Boat Prep Tips
The Original Mantracker
A guide to getting your boat ready for the fishing season.
Backcountry Fishing tips from Terry Grant -The Original Mantracker.
Holding Big Fish Anglers need to educate themselves on the need to handle big fish differently than small fish.
Twitch, pop, walk the dog, buzz, these are the most popular techniques for topwater angling.
Kevin VanDam Feature An interview with the best pro fishing has to offer -- Kevin Van Dam, in a league of his own.
10 #AppsForAnglers Fishing Pics &
Pavlovâ€™s Walleye A guaranteed system to catch more fish this fishing season.
iFish App Tricks and Tips
Pike Recipe & Information
A note from the Editor...
iFish Magazine ™ - Volume 1, Issue 2 Summer 2013 EDITOR Randy Chamzuk DESIGN Marcel Schoenhardt CONTRIBUTIONS Gord Pyzer, Robin Amyot, Terry Grant, Stephanie Wakelin, Candace Chamzuk
Some of the best childhood memories are those fishing with friends and family. I often get asked the question, “Where is your favorite place to fish?” Most often, my response is, “It’s not any particular lake or location, it’s who you’re fishing with that makes it a favorite”. While building our iFish Apps,
iFish Magazine™ is published by: QDI Group of Companies 9320 49th St Edmonton, AB T6B 2L7 Tel (780) 466-2535
we’ve always kept in mind the younger generation and novice anglers using it to learn more about fishing; whether it’s the latest lake reports, learning techniques or simply where to go. This summer try and take a kid fishing, it doesn’t matter if the fish are biting, or if its the perfect lake, one thing I can guarantee you catch, is memories. Enjoy the second edition of our magazine and have a fantastic summer!
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION All Contents copyrighted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without prior written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Printed in Canada. IFish Magazine™ is not responsible for researching the accuracy of the contents published in iFish Magazine™. Readers are advised that the use of the information contained within is at their own risk and neither party assumes any risk or liability for it.
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THE PREVIOUS ISSUE... Take a look at our inaugural issue of iFish Magazine!
BEHOLD. THE LONGEST SPLIT SECOND IN THE UNIVERSE. The big one? Or the one that got away? What you do with your wrist in the next fraction of a second decides it. Tick, tock.
ONLY WHOLESALE SPORTS IS AS OBSESSED WITH FISHING AS YOU ARE. AND WE HAVE THE PEOPLE AND GEAR TO PROVE IT. FIND YOUR LOCAL STORE AT WHOLESALESPORTS.COM
Besides the annual tune up on the motor which is of the more important things to make an adventure turn into misfortune, the boat itself needs well for a lack of better description a tune up itself. Let’s start at the obvious, the batteries: make sure they are charged and load tested, all tied down, connections tight and clean, ensure fuses are in good shape. Now turn the key for that first roar of the engine and… nothing or just a simple click. Those words come out “What happened? I do this every year and it starts fine.” Well, just check things out, check connections, they are good, batteries good, look more closely at the wiring seems to be fine, keep checking things out. Then your memory kicks in and OH YA! I remember just before end of season had a small intermittent issue with starting. HMMMMMM! Where could it be you start looking more closely up under the gunwale where the wires run from back to the front console you see some shredded paper towel and remnants of foam, well I’ll bet it’s a mouse nest and the wiring harness runs right through the middle of it.
It seems one of Mickey’s relatives has decided to take up squatting and build a homestead. Now that you’ve gotten the nest removed and made sure no more residents of the rodent kind are still residing, the wires repaired, turn key engine starts fine. With this inspection done are we ready for the water? I think not! Its time to take a look at the outside of the hull, whether it’s fiberglass or aluminum, start looking for dents, chips, dings, gouges all of these can lead to water intrusion and boat performance. On Aluminum boats dents and scrapes will affect how the water slides down the hull underneath, as the water travels past one of these scrapes its flow is interrupted and changes direction causing a deflection then you get turbulent flow enough of these will give you disturbed water going to the prop and cause cavitation at the prop which in turn can burn the blades. A few dings don’t look like much but after a few years they add up and take their toll and loss of performance.
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Handy checklist from DiscoverBoating to get you prepped for the season!
Glass hulls are the same with chips in the gel coat, although these chips create small negative pressure areas in which a bubble of air with negative pressure starts to spin around in the chip hole, water boils very rapidly in a vacuum and in turn this eats away at the fiberglass making the chip become more pronounced. The more the chip gets worked away at the weaker the coating and fiberglass gets over a period of time the layers of fiberglass get weak and start to separate allowing water to seep in and saturate the hull. Small chips can be taken care of easily, most marine dealers have someone employed that can repair and match up colors, without a major cost. Larger chips should be taken to a gel coat specialist who can rework the area to look as if it was never there. The best prevention for chips is to make sure the hull is waxed and good mud flaps on the tow vehicle these will take care of the chips from the roads. Other chips are from beaches, banging into docks and such, most of these lighter
dings can be protected with a good coat of wax right after they happen. Worn keels have to be one of the areas that are the easiest of areas to be protected. Keel guards are now available for a variety of hulls and easily installed at home by a dealer for the cost of one they will save you huge dollars in the long run. So take the time in the spring to take care of your hull and it will give you years of enjoyable fishing and boating.
Husband and father of 4, Robin has spent 30 years in the Pro Fishing game, including circuits such as ProBass Quebec, Michigan B.A.S.S, Indiana B.A.S.S and over 200 other events. Through the years, he has picked up a number of techniques & expertise.
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Twitch, pop, walk the dog, buzz, these are the most popular techniques for topwater angling. Most anglers have heard, seen or used the baits associated with fishing on the surface and trying to succeed at the art of top water, all of these types of presentations are good and have a place and time when the action will be great, then there are those times you would swear on a stack of bibles that fish don’t live in the area that you are fishing. Don’t despair, patience will prevail; in my opinion, on the surface is one of the best ways to locate active cruising predators looking for an easy meal. The preferred bait just moving along skimming the surface and Mr. Hungry waiting for the opportune time to EAT, or just be curious as to what’s all that racket up there. The types of baits are plentiful in size, shape, action, from rubber frogs, to buzz baits, stick baits, poppers, crawlers, chuggers, cigars bodies, torpedo style, prop baits, the list goes on, you walk into a bait shop and its mind boggling as which one to choose. Each one has caught a fish at one time or they wouldn’t be on the market for sale, so which one is the right one? Well they all work a little experimentation in presentation and retrieve action will entice a strike. Now that I have wrote a good description and said not much, let’s get into the art of top water: start off with a common cigar bait no bill just a body with a few hooks, you cast it out and it lands just in front of that eel grass, let the ripples dissipate, wait for it, nothing yet - twitch of the rod and the bait moves forward with a smooth glide. To get the bait to walk the dog side to side movement: twitch the rod tip in short soft jerks the bait will start to move forward with a side to side gliding, don’t be in a hurry, a few glides then stop
and let it sit a second or two, the water explodes with splash and a boil, now here is the most important part, wait until you feel the weight of that hungry beast before you set the hook or you’ll pull the hook out of his mouth.
Stick baits have to be one of my favorite’s strait minnow imitations, short, or long I use them all trying to look like a wounded minnow, a series of quick rod tip jerks then stop and let it sit 5 seconds then repeat the process , this has produced more fish for me than most of the others. I guess you could say this is the presentation that is in my comfort zone.
Top water frogs are a great way to fish heavy cover and not be bringing in a vegetarian meal each time you cast, with hooks turned upwards, and a skirt hanging out the back to look like legs, gliding a frog over pads and stopping at openings in the weed matt will entice strike from the quarry that you are seeking, a good stiff rod and strong line will help to get that trophy out of there.
Buzz baits can be an interesting bait to call fish up from deeper areas; I have had smallmouth bass come up from 20 feet deep to that noise making surface prop and pounce on it. A slow steady retrieve just fast enough to keep it gurgling along on the surface, ran parallel to an edge that drops off into deeper water will get the curiosity of a bronze back waiting for a good meal. Whatever your confidence level , or comfort zone give top water a try next time you’re out looking for that trophy or excitement of a water exploding strike bring on the arsenal of topwater and wake up those species to the surface.
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Want your photo featured? Tag your Instragram pics with #AppsForAnglers and weâ€™ll re-post the best ones! iFish Magazine : : : 10
Want your photo featured? Tag your Instragram pics with #AppsForAnglers and weâ€™ll re-post the best ones! iFish Magazine : : : 11
Backing up & Restoring Your Catches If you have catches on one device, and want to transfer to your other devices (other iPhones, iPads), simply go into the “Backup/Restore” option in the Catch Log or GloveBox. Sign in to your iFish account and follow the easy steps to backup and restore up to 3 different slots.
Sharing With Friends and Family Want to make sure those around you know just how good you are at fishing? You can share the catches in your catch log via Facebook, Twitter & Email! Really confident in your lunker? You can even Brag to iFish, and if we like your fish enough you might end up in the next issue of iFish Magazine!
Change your Username and Password If you’d like to change your username or password, simply go to the website of whichever iFish App you have purchased, and sign in to the Members Area. There you’ll be able to change your profile info, browse HotSpots & Lake Reports and even view your backed up catches & GloveBox items!
You only need to buy the Catch Log or GloveBox once per app! If you have an app on multiple devices, you can go into the More screen and tap “Restore Purchases” and sign in with the same Apple ID you purchased with, and the features will be unlocked. You can also just tap buy again on the purchase pages, and as long as you’re using the same Apple ID, you will not be charged again. Happy Fishing!
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Improvements, Updates and What’s Yet to Come...
iPad Retina ::: @scottblundell: “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day... Give a man the iFish App and he’s set for life” I love this app for the community! @Kuch1: “Superb app, a must have for anyone fishing in Saskatchewan waters. Best fishing app on the market, worth every penny!” @Moose1917: “I love it because it gives me new spots to fish that I haven’t been to before” @TomEYYC: “loving this app! Makes it super easy to find locations. Wish it could make the fish bite my lures though!”
We’ve optimized the full iFish Series of Apps to be iPad Retina ready, putting stunning high-res graphics in your hand to further enhance your iFish experience!
Updated Regulations ::: Alberta & Saskatchewan users received the latest fishing regulation data at every lake, while Ontario & BC users see their app updated with new downloadable regs to keep you fishing legally!
Android Versions ::: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, BC, Texas & USA are already available with many more on the way!
State Specific Versions ::: We hope to have all individual states released by the end of the summer!
Our iFish Community ::: A shout out and thank-you to our 23,000+ Twitter followers! Happy Fishing!
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Only once or twice in a lifetime does an athlete come along who so dominates his sport that he is tagged and recognized by a nickname, moniker or epithet alone. In baseball there was The Babe. Hockey had its Great One, and golf its Tiger. In fishing it is Kevin VanDam.
Photo Credit: B.A.S.S
KEVIN VANDAM INTERVIEW
Story by Gord Pyzer To put it simply, there are all the other professional anglers touring all the professional fishing circuits, and then there is Kevin VanDam, alone at the top, in a league of his own. In a sport once dominated totally by good old boys from the southern United States, where it is expected that you would first pay your dues before winning a major event, Van Dam appeared out of the north country and turned the bass fishing world on its head. The skinny upstart from Kalamazoo, Michigan had the audacity to cash a cheque in every event he fished and then capped off his rookie season winning the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award, considered by many to be the toughest prize in professional fishing. He repeated the feat again in 1996 and 1999 and captured the same honours on the rival FLW tour in 2001. But it is Kevin VanDam’s Bassmaster Classic Championship victories that stand out most prominently. VanDam’s won his first Classic in 2001, repeated four years later in 2005 and then won back-to-back Classic crowns in 2010 and 2011. I have had the distinct privilege of hopping into VanDam’s sleek Nitro bass boat, zipping up my life jacket and fishing with the multi-million dollar tournament winner several times over the past few years and every time I have climbed back onto the dock at the end of the day with more awe than the first. The guy is pure bass fishing genius. Poetry in motion. Because of those experiences I was perplexed – terrified might be a better word – when I set out to write about the greatest bass angler of all time. Like Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods – how do you put perfection down on paper? There is only one way I thought, through Van Dam’s own words. With that in mind, I spoke with Kevin as he readied his tackle recently for another event. Here are my questions and Van Dam’s candid answers....
Gord Pyzer: Kevin, what makes you such a dominant angler? Luck, obviously, has nothing to do with it. And what can iFish readers learn from your approach? Kevin VanDam: That is a tough question for me to answer. The one thing I would say is that I love what I do and I put a lot of time and effort into it in terms of preparation. Because of my sponsorship commitments, however, I don’t get to practise as much as a lot of other competitors, but I spend plenty of time thinking about upcoming events. And when I am at a tournament I give 110-percent. I get up early, I stay out on the water late and I go after every win. In other sports you see people that are naturally talented. Others are successful because they train hard and go for the win. With me it is a combination. I’ve got good talent and I match it with preparation and that gives me a lot of confidence. I mean, it is what I am doing right now before the tournament. I am sitting here changing fishing lines, sharpening hooks and rigging baits. And the whole time I am rehashing in my mind what I did in practice. I am thinking about how everything went. Mental preparation is important for me. I spend a lot of time concentrating on the variables I can control. A big part of this sport is mental and I’ve been doing it for a long time. I don’t make the mental mistakes I think some of the other people do. I’ve also learned that experience can be your best ally and it can also be your worst friend, because the fish don’t always do the same thing from one lake to another. They don’t always read the rule book. There are so many variables that you have to keep an open mind. A good example was the Classic on Lake Hartwell in 2008. I chose not to go down there and look at the lake before the
... when you have a shot to get yourself into position to win you have to go for it and make the most of it. That is hard for some people to do
KEVIN VANDAM INTERVIEW
The Strike King King Shad is something I’ve had a lot of success with and some heartbreaks too.
on a spot that has fish, you also have to be very efficient at catching them. Because the days of running and gunning back and forth between spots are over. These guys are so good that if you hit a spot and then try to come back later, there’s going to be someone else on it. So you have to be prepared to catch everything that is there when you get the chance. I am not afraid to throw a shaky head or a dropshot-rig.
off-limits period. I could have gone down in early December but I didn’t want to have any preconceived notions. I knew the lake was 10-feet lower than normal because of the drought. I knew there was a good chance the lake was going to be at a different level when the tournament began. And sure enough it was.
You also have to learn how to maximize the fish on a spot. And sometimes you can power fish. I won two major events recently and didn’t back up a thing with finesse. I totally power fished those bass. I read the conditions that were going on and felt that was the best decision. Instead of staying on a spot and trying to finesse a few more fish after I’d hit ‘em with a crankbait and a spinnerbait, I moved on, then came back later and hit ‘em again with the same lures. But there is no question, other times fish are still sitting there and you can catch four or five more throwing a Carolina-rig, a jig or a drop-shot. You have to be able to differentiate between the two situations.
Over the last three official days of practice I tried to see it all. The conditions weren’t the most conducive but I felt good about my chances. (Editor’s note: VanDam finished third in that event and almost won the tournament.) I fished my way. Nobody fishes the same way as me, so talking to other anglers or getting outside information just isn’t the way I do it.
Continued on Page 23...
I have my own system for following the seasonal patterns to locate fish and that is what I use everywhere I go. I knew I was taking a chance not going there before the off-limits period. And it could have backfired on me. We had really bad weather and I could have been behind the eight ball. It can happen when you only give yourself three days to practise. But I am pretty efficient covering water and I wasn’t too concerned about it. I could easily have spent several many more days there learning the lake but sometimes it is good not to see too much. It is better to fish the current conditions than have something in your mind about the past or the future. GP: Kevin, you’re noted as being a “power” angler. Someone who turns the trolling motor on high and fires reaction-type lures like spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Yet finesse techniques and fishing slow is the rage these days. How do you rationalize the discrepancy? KVD: I have had to change a bit. These guys are so good these days that you have to be able to find the right fish. My style is real good for covering water and getting yourself into the right area, but once you find yourself in the right area or
Photo Credit: B.A.S.S
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PREP TIME 10 minutes COOK TIME 25 minutes SERVES 4 servings DIFFICULTY LEVEL Easy
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Melt Butter; Pour in a 9x13 inch cake pan (for
2 easy cleaning line pan with aluminum foil)
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Place fillets in the butter; season to taste with salt and pepper
3-4 lbs Northern Pike fillets 5 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion 1 medium green pepper 6-8 slices bacon 2 teaspoons lemon juice Salt and Pepper
Slice onions and green peppers and place over the fillets
Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice over the fillets
6 Cover the fillets with the 6-8 strips of bacon Looking for an alternative?
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Enjoy!
Try replacing the butter with grape-seed oil
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Northern Pike Also Known As: Esox lucius, pike, Northern, jacks, jackfish, ‘gators
Pike are the most widely distributed freshwater fish in the world -- found in Asia, Europe and North America
When mixed with a muskellunge, fish is called a tiger muskellunge. Pike eat mostly fish smaller than themselves & consume 3-4 times their body weight over a year Northern Pike generally enjoy sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, in cold, clear, rocky water.
World Record – 55 lbs 1 oz. Germany - 1986
Alberta Record - 38 lbs Keho Lake - 1983
Saskatchewan Record -42 lbs 12 oz. Lake Athabasca - 1954
Ontario Record - 42 lbs 1.92 oz. Delany River - 1946
» Use red lures in clear water and yellow lures in murky water. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits & bucktails also work well. » Pike are aggressive and have a big appetite, making them easier to catch than many other fish. » While they will bite almost anything, bigger lures work best as Pike enjoy large prey.
Pike spawn in spring, right after the annual ice melt and will put up a good fight for anglers.
Record Pike Fish
Tips for catching Pike:
» Use smaller lures when in shallower waters (this will also attract smaller pike).
“For big pike, the most important water temperatures range between 64˚ F and 68˚ F (18˚ C and 20˚ C)” See More on Pg 29
Todd McNaughton ::: 44”, 24lb Pike caught at Flanagan Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
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We had the opportunity to chat with Terry Grant, better known as The Real Mantracker, at a Boat and Sportsman show this spring. We were excited to learn that he uses our app too! During one of our discussions, the topic of angler safety came up and we asked Terry what he would want to pass along to his fellow anglers if he had the opportunity. His answer began with a story of a fishermanâ€™s outingâ€Ś
Backcountry Fishing... is so much more than just fishing!
The sun is just coming up as he starts up the path. He has never fished this high mountain lake before but he was told the fishing is great. He has a new rod because his last one got in a fight with a car door, and lost. He also replaced his old waders, and as he dodges the piles of mud on the trail he is thankful for the new tread. He rounds the last corner of the trail and there is the lake. Just like his friend had said, right in front of him is a big pine tree lying in the water; a little stream comes in from his right. He glances from right to left at the small trail that follows the edge of the lake. He cleans his boots on the grass before stepping into the clear cold water. He starts to pull line off his reel as he slowly wades deeper into the water. Just in front of him, in about 4’ of water, he can see the shelf his friend told him about. It follows down this side of the lake about 40’ from shore.
Bear tracks are different from all other tracks. The front foot of a bear has a big oval pad with 5 smaller round pads up front. The back foot of a bear has a pad in the shape of a triangle, with the big end of the triangle at the front and then 5 smaller round pads in front of that. The claw marks very seldom show up on a black bear track due to the claws being shorter than that of a grizzly. The claw marks just about always show in a grizzly track. If our fisherman had of noticed the tracks and known what they were, he might have done things a little different, like moving 50 yards away from the main trail that the bears were obviously using. We all like to be quiet and enjoy the sounds of nature, but sometimes, like when your fishing alone, it’s better to be like your noisy neighbor, and let everything know you’re there. Now I’m not suggesting you bring your own marching band, but a few whistles, and a few yells, now and then, can make all the difference. Take some time to look at the ground this year as you go to and from your favorite fishing hole, you just might come back with a fish story instead of a bear story.
His first few casts produce nothing, then he feels that familiar tug and the fight is on. The fish heads for the old pine tree on his right and out of the corner of his eye he catches some movement. There on the bank is a black bear and 2 cubs! All thought of fishing vanish, as his mind races on what to do next. So many people ignore the ground we walk on. The ground will tell you a story if you take the time to look at it. All of those piles of mud on the trail, that was bear poop, and had he actually looked at the little trail beside the lake he would have seen lots of bear tracks. Bears are no different than us, they use the trails too. Most of the trails we use in the backcountry were most likely made by animals. Bears also like the fresh new grass that grows along the edge of the lake, right were we want to fish. Bears will also check out these high lakes to feast on any unlucky animals that might have been caught in an avalanche.
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KEVIN VANDAM INTERVIEW
Kevin VanDam Continued...
GP: Speaking about different approaches, both hard and soft swimbaits have become increasingly popular these days. Have you incorporated them much into your repertoire? KVD: I spent a lot of time with them and I have worked them it into my style of fishing. The Strike King King Shad is something I’ve had a lot of success with and some heartbreaks too. Swimbaits are along the same phenomenon as the soft plastic Senko-style baits. You can throw a plastic worm out there and let it sink to the bottom and it is just not the same thing. It doesn’t have the same wiggle and quiver the other baits do. The King Shad is a lure I can fish fast and cover a lot of water. It is the only swimbait I’ve ever seen that you can fish fast. Most of them are made to be waked and reeled slowly but that is a hard way to get a bass to react. I throw the King Shad on a high speed Quantum 7:1 ratio baitcasting reel so I burