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

Product Review:  Huskie Muskie Leaders

Product Review: Huskie Muskie Leaders

Date: 11/1/16
Product type: Leaders
Manufacturer: Huskie Musky Leaders
Reviewer: Alex Meletis

Huskie Muskie Leaders is wholly owned by Bill Fuller, and is located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

As a member of Muskies Canada, Bill is a firm believer of catch and release.  The way we handle muskies and the equipment we use are important in ensuring live releases.  As a result, He had come to realize that good strong leaders are as essential as a good landing net and the proper tools for releasing a fish once caught.  We pay good money for our lures and do not leave them on an underwater obstruction, or heaven forbid in the mouth of a Muskie, because the weak link was a leader.

About ten years ago He was unable to find any quality leaders in the Ottawa area.  As a result He began researching and experimenting with different materials and leader building methods.  Most of the really good information He found was on various salt water sites, written by those who were fishing for game much larger than muskies  His general conclusion was, that if these materials and building methods could stand up to battles with some of the largest fish to be found in the sea, they would stand up to the rigors of fighting and landing muskies.

Bill started with trolling leaders using hard mono but after He discovered the ANDE fluorocarbon, He never went back.  He learned that crimping, done properly, was every bit as strong as knots if not stronger, but more importantly, it would provide strong loops more consistently than knots, especially with this thickness of fluorocarbon material.  He also learned the importance of loop protectors and how they really reduce the strain on loops.  From there He expanded his building to  single strand stainless steel.  Over a period of several years, of building, testing, giving leaders away to friends for second opinions and receiving lots of good advice in return, some of them convinced him to make them available commercially.

The methods and materials that go into Huskie Muskie Leaders are not unique.  They have been adapted from a variety of sources and in turn my designs have been copied by others.

Bill and Exist to Fish Canada believe is that Huskie Muskie Leaders have incorporated the best of materials with a melding of the best methodologies to produce the most Muskie friendly leaders on the market today.  We invite you to visit or contact one of his dealers to see for yourself  to see how good they really are.

 

Image result for huskie muskie leaders

 

Whenever you get two or more Muskie addicts together, you will get two or more opinions about anything to do with our sport.  The use of leaders is no exception.  We have knots vs crimps, stainless steel vs titanium, snaps vs split rings and on and on and on.  The intent of this page is to provide a basic primer on leaders, their use, and the materials used to make them.  The contents are based on extensive research, the experience of those who have been using Huskie Muskie Leaders for a number of years now.

First of all, is there one leader that will do it all?  Not really.  That said, some people do get away with it and for those that are using only one or two rod and reel combinations, it simply isn’t convenient to be constantly changing leaders and compromises need to be reached.  For example, the Huskie Muskie  fluorocarbon casting leader can be use for jerkbaits but is not as good as a single strand stainless steel leader. Where possible, and if your equipment allows, application specific leaders should be used to get the most out of your lures.

Why Leaders?

There are several reasons we use leaders.  Perhaps the major reason is to prevent line from being cut by a Muskie’s teeth or by underwater obstructions such as rocks.  Although the tensile strength of modern fishing line may be as high as the leader material we are be using, it is not very abrasion resistant and under strain can easily be cut by an edge that is even moderately sharp.  Therefore we need something between the line and the lure where all the abuse is going to be absorbed.  Leaders are made of materials that are much more abrasion resistant than line and will stand up to more contact with sharp objects.

The second reason for using leaders is to present the lure in the most natural way possible.  This is especially true with the use of fluorocarbon leaders.  The refraction index of fluorocarbon is virtually the same as water making it almost invisible under water.  Therefore it separates the lure from line and makes it appear to be swimming free.  The clearer the water, the more important this factor is.

The third reason is specific to the use of guide type jerk baits and walk-the-dog type top-waters.  In this application the leader pushes the line away from the bait to prevent fouling.  The resistance of the leader through the water will also tend to make it move in the opposite direction of the movement of the lure so that on the next jerk, the lure will move back across in its zig-zag path back to the boat.  Although this is possible with a more flexible leader, the stiff single strand leader will exaggerate the action.

The last, and one of the most important reasons, deals primarily with trolling.  Shortly after a muskie strikes and before the rod is out of the holder, muskies in their initial effort to free themselves, will often roll in the line.  If you are using one of the newer spectra fibre braided lines, wire line or even a long wire leader, this rolling action can cause serious cuts to the body of the Muskie.  To prevent this from happening, a thicker, softer, high tensile strength hard monofilament or fluorocarbon leader should be used.  For this reason, my fluorocarbon leaders are constructed with a heavier 150 pound strength and corresponding thickness.

