After sitting in 5th place after day 1, I was looking forward to day 2, because I knew I was on the right fish to maybe take 2nd or 3rd and if I could get a big fish I could win it. Unfortunately I woke up to unpredicted very strong winds. We had sustained winds of 30-35 mph from the north causing 7-10 foot waves on lake of the woods, along with a driving raining most of the day. Boats were strongly advised not to go on the lake and stay in the river to fish. Since I really don’t know anything about fishing the river up there and as competitive as I am I went for lake anyway. Another boat next to us tried as well. We both got out about 4 miles then a big 10 footer hit us and sent us straight up twisted us and dropped us, that was it for us. The other boat next to us was in a tiller and he end planted his boat and it filled his boat with water. He was in a ranger which is designed not to sink when filled with water. Unfortunately for him when you end plant a boat and submerge the motor it sucks water in the motor , which isnt good. His motor blew a little while later and he had to get towed in. After all that fun, We went into the river and tried to fish but only caught pneumonia!! and two small walleyes and a northern. We still finished the tourney in 15th place, which is a decent finish, but have a some memories that will last a lifetime.
Shown in the pictures above are the three most common ways that I set-up for pulling spinner rigs.
The bottom photo is a method were I will use a quick change clevis on my line. I use this method when guiding too eliminate so many twisted up lines and also so I can change weights quickly for people. I use this tie up sytem on sand or mud where there are not any snagson the bottom. If I have two people up front I like to put 3oz weights on those poles and the people in the back get 2oz weights.
The middle photo is what I typically run when I am fishing tournaments etc.. in non-snaggy areas. It is called a three way rig very top photo is a close look at the 3 way swivel set-up. I generally run about an 8-12 inch mono line dropper off the 3 way swivel and tie on a 2-3 oz weight. On the other 3rd swivel of the 3 way rig I tie on my spinner rig to be used. 3 way swivel rigs are very popular and can be used in a variety of fishing methods.
The photo 2nd from the top is the method to use when fishing rocks and other snaggy areas. This method tied up is called a bottom bouncer. This method is used to run over gravel and rocky areas to avoid snags. The long thin wire just bounce off the rocks and keep the line from snagging up as much. All three methods of tying up spinner rigs can be effective. Try them out see what you think.
Bobber fishing,float fishing using a cork all common terms for the method of fishing most of us usually experienced as a child. For this reason, many people abandon it later in life or refused to do it thinking it is for beginners. Pro anglers and guides through-out the country know that there are species of fish or fishing situations where there is no better fishing method. Pictured above is a typical Slip bobber set-up. I recommend anyone fishing in water deeper than the length of their fishing pole to use this type of set-up. You will need a stopper generally a tie of string, then a bead, then the bobber, then the sinker. I then tie on a swivel and add a drop line of around 2 feet of fluorocarbon line and tie on the hook.
Anchoring and Bobber Fishing
I use Bobber techniques as much as an other fishing technique there is to put fish in my boat. On Mille Lacs Lake it is very common for people to anchor on rock piles, deep gravel humps or even the tops of mud flats and put out a bobber to catch walleye and small mouth bass. This technique can be very effective on a windy day or in the evening or when you are finding allot of tight schools of fish. The best advice I can give anyone bobber fishing with an anchor is to have allot of anchor rope with you. When I am anchoring I always have 200 feet of anchor rope with me. If it is windy you will need a good 75-100 feet just to hold your boat in place. The reason I bring so much anchor rope is so that I can float back to a shallow area by letting out rope instead of driving over the spot with my big motor. The other main reason I carry so much anchor rope is so that I can cover most of a reef just by letting out more rope or changing the place I tie my anchor rope. For example in a north wind I will set up on the north end of a reef and then fish it for a while, when I am not getting bit anymore I will let out another 20-30 feet of rope and drift back to cover a different spot on the reef. I can continue to do this until I have all 200 feet of rope out. If I want to change from the left to right that is easy as well. Start by tying your rope to the front cleat of your boat then when you want to move to your left tie your rope to the right side front cleat of your boat. When you want to move to the right tie your rope to the left front side cleat. The more rope you have out the more you will move to the right or the left. When bobber fishing this way you do need to be courteous of other people, sometimes it is just not possible to have all this rope out and swing left and right, but it works great when you have a reef to yourself and you don’t want to spook fish or pull your anchor every time you want to move.
