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You can use almost any rock you find on shore to sharpen the point of a hook. Pull the hook point against a flat section of the rock and rotate to get all angles. Repeat several time.
When casting for walleye on a rocky bottom, add some action to your jig by letting it bounce on the bottom.
Twist your rubber worms to add more spinning action. The turbulence attracts predatory fish like walleye, muskie and pike.
Use two flies when nymph fishing for trout. Tie a second length of tippet about 1-1/2 feet long to the hook of the first nymph then tie the second nymph on the end. You can cover two depths if you retrieve slowly.
To clean out the eye of a hook or a fly, don’t buy a useless accessory tool, just use the point of another hook.
Lots of nibbles but can’t hook anything? Try sharpening your hooks and double your catch. Dull hooks don’t penetrate on a light bite. This works especially well on trout and perch.
When launching a boat by yourself, tie a section of rope from the bow of the boat to the rear rail of the trailer. Back in far enough to float the boat off the trailer then slowly pull the trailer out of the water. Your boat will be floating beside the dock, tied safely to your trailer.
Pike and muskie will eat food up to 1/3 their body size. If you want big pike or muskie, pull out the big tackle.
In warm summer waters, skip the waders. Wading boots plus pants or shorts will be more comfortable.
To keep you dry flies dry, spray them with Scotchguard.
When shore fishing with a pickerel rig, use a 1-1/2 foot length of 2″ PVC pipe, hammer it into the ground, then set your rod end in it after casting. Place a small bell on the rod tip. When it starts ringing, you have a fish.
Use maps or overhead pictures of a lake or stream and mark your catches on the map. Keep the map with your tackle box. It will work better than your memory.
If you can’t get your knots to stay tight and you are losing lures, and fish, use a small drop of super glue after you tie the knot. Wait 30 seconds for it to dry.
Use a fish stringer to hang your pots and cooking utensils. String it up between tree branches, tent poles, or your camper awning.
Bait fish often are found at the mouths of stream leading to rivers and lakes. Game fish will seek them out, especially in the evening.
Pick the fly line colour that most interests you.
When choosing lures for pike, pick the ones with contrasting colours, some brightness, and some wobbling action to create noise in the water.
Keep a fishing journal. Make a record of the water and weather conditions, dates and locations. Track what lures and techniques produced fish. Over time, you will find common practices and conditions, increasing your likelihood of catching fish. See the article in the PrairieOutdoors Journal.
Try small surface dry flies and small nymphs kept on the surface during summer sunsets. Some of the best trout fishing starts about a 1/2 hour before sunset and continues as long as the sky is light. See the article in PrairieOutdoors Journal.
In still water, look for reeds as excellent pike holding areas. Cast to the edge and retrieve.
The night before you go walleye fishing, soak your lawn in the late evening. After dark, take a flashlight and you will find the night crawlers.
Before handling a fish you plan to release, slip on a glove. You will be less likely to damage the fish.
If you’ve been using the same lure, bait and presentation, in the same location, and you don’t catch anything, move, change your bait, or your technique, but not all at once. Make one change at a time until the fish bite. Otherwise you won’t know what change worked.
Look for structure when fishing a lake. Large submerged objects, points, or shelves offer a contrast between deep and shallow.
Pay attention to where the pelicans and loons feed. The feed on small bait fish which attract the pike and walleye.
In the spring, fish (including lake trout) will gather in shallow water which will be warmer.
Use your depth finder to find a walleye hole. A drop off of anywhere from 10 feet to 30 feet will often hold walleye during the day.
On lakes and ponds, weedy areas are the most likely hiding places for fish.
When fly fishing a stream or river, cast up stream and let the current bring the fly to the fish.
Size of your fly is very important when fishing for trout. Tie your favorite patterns in several sizes.
Use a pliers or your fly tying vise to pinch down the barbs on your hooks. Fish will be much easier to release, getting them back into the water faster.
Salmon eggs are a very effective bait for trout. They can often be purchased from tackle shops and may come in roe sacks.
Just after the ice leaves a lake, the best fishing happens in early afternoon when the sun has had a chance to warm the surface water and slow moving fish become more active.
Wet the area of your fishing line with saliva just before pulling your knot tight. It reduces the friction and lessens the chance of your knot breaking.
If you enjoy ice fishing, then you are among the dedicated few who will take on all challenges to spend time outdoors and catch fish in any weather conditions. The key to ice fishing success is not necessarily how to catch more fish or bigger fish but how to make ice fishing a more enjoyable experience. Follow some, or all, of these tips to be more comfortable and to get the most out of your day on the lake.
Bring along a thick board to place both of your feet on. It will insulate your feet from the ice, and you’ll stay warmer longer. Make sure it’s wide enough.
The ideal depth for ice fishing is 6-12 inches off the bottom. that’s where fish tend to be in the winter months.