 

If you are just starting out or have been fishing for muskies and Northern Pike as well as taking a trip down south or live on oceanic waters where leaders are mandatory for the fish you are pursuing I highly recommend Huskie Musky Leaders. For years there is always one discussion that arises when talking to fellow anglers and that is choices in leaders and what do you use.

 

 

 

Huskie Musky Leaders
Type Muskie/Pike leaders
Length varies
Material Fluorocarbon and steel
Origin Ottawa, Ontario
MSRP

 

Huskie Muskie stainless steel jerk bait leaders are constructed of Malin stainless wire, an industry leader.  The leader material is purchased directly from the factory, precut, unlike many other brands where the material is purchased in coils and then subjected to addition weakening stresses in the process of trying to straighten it out.

the new glide bait leader, which is essentially the jerk bait leader with out the swivel and snap.  We still use the same wire and shrink wrap the wraps to reduce weed fouling.  To use the glide bait leader, tie the line directly to end of the leader and attach the lure using a split ring.  For safety, do not use the same split ring for all of your glide baits.  The attaching and removal processes will weaken the split ring.  Instead, attach a separate split ring to each lure.

These leaders feature 180 lb Single Strand Malin Stainless Steel Wire, #5 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, and 143 lb ball bearing swivel.

Jerk-Bait

 

We also take the time to shrink wrap the wire wraps to reduce weed fouling.   The snap is also shrink wrapped to ensure alignment of the snap and leader which is essential for the proper side to side action of glide type jerk baits walk the dog top waters.

Shrinked-Wrapped Shrink-Wrapped-Jerk

 

Huskie Musky Leaders is a local to Ontario Company based in the Ottawa area that focuses solely on making leaders. Meticulously hand assembled and crimped using the highest grade components, these leaders are at the top of the industry and come highly recommended. Heading to Pro Tackle here in Belleville Ontario, in search for my first Muskie set up years ago I discovered Huskie Muskie Leaders which were highly recommend by store owner and avid Muskie fisherman and guide Stacy Ash. After experiencing multiple attacks and seeing the durability of Bill Fuller’s Huskie Musky Leaders I have never looked back.

 

Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 4 9 10

 

 Image result for huskie muskie leaders

Fluorocarbon

Fluorocarbon Leaders

All of Huskie Muskies fluorocarbon leaders are made from 150 lb ANDE Fluorocarbon Leader Material.  Although not well branded as a freshwater line, ANDE is well known in the saltwater community, has always stood up under every conceivable fishing condition and situation and holds over 1,300 IGFA World Records. Many of these records represent outstanding catches throughout the history of IGFA. All Fluorocarbons are not equal. ANDE is 100% Fluorocarbon with all the properties you expect from Fluorocarbon Leader material, strong abrasion resistance, low stretch, doesn’t absorb water, sinks quickly and is totally invisible under water.

Fluorocarbon leaders are constructed to provide a loop which is the strongest in the industry.  For this thickness of fluorocarbon, experience has shown that crimps provide the strongest connection.   Single crimps are used on the casting leaders and doubles on the trolling leaders.  We start by melting the end of the fluorocarbon to form a ball which in itself makes it nearly impossible to pull the leader end though the crimp even before the crimp is squeezed.  A plastic coated steel spring loop protector is used to prevent the snap or swivel from chaffing against the fluorocarbon in the loop, thereby greatly increasing the life of the leader.  Concern has been expressed by some that the colored loop protector might turn off a Muskie but this has certainly not been a problem, if anything the loop protectors mimic the small bait fish that are being chased by a larger fish represented by the lure.

Another area of concern that needs to be dispelled is the use of crimps.  No doubt you have all heard various Muskie enthusiasts say “I don’t trust crimps”.  They have all probably had an experience with a poorly crimped leader or more commonly, used a leader that was too thin for crimping and where a knot would be superior.  Personally, I would not use a crimp on any fluorocarbon material under 130 pound test.  Huskie Muskie leaders are all made with 150 pound test and the crimps provide a superior connection than a knot.  Crimped leaders are the leaders of choice for salt water applications for fish species that are quite a bit bigger and fight harder than muskies.  Enough said.

Crimped-End2

Unweighted Trolling Leaders

Unweighted Trolling Leaders come in two lengths, the standard 3 foot and the 6 foot St Lawrence Special.  Both feature the Ande Fluorocarbon Material, #6 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, 175 lb ball bearing swivel, Coil Spring Loop Protectors and are double crimped for added strength.  Many of our customers report being able to get an entire season from one leader if care is taken to change out the snap when it shows signs of weakness.

Trolling1

Casting Leaders

Casting Leaders combine the strength and durability of the fluorocarbon with enough flexibility to be used for casting bucktails and spinner baits, yet is stiff enough for walking the dog with jerk baits and top waters.  This is the best leader for throwing those heavy Bull Dawgs.  A great dual purpose leader which feature 1 foot of Ande Fluorocarbon Material, #5 Stringease Stay-lok Snap, 143 lb ball bearing swivel, and Coil Spring Loop Protectors.  Recently, some of our dealers have requested lengths of 14 and 18 inches.  Special orders of this nature are never turned down.

 

Having confidence and not worrying about your terminal tackle is one of the key factors in being successful while in pursuit of these toothy critters. Nothing hurts an angler more than losing a fish of a life time due to terminal tackle failing. Huskie Musky leaders come in a variety of selections such as Fluorocarbon and stainless steel in different lengths for different applications.

 

 

Castability(1-5) Ease of Use(1-5) Quality of Action (1-5) Durability (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
9 10 9 10 25 9.5

 

The fluorocarbon material used is 150lb ANDE a salt water grade material that is tough as hell and made to take the abuse of larger teeth barring fish. Husky Musky Leaders cater to their customers by providing a 3ft and 6ft fluorocarbon leader for trolling purposes paired with a 175lb barrel swivel and a heavy duty #6 Stringease Stay Loc snap suitable for all sizes of trolling baits which come in handy during the fall season. The casting version of this leader comes in a 12 inch version and can also be found in the 14-18 inch length if desired and come equipped with a 143lb barrel swivel and #5 Stay Loc snap. The stainless steel jerk bait leaders feature 180lb single strain main stainless steel wire paired with a #5 Stringease stay loc snap and a 143lb ball bearing swivel ideal for your walk the dog surface baits and all other jerk baits.

  Consistency(1-5) Range of sizes (1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 10 10 10

 

 

 

 

(Huskie Musky Leaders) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality   10
Performance   10
Price   9
Features   10
Design (Ergonomics)   9
Application   10
Total Score  9.75
Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE  

 

These leaders helps enhance the action of your lure and adding confidence to the angler while fishing for toothy critters. As the fall fishing is underway I highly recommend these leaders to all anglers who pursue Muskie, Northern Pike and all fish where a bite guard is needed.

 

Retailers

Huskie Muskie Dealers:

Pro Tackle Muskie Shop:  http://www.protacklemuskyshop.com/
43B Putman Industrial Road, Belleville, Ont
Gerry’s Bait and Tackle – https://www.facebook.com/GerrysBaitNTackle/
3363 Lakefield Road, Lakefield, Ontario
Dixie Tackle Shop  www.dixietackleshop.com
51 St Catharine Street, St Thomas, Ont
Natural Sports – www.naturalsports.com
1572 Victoria St N, Kitchener, Ont
Paddletales Tackle – www.paddletales.com
510 St Lawrence St, Winchester, Ont
Dufferin Outdoor Supply  http://dufferinoutdoorsupply.org/
328 Broadway, Orangeville ON
Temple Bay Lodge  http://www.templebay.com/
302 Temple Road, Eagle River, ON
LOTW Sports Headquarters – https://www.facebook.com/lotwsports/
702 Lakeview Drive, Kenora, Ontario
Bobby’s Sports Shop – https://www.facebook.com/BobbysSportShopLtd/
175 Vermillion Bay,Vermillion Bay, Ontario
Bill’s Bait and Tackle – http://www.billsbaitandtackle.net/
858 Upper James St. Hamilton, Ontario
Fishing World  https://www.fishingworld.ca/
2411 Barton E, Hamilton, Ontario
Northshore Musky Baits – https://www.facebook.com/Northshoremuskybaits/
Webbwood, Ontario
Lambeth Rod and Tackle – 2404 Main. Lambeth, Ont.
2404 Main, Lambeth, ON
Easthill Outdoors  http://easthilloutdoors.com/
4131 Highway 35/115 Orono, Ontario
Angling Sports London  http://www.anglingsports.ca/
681 Highbury Avenue NorthLondon, Ontario
Wing’s Live Bait and Tackle  http://www.wingslivebaitandtackle.ca/
413 Lyndhurst Rd, Lyndhurst, Ontario

