawlers, or mealworms. I utilize these offerings as a dead stick presentation not far from the hole that I’m working with a lipless crank, hard baits or jigging spoons which serves as an option to target a second “bonus” species such as perch. If the fish aren’t apt to hit the aggressively worked hardbaits, they will almost always take the easy meal nearby. My second tackle organizer is loaded with Kamooki Smartfish in various sizes and colors, some Jigging Raps, and various styles of jigging spoons in a variety of colors. “One little trick” says Jamie “when it comes to Jigging Raps, you can replace the split ring with a Mustad “Fastach Clip” which gives you the ability to remove the treble, thread a minnow head onto the shank, and quickly re-attach the hook. You can thank Gord Pyzer for that one”.
As last ice approaches I will put the “ice palace” away and move around freely with the portable hut, punching holes along flats as I follow fish into pre-spawn areas. This is the most exciting time of the year which, as I mentioned earlier, often produces my biggest fish of the year. The run and gun approach at this time of year is a must as fish are moving over a variety of depths as they migrate into the pre-spawn staging areas. Also, as the season progresses to this late ice period, more aggressive presentations become increasingly effective. “Longer days” Jamie explains “along with raising water temps, will fire up a fish’s metabolism which lends to faster more erratic retrieves. Triggering a feeding response in ravenous pike and walleye is job one”.
For light panfish jigs and spoons, a 28-30” ultra-light combo spooled with 4lb braid coupled with a light 4-6lb fluorocarbon leader works. For the 2.5” Kamooki Smartfish a medium/light-medium action combo paired with 6lb braid, coupled with a 6-8lb fluorocarbon leader will suffice. For 4” 1/2oz Smartfish, a 30-32” medium heavy combo paired with 10lb braid coupled with a 10-12lb fluorocarbon leader is the deal. Jamie explains “A stiff fluorocarbon leader is important when jigging the Smartfish. As with all lipless crankbaits, you have to minimize the occurrence of the hooks getting caught up in the line”. And again, always tie in a quality snap swivel.
Well, there you have it. As they say “it ain’t over ‘till it’s over” so get out there and put these tactics to good use. Fish behave differently from man-made reservoirs to natural lakes so get to know these bodies of water and hit them with a well thought out game plan. The biggest bites of the season await so stay safe and have fun!
Written by Dean Schenk
Edited by Jamie Wilson
Ice fishing has progressed substantially from what it was when I first started to what it is today. Growing up sitting on a 5-gallon pail in the blistering cold blindly waiting for a fish to strike and the opportunity to pull it through a hole in the frozen lake. Now today as I’m comfortably sitting on a couch in a t shirt watching the hockey game on TV at the same time pulling fish through a seemingly similar hole in the ice but from the comfort of my permanent ice house.
Ice house, ice shack, hut, shanty, or permanent house just like the many names for these structures on the hard water there are many types. From scrap wood thrown together to form a floor, four walls and a roof to luxury camper style houses on wheels that lower onto the ice. Whatever size, shape, or style they are designed to keep you out of the elements, warm, comfortable, easy set up and moved onto the lake and remain until spring arrives and the ice starts to melt. A permanent shack is a great option when you don’t want to spend your whole day punching hundreds of holes and setting up multiple times while battling the elements.
With the introduction of pop up shelters and “run and gun” style of ice fishing vs sit and wait there has been much debate over levels of success with these two styles. While my pop up shelter gets a workout throughout the ice fishing season I can’t argue my success and comfort when fishing in my permanent ice shack. Sometimes it’s not about the number of fish caught but the memories made with family and friends in the ice shack. Using a few simple techniques, you can catch just as many fish in a permanent shack as drilling hundreds of holes and covering the entire lake with more time fishing and less time drilling and setting up. Here are a few tactics I use to put more fish on the ice.
I utilize early season ice that won’t hold my permanent ice house to deploy my pop up and the run and gun style to scout for hot spots and figure out patterns. These hot spots and intel gained during this time set me up for success when the ice is thick enough for the permanent ice house to make its way onto the ice. Once I have established and GPS marked things like structure, drop offs, depth and number and size of fish caught in these areas as well as time of day it’s time to determine where to drop my permanent ice house.
Although not necessary the use of electronics can greatly increase your level of success when fishing in a permanent ice house. Being able to see the structure, slope, and direction fish are moving on my Marcum Recon 5+ underwater camera and see how the fish are moving and reacting on my Marcum LX7 can determine whether I stay put and wait or move. I typically move my ice house 10-20 times a season to stay on the fish or in pursuit of higher numbers or bigger fish but not without doing some homework and most of the time it’s a slight adjustment closer to structure, deeper or shallower determined by what I’m seeing on my electronics.
