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,... read more
Permanent Ice Shack Tactics!

Permanent Ice Shack Tactics!

  Ice fishing has progressed substantially from what it was when I first started to what it is today. Growing up sitting on a 5-gallon pail in the blistering cold blindly waiting for a fish to strike and the opportunity to pull it through a hole in the frozen lake. Now today as I’m comfortably sitting on a couch in a t shirt watching the hockey game on TV at the same time pulling fish through a seemingly similar hole in the ice but from the comfort of my permanent ice house. Ice house, ice shack, hut, shanty, or permanent house just like the many names for these structures on the hard water there are many types. From scrap wood thrown together to form a floor, four walls and a roof to luxury camper style houses on wheels that lower onto the ice. Whatever size, shape, or style they are designed to keep you out of the elements, warm, comfortable, easy set up and moved onto the lake and remain until spring arrives and the ice starts to melt. A permanent shack is a great option when you don’t want to spend your whole day punching hundreds of holes and setting up multiple times while battling the elements. With the introduction of pop up shelters and “run and gun” style of ice fishing vs sit and wait there has been much debate over levels of success with these two styles. While my pop up shelter gets a workout throughout the ice fishing season I can’t argue my success and comfort when fishing in my permanent ice shack. Sometimes it’s... read more
Ice Fishing in Kawarthas Northumberland

Ice Fishing in Kawarthas Northumberland

Now that the colder weather seems to be settling in for the winter, I can’t help but recall the questions I had when I first began ice fishing. The Kawarthas Northumberland region is an ice angler’s paradise! So many species! So little time it seems. The frozen lakes provide an exciting and affordable way to get into the sport of ice fishing. Not only is it a great avenue for new anglers to explore, it truly is a terrific opportunity to spend time with family and friends during the winter months. Ice fishing can appear intimidating to a new comer. My best advice is to never go alone. Be sure to go with someone that is knowledgeable when it comes to ice safety and exercise caution at all times. With a few key factors in mind you are in for a great experience. Dress Accordingly Dressing for the elements is one of the most important parts of an enjoyable ice fishing trip. I always tend to overdress. That has never left me feeling cold which would take away from the experience dramatically. I recommend a thermal flotation suit. Not only are they very warm, but in the event that you were to go through the ice you have flotation to your benefit but this is certainly not a necessity. A good pair of thermal wind proof pants and a warm jacket will suffice. I will generally wear a balaclava to cover my head, face and neck while in transit to and from the area we are fishing. I like this for two reasons. I am completely covered and warm when I... read more
Late Fall Crappie Fishing

Late Fall Crappie Fishing

Late Fall Crappie Fishing Unseasonably warm weather in the Kawarthas this fall has really opened up opportunities for the “not so hardcore” angler to take advantage of some of the best fishing of the season without having to brave the elements. This time of year typically requires the angler to wear the thermal gear. Not the case so far! There is plenty of open water fishing still to be had and all species are biting exceptionally well in preparation for winter. The region offers a multitude of angling opportunities and species to target. An often overlooked or underrated fishery present is that of the black Crappie. Not only are they present in the region in high numbers, but also in trophy size! A fish of 15” is notuncommon, especially this time of the year. Not to mention they are considered one of the best eating fish available. While they are not as tightly grouped in schools during the fall as they are during the spring spawning season, once located they are not difficult to entice. There are a few essentials that you’ll need to get started. A lake map or mapping device that includes the bottom contours of the lake that you will be fishing. This is imperative as we are looking for staging areas that these fish will hold to. Specifically we are looking for the first major “basin” adjacent to the spawning grounds. Nine times out of ten the bottom type will be a soft mud. All of the baitfish in the area will migrate to this bottom type in search of food and as such the Crappie... read more
Bottom Bouncing for Lake Trout