Power Corking/Road Hunting
Power corking or as some call it road hunting has become very popular since the introduction of the modern-day electronics. Many Pro’s and top anglers use this technique to their advantage. It is a pretty simple concept. You drive around looking for schools of fish on your electronics when you find them mark them on your graph with an icon and quickly pitch out your bobber and then try to hover on them with out using an anchor or shutting down your big motor on the boat. As in anything that seems like a simple concept there are many refining techniques that will increase your productivity. Some people will use a front trolling motor and go slowly around an area others will drive around at 5 mph with the big motor looking for schools of fish. Whatever your prefered choice of boat control and method just remember to only fish when you see fish. The best tip I can give out to anyone trying this method is to go big. Big bobber and big weights are a must. I use a xxl thill pro series bobber with 3/8 -1/2 oz slip sinkers. You want to get that bait into the fishes face as quickly as possible before your drift or drive to far past them.
Well over the last year I have had the opportunity to test allot of new products that are coming out from Lindy. Lindy Fishing tackle has really listened to the fisherman and have designed some great new products. The splash brite bobber by Thill/Lindy has been one of the best ideas to come along in a long time. This bobber is selling like crazy. This is the bobber that turns on and lights up when it hits the water and turns off when out of the water. Lindy also came out with a great line of shad raps this year called the Lindy Shadlings they come in a #5 or #7 . This summer I have tested some of the new colors that are going to come out next year, they added a firetiger and a purple that I really like allot. The 3rd great thing lindy came out with this year is there new line of spinners. Lindy has been making little joe and old guide secret spinners for over thirty years, but this new spinner is perfect for guys like me that fish clear water. It comes with a 6 foot flourocarbon leader and #2 octupus hooks. The beads and the blades match baitfish secondary hues perfectly, I have caugth tons of walleyes while testing out these new spinners. I truly believe that Lindy Legendary Fishing Tackle is listening to the pro and make High quality useful products not only for guides and pros but for the average guy that only gets out a few times of year.
Unlike more stationary ways of presenting live bait to Mille Lacs walleyes like slip bobbers or Lindy Rigs, spinner rigs are the fastest way to fish live bait effectively. As a result, they can be used as a search tactic to sift through huge areas for fish. That’s especially important when walleyes are in transition from shorelines to offshore structures like the mid-lake gravel bars or mud flats. The spinner rig like the ones pictured here made by Lindy are a common bait used to catch fish all over the world. I have spent the last 3 weeks pulling these spinners and testing them for Lindy at they are awesome. They will hit the retail markets sometime in the summer of 2010. They are made with the highest quality products. 14 lb flourocarbon line and #2 octupus hooks the bead and blade combo patterns were tested and designed to look just like the baitfish. They are available in two hook harnesses for nightcrawlers and a 1 hook harness for leeches and minnows.
The How Too
I like to begin running spinners on Mille Lacs once the water temperatures get above 55 degrees. By using different weighting systems and different-sized weights, spinner rigs can be fished from just below the surface to the bottom and around weeds, rock and other cover. Your bait choices can range from nightcrawlers to leeches to minnows. They can be run on planer boards to get them away from the boat or in deeper water with 2-3oz sinkers to fish just below the boat. I use a bottom bouncer in the gravel and rock areas and a bell shaped sinker out on the mud flates. When using the bell sinkers, I like to use a plastic clevis on my line for quickly changing my weight size. I generally run a 2- 3oz weight. Using a baitcaster reel with a line counter can be very effective for reproducing what is working for that day.
