The Search Continues: Walleye & Pike in Saskatchewan

The Search Continues: Walleye & Pike in Saskatchewan

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.

 

 

 

Transition

 

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.

 

March Madness

 

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).

 

 

 

Presentations

 

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.

 

Tackle Selection

 

 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”.

 

Last Ice

 

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”.

 

 

Gearing Up

 

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

Fall Fishing in the Kawartha’s

Fall Fishing in the Kawartha’s

LG1

Exist To Fish Canada Writer Chris Huskilson

August and September can be one of the best times of the year to catch BIG fish in the Kawartha’s Northumberland region.  As we reach the end of August and the days start to shorten. The nights a little cooler and the leaves begin to change so does the trigger for our native fish species to feed! And feed a lot!  Not only is everything seemingly hungry, but locations and patterns start to change as well. As the days shorten and temperatures reduce the aquatic vegetation follows suit and will start to deteriorate to the point where the fish will no longer use it as cover.

Largemouth bass in the region will now start to seek out what healthy green weeds remain. In most instances Milfoil is preferred. It provides a higher oxygen content creating a place for the panfish to hide which in turn attracts the Bass. Its root system holds the bottom in place, which holds phosphorus in place as well. It will also improve water clarity making it easier for the bass to ambush. The shallow water vegetation is the first to go and in most cases the healthy green weeds will be in deeper more stable water temperatures.  8-10′ is a depth I like to target when seeking out LG2healthy vegetation that may hold Largemouth this time of year and the presence of bluegill and other panfish are a sure bet that you are in the right area.  Once you find them they will be there in high numbers! Shallow water can still be a very productive option this time of year as well. Overhead cover is at a premium given the decaying plant matter. As the resident weeds die they will float to the surface creating matted clumps that will hold heat and panfish which will keep the bass in shallow as well.  These fish are much more susceptible to temperature change this time of year if a sudden cold front or other weather pattern develops they will either vacate the shallows or developed a case of lock jaw.

Lake Recommendations:

Rice LakeStony LakeDalrymple Lake

 

Tackle Recommendations:

Jerkbait- Twitch this along the edge of the green weeds you locate. The fish will dart out and strike!

JKB1

 

Topwater Frog- Drag this over the matted vegetation! The shallow fish will be under it and cannot resist!

Frog

Spinnerbait- A steady retrieve over top of healthy weeds will generate strikes. A spinnerbait is a terrific option this time of year!

Spinnerbait

Flippin Jig- Dunk this right in the middle of the healthy green weeds and feel for weight! Set the hook hard and winch the fish out of the heavy cover.

Flippin jig

 

 

smalliesThe regions Smallmouth Bass population is on the move this time of year as well.  They will begin their transition from deeper offshore structure to more accessible closer to shore haunts.  Rocky points are very popular this time of year. They tend to really tighten up into schools. Instead of two or three fish together we often see 10 or more together.  The same rule is true. Once you find them they will be present in numbers. Every fish I catch this time of year seems to have at least a half a dozen friends following it in as I land it.  Some if my biggest Smallmouth of the season will be taken after Labor day in as little as 3-4 feet of water! Rock and sand points being my main target, but not to forget hard bottom healthy yet relatively shallow weed lines as well.  The same rule applies however! If the vegetation is still green and baitfish or panfish are still present so will the Smallmouth be.
Lake Recommendations:

 

Sturgeon LakeBalsam LakeCatchacoma Lake

Tackle Recommendations:

 

Jerkbait- twitch this along the outside green weedlines and rocky points. Hang on because they will smash this!

JKBT2

Tube Jig- hopped and dragged along the bottom will entice a strike from a hungry smallmouth. Also a great follow up bait to drop to the fish that may be following the fish you are reeling in!
tube

 

The Muskie bite during the fall transition can be absolutely lights out at well.  The drop in water temperature is the que for these apex predators to put the feed on.  This is not only the time to catch a lot of Muskies, but can also be the time to catch an absolute monster.   They can be extremely aggressive in late August, early September.  The forage they have been feeding on has grown throughout the season and as such the tackle I like to use will increase in size as well.  Large soft plastic baits are a go to for many as the water temps start to fall into the 60’s.  I like a bait that will allow me to impart a “stop and go” retrieve and has a fair bit of buoyancy so that it will hang suspended in the water column between jerks.  That extra hang time is just what the Dr ordered for big muskieMuskies this time of year.  I have good success fishing fairly shallow weed line edges this time of year. Edges with relative proximity to deep water.   Green weeds seem to be less of a factor ironically enough and my belief is that they simply need something for cover to ambush their forage whether the weeds are healthy or not. So don’t shy away from decaying vegetation just yet for these fish during the fall season.

 

Lake Recommendations:

 

Sturgeon LakePigeon LakeCameron Lake

 

Tackle Recommendations:

Bulldawgs- a slow steady retrieve will often win the race with this big plastic. Don’t hesitate to impart a pull pause retrieve as well! Fish will often strike on the pause.

bulldawg

Large Swimbait- Swim this bait in current or over the tops of the weedlines. A very slow presentation that the fish really like this time of year.
beaver

 

On the flip side the regions Great Lake tributaries are on the cusp of exploding with the annual fall Chinook Salmon run.  A drop in temperature and a good rain will trigger the “run” in full force, and what a blast these fish are to target and fight in shallow flowing water.  There are a plethora of accessible locations to park and fish along some extremely product and renowned tributaries like the Ganaraska river flowing through port hope or the Wilmot in Newcastle.  There are many bait and tackle shops along the way that are licensed to sell tied salmon roe that can be used under a float salmonas bait. This is a very popular and productive method for catching these massive fish.  They will stage in enormous schools at the mouths of these tributaries in waiting for the river conditions to suit their spawning requirements. They can be caught as early as mid-August at the mouths and right in to the tributaries as early as late August, early September.  Light line and small hooks are imperative as these fish have very keen senses.  A medium action 10-13′ Rod and large spooled spinning reel are also very helpful when fighting these long running, head shaking, high flying fish and will dramatically increase your odds of landing them.

 

Tributary Recommendations:

Ganaraska River

 

Tackle Recommendations:

 

Tied Roe bags- Drift these under a float or on a bottom bounce rig at the mouth of the tributaries and the upstream pools and wait for the float to drop!

 roe bags

Bead/egg imitators- Drift these under a float in clear pressured waters.

 bead rig

 

Float Setup-

 float setup

 

Fall fishing in the Kawartha’s Northumberland Region of Ontario is an opportunity for any angler to catch the fish of a lifetime from shore or boat all within an hour’s drive.   The region is regarded as one of the greatest freshwater fisheries in the world. Your next trophy fish, A Kawartha’s Northumberland Legend, is waiting! Come see for yourself!

 

 

ALL FISH DISPLAYED IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHAS NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO!

 

Hot Summer Bass Tactics!

Hot Summer Bass Tactics!

Jamie2

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.

Jamie3

SmartCraw® uses patented Kamooki SmartFish® precision-balancing technology to deliver the most crawfish-like presentation available. Power and control are at your fingertips.

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).

xzone

X Zone Lures’ success in tournaments and expertise in using the “dropshot” technique has made us a household name in the fishing industry. The ‘Slammer’ has become one of the most dominant baits in Canada and the northern United States. It has been so successful that it’s popularity is quickly catching on all across North America!

smartfish

Get ready to fish like you have never fished before! SmartFish® is engineered with patented technology to deliver the most versatile presentation with every cast. The power is in your hands to SmartFish® your way

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.

Colin2

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.

jamie1

See more with Smith Optics ChromaPop! When you see more you can do more. Our proprietary ChromaPop lens technology enhances clarity and natural color to let you effortlessly see more detail. More detail gives you the advantage needed to perform confidently and have more fun.

liquid mayhem

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.

lake forg frog

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.