 

Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis

Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie Wilson- Lead Writer/Editor

Jamie Wilson- Lead Writer/Editor

Fishing Spinnerbaits Like Deep Diving Crankbaits for Fall Muskies

Fishing Spinnerbaits Like Deep Diving Crankbaits for Fall Muskies

Fall Muskie fishing is my favorite time of the year. Chasing giants in cold water paired with some of the most extreme conditions can be oh so rewarding.

 

That being said the fall season is generally the time to put away the fast action reaction type baits and transition to the big slow moving targets. For most that means big hunks of rubber upwards of 1 lb in weight and 20” in length. Or trolling large crankbaits over deep water. That is after all what tends to produce results this time of year, and that is what the Muskie elders have instructed us to do. I too have fallen into this mindset during the cold water period, but something happened this past weekend that reminded me of a few techniques I have had success with and have changed my perspective.

 

This weekend’s trip started out as most do in the fall. Water temps in the high 40’s and large profile, slow moving baits latched on in hopes of a giant fall Muskie. I found myself fishing with two very old friends, one of which also happens to be a Muskie nut. The other.. Not so much.

 

Not 10 mins into the trip I moved a BIG fish on my Beaver. She was hot in pursuit, gills flaring fins wriggling.. Looking like a taker only to slowly saunter off at the last second as she approached the boat. Not two casts later she did the exact same thing only to hang directly below the boat giving us a really good look at her before she swam back to the depths. My tried and true methods seemed to be attracting the interest one would expect this time of year and as such I stuck with it and was rewarded later on during the trip.

tube-muskie

After moving that fish we decided to give her a rest in hopes that she would eat during our next pass of the area. We moved off and over to a bay adjacent to the deeper water we had been fishing and began working the deep weed line that it offered. My good friend Devin decided to join in the Muskie fun and picked up one of my setups only to latch on an inline bucktail. “I know, I know” he exclaimed. “I’m not going to catch them with this right now, but they are just so much easier to cast”. We all had a good laugh at his honesty, but were happy to see him fishing Muskies alongside us.  Not 5 casts in! A very healthy fish came roaring off the weedline and crushed his bait.   For some reason, unknown to myself, this fish was whiling to chase down and aggressively strike this “summer season” bait.

fullsizerender

I was shocked! And felt a little silly having teased him initially for his bait choice. But as I reflect back to my earlier days of Muskie fishing I can recall catching fish, late in the season, on flashy bucktails and spinnerbaits as well. This was not only an eye opener, but a reminder to myself that we never really have these fish completely figured out. Yes they will regularly eat large slow moving offerings during the fall season. But it is important to impart other techniques, some less conventional, when the fish don’t seem to cooperate.  Bucktails on deep weedlines may just be the difference.

 

This reminded me of another not so typical bait/technique that I have been using of late. During the fall period that is.  A  Spinnerbait!. I know I know! Not really something I should be throwing in the fall!  But as I was reminded earlier, something different can be good! Really good!

 

My spinnerbait of choice is a Tandem Nutbuster. This bait is produced by a company called Llungen Lures. Llungen Lures L.L.C is a family & veteran owned fishing tackle manufacturing and distribution company based out of Southern Illinois. The company is operated by three partners; Chris & Cari Piha along with longtime friend Matt Gunkel. All three play an integral role in the day to operations and distribution of fine Muskie fishing tackle.

img_5824_grande

 

The Tandem Nutbuster is, in my opinion, one of the finest Essox spinnerbaits available on the market today.  Its unique Colorado and Willow tandem system add to diversity of this premium bait. Designed for a multitude of applications, it can be fished at slow, medium, or high speed retrieves. It refuses to “roll out” cast after cast.  From grinding through cabbage, to dragging through rocks, to bumping through timber. I have yet to find another spinnerbait on the market that is as versatile or effective.