Try an underwater camera next time you go ice fishing. Drill three holes in the ice, each about 2 feet apart, in a line. Drop the camera down one of the outside holes and aim it towards the lures/bait you drop down the other two holes. see the article
Use the drive-by fish finder method. Drive by the lake you plan to fish the day prior, a few hours after sunrise. Everybody should be set up, and you should get a good idea of where the fish are.
Smooth the edges of the hole above and below the ice. This will prevent your line from being nicked and cut by the sharp edges of the hole.
Don’t waste your money on an expensive heated pad or seat. It’s too much stuff to carry. Instead, use a five gallon bucket to carry your gear out to the fishing spot and turn it over to use as a seat while you are fishing. Put a thick piece of wood under the bucket as insulation.
So I turned 49 today. Mathematically that puts me one year short of a half century. Am I old or am I young?
Ask me 25 years ago as I approached a quarter century, before I had kids, when most of life’s accomplishments and events were still ahead of me, and I would say that 50 (or 49 as I am today) is old. Now my perspective is changed. I’m going to say I am at the perfect age, a combination of wisdom and experience, the physical ability to hunt and fish, the passion to get outdoors, and still the daring to act like a fool on occasion.
I live in a perfect time, when classic rock is free on internet radio, the song playing right now is She’s So Cold by the Rolling Stones. I had the Emotional Rescue cassette tape. It’s a time when shot shell amunition companies are coming out with “tracer” shells, which I can shoot in my trusty 1985 Remington 870 Wingmaster pump (my most reliable gun), or my Baretta A300 semi-auto (the one my wife is hopefully giving me today). I have a Zebco 404 reel mounted on a 5-1/2 foot matching rod, from the late 1970’s that I use to jig for perch off my boat or dock. I also have 3 fly rods and reels each worth over $500 for when I really want to fish. I’m a new age redneck, a combination of high tech and outdoor mixed with an adventurous spirit. I can call a duck within range, shoot with a 35 year old gun, get my 5 year old dog to retrieve it, and post a picture of it to Facebook with my IPhone 6. Perfect time for me,
I live in a perfect location. I have world class lakes within 2 hours of my driveway. I have Canada geese that fly 30 feet high over my house. I live 45 minutes from where the Hanson Buck, world record whitetail, was shot. I can hunt snow geese in flocks that fill the sky and troll the waters for 30″ walleye and 4 foot pike. If I had a snowmobile (or 4) I could follow hundreds of miles of trails or go cross country over thousands of acres of open fields on farm land where I know all the owners.
It’s my birthday so i mixed a little Bailey’s in my coffee this morning, because I wanted to, and now I’m sitting in my home office writing a blog post. Feels pretty good to me. 49 is the perfect age, until next year when perfect is spelled f-i-f-t-y.
Today is a cold windy snowy day in Saskatchewan. -23 and with the windchill its -39. (For those of you on the Fahrenheit scale, that’s -40). Not as cold as it can be, but enough to make you wear gloves and pull up your hood. We have a winter storm warning so the snow shovels and snow blowers are going to be put to use in the near future.
As I look out across the fields and watch the wind blow the snow across the drifts, I am reminded of how white it can be in Saskatchewan. As I watch the weather, I add a little more Creme de Menthe to my coffee. It’s important to prime the system with some anti-freeze today in preparation for tomorrow’s ice fishing trip.
All the white Reminded of a thought that occurred to me a few years ago, as I was slogging through the mud during a spring snow goose hunt set up, it occurred to me that “In April, Saskatchewan is the Ugliest Place on Earth!”. This was the thought I had in response to Field Hudnall (Host of DU TV) who had remarked on how beautiful he thought the countryside in Saskatchewan is.
In Saskatchewan it’s all grey and mud and leafless trees. Ugly. Ugly. The snow in the tree lines and ditches is slushy and dirt covered. The trees, without their leaves still, are lifeless and stark. On a cloudy day, the ground is grey and the sky is grey, it’s grey from the ground up, ugly.
If it was April in Saskatchewan all year long, I’d move, and come back for snow goose season. Fortunately we have an outdoor playground in Saskatchewan. In May, the ground and trees change from grey to green, fishing season opens again, and for the next 6 months, Saskatchewan may be the most beautiful place on earth. But, in April, I do say, Saskatchewan is the ugliest place on earth.
Most of my winter Saturdays and Sundays have been spent chasing a puck around the ice, not dropping a hook through it. But now I’ve seen ice fishing from a whole new perspective. On a recent Sunday, my fishing partner brought along his underwater video camera. 15 seconds after dropping it down the hole, technology changed my impression of ice fishing! Suddenly the frozen quiet sheet of 2-1/2 foot thick ice was viewed for what it really is, a parking lot on top of the same lake full of hungry fish it was all spring, summer and fall.
