Winter’s White Gold
If you ask any fishermen to give you their top 3 target species in the winter, I can almost guarantee you that you will get Walleye, Trout and pan fish. You may squeeze in pike on to that list as well. I can guarantee you that Whitefish will not make the list.
Justin Girard Exist To Fish Writer
Now, if you ask any fishermen who fishes Lake Simcoe in the winter to name you their top 3 target species, Whitefish will most definitely be on that list – this I can guarantee! Calculating the equation, thus consistently putting “white gold” top side during the winter months can be a challenge, unless you pay attention to the finer details.
When I first started fishing Lake Simcoe some 10 years ago, I will admit that whitefish would always elude me. But, the odd time I would luck out and get a fish to hit my Williams Whitefish spoon. Now I am not a spoon man, unless there is a frozen desert involved, I would rather show them a finesse presentation and hook these Whitefish with a little coaxing. It wasn’t until I was cleaning a whitefish before I realized that my efforts would pay off if I just changed my outlook and ultimately my go-to presentations.
I always enjoy cleaning fish. In fact, I will say that I love cleaning fish. One of the things that I will do is to look into a fish’s stomach to see what they are eating which is key to success out on Simcoe. You know, match the hatch as they say. What I did discover inside the whitefish was crushed up zebra mussels and round gobies, and lots of them. The other unique thing I noticed was a tinge of brown along the whitefish’s belly, which indicated that these fish were hugging the sand flats. They were not chasing bait fish or my spoon up high in the water column and that was the answer I was looking for. Clearly whitefish are relating to and forage on bottom which was the eye opener I needed.
To fool these often elusive fish, I present baits on bottom, in the sand amongst the thousands of zebra mussels and round gobies that these Lake Simcoe Whitefish are feeding on. Minnows and gobies are a staple in the whitefish diet so the goal is to closely mimic and stand out in the crowd of the tasty snacks that abound.
Two simple presentations that get the job done are both tubes and small minnow bodied plastics. Internally weighted tubes in both white and off colored brown are very effective. As far as plastic minnow bodies, a Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Baby Shad”, “Sickle Tail Baby Shad” or “Boot Tail Baby Shad” rigged on a darter style or a football jig head also can’t be beat. Both presentations can be effectively fish on bottom enticing finicky spooky fish alike. Another piece of the puzzle is scent. For this, Liquid Mayhem “Garlic Minnow” leaves a natural scent trail that can widen the strike zone and trigger more bites along with tricking fish to hold on longer.
Gear wise I spool up with 10 pound braided line paired with an 8 pound fluorocarbon leader (a swivel for line to leader connections for tubes) I’ll start by bouncing the jig a few times on bottom to create a cloud of sand to get whitefish roaming the area interested. Once I mark a school on my electronics, I hold the jig still on bottom on a tight line and monitor the fish’s reaction on my sonar. If the fish does not hit right away, I will bounce the jig lightly on bottom once or twice and hold it still. I then watch the line closely and wait for the bite. The fish will tell you what they want and how they want it, you just need to pay attention to your electronics.
Any of these jigging methods will work on any given day, you just need to adapt to each school of fish entering your zone and experiment with the presentation. If I can give you the most important tip it would be less is more. Don’t over work the jig. It’s a finesse presentation that will coax these elusive whitefish to bite.
Step out of your comfort zone, put the spoon aside and try some finesse jigging for Simcoe whiteys. Pay attention to detail and find those sandy haunts that hold forage and of course, schools of whitefish. Play safe and have fun on the frozen lakes my friends!
Justin Girard Exist To Fish Writer
Jamie Wilson Exist ToFish Canada 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
Hallowed Grounds: Lake Trout & Whitefish Tactics on Lake Simcoe
By: Jamie Wilson
As an angler, there are moments of excitement so glorious that you literally want to jump up and scream. I’ll tell you this, watching a lake trout chase your bait from upwards of one hundred plus feet of water on your sonar, and then ultimately hitting your offering like a freight train, is definitely one such moment.
Southern, central and northern Ontario hold a bevy of lakes where you can experience some of the most heart stopping action on the ice. One fine example is the hallowed grounds of the fourth largest body of water wholly within Ontario, Canada’s borders.
Lake Simcoe is the mecca for both lake trout and whitefish in central Ontario during the hard water season. This large seven hundred square kilometer expanse of varying depth and structure offers endless opportunities to hunt down either a fish of a lifetime, or some fine table fare. With an average depth of 40ft, and a maximum depth of 135ft, an angler can expect to spend a portion of their time figuring out the key depth and structure that either lake trout or whitefish are relating to.
First off, herring, aka cisco are a lake trout’s main forage base. Now, obviously, if you can find schools of herring, you will ultimately find lake trout. Keep in mind that these schools of bait will move around so you’ll have to follow suit. To locate lake trout, good places to start are areas that have structure such as shoals, humps and main break lines/tight contours adjacent to deep water. A GPS mapping app for a phone or tablet is invaluable when locating these structures. Positioning on such areas will give you the ability to quickly experiment with different depths that lake trout may be keying on. This could be anywhere from 60ft-100+ft of water, so you should definitely keep an open mind.
Lake Simcoe local hot stick Colin Booth spends his time doing just that, so let’s pick his brain a bit. One key component to an angler’s success when searching for these often elusive fish is without a doubt, a portable sonar unit. Without one, you are fishing blind. Colin explains “I prefer the graph mode on the Marcum LX-7 unit, as it gives me a history on how the fish are reacting to the presentation”.
As far as baits are concerned, you have to match the hatch. To mimic herring, a light colored swimbait rigged on a 1/2oz-1oz football or darter style jig head can’t be beat. Colin’s go-to choice for swimbaits is theBass Magnet Lures “Shift’r Shad” in a white or “glo” pattern. Other great options are the Angler’s Choice“Sniper Shad”, and the Lake Fork Trophy Tackle “Live Magic Shad” which is a segmented style swimbait. As far as other color options, I’ve had success with chartreuse as well. When this presentation isn’t as effective, silver jigging spoons or lipless crankbaits will more than likely be the ticket. Colin’s choice for lipless cranks as of late is the Smartfish by Kamooki Lures Ltd. “If you’ve haven’t seen this bait, you must check it out. It’s such a unique lipless style crank that is neutrally buoyant, yet is nose weighted so it stands up with a flaring action when it’s resting on bottom or suspended. My first laker of 2015 was caught on this cool bait in the herring pattern”. Another top bait choice is a good old 3-4” white tube. This is a deadly presentation that mimics an injured/dying baitfish which will provoke a feeding response in finicky, inactive fish.
Now, lake trout are triggered to strike when a baitfish freezes in fear momentarily, like a gazelle on the Serengeti, only to swim away in a panic. Colin explains “lakers love the chase. I start by dropping the bait to the bottom, jigging/bouncing it a few times to stir up silt to attract their attention. I then reel the bait up to about half the depth of the water column, at which point, I slowly swim the bait up and down a few times, let it fall back to the bottom and then I repeat”. 9 times out of 10, if you follow this method, a lake trout will either rise from the depths or it will just appear on the sonar and b-line it to the bait”. He continues, “Once this happens it’s a game of cat and mouse. Simply reel away from the laker provoking it to chase, if it turns away drop the bait back down and repeat the process until you trigger the fish to strike. It’s much like a video game, and really gets the blood pumping”.
His set-up of choice is a medium-heavy 28”-32” rod paired with a 2000-2500 series reel with a smooth drag to handle the long runs lake trout are known for, 15lbSuffix 832 braid/10lb fluorocarbon leader round things out. For tubes, make sure your main line to leader connection is made with a swivel as tubes spiral and will ultimately cause line twist.
Lately, Colin has been targeting whitefish on shoals in 40-50ft of water. “We used to find them in very deep water but they seem to have adapted to, and begun to feed on gobies. This makes sense because whitefish are primarily bottom feeders, which in turn, makes gobies the perfect meal.”
Since gobies are on the menu, baits that mimic them such as brown tubes rigged to sit nose down are effective. “When schools of whitefish appear, very subtle lifts to get the tail moving is the preferred technique”. He continues, “Once you get the hang of it, you’ll have a blast when they make an appearance on the sonar”. Aside from the tubes, the Kamooki Smartfish is a great choice as it will balance itself on bottom sitting tail up, along with the appeal of the rattles to attract their attention. Another choice is the “Twitch” by Bass Magnet lures which usually is a drop shot style bait, but in this case, rigged onto a 1/2oz jig head. This alternate bait can be fished on bottom for whitefish, and often will incidentally turn bites from lake trout as well. Colin’s rod/reel/line combo is essentially the same set-up as utilized for lake trout, the only real difference being a lighter 6-8lb leader.
Lake Simcoe is very accessible and is surrounded by many attractions and amenities. Obviously it is quite large, with an ATV or snowmobile being ideal, they are not a must. When venturing out make sure to check reports on unsafe areas, and steer clear of dangerous pressure cracks. Head out with someone that knows the lake and take proper precautions by carrying safety gear and exercise common sense. Chasing fish around this fine fishery is unparalleled fun, but just don’t take any unnecessary risks doing so. Get out there and put the techniques that we discussed today to good use and you’ll be bitten by the bug just like I was. Trust me.
See you out there!
This article was originally posted at http://fishulo.scout.com/
Author Bio: Jamie Wilson is a passionate lifelong multi-species angler specializing in both smallmouth and largemouth Bass. He is a writer for such online publications asAngling Authority, Rahfish, Exist to Fish Canada and now, Fishulo. Along with being a tournament angler, Jamie comes to us representing the Canadian Bass Angler Fan Page, and he is a staff member/promotional team member for Rage Fish Attractants,Lake Fork Tackle, Rod Sox, Fizards, Easthill Outdoors, Riverrun Tackle, Musky Innovations, Bumblelure, Kamooki Lures ltd. and Bill’s Bait and Tackle.