Bottom Bouncing for Lake Trout

Bottom Bouncing Lakers   When talking to people about fishing I get excited and passionate like most of us do! But when I talk to people about lake trout, watch out, my excitement is thru the roof! I can’t help but to be fascinated by this specie, I become a totally different person when I get in the lake trout mode, almost like a hockey player gets during game 7 of the Stanley cup playoffs, determination. For those who know me, this isn’t new to them, but for those who are reading this and thinking, is this guy nuts, I have to say yes I am! I wrote an article on downrigging basics a while back and I had a hard time writing that article without talking about lake trout because it’s what I do so I am super pumped to share with you one of the biggest success I have had fishing for big Larry’s! For those of you who don’t know, Larry is what we call Lake Trout!   If I told you to bounce bottom for lakers, you would probably say, sure no problem, but if I told you to bounce bottom for lakers using your downriggers, you would say, no way dude! Settle down, I am here to tell you that there is a safe and successful way to do it without breaking or losing expensive gear! Step 1, the set up. Whether you are using electric or manual downriggers, this method works with both. Make sure you have some good steel downrigger cable spooled on your downrigger, I use 250 pound steel cable. Next,... read more
Downrigging 101

Downrigging 101

Downrigging 101 When fishing a big body of water, you often feel intimidated and somewhat afraid, don’t feel bad, those were my emotions too! The mistake most people do is look at a map of the whole lake and start planning the spots you want to hit, there is nothing wrong with that at all, in fact that’s what we should all do, but in reality, most of us try to do too much at once. Instead of looking at the whole lake, cut it into pieces, just like a pie! Concentrate on a certain area, learn it, fish it and master it! Downrigging can be scary for some, and for others, they call it “the lazy man fishing” I call it “Strategic Fishing”! Why is downrigging so fun? I’m glad you asked! All thru the summer I spend time trolling Lake Simcoe in search of big lake trout, but what I am also doing is using this time to find unmarked shoals, humps and potential jigging areas for summer and winter. As much as we think the lakes are well mapped and we can see every shoal or hump from a smartphone sitting on the couch eating pie, you can always find unmarked areas, trust me, I have found a few in my days and they still produce fish to this day! As much as we like to think we know the lakes like the back of our hand, there will always be that one spot that you found that no one knows about, or at least no one else talks about, in that case, it’s still your... read more
Drop Shot Crappie!

Drop Shot Crappie!

Fishing during the month of May here in the Ontario Kawartha’s Northumberland region is truly an exciting time of year for any angler.  The trees are finally starting to show their leaves, birds are returning from their southern seasonal residence and the lakes and rivers seem to be buzzing with fish activity.  This particular trip was no different. Aside from the nasty approaching cold front we were seemingly caught directly in the middle of. Let’s take a trip back to the previous weekend… A weekend that yielded beautiful warm weather, moderate winds and great company from a couple of very old friends.   We had planned to target Pike during this trip but upon launching the boat I quickly discovered that I had forgotten to load my two carry on tackle bags. The bags that literally contained ALL of my Pike fishing arsenal.  We made due with what we happened to have tied on and landed half a dozen nice Pike before deciding to venture to the other end of the lake to check “the spot” in hopes that the Crappie had moved in.     Now.. Most of you have caught crappies.. And in most cases they are in numbers in shallow back bays this time of year. A pile of cookie cutter fish in the 10-12″ range with the occasional 13+ incher. Always a great time! This particular lake is different. The fish behave the same for the most part. Suspend in the basin during the ice season, stage prior to spawn and move shallow when the time is right. But they are not in the big schools that we... read more
Crappie on The Fly?

Crappie on The Fly?