 

My approach with this bait during the cold water period is often a slow roll, as one would expect. But something I have really started to have success with involves allowing the bait to settle on bottom, and dragging it with a moderate to fast retrieve along the bottom. Grinding through soft bottom creating a good cloud of silt and activity during the process. Not to mention the noise the bait makes from the thumping blades. I came across this technique rather accidentally. I made a long bomb cast only to blow up my reel (professional overrun). While I pulled the birds nest from my spool the bait fluttered to the bottom. Assuming the cast was dead I began to crank the bait in at a good clip. Dragging through the soft bottom, and deflecting off of rocks when I was greeted by a heavy strike! Initially I thought I had hung the bait up on bottom until the headshakes began. This was a Muskie! And a good one at that! Pattern established!! The commotion and banging around on the bottom combined with the rhythmic thumping of the blades had triggered this fish to strike! Who knew! I was fishing the spinnerbaits in a manner that nobody to my knowledge does. Like a crankbait!  Like a deep diving crankbait. And the fish react to this very very well!img_1297

 

Here is the skinny.. Make your long bomb cast, count the bait down (approx 2’ per second). Once the bait has made contact with the bottom begin your retrieve ensuring that the bait remains in contact with the bottom with the rod tip down pointing towards the water. It will feel like you are dragging it. And in essence you are.  Most of my strikes occur when the bait deflects off of something. A rock, or a piece of timber. Or when I rip it free from a clump of weeds.  This is far from conventional.  But different can be good! Really good!

 

During your next fall outing try fishing your big spinnerbaits along the bottom like you would a deep diving crankbait. The results speak for themselves!

ALL OF THE FISH IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE WERE CAUGHT AND RELEASED IN THE KAWARTHAS NORTHUMBERLAND REGION OF ONTARIO! COME SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Author: Chris Huskilson

Author: Chris Huskilson

Top 5 Fall Fishing Destinations in the Kawartha’s Northumberland

Top 5 Fall Fishing Destinations in the Kawartha’s Northumberland

Top 5 Fall Fishing Destinations

The angling opportunities available year round are simply astounding. The fall is a special time of year, however, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. With so many fishing destinations with over 350 lakes and rivers to choose from, here are my Top 5 Fall MUST fish locations.

Number 5–High Falls

Eels Creek and High Falls

Photo Courtesy of Ontario Travel

GPS Coordinates: 44.588126, -78.070699

Put your canoe or aluminum boat in Eels Creek off Northeys Bay Road and head north to the High Falls. The scenery is breathtaking and the fishing is top notch as well! Bring your Muskie tackle because this stretch is chalk full of fish! Inline bucktail spinners and 6-8” crank baits imitating the cyprinid forage throughout the river will provide great success for anglers of all levels.

Number 4–Lovesick Lake

Lovesick LakeGPS Coordinates: 44.555582, -78.203433

This little hideaway is tucked between Lower Buckhorn Lake and Stoney Lake. The beautiful rocky forested shorelines to please the victors eye. An often overlooked stretch of the Trent-Severn Waterway that is absolutely loaded with Bass, Muskie, Walleye, Crappie and several other panfish species. Bring your arsenal because this little beauty has trophy fish in all of the above mentioned species. Put your boat in at the launch directly across from the Burleigh Falls Inn and joy the beautiful scenery this lake has to offer while catching your next Kawartha Legend.

Number 3–Burnt River

Burnt RiverGPS Coordinates: 44.776225,-78.6844606

Launch your boat in Kinmount and make your way up the river. If you have a small boat or canoe, walk it down below the dam in Kinmount and make your way down stream. Be prepared to portage a few narrow sections of the river along the way, but all the effort is well worth it. Not only is the scenery absolutely majestic but several fish species reside within the river and are seemingly always whiling to bite! Walleye, Large and Smallmouth Bass as well as Muskies abound, in high numbers and really great sizes! Your arms will be sore from reeling in fish!

Number 2–Stoney Lake

Stoney LakeGPS Coordinates: 44.565477, -78.136769

Launch your boat at the public launch directly adjacent to Viamede Resort at the end of Mount Julian Viamede Road and let the adventure begin. Known as one of the most prestigious lakes in the region, Stoney offers some of the most picturesque landscape in the world! Not only is it an absolute pleasure to view but the lake also boasts a very healthy fishery! The Bass, Walleye and Muskie populations are VERY good! Chris just recently fished a tournament event on the lake and over the course of the three days, Chris and his tournament partner landed over 300 Smallmouth Bass!

Number 1–Belmont Lake

Belmont LakeGPS Coordinates: 44.486377, -77.817640

Launch your boat at the end of Mile of Memories Lane. Be sure to keep an eye open for wildlife on the way in as there are often deer grazing in the fields or wild turkey running about. This hidden gem of a lake is absolutely loaded with good sized Pike and the occasional monster Muskie. The bass fishing, both largemouth and smallmouth, is phenomenal. And did I mention the Walleye population is just ridiculous? Located near Havelock, Ontario with travel times into town being 15-25 minutes on average. Travel time to the Greater Toronto Area is within 2 hours making this lake a very popular spot for those escaping the city for vacation rentals even during the off season! The size of Belmont Lake is 1872 acres with a maximum depth of 51 feet and mean depth of 20 feet. Belmont Lake is part of the Crowe River system, the Crowe (Deer River) enters the lake at the north from Cordova Lake, the North River enters from Round Lake and then exits as the Crowe River to the east heading into Crowe Lake. Just a beautiful little lake that offers some of the best fishing in the region! Shhhh… don’t tell anyone! For a great stop after a day of fishing, take a trip up to the north end of the lake and visit Belmont Lake Brewery. They’re a small craft brewery open on weekends. And always boat and drive responsibly!

Written By Chris Huskilson

Written By Chris Huskilson

Product Review: XZone Mega Swammer

Product Review: XZone Mega Swammer

Date: 5/4/2016
Product type: Soft Plastic Swim bait
Manufacturer: XZone Lures
Reviewer: Exist To Fish Canada

 

Mega Swammer1

“The 5.5″ X Zone Mega Swammer. Texas rig or rigged with a jig head the swammer gets it done when it comes to swimbaits. Equally great on your favourite lake trout lakes jigged through the ice. Big bait for a big bite!”  Fish Taken in the Kawartha Northumberland region.

 

 

 

Introduction:

Based on the huge success of the X Zone Slammer, the X Zone Swammer was born.  A compact swim bait with ribbed sides and a special three-dimensional paddle tail, it produces an enticing action and vibration in the water, and actually rocks back and forth as it swims. Featuring a 100% true hand-poured composition, which provides a soft, salt-impregnated texture and amazing hatch matching colors, it’s been a tournament-winning bait right out of the gates that has also been responsible for numerous big fish awards.

 

 

 

(Mega Swammer) Specifications
Type Soft Plastic Swim bait
Length 5.5 “
Weight NA
Material Soft Plastic
Hooks NA
Colors 6 available
Origin CANADA
MSRP 10.00$ CAN pack of 4
mega swammer3

“Whether you are hunting bass on the flats or out deep on structure, fishing for pike and musky in open water, or lake trout and walleye through the ice, the X Zone Swammer has what it takes to help you catch more fish.”

 

 

Quality/Construction:

Very soft and supple yet at the same time exceptionally durable. This bait can be fished right side up or upside down! We actually caught more fish rigged upside down J

 

Quality Ratings for (Mega Swammer)
Finish(1-5) Level of Detail(1-5) Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
4.5 4.5 4.5 5 18.5 20 9.25

 

 

Performance:

Whether you are hunting bass on the flats or out deep on structure, fishing for pike and musky in open water, or lake trout and walleye through the ice, the X Zone Swammer has what it takes to help you catch more fish. We tested these on Pike and were very very happy with the results.

 

Performance Ratings (Mega Swammer)
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 4.5 24.5 25 9.8
mega swammer2

“A compact swimbait with ribbed sides and a special three-dimensional paddle tail, it produces an enticing action and vibration in the water, and actually rocks back and forth as it swims. “

 

Features/Design: Very lifelike swimming action at fast and slow retrieves. Salt impregnated so fish hold on longer! Exceptional hatch matching colors.

Feature /Design   Ratings (Mega Swammer)
  Consistency(1-5) Weight(1-5) Realism (1-5) Range of sizes (1-3) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 3 18 18 10

 

 

Application: 

This is a very versatile bait! Can be Texas rigged, weighed or unweight. Steady retrieve subsurface or burned across the top like a buzz bait. Run on an A-Rig or dragged along the bottom on a football head. The options are endless and the bait can be fished in any situation.

 

 

(Mega Swammer) Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality   9.25
Performance   9.8
Price   9.25
Features   10
Design (Ergonomics)   10
Application   10
Total Score 9.7
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:

 

In short this is a very nice swim bait that worked very well for us on finicky early season Pike. This is definitely something we will be putting to more use during the warmer water periods as well..

Product Review: Magnum Pro Bulldawg

Product Review: Magnum Pro Bulldawg

Date: 12/11/2015
Product type: Magnum Pro Bulldawg
Manufacturer: Musky Innovations
Reviewer: Alex Meletis

 

 

Musky Innovations Magnum Pro Bulldawg

Musky Innovations Magnum Pro Bulldawg

 

 

Introduction: The Pro Dawg-Mag Dawg is always a top favorite for me when targeting Muskie and Northern Pike. Diversified bait that can be toiled or cast, this bait has a past history of nothing short of successful catches when targeting essox. Presentation is everything with this lure type. Because of its body style and balanced weight the bait is able to stay up right when paused allowing for a window of opportunity for predator type fish. This bait comes in numerous colors and can be used by anglers at all levels of experience paired with the proper gear, making the Bull Dawg so successful.

 

 

Magnum Pro Bulldawg Specifications
Type Magnum Pro Bulldawg
Length 12”
Weight 8oz
Material Soft plasic
Hooks Mustad
Colors Blk/Orange
Origin Cleveland,WI
MSRP  24.99 USD

 

 

Quality/Construction:

It’s over all construction and quality is over all good. If I could change any quality aspect of this bait it would be the durability of the rubber and hook quality. Because Muskies and Pike have razor sharp teeth and these baits are of a soft plastic construction it does not take many fish to destroy them. Although the action of the bait remains the same with some altering of the wire harness and patch work with soft plastic glue, the overall density of the plastic could be better. For hooks I usually swap

Musky Innovations Magnum Pro Bulldawg

Musky Innovations Magnum Pro Bulldawg

out the Mustad’s for VMC or Gorilla 4X. I have had Mustad’s snap multiple times or bend resulting in loss of fish.

 

Quality Ratings for Magnum Pro Bulldawg
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 7

 

 

Performance:

The performance of the Bull Dawg is unmatched. With its low profile body and curly style tail these baits tend to drawn in more fish than any other soft plastic I have used. The jerk pause/count the bait down combination when casting allows the bait to swim naturally and not tangle which results in more well-presented and naturally presented casts over fowl ups. The Balance of the bait is great also adding to the casting aspect of presenting this bait but also when trolling.

 

 

Performance Ratings Magnum Pro Bulldawg
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 4 24 25 6

 

Features/Design:

Key features of the Muskie Innovations Bull Dawg are its performance in the water and its ability to be repaired multiple times and still keep its original action. This is crucial when guiding because you may have only a few of the key patterns that seem to draw the big girls to the boat. There are tons of baits that once they have cracked ect. Loose their ability to perform the same action as previous to their destruction.

 

 

Feature /Design   Ratings Magnum Pro Bulldawg
  Consistency(1-5) Weight(1-5) Realism (1-5) Range of sizes (1-3) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest )
5 5 5 2 17 18 7

 

 

Application: 

I would use these baits from season open to season close. Because these baits can be casted or trolled you can speed or slow your retrieve depending on the energy level of the fish. Early season to mid-season I tend to have a faster retrieve (less pauses faster figure eights) then later in the season where my retrieve slows down this also includes my trolling speed when trolling and not casting the Bull Dawg. I use these baits in both river and lake systems. When fishing shallow or deep areas all that changes is your retrieve tactics. When fishing a weed edge in slow water (6-12ft) I find these baits are most effective when straight retrieved. When fishing a deep rock pile (12-30ft) I find these baits to best when paused and jerked as a retrieve.

 

 

Magnum Pro Bulldawg Collective Final Rating
Construction/Quality 5
Performance 6
Price 6
Features 6
Design (Ergonomics) 5
Application 6
Total Score 34
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: Definitely a go to bait when targeting Northern Pike in North Western Ontario Also a deadly bait when targeting Muskie from early season into late. The Mag Dawg has a multi-use feature, by this I mean it can be casted or trolled. One of the best features of this bait is the action. When casting it can be straight retrieved or used as a jerk bait. Because of the profile/weight ratio the bait will stay up right when paused in the water column allowing a hang time for a essox predator to take advantage of the moment.

An absolute must in all tackle boxes when targeting Northern Pike and Muskies. If I could change anything about the Bull Dawg by Musky Innovation it would be the durability of the rubber. These baits are such fish magnets that’s they get destroyed fairly quickly. The consistency of the plastic could be more durable.

 

 

Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis

Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis

Pin It on Pinterest