The underwater camera made it a whole new game, and helped me adjust technique. We drilled several holes, with the hooks and bait down two of them and the camera down another. After we did the proper aiming, we were lined up to watch the action. Soon there were 5 perch gathered around the hook, staring at it as if it was a hypnotists watch. If I raised it a few inches, they hovered and watched it go up, in unison, Then, from the shadows far off came a hungry perch and took the bait in front of all the watchers. As I started to reel it in, it appeared to fly straight up and out of the picture screen, and up the hole. I don’t know who was more excited about viewing the gathering fish, me or the three kids along for the day.
I was surprised at the clarity of the image, even in fairly cloudy water on a cloudy day. The camera itself takes only a few minutes to set up, after the holes are drilled. Take the weighted eye piece out of the bag, attach the long cable to the back of the small battery powered monitor, and drop it down the hole. An X-brace with a locking clip set across the hole and you simply rotate the cable to change the view of the camera.
What was really exciting to see was what happened when a pike or a walleye came onto the scene. The perch dashed off, quickly, not interested in being the next meal. With a quick change of bait, substituting a minnow for the maggots, the hungry pike was hooked, for a while. The small treble hook I was using for perch was too small for the big pike. It’s hard to read size using the underwater camera, but while the pike was taking the bait, it was also bumping the camera, 2-1/2 feet away. That big pike would have been fun to pull up the hole after 15-20 perch, the biggest about 11 inches.
The video display also made it easy to judge the effectiveness of my technique. Leaving the hook and maggot bait sitting about 6 to12 inches above the lake bottom was moderately successful. Fast movements tended to make them back off quickly and take a long time to return. Slow twitches, a couple of inches at most, had the best results. It was rarely the fish next to the hook that took the bait. It was almost always from the back of the pack to attack the hook.
If you want to get more fun out of ice fishing, and you want to catch more fish, make the investment (approximately $400 to $800) in an underwater camera. The kids, if you take them, will stay interested for longer and you will know, instead of guessing, what’s going on below the thick layer of ice.
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I went belly boating into a shallow bay in early Aug with the thought of tossing streamers in to the reeds for pike. Immediately I started getting hits, little hits, tap tap hits that perch make. Perch on the fly? Why not? I switch to a Mickey Fin fly to see what would happen. More hits, then more, then more of the tap tap perch bites. With a few hook sets, I pulled in a couple Perch, a beautiful little fish, very colorful. They had been hooked on the outside of the mouth. Hmmmmm….., hook to big? I think so. What do Perch love, and walleye for that matter? They love the leaches. I switched to a leach imitation fly and the quest for Perch was on!
Obviously I had the wrong gear, but I needed to improvise. To throw the streamers to the big toothy pike I had imagined, I had brought out my 8 weight fly rod equipped with a steel leader and snap hook. Too much for the 1/2 pound Perch? Well, ya, it was, but when I switched the steel leader to 4 feet of 1X tippet followed by some 4X tippet, I had a better feel for the tapping action and made more consistent hook up with the perch. In the next 2 hours, I caught 25+ fish in 2 hours. 4 or 5 of these Perch of 7 plus inches and a few 9 inchers that would have been keepers for anyone fishing on the docks nearby. For each perch I released there were 3 that I hooked but lost. While I had improvised with tippet as a leader, I was still too heavy on the gear. An 8 weight is appropriate for a nice sized pike, or the Idaho steelhead I was catching last April. Tomorrow I would go lighter. A 4 weight rod would be ideal, but a 6 weight is the lightest fly rod I own.
The next two mornings I was up early, but in no rush. A cup of coffee then me and the dog headed down to the same bay, minus the boat, flippers and waders. It is August, the water temperature in the bay was a comfortable 71 degrees. Waders were just making me sweat the day before and the bay was shallow enough to stand in nearly everywhere I had paddled my way to the day before. My 6 weight fly rod was set up with a 7-1/2 foot floating leader followed by a few feet of 4X tippet and size 14 hook with a leach pattern tied the night before. A smaller hook did exactly what it should, it caught more fish, including the tiny ones. It also increased the bite to land ratio where I was now releasing at least half of the Perch that bit the hook. How many on that day? Maybe 50 fish for the first two hours of the morning. My dog came swimming to me each time I hooked a fish, ready to chase it away upon release. She’s really good at that. Eventually she tired and laid on shore watching, wishing I would flip a fish her way.
I changed my plan again for the last day, deciding to target only the larger Perch with an egg sucking leach, a #10 hook size. The result was many hits but only fish big enough to get the hook in their mouth were hooked and landed. After catching over 100 fish the previous 3 days, I had a pretty good feel now for the TAP TAP of a seven inch plus Perch compared to the tap tap of a smaller fish and generally when I set the hook it was worth it.
I realized on the drive home, that originally I had set out to hook up with some pike on a fly rod from by belly boat but ended up just wading and yanking out Perch after Perch. The Pike can wait, the Perch were a blast. I’ll be back for the big ones later in the year.