I typically target Walleye, perch and pike on a reservoir lake with old river channels, rock and wood structure, and vast mud/sand flats. More times than not and like most lakes there is a prime-time bite and you must wait it out in between roaming fish mid-day. Now you could go run and gun when fishing slows down after prime time but If you’re like me and you put in your time sitting on a 5-gallon pail and now enjoy being warm and comfortable while enjoying the sport of ice fishing there are some options to increase your success.
When the bite slows down I typically do two things. One is switch up my lures and techniques. When the fish traffic slows, I tie on something that will attract them. Maybe they have moved off the mud flat to the nearby river channel and are not far away. For this some of my favorites are the Kamooki Lures Smartfish it has an extremely loud rattle and action that can call fish in for miles. Another one is the Matzuo Ikari Shad perfect for vertical jigging with a loud rattle, vibrations and bright patterns that the walleye can’t resist investigating. Now typically these will call them in and when investigating if they don’t attack the lure they will take the easy meal of the simple minnow and jig head on my nearby deadstick. Another secret weapon I use is scent. Using an attractant on your lures such as Liquid Mayhem can bring in nearby fish and get them to stay longer and hit harder. Second I typically try to position my permanent shack where I can utilize many different options and techniques throughout the day. Positioning near structure that holds fish or on the mud flat close to the river channel where mid-day the walleye move to. I can now throw out a tip up to cover more ice but still watch the flag from the comfort of my couch and not miss the 3rd period of the hockey game. I prefer to battle fish with a rod rather than hand over had so my go to tip up is the I Fish Pro tip up. This is also an option I use at night paired with an LED light that activates when the flag is tripped that I can see out of the window of my shack.
You don’t have to spend your whole day drilling holes to catch fish and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for catching fish. Utilize a few of these tactics in your permanent ice house and I guarantee you will put more fish on the ice this winter and have more fun doing it.
Written by Dean Schenk
Hot Summer Tactics
To say this has been a hot summer is an understatement. With countless scorching days along with little rain, this bass season has truly been a grind for many anglers.
Low water levels, high water temperatures and nothing but sunny days means tough, hard to predict fishing right? Well, not really. Are bass easy to predict? Yes. Are they less than agreeable? Kinda. Don’t cuss me out just yet.
At this point of the season there are a few key variables that make for a seemingly difficult equation to solve for the best of anglers. Really, the variables or unknowns are where and when do these ghost-like fish show up? Feeding windows become dramatically shortened and strike zones shrink which can make for a pretty frustrating day on the water. Smallmouth will suspend at various depths in relation to the thermolcline (a steep temperature gradient marked by a layer above and below which the water is at different temperatures) and where the forage they are targeting are located. Their green cousins, largemouth bass, can be found on deep weedlines, under trees, docks or buried beneath undercut banks.
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Now, we are talking about mid-day, but what about dusk periods? What about cloudy days with a falling barometer? Put that stuff on the backburner for a moment. These are the dog days of summer so just focus on the things you can control. As smallmouth “suspend” does that mean they aren’t oriented to the bottom? No – not at all. One great tactic right now is dragging on bottom. This is a great option because you can cover a lot of real estate, ultimately searching out aggressive feeders and the hot spots they are holding on. Don’t just drift aimlessly. Use whatever wind and/or current may be available while using an electric motor for precise positioning and a drift sock to control your speed if the drift or current is too swift. Also, the use of GPS can be crucial here. If you have a couple good bites, or better yet, catch a smallmouth, mark a waypoint and double back asap as smallmouth tend to travel in (sometimes) large groups. Why you ask? Forage, that’s why.
If smallmouth are actively feeding on bottom there are a few presentations that will mimic said forage. For this I lean heavily on craw imitations of both the hardbait and soft plastic variety. For hardbaits, a perfect choice is the Kamooki Lures ltd. “Smartcraw” as this lipless crankbait has a forward weighted, nose down/tail up position at rest which mimics a crawfish in a defensive posture. Simply dragging and bouncing no more than 6” off bottom will trigger some pretty serious strikes my friends. The unique sound of the zinc weight deflecting off of rocks coupled with the internal rattles will catch the attention of lethargic fish while the posture and realism fools them into attacking. In addition to this, a soft plastic creature/craw imitation can pay dividends as they can be rigged weedless and weighted accordingly to depth, structure and cover. For this I prefer creature baits such as Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Craw Tube” and “Flipper”. One little trick during these tough conditions is the use of scent. I will apply a generous coating of Liquid Mayhem “Garlic Craw” to these presentations. I mean, why not appeal to as many senses as possible right? (especially when strike zones diminish).