Blade choices include style, size and color. I like a #4 Colorado blade for most situations. Sometime I use the Indiana blades, but they have to be trolled at faster speeds, which can be a drawback. The most effective trolling speed range for spinner rigs is usually .9 to 1.5 mph. Speed control is critical to working spinners, some days .9 gets them to go some days 1.5 or higher gets them to go. As you increase your speeds be sure to increase your weight.
Spinner rigging is a presentation that combines both the natural scent, look and feel of live bait and the flash and attraction of a lure and it catches fish all over the world I suggest you give it a try.
Wow the spinner bite has been superb on Lake Mille Lacs, I have been testing some new spinners that Lindy is coming out with and boy do they catch fish. I no longer will have to tie my own spinners. The spinners should hit the retail stores sometime in July. I have been running spinners out on the gravel and the mud flats. The speed that has been producing the best is 1.2 mph. Some of the dead flat calm days I have had better luck at 1.5 or even higher, I generally run 3 way rigs with a 2-3 oz weight and about a 6 foot snell. The best colors have been hammered silver and some of the perch colors.
Pictured here is a typical Planer Board used when attempting to get more than a couple of trolling baits out or get baits and lures away from the boat. I am often asked about trolling and the use of planer boards, so I decided to delve into the topic today. The majority of my fishing takes place in the state of Minnesota. We are generally allowed only one line per person, unless we are fishing a border water. With 1 line per person the average guy in our state just does not have allot of chances to familiarize themselves with the tips and techniques that come with planer boards and multiple lines in the water. As a guide I usually need to run 3-4 lines out at a time. Planer Boards are great for keeping line from tangling when trolling or to fish spooked fish with baits away from the boat.
The Fishing Rod, Reel and Line
To get started with you will need a good strong fishing rod that can handle the strain the planer board will put on it. I recommend a 7’6″- 8’6″ medium heavy action Baitcaster rod in a mid range price. Again an average price baitcaster reel with a line counter on it can get the job done for you as well. One of the lower priced reels that has worked for me is the Okuma Magna Pro 20dx which you can find for around 40 dollars. Make sure to spool it full of line to make the line counter more accurate. Mono or braided line is always the debate, but I personally only use braided line. Braided line with about a 20 foot leader of mono has always worked the best for me. The advantage of Braided Line is when I have allot of line out and I want to check for fouled up baits, I can un-clip the planer board and feel with my fishing rod what the bait is doing. With mono you would have to reel it all the way in every time to check for foul ups. The disadvantage is that braided line will slide through most clips on a planer board and your board will keep getting farther away from you, to solve this problem you can buy the OR18 adjustable tension release from the off shore tackle company, or you can double rap the braided line around each clip.
Reading the Planer Board
Watching your planer Board is critical to detecting a bite on the board. Watch the board for any irregular movements Like; the back end sinking, the whole board moving sideways or the line coming out of one of the clips. If you see anything like this you need to reel in the board and check for a fish. It is best to do this with two people. Have one person reel in the line while the other person unhooks the board, keeping the line tight in their hand. The person with the fishing rod should reel right down to the holders hand before they let go of the line, this is the the part where the fish can be lost so be careful to not allow any slack in the line.
The Lite Biters
Inevitably anyone that has used planer boards has dragged a small fish around behind the board and did not know they were there until they check the bait for foul-ups. This can happen on lakes with Perch, Saugers or allot of small 9-12 inch walleyes. To solve this probably you can buy an add-on to your planer board called a Tattle Tail. With this method the flag on your planer board is pulled down when a fish hits and you can detect those lite biters quickly and get your line back in the water without wasting precious fishing time dragging a small fish around. Tattle Tales are around $20.00 or you can make your own with a straight piece of wire, a spring, a plastic washer, and a key ring. Pictured at the top is the back side of a Planer Board that I added my own Tattle Tale system too.