Colin1Okay, 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

Jamie Wilson- Exist To Fish Canada Lead Writer/Editor

Product Review: Nano Minnow

Product Review: Nano Minnow

Date: 7/19/2016
Product type: Hardbait/crankbait
Manufacturer: Matzuo America
Reviewer: Exist To Fish

 

nano

The bait has an exceptional lifelike appearance and finish. It can take a beating and come out just fine. We have caught just about everything on this little bait. From panfish to Pike.

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

The Nano minnow is an extremely versatile little bait. Catching fish of all sizes!. We have had a tone of success with this little fellow.

 

(Nano Minnow) Specifications
Type Minnow style crankbait
Length 2 ¼”
Weight 1/8 oz
Material Plastic
Hooks nickel
Colors 9 options
Origin USA
MSRP 7.99 USD

 

 

Quality/Construction:

The bait has an exceptional lifelike appearance and finish. It can take a beating and come out just fine. We have caught just about everything on this little bait. From panfish to Pike.

Quality Ratings for (Nano Minnow)
Finish(1-5) Level of Detail(1-5) Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
4 4 4 4 16 20 8

 

 

Performance:

Features of Matzuo Nano Minnow Lures include:

  • Bright, prismatic finishes
  • Durable contoured bodies
  • Matzuo black chrome treble hooks with stainless steel split rings
  • Realistic 3-D eyes
  • Floating l

 

Performance Ratings (Nano Minnow)
Castability(1-5) Ease of Use(1-5) Quality of Action (1-5) Position at Rest (1-5) Durability (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 5 5 25 25 10

 

Features/Design:

The Nano Minnow features lifelike 3-D eyes, highly reflective prism finish, and quality black chrome Matzuo® hooks. Delicately weighted and balanced to provide optimal action whether casting, twitching, or trolling. All of these methods will display the tight wiggle of this bait.

Feature /Design   Ratings (Nano Minnow)
  Consistency(1-5) Weight(1-5) Realism (1-5) Range of sizes (1-3) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
4 4 4 3 15 18 8.3

 

 

Application: 

Little lures with big fish-catching appeal, these versatile mini-baits promote powerful strike responses from Trout, Perch, Panfish and Bass. Sure to be a favorite among ultra-light fishermen and those who ply their trade in heavily fished waters. The Nano Minnow dives 0-3 feet when retrieved.

(Nano Minnow) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality   8
Performance   8
Price    8
Features    8
Design (Ergonomics)    10
Application   8
Total Score  8.5
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE  

 

Conclusion:

Matzuo Nano Minnow Lures offer anglers the perfect downsized lure for those heavily fished waters were finicky fish prefer bite-sized baits. The tight swimming action of these lures resembles a fleeing minnow. These versatile mini baits trigger powerful strikes from trout, bass, crappie and all other panfish. These tiny floating lures are sure to become favorites among ultralight fishermen fishing tiny brooks and streams to larger ponds and lakes. We highly recommend!

Cover All Depths: Breaking down water columns to locate Bass.

Cover All Depths: Breaking down water columns to locate Bass.

Cover All Depths: Breaking down water columns to locate Bass.

jamie1 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.

Lake Fork Magic Popper

LFT “Premium Series” Magic Poppers. For all types of game fish attraction, water clarity and sunlight conditions.

 

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 jamie3much 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.

LFT Premium Series 1.5 finesse Square Bill

LFT Premium Series 1.5 finesse Square Bill

 

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 jamie2important 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.

smartfish

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 red

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

Jamie WIlson- Exist To Fish Lead Writer Editor

Product Review: Kamooki Smartcraw

Product Review: Kamooki Smartcraw

Date: 5/13/16
Product type: Lipless Crankbait
Manufacturer: Kamooki Lures ltd.
Reviewer: Jamie Wilson

 

smartcraw red

The Kamooki SmartCraw® features a deeply textured, naturally robust crawfish body and assumes a natural head-down, tail-up profile when its unique, precision engineered zinc keel rests on any structure.