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Craws aren’t the be-all, end-all for this technique as Smallmouth will often pick off baitfish feeding on bottom. Many anglers lean on shaky heads for this which is pretty deadly, so are swimbaits rigged on football heads as well. One particular hardbait can re-create this type of feeding response trigger and that is the “Smartfish” by Kamooki Lures ltd. which has the same patented forward keel weight resulting in a nose down/tail up position. This is precisely how a baitfish forages on bottom, and is their most defenseless position.
For this dragging, bottom bouncing technique I favor a medium heavy/fast action spinning rod coupled with a 3000 series spinning reel spooled with 20lb Gamma braid paired with (depending on the nature of the structure) an 18” 10-15lb Gamma Fluorocarbon leader.
Colin Booth loves to dunk deep weed with a Liquid Mayhem laced jig! Seeing the pockets in the weeds is key and he does so with his Smith Optics sunglasses.
If this bottom bouncing tactic proves unproductive, that’s fine. While drifting keep a keen eye on your sonar in search of arcs/fish holding at a particular depth, killing two birds with one stone if you will. If there are zero bites on bottom and you see a depth pattern then pick up a few baits that will run at or just above the depth the fish are holding. Mark a waypoint, double back and fan cast the area until something gives. If a horizontal presentation isn’t cutting it, try vertically tempting them. Experiment with subtle and aggressive cadences and retrieves as well, while keeping water clarity in mind as well. Natural/muted colors work well in clear water while bright, flashy colors catch their eye in murkier stained water. I’ll mention the Kamooki “Smartfish” once again as these can be fan casted horizontally or jigged vertically and come in many colors to suit clarity and forage base. I also lean on spinnerbaits and a variety of crankbaits of various diving depths for horizontal presentations as well.
As far as the ‘where’, breaklines, mid-lake reefs, and main lake points with both access to deep and shallow water are great places to search for smallmouth. My theory is that this variety of depths within relative close proximity offers everything fish need, as well as the anglers that chase them. We’ve discussed the daylight hours but when the sun dips, smallmouth can pull up into shallower waters to feed. But, sometimes they will become more aggressive and will chase down anything that moves, at just about any depth, so keying on these spots that offer variety is the right move.
What about largemouth? Well, during these hot months, they can become very lethargic and hunkered down. Lush vegetation offering an abundance of oxygen, docks, trees and undercuts and providing a canopy of shade are great places to skip or flip soft plastics or jigs. What I like to visualize is a big huge, grumpy old bass sitting in a proverbial lazy boy recliner in the shade. Skipping a stickworm, fluke, swimbait, flipping a jig or creature bait into its little piece of heaven will do nothing but anger that fish, resulting in a very angry response. This is the more “predictable” tactic and if you hit as many of these types of cover on a hot sunny day, you will inevitably run into a few not so gentle giants if you’re willing to work for it.
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did you know that a fresh water bass can detect 1/200th of a drop of a substance in 100 gallons of water? That a bass can detect a prey fish odor source at 25 feet or that bass have been noted to have a better sense of smell than even the best bird dog? With that sense of smell the masking powers of a quality fish attractant are critical in hiding unpleasant odors such as gas, sunscreen and cigarette smoke.
If these shallow haunts aren’t producing, deep weedlines are a good option as well. Dunking creatures, jigs or weighted stickworms inside these weedlines can prove effective during high skies. On the flipside, running shallow to medium diving cranks, spinnerbaits, rattlebaits or swimbaits along classic ambush points like inside or outside bends in weed edges at dusk/dawn for opportunistic largemouth can be the deal. P.S- don’t forget your arsenal of poppers, walking baits, buzzbaits and the like.
When reading sonar, look for hard bottom transitions on these weedlines/flats/patches which show up as light to dark colors on the screen. I read these transitions in composition as a broken light blue to solid red reading on my sonar (Lowrance HDS) but do your research on this as color palettes can be customized as you see fit and can be vary depending on your choice of name brand. As I mentioned, look for anomalies such as bends, turns, underwater points and sunken islands which can be found with the use of updated GPS cards and of course, a good pair of polarized glasses. My personal choice for these are Smith Optics ChromaPop lenses in a frame that blocks light from penetrating from below and through the sides which aids in spotting these choice hidden gems that usually go unnoticed with cheap lenses. Also, good UV protection is of obvious importance so do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on this essential item.