  Crappie on the Fly   Spring in the Kawartha’s Northumberland region is a magical time of year for anglers. After packing away the ice fishing gear, multispecies anglers like myself are constantly watching conditions to anticipate their next bite. As the ice disappears and the water starts to warm it is as though the entire lake comes back to life within those first few warm days of spring. At the same time the nearby great lakes tributaries begin to rumble as the spring steelhead migration begins. It truly is an exciting time to be a fisherman! With the abundance of long awaited angling opportunities, I find myself facing decisions about how I will make the most of my time on the water. Do I throw the boat in  and invade the shallows in search of slab crappies? Maybe the pike are on a hot jerkbait bite?! And I hear the steelhead are smashing nymphs… the choices!!! It was one of those warm sunny days of spring that I decided to go out in pursuit of crappie. My partner and I slowly and quietly drifted my boat into the shallow bay where I suspected to find our targeted species. We were not disappointed as we could see their ghostly silhouettes sitting among the mats of thick weeds and dead leaves from last fall. We had a typical panfish float style setup. Nothing too fancy, just a little tube rigged under a light bobber. We cast amongst the vegetation and watched as our floats sat still. We tried changing colours, depths, weights and anything we could to think of to dial... read more
Pounding For Perch

Pounding For Perch

Pounding for Perch Jumbo perch can be a very challenging, yet rewarding fish species to target during the cold winter months. Not only are they a blast to catch, keeping you entertained for hours, but they make for a tasty meal at the end of a long hard day on the ice. Keeping things simple is the key to enjoying a bent rod and a delicious shore lunch.   Where to start is always the challenge. I always like to hit my “usual” marked GPS spots but even I get caught up in over thinking perch and their habits. During the early winter months, I will begin by targeting depths of around 10-15 feet in areas that have an abundance of aquatic plant life. Perch love hanging around weeds during the early winter months because they produce small organisms that they tend to feed on, like nymphs or freshwater shrimp. If you find plant life, you will typically find some feisty perch.   Exist To Fish Canada team member and Lake Simcoe local Colin Booth has a similar take on prospecting for perch. He explains “I look for weed/sand transitions. I like to sight fish when perch are holding in shallow water (10-15ft deep) which is like picking through the bad apples to find the one you want” He continues “As they pull into deeper water, a good sonar is key to locating schools on prime locations”.   As the winter season progresses and fishing pressure increases, I typically move to deeper sand flats, in and around the 30 to 40ft depth range. The key when fishing the deeper... read more
Winter’s White Gold

Winter’s White Gold

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.   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... read more
Product Review: Deeper Fishfinder

Product Review: Deeper Fishfinder

Date: Jan.29, 2016 Product type: FishFinder – Sonar Manufacturer: Deeper Reviewer: Dean Schenk           Introduction: Deeper fish finder is the first of its kind portable, wireless sonar, compatible with 7000+ iOS and Android devices, specially designed to find the location of fish, depth, water temperature, bottom contour and much more. Let’s see how it works on the ice!       (Deeper Fishfinder) Specifications Type Bluetooth Wireless Sonar Length 65mm (2.6 inches) Weight 100 grams (3.5 oz.) Material ABS Hooks N/A Colors Black Origin USA – Lithuania MSRP 299.00 CA     Quality/Construction: The quality and construction of the Deeper Fishfinder is very good. The ABS plastic held up to being dropped on the ice in -30C weather as well as dropped into the hole and hitting the sides of the ice when a fish was pulled through the hole. The markings on the deeper to ensure you have a proper seal were a nice addition. With a built in Bluetooth antenna and no power switches or cords to worry about makes the Deeper very mobile and versatile.   Quality Ratings for (Deeper FishFinder) Finish(1-5) Level of Detail(1-5) Hardware(1-5) Craftsmanship(1-5) Total Possible Rating (10 being highest ) 5 5 4 5 19 20 9     Performance: The Deeper performed as advertised. Right out of the box and into the water after a quick charge the deeper was easily connected to my Ipad and Iphone. The Deeper app is easy to navigate and is full of additional features beyond the sonar screen. The sonar screen was easy to read and view without any adjustments. There is a slight... read more
First ice walleyes: Let the Games Begin