 

 

 

We all have our top five favorite baits, or go-to presentations that we have come to count on throughout the season that will get minor tweaks and adjustments to suit our needs. Generally, we have abundance of sizes, weights, colors and techniques in our back pockets that we deem useful that can actually convolute the situation and overwhelm us. As an angler that has been around the block a few times I look for baits that can be presented in a variety of ways without the having to re-rig constantly to ultimately deduce a “pattern”. Imagine one rod/reel/line combo with a multitude of possibilities at the end of your line. Can a single bait type achieve this? Well, this one can. Kamooki Lures Ltd. has created both the “Smartfish” and “Smartcraw” to cover just about every possible baitfish imitation and presentation an angler might consider. Let’s take a closer look at where the “Smartcraw” fits into our repertoire shall we?

 

 

 

(Kamooki Smartcraw) Specifications
Type Lipless crankbait/rattlebait
Length 3”
Weight ½ oz
Material
Hooks Premium black nickel VMC treble
Colors 6 colors
Origin Alberta, Canada
MSRP $12.99 Canadian funds
Smartcraw pike

When retrieved, the SmartCraw® displays a wide lazy wobble with accentuated side to side motion. The SmartCraw® is specifically designed to emit a natural clicking sound. When the SmartCraw® is vertically jigged, it vibrates as the rod tip is raised and slowly flutters down when the rod tip is dropped – all the while tracing forward in a circular pattern.

 

The Kamooki Smartcraw is incredibly innovative and beyond unique, but as far as quality is concerned I can’t speak highly enough about it. So much thought was put into creating this fine crankbait as it has become, in my opinion, the gold standard in modern hardbait manufacturing. The finish and level of detail are what you would come to expect from lures retailing for twice the retail price. The Smartcraw comes equipped with an oval split ring and a high end black nickel VMC treble hook. Oh, and I forgot mention the ultra-premium rattles didn’t I? Once again, Kamooki Lures ltd. has pulled out all the stops in quality and of course sound. One thing to note is the patented forward weighted, precisely crafted zinc keel which I will expand upon shortly. Lead is harmful to the environment while zinc is not so do no fret as you will not be contaminating our lakes with either the Kamooki Smartcraw or Smartfish.

 

Quality Ratings for (Kamooki Smartcraw)
Finish(1-5) Level of Detail(1-5) Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 5 20 20 10
Smartcraw lineup

The astonishing properties of the SmartCraw® are all utilized when fishing bottom structure. Bounce it along the bottom from one point to the next, accurately simulating the true motion and resting position of a crawfish, unlike any other hard bait. The single treble hook design attached to the tip of the claws, coupled with the constant vertical position, make the SmartCraw® remarkably snag-resistant.

 

 

When I first laid my eyes on both the Smartfish and the Smartcraw I was astounded, speechless and excited. These lures were on display in a tank and one thing was absolutely jaw dropping; these lures perfectly balanced themselves in an upright position on tiny points of contact such as a corner of a rock, wooden limbs and even a small balloon. The next thing that I noticed was the Smartfish were dancing back and forth in the current created by the circulating pump. With this seemed to mimic was a baitfish feeding along the bottom. Later in the year I was informed that Kamooki Lures was coming out with the Smartcraw and that’s when the light went off in my head, its position at rest would mimic a crawfish perfectly.

One thing I am always mindful of is the use of “triggers” when targeting any sportfish. The Smartcraw creates the ultimate “trigger” which is the defensive position of a Crawfish. You see, when a Bass, Walleye or Pike spots a Craw standing with its claws upright like a boxer ready to fight the response is simple, it’s time to eat or at the very least show them who’s boss. This upright position is achieved by the patented forward weighted, bottom heavy design verses its neutrally buoyant qualities. Castability with minimal energy is of no concern as the Smartcraw can be tossed a country mile while the feel and ease of use gets top honors. Either deadstick the Smartcraw or bounce them along bottom, it’s that simple.