The Fork Frog features legs that are at a 90-degree angle to the body, which creates more resistance and in return slows the Fork Frog down to where you can fish it slow to where fish will not miss the bait. The Fork Frog has the physical features of a realistic frog, with the paddle feet creating more commotion helping the fish locate the bait.
Beyond everything just mentioned, punching slop and burning frogs have their time and place as well. The number one rule here is that you must commit to it. Flipping 1/2oz-1 1/2oz baits on 65-80lb braid on a heavy action flippin’ stick can take its toll on you, but can tempt the biggest bucketmouth on any given lake. Using either a hollow body frog or a rigged up plastic buzzin’ frog with a flippin’ bait like a creature or a tube as a 1-2 punch can knock out any heavyweight bass you may encounter. Fan cast key areas until you contact one, and if you catch it on the frog, great! If you have a missed strike, double back with a flippin’ bait and get ready to set hook. The best way to pick apart a large expanse of vegetation is to hit transitions such as variations in weed types, small openings which will often be hard bottom, stumps or just about any change you find visually. Working these areas should be done erratically with sudden stops on openings, beside stumps and along said transitions.
Okay, now you’re going to cuss me out. What if none of the tactics I’ve mentioned work out for you? Well, they might not. Why? Please don’t come looking for me, but this time of year can prove to be the most difficult to figure out, as so many patterns could work on a multitude of different areas. If there is a lack of current on a riverine type lake, river or stream, fish could be in a funk. Low water levels, stagnant waters, high traffic/high pressure situations, higher than normal water temps, lethargic fish (and complaisant anglers alike) and, well you get the picture. This is the time of year to keep an open mind and experiment. Do not get stuck in patterns, look at every day as a new day and just get out and put your time in. There is no substitute for time on the water. I don’t know what is going on in your neck off the woods, only you can figure it out.
See you out there.
ALL OF THE FISH DISPLAYED IN THE PHOTOS WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! GET OUT THERE! PLAN YOUR TRIP NOW!
Jamie Wilson- Exist To Fish Canada Lead Writer/Editor
Cover All Depths: Breaking down water columns to locate Bass.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, patience is not the key to success during any outing on the water. Sitting and waiting for Bass to “turn on” will be a waste of your time and abilities.
So, what do you do when you show up at the lake? Does it have to be so random? Should you be aimlessly searching, hoping to find active fish? Or should you essentially find the key depth that Bass are relating to and simply appeal to their instincts? The latter is the obvious answer, so let’s break it down.
I believe your success is predicated on good preparation and clear, well thought out game planning that begins the night before you hit the water. Let’s say your plan at first light is to hit a shallow rocky point adjacent a steep break line that drops into a main lake channel or basin, and for arguments sake, your theory of the Bass being up on this shallower structure is correct. Then what? What happens when the Bass pull off this structure and begin the next phase of their day? Are you prepared to follow these predictable daily movements?
Start by getting your arsenal in order. Hitting a good morning spot brings to mind one obvious presentation – topwaters such as poppers are high on my priority list. If poppers aren’t cutting the mustard, walk the dog style baits can be very effective. Storm Chug Bugs and the Lake Fork Magic Popper(1oz) can be strait retrieved in a pop and stop cadence or can serve as a very erratic walk the dog meets popper presentation. A 6-6’6” medium fast baitcasting rod, coupled with a 6.3-1 reel spooled with 17lb mono is a great choice for this job. I find the 17lb mono allows more action and makes it easier to walk the bait than 20lb mono. Also, the mono floats and tends to keep the bait from being pulled underwater as with thinner diameter braided line.
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Next, as Bass begin to pull off a bit deeper as the sun comes up, having sub-surface baits like wakebaits and shallow running crankbaits tied on will pay dividends. This will allow you to cover water yet still target Bass that are transitioning off their morning spots. Looking for pods of bait dimpling the surface can still be a clue, but as the sun gets higher and the surface of the water breaks up with the wind, this clue disappears. This is where the shallow crankbaits can help you deduce where the Bass are set up. Now, Late morning brings high sun and light penetration pushing fish that much deeper, so pull out the medium diving crankbaits or 1/2oz willow leaf spinnerbaits. Line choice is important here. Fluorocarbon is the deal for both, so I like 10lb fluorocarbon for cranks and 17lb, or as light as 15lb test for spinnerbaits. Keep in mind that fluorocarbon sinks, and the thinner diameter the line, the deeper the bait will run. When weeds are present, braided line can be beneficial in snapping free a crankbait from snags but make sure to have a true medium speed, soft crankbait rod as braid can cause lighter trebles to be ripped out of a light biting Bass’ mouth. I prefer medium action Crankin’ Sticks by Bass Pro Shops in a 7’2” length for open water/long casts and the 6’6” for more precise casting around cover/structure. For spinnerbaits I prefer Bass Pro Shops 6’6”-7’ heavy action/med-high speed (6.1-1 to 7.1-1) Rick Clun signature series baitcasting combos.
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During the mid-day/afternoon period, in open water, Bass are cruising below suspended pods of baitfish so pull out the deep diving cranks. If you are seeing clouds of baitfish with small arcs mixed in, you are not seeing Bass. Look deeper, along bottom as Bass will be following these schools around in a non-threatening way until they can corral them into a point of ambush such as weedlines, large rocks, steep banks etc. Match the depth of the area with a corresponding crankbait. Many companies manufacture crankbaits that can dive down to as deep as 22ft, long casts being obviously important here. Lipless cranks can be dropped down to a given depth which is where I favor the weight forward Kamooki Smartfish. If you contact Bass but you are getting short strikes, that’s a great time to throw a vertical presentation like a jig or tube in the same location around the fringe of the school. Also, one of my go-to baits for this game is again, the Kamooki Smartfish which has a unique spiraling action when ripped/jigged vertically mimicking an injured or fleeing baitfish.
Kamooki’s patented technology is what really separates the SmartFish® from all other lures. The secret of the SmartFish® is in harnessing the intricate relationship between the buoyant and non-buoyant properties. This is best demonstrated when the lure is resting on structure, where remarkably, the SmartFish® maintains its upright profile on a single contact point. It is in this position, that the SmartFish® achieves mechanical equilibrium. Through the harmony of its precisely crafted zinc keel and bottom-heavy design, integrated with a beautiful, uniquely shaped body, the SmartFish® comes alive!
The next order of business can be targeting Bass relating to, and keying on a narrow strike zone a couple feet off bottom. My favorite presentation for this situation is drifting or strolling a drop shot. That fact that this rig can be suspended and held in this strike zone for longer periods than other presentations is what sets it apart. If you are seeing large arcs holding 2ft off bottom, you can literally put a drop shot right on their noses and keep it there for as long as needed. If Bass are keying on baitfish feeding on bottom or crustaceans, dragging tubes, swimbaits or creature bait rigged on a 3/4oz football jig is a great option. My latest favorites for these are Craw Tubes, Live Magic Shad(swimbait) and The Flipper(creature) by Lake Fork trophy Lures. Another great option for bottom bouncing is the Kamooki Smartcraw which is a lipless crankbait with a neutrally buoyant tail up position at rest which mimics a crawfish in a defensive position, Bass candy indeed. For these choices I like 7’ medium heavy spinning rods/2500-3000 series reels spooled with 20lb braid/18-24” 12-15lb fluorocarbon leader. For tubes and Kamooki Smartcraws, a swivel for the mainline/leader connection(tubes) and the split ring(Smartcraw) is a must as both will spiral on the lift and drop, causing line twist. As late afternoon transitions to dusk, just simply follow the fish back to the spots they were found at dawn, ending off with the first technique we discussed today.
SmartCraw® uses patented Kamooki SmartFish® precision-balancing technology to deliver the most crawfish-like presentation available. Power and control are at your fingertips.
There you go. We just covered all the water columns in your favorite lake. Obviously, every lake is different so make the appropriate adjustments to match depth, cover etc. One thing to note is to not get lazy and caught up in steady straight retrieves. Fish erratically, fish fast, fish hard! Don’t wait for something to happen, get out there and make it so! See you out there.
ALL OF THE FISH IN THE IMAGES ATTACHED WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHA’S NORTHUMBERLAND REGION. COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!!
Jamie WIlson- Exist To Fish Lead Writer Editor
Well it’s that time of the year again. The boats are put away for the winter as the ice starts to form.
With Christmas around the corner, many of us are starting to think about what we would like for Christmas or are looking for gift ideas for friends or family.
If you are anything like the Exist To Fish Staff, you probably lost a few baits this year.
We are all excited about new and existing fishing product’s that we have not had an opportunity to purchase or test out. They just were not in your budget at the time or perhaps you are thinking about trying a new lure this winter or in 2016!!
I asked the Staff at Exist to Fish what they where going to ask Santa for this year.
Here are the top picks on their wish list!
: “On my Xmas wish list would be a pair of Smith Backdrop
sunglasses to protect my eyes when on the water and ice”.
A perfect medium-sized complement to the Touchstone, the Backdrop incorporates the same great features like stainless steel spring hinges and megol contact surfaces at the nose and temple tips. ChromaPop™ polarized lenses provide the highest level of enhanced color and clarity, or choose Techlite glass lenses for unparalleled optics and scratch resistance.
“Also a tube of liquid mayhem
walleye attractant in my stocking as I use it on the hard water all winter”.
- Made with real minnows in a super concentrated form. Contains natural baitfish enzymes infused with powerful amino acids and other bite stimulants
- formulated to target a fishes olfactory glands and trigger big strikes. Fish hold on to artificial bait longer meaning more hooks ups and more fish in the boat
- No mess formula stays on the bait, not in the boat. Super concentrated. A tiny amount goes a long way.
: “I would like the EzCam post
. I would love to have the EzCam mounted to my boat to give me the extra camera angle for my fishing videos with my Go Pro!”
The EzCam Post is the worlds PREMIER universal camera mount. It will work with any camera, smartphone, and/or camera accessory. It will secure to any object up to 3” in diameter and telescopes from 27” to 6’ in height. Not only will you be able to capture stunning pictures and videos, it will protect your camera from falling over. Perfect for use in boats by attaching to seat pedestals, simple and quick to set-up and use. The mounting plate has a reversible thread, 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 like any good tripod or monopod, so you can be sure any camera or accessory can be mounted to it.
: “I would like a underwater fishing camera!! I can think of a million different situations where I would use this! Having the ability to mark fish on my graph and drop a camera down to identify the species would be a huge benefit! This Camera, from Pyle,
looks incredible! And is very reasonably priced in comparison to other models out there.”
- Take Pictures and Record Videos Underwater in Color
- Drop the Camera in the Water and See Where the Fish are Hiding
- Waterproof Marine Grade Camera
- 3.5” inch Digital LCD Display
- Instantly Preview your Videos and Picture on the LCD Monitor
- Durable, Reinforced & Submergible Wired Camera
- Infrared LED Night Vision Sensors Illuminate Dark Environments
- Camera Cable Sinks up to 15 Meters Deep
- Micro SD Memory Card Slot
- Easily Save Files and Transfer to PC or Mac
- System Includes Wired Camera, LCD Display, Display Holder, Pole Mounting Brackets and Charging Cable
- Conveniently Mounts to Your Fishing Rod
- Brightness, Contrast & Color Display Adjustments
- Built-in Rechargeable Battery: 3000mAh (3.7V Lithium)
- Up to 8 Hour Battery Life
- Observe Underwater Fish Behavior and Environments
- 30 Mega Pixel Wide Angle Lens
- Built-in IR LED Night Vision Illumination
- Resolution: 640 x 380
- Image Sensor: ¼” inch
- Size: 0.8” x 1.0” inches
- Weight: 0.35 g
- Operating Temperature: -10 to 40 Celsius
- Screen Size: 3.5 inches
- 4X Digital Zoom Function
- Resolution: 960 x 240
- Backlight Brightness: 300cd
- Protective Flip-Open Cover
- Universal Threaded Mounting Insert
- Easy Operation Touch Button Controls
- Display Housing (L x W x H): 4.2” x 3.0” x 1.9” inches
- Weight: 150 g
- Sold as: 1 set
- Weight: 1.26 lbs.
Jamie Wilson : “One item I truly want from Santa this year is, without a doubt, several packs of Lake Fork Trophy Lures’ “Live Magic Shads” This segmented plastic swimbait has an amazing and very unique action, along with exceptional durability and a great line of colors. With the ice fishing season just around the corner I have to start gearing up so I’m ready for big, hungry Lake Trout. Then when summer comes, there’s nothing better than a swimbait to fire up big Bass. So come on Santa I’ve been a good boy this year, a couple in every color in both 3.5″ and 4″, regular and boot tail please! P.S- come down from the North Pole anytime and I’ll put you on some big fish!”
live magic shad
Our New Boot Tail Magic Shad Swimbaits feature a “Boot Tail” design that utilizes an innovative tail combined with the patented swim slots of our “Live” Magic Shad Lure. The slots in the tail enhance the lure’s realistic swimming action-especially at slower speeds used for umbrella rigs, jigheads, Carolina rigs, or swimbait hook rigging. Hook slots on top and bottom aid in weedless hook rigging.
||Quantity per Package
: “I would absolutely like my go to bait weather it be trolling or casting for both muskies and pike. The Shallow Invader from Musky Innovations
They provide a color chart, so any pattern is possible. Why I want these is because I know they catch fish in all conditions and are a reliable and durable bait.”
|LURE DESCRIPTION: The Shallow Invader is one of the most innovative shallow crankbaits on the market today. This “hybrid” lure combines a hard plastic crankbait head with a hand-poured, soft plastic action body and tail. This knockout combination creates incredible serpentine action that drives large gamefish crazy. The tail is replaceable. If it gets chewed up or you want to change colors, changing it is a snap. Pull the tail straight back until it pulls off the tail post. Push your new tail on the post until the rib on the back of the head is seated on the ridge in the tail. You can add some super glue for an even stronger hold.
|LURE SPECIFICATIONS: The Shallow Invader is 9″ long and is about 2 oz. It has extra strong 3/0 wide gap hooks for best hook-ups. It comes in many different fish catching colors for all your angling needs. The Shallow Invader runs 2-4 feet and is a lethal twitch bait.
|HOW TO FISH THE INVADER: Use the Shallow Invader in all shallow crankbait/twitchbait situations. Cast or troll on shallow flats, rocky points, mid lake reefs, and over the tops of weedbeds. The Shallow Invader can be used as a very effective twitch bait. A good technique is to pause several times in mid retrieve. Because the lure floats when stopped, it is very effective in the weeds. It imitates an injured bait fish often drawing strikes from even fickle gamefish.
: “I would love to add a Deeper Sonar
to my arsenal this coming season.”
Deeper – smart sonar is a first of its kind, portable, wireless fish finder that utilizes technology on your smart phone or tablet. Specially designed for amateur and professional fishermen.
||2.6″/ 6.5 cm diameter
||From iOS 5.0 and Android 2.3 to the latest iOS and Android devices
||0.22 lb/ 100 grams
||Wireless Bluetooth connection
||Up to ~140 ft – 160 ft/ ~40-50 meters. Depends on the OS and smartphone model.
|Depth Range Max/Min:
||130 ft (40 m) / wide angle – 4.3 ft (1.3 m); narrow angle – 2 ft (0.5 m)
||Water temperature Sensor
||Celsius / Fahrenheit
||-4F to 104F/ -20C to 40C
||Lithium Polymer, 3.7V Rechargeable; lasts for 6 hours of non stop usage; takes 2 hours to fully charge.
||Compatible with 110V / 240V. Micro USB.
||290 kHz (15°) / 90 kHz (55°)
|Models and logistic
||GLOBAL version: SKU: FLDP09; EAN: 4779032950213; 32pcs/master carton;ASIA version: SKU: FLDP10; EAN: 4779032950206; 32pcs/master carton
: “The best and most functional item under her Christmas tree would be an Eclipse UPF 50+ shirt
to protect my skin from the sun while fishing.”
Keep an eye on Eclipse for an exciting new product launch coming soon.
Eclipse is a Canadian company offering UPF 50+ clothing to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. After being cleared of skin cancer back in January of 2014, I decided to protect myself against further damage by creating a line of apparel that offers UPF 50+ with high quality fabric. Eclipse products are Made in Canada and offer protection through the fabric and not a chemical coating. The current product line is a generous size that accommodates both men and women that want protection from the sun while outdoors. More products including long sleeves will be available soon.
: “I have had my eye on Eco Pro Tungsten
for some time now and would love to add some of their products to my arsenal. I love to flip plastics so their tungsten bullet weights are an easy pick for me!”
Eco Pro Tungsten Flippin Weights
Eco Pro Tungsten weights are 97% pure eco friendly tungsten. Fray Free, insert free and lead free, Eco Pro Tungsten weights offer serious advantages over lead. Eco Pro Tungsten cast farther and more accurately than lead. Actually feel what you have been missing! Smaller, dense tungsten is super sensitive, allowing you to detect more strikes and catch’s more fish while greatly reducing hang ups! Special “seal coat” painting resist chips and scratches.
“Nobody makes all the cool colors than Eco Pro Tungsten does. They allow me to match my weights with my favorite plastics!”
: “I would like nothing more than some more Rod Sox
. With their proprietary unique feature, a snag proof, hook resistant rubber type mouth makes loading and unloading my rods quick and easy.”
Breathable – Rod Sox can go on wet or dry equipment. The breathable mesh allows air to easily pass through allowing any moisture out and drying your rod and line.
Safety Tip – The hardened tip of our Rod Sox protects the last guide/tip of rod from the wear and tear of placing or removing rods from rod lockers or any type of storage.
Durable Tag – With the addition of a hang hole in the new, durable, rubber tag, rods can now be “hung up” for storage, a great and safe way to save room and keep your rod out of harm’s way laying or leaning elsewhere. After the Rod Sox is completely seated on the rod, a gently tug on the rubber “mouth” will “Lock” the Rod Sox in place, and it won’t slip off. When it’s time to go fishing, a simple push of the mouth upwards releases the “lock” and the Rod Sox will just slide right off.
– The hard tip is wrapped with a color tape indicating the length of the rod it fits so that you can easily tell your rods apart and know which Rod Sox go on what rod when ready for storage. (For Example: green tip tape is for a 6’6″ rod, while red tip = 7′ rod, etc…)
Tangle Free – Avoid the tangling of rods and line when carrying gear to and from the water.
Mesh Density – The Original Rod Sox have the densest mesh of any rod protector on the market. This makes them more durable over time, improves the protection of your rod, and allows a tighter weave for added safety of rod guides, especially microguides.
Improved Mouth – The new and improved pliable, rubber-type “mouth” on the bottom end of the Rod Sox seals the mesh from fraying or unrolling, as well as protects the rod paint from any scratching from open mesh. In addition, the rubber mouth provides about a 1 3’4″ protective barrier between the hook and the mesh to prevent lure hang-ups.
Since I only asked the Team for a couple of products that they would like to have, as I know their wish list would have been too long for this article longer, Please visit http://existtofish.com/
and check out our Product Reviews and Articles for more ideas.
From all of us at Exist To Fish Canada, Merry Christmas and may your Holiday season be joyous and safe.
Exist To Fish Canada Writer David Reid
||Oct 23, 2015
If you’re a serious fisherman like we are you have probably invested 1000’s of dollars into the best fishing lures, but what if you could make your best baits come to life? Mayhem Bait Co. believes that they have the next best thing! Mayhem Bait Co. Inc. is a family owned business and they are passionate about results. To them results mean delivering a product that puts more fish in your boat. To achieve that goal they offer real scents made from real fish bait, not products chemically formulated in a lab. Liquid Mayhem is an all natural bait scent designed to interact with your fishing lure to form a dynamic system greater than the individual parts. I have been using the line of attractants for 9 months now and I can tell you this. It is a game changer! I typically use scents to mask the odor that I transmit to the bait while out of the water. Not so much to mimic the forage that I am imitating. Liquid Mayhem is designed to offer both! A realistic scent that will outlast the competition and mask odors that you may impart on the bait itself to inevitably catch you more fish.
|(Liquid Mayhem) Specifications
||2oz tube retails for $9.99 CAN
I really do like the choice of tube and cap that Liquid Mayhem is currently using. The tube itself is very durable and the cap fits very securely. I like this because I often travel with my tackle and there is nothing worse than an attractant that leaks if not in the right position. The product itself has a VERY strong odor indicative of the REAL bait used to make the attractant. It is a Gel/Paste texture that really adheres to any bait of choice and really lasts a long time. A single application will provide hours of fishing before requiring another. Very high quality components and very cost effective to the consumer given the long lasting single application.
|Quality Ratings for (Liquid Mayhem)
||Level of Detail(1-5)
||Rating (10 being highest )
I used the Bass Crawfish Scent exclusively over the course of my 2015 tournament season on my Jig and I am sold! Not only did I catch more fish with this product but Quality of fish improved as well. I put it on the bottom of my Flippin Jigs heads, under the skirt at the beginning of each tournament day. One application! And I could still smell it on the bait at the end of an 8 hour tournament day!
|Performance Ratings (Liquid Mayhem)
||Ease of Use(1-5)
||Quality of Action (1-5)
||Position at Rest (1-5)
||Rating (10 being highest )
As indicated earlier I am really impressed witch the durability of the tube and cap currently in place with the product. I really like the texture of the attractant itself. Super easy to use, Super long lasting. The only flaw I can think of is the fact that the product itself is red. Ideally it would have no color at all. But at the same time red is often a key trigger when attracting fish..
|Feature /Design Ratings (Liquid Mayhem)
||Range of sizes (1-3)
||Rating (10 being highest )
This really can be used on any type of live bait or artificial. It does not impede the action or fall rate of anything that I have used it on. I really like to flip a jig and that is where I have used it the most. Put it on everything!!!
|(Liquid Mayhem) Collective Final Rating
|Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE
In Conclusion I am quite impressed with this product and would highly recommend to any angler out there. Grab a tube! Catch more fish!