First ice walleyes: Let the Games Begin

First ice walleyes: Let the Games Begin First ice has to be the most exciting time of the year for chasing walleye. On my home body of water, the legendary Bay of Quinte, large schools of migratory walleye stack up into the bay from Lake Ontario staging for the spring spawn. The same applies to all bodies of water. Safety When you venture out to fish early ice, your first priority should be safety. Ice reports for your local area can be found on weather networks, talking to local tackle shops, social and local media hubs and on fishing forums. Ice conditions can vary from day to day due to current or warming weather trends, so be aware of the conditions in the area and type of water system you are going to be fishing. Don’t take someone’s word for it, always be prepared with a spud to check for ice safety along with with proper ice safety gear such as a floater suit, ice picks and a charged cell phone in case you need to make an emergency call to local authorities. A GPS app is also important as you can send actual coordinates and other locational information. Dress for the weather. Layers, proper foot wear, ice safety gear, and ice fishing gear such as a propane heater and an ice shelter are all things you will need to be comfortable and successful on the ice. Because I walk to the majority of the spots I fish, I use a Frabill Commando thermal one man flip over ice shelter paired with a long rope looped around my waist.... read more
Exist To Fish Christmas Wish List

Exist To Fish Christmas Wish List

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! Dean Schenk  : “On my Xmas wish list would be a pair of Smith Backdrop sunglasses to protect my eyes when on the water and ice”.  Product Features: 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”. ​Product Features: 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... read more
Black Crappie : Ice Out To Post Spawn

Black Crappie : Ice Out To Post Spawn

Okay folks, the ice is out, and typical nesting areas are beginning to swell in most areas of the north, so let’s wet your appetite for the highly sought after and often elusive black crappie. Where are they now? When will they be on their nests? When will they move out to deeper water? Let’s look at the factors that will determine the pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn locations of crappie and of course, how to tempt these attractive, tasty “slabs”. Habitat Although black crappie can adapt to a wide variety of habitats, they are structure/cover oriented fish when these elements are available. In natural lakes and rivers, black crappie relate to available aquatic vegetation, especially when this element is adjacent to break lines, points, sunken islands and humps. They can however thrive in any environment, even controlled waterways such as reservoirs and canals that are devoid of aquatic vegetation. In these bodies of water, flooded timber will be the preferred cover. One thing to note is that black crappie and their cousins (white crappie) favor areas absent of current. As far as bottom composition is concerned, these fish prefer muddy or sandy substrates and, depending on water temperature, clarity, seasonal movements and available forage, black crappie can inhabit depths ranging from 1-50+ feet throughout the year. What’s On The Menu By nature, black crappie will show a propensity to actively feed in the low light conditions of the early morning and late into nightfall, particularly between 12-2:00 am. On the other hand, they will show short windows of activity throughout the day and will be particularly more susceptible to... read more
Overtime: Late Ice Crappie!

Overtime: Late Ice Crappie!

Overtime: Late Ice Crappie! Well, here we go. Time is running out on this hard water season but don’t you worry, some of the best action you will experience will take place during the late ice period. It has been said that crappie are elusive yet easy to catch once located. During mid-winter, they can school up and be suspended just about anywhere (or nowhere it seems), but, during the late ice period something favorable happens. What you ask? The predictability level of these tasty, handsome fish hits a boiling point. Location, Location, Location Crappies spawn in the spring, which becomes a key factor when locating them at this time of year. River/creek mouths and adjacent shallow weedy bays/flats are the preferred areas for procreating crappie. Now, are all creek mouths created equally? No. The presence of abundant aquatic vegetation is of utmost importance. An area of a lake that has both of these features at late ice can usually be found on the north shore of a lake. Healthy green weeds usually flourish in late fall, and ultimately throughout the winter because of the longer photo-period/longer growing season indicative of a south facing shoreline. As the ice begins to melt, along with runoff from shorelines and the ensuing current from the adjacent creeks and rivers, crappie will begin a migration to these areas to stage. As with most species, pre-spawn is their opportunity to feed up before a taxing spawning period. These are the areas to concentrate your efforts upon from now until the post spawn period in spring. Trust me.   Choices: Hard bait/live bait and plastics... read more
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