Both the super durable body and hardware will stand up against the rigors of any situation you put it through. Bounce it or drag the Smartcraw over rocks, gravel, sand or submerged wood without a care in the world and this lure will stand the test of time and beyond. Monstrous Walleye, huge Bass and veracious toothy Pike are simply no match for this super tough lipless rattling crankbait.

Performance Ratings (Kamooki Smartcraw)
Castability(1-5) Ease of Use(1-5) Quality of Action (1-5) Position at Rest (1-5) Durability (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 5 5 25 25 10

 

Every Smartcraw has performed exactly as advertised out of the box for me. Day in, day out I always count on these lures to continue to create a level of realism only found in nature. The natural action, the anatomically correct claws, eyes and body amour truly achieve a presentation so believable, any fish will be fooled during even the harshest of fronts and conditions. Kamooki has rolled out a 1/2oz version of the Smartcraw and I see no need for any major changes. My theory is that a 3” craw is the perfect meal for say, a Smallmouth or a Walleye as this size of meal can be easily digested. One example of this is when I decided to keep a Walleye for table fare. I was shocked to see over a dozen Crawfish in its belly and not one of them exceeded 2-3 inches. That being said, the size and weight are the perfect all around presentation for everything that favors Crawfish. As this is a very young company, more sizes may be added but for now, I’m more than happy with the 3” 1/2oz version.

 

  Consistency(1-5) Weight(1-5) Realism (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 4 5 14 15 10

 

The selling point of the Smartcraw for me is the fact that it obviously lends itself to bottom contact/orientation. The most important aspect here is that I do not fish the Smartcraw more than 6” off bottom. Really, I will only swim it periodically as bouncing it on rocks, sand and gravel seems to be the most effective way to entice Bass, Walleye etc. The clacking sound of the zinc keel coupled with the rattles call fish in from great distances while the erratic wobble sends out vibrations along with a visual cue that drives fish into an absolute frenzy. I will drag/bounce the Smartcraw along and add an erratic pause cadence, allowing it to stand up periodically, mimicking the defensive position I mentioned earlier. This is the key to triggering a response, day in, day out. Color wise, all of the variations has its time and place. Early in the year Craws can be light and vibrant, mid-season they may be more of a muted tone and as the season progresses, Craws can become much darker, blue, purples and dark browns and even black. Kamooki Lures has created color patterns to suit your needs throughout the season in every freshwater lake, river or steam that hold Craws.

Water clarity is an important factor. I encounter muddy, murky water I will go with the gaudy “Inferno” or the high contrasted “Black Fury”, while in clear water I’ll lean towards a natural pattern such as “Purple Rain” or “Envy”. For dusk periods I lean on the dark red “Cayenne” Smartcraw and if I’m fishing in deep water or late in the season on the great lakes I’ll fish the vibrant blue “Cobalt Crunch”. Basically, if a Bass or Walleye coughs up a craw, take a close look and match the color accordingly as all the Smartfish variations have their time and place.

 

 

(Kamooki Smartcraw) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality 10  
Performance 10  
Price 10
Features 10
Design (Ergonomics) 10
Application 10  
Total Score 60
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE  

 

 Well, I have only received a couple perfect grades or scores in my life and I have only given one and this is it. The Kamooki Smartcraw perfectly mimics a crawfish in both its defensive and bottom oriented positions. The castability, action and color patterns are effective and so unique. What else can I say? This is my go-to Crawfish imitator from now to eternity, that’s it, that’s all. I’m counting down the days until I’m sitting on a typical Crawfish haunt, Bass, Walleye beware.

See you out there.

Jamie Wilson

Jamie WIlson- Exist To Fish Lead Writer Editor

Jamie WIlson- Exist To Fish Lead Writer Editor

 

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