1st lets talk rods. If I have 3 -4 rods out I prefer to use a 9’6″ -10’6” and a “shorty” in the 5’ length giving me a nice spread. The other option is to set out two on planer boards. The rods need to have some give, but not a whipping action you want to be able to read your rod tip to see that your bait is running true and not fouled up. The rod also needs some shock absorbency and back bone. I generally put the rods in rod holders and watch the tips for foul-ups etc.. Of course if using a planer board you then can’t read your tips, which is why I prefer shortys. When you do get a hit don’t panic and grab the rod and set the hook. Just let the rod bend over and hook the fish , then slide the rod out of the rod holder keep presuure and start to reel, no hook setting needed at his point. If you try to set the hook or pump the rod you will rip the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Just kept your rod tip down and crank steady, generally the fish will hit the surface and start to waterskip toward the boat. If this happens try to keep rod tip up and fish facing right at you and retrieve in fast so that the fish cannot turn on you. To help keep fish from surfacing try to keep the rod tip down can and real slow and steady. Don’t slow your boat down, just keep trolling at the same speed you were to keep constant pressure on the fish and to keep your other lines in the water. Once the fish is getting close I grab the 6ft X 3ft extendable Beckman net and extend it fully. I get to the back of the boat and reach way back and net the fish making sure the front of tghe net dips into the water and does not hit the crankbait. Allot of fish are lost near the boat by people that use too short of nets. When that fish is on top of the water there is a much greater chance of it shaking free and spitting the bait, so try a longer net and scoop them out 6-8 feet or so behind the boat when they surface.
The baits I prefer to run with leadcore are Number 5 and Number 7 shad raps. Lindy has some new baits out called the river rocker and also lindy shadlings that work prefect for this. Just remember to factor in your leadcore drop of about 4-5 feet per color or advanced leadcore that drop 7 feet per color at 2mph. Then the dive curve of your lure to dial in the right depth. Ripshads, rapala shads, and even stick baits like rogues work well with leadcore. Like with all fishing let the fish tell you what they want, put different colors on each rod, try different cranks types etc.. until you find what works best for that day. My favorite colors on most bodies of water are firetire, perch, goldfish/orange, silver/shad colors, but always factor in the common forage of your body of water and then try to match it with your baits.
On my last blog I talked about the basics of leadcore trolling, today I will get a little more in-depth. As I said earlier most of us walleye guys prefer 18# leadcore line for trolllng. Make sure you put a mono backer on first then tie it to the leadcore and put on 5-10 colors of lead depending on where you plan to fish. Then, lastly make sure you put about 20-30 feet of either mono/or fireline on as a leader. I usually lean towards a 10-12 pound mono because it has a little stretch and doesn’t rip the lure out of the fishes mouth as much. Fireline does have its advantages as well. I Like to use fireline to really dial in my depths. You can read your line tip much better with fireline and can really tell when it fouls up or is hitting bottom. Next I would highly recommend getting a precision trolling book that gives you the diving charts of the most popular crankbaits on the market. This is extremely important to know. Remember to factor in your lead to drop at about 4 feet per color at around 2mph. So factor that into the dive of the crankbait you are using and you should be off to a good start. Remember to really watch that rod tip to tell if you are on bootom or maybe have fouled the line with some weeds or muck. My next blog I will go into my favorite cranks/colors and speeds to use when fishing with lead. Good luck to everyone that wets a line this week.
LeadCore Trolling Basics Blog#1
Leadcore is a braided nylon line that has lead in the center of it. It is commonly available in 18, 27 and 36 pound test. Most walleye anglers prefer 18#. The line changes color in 10 yard increments so you know how much you are letting out. Although the sinking rate is dependant on trolling speed and the size or weight of your lure, a rule of thumb is that your bait will get down 4 feet for every color let out. The main reasons for using leadcore for walleyes is to get smaller baits like#5 and #7 shads or small stick baits into the deeper water. Another advantage to leadcore is it’s lack of stretch, which will transfer the action of a properly running crankbait to your rod tip. By watching the tip you can actually see the rhythmic vibrations of a clean running bait. If a bait is fowled, you’ll know by a lack of action in the rod tip. You will also know if you are hitting bottom, when the rod bends then releases and snaps forward if this happens you know you are diggin the bottom. With Leadcore you do not have as much line out as you would with long lining and you can quickly real up some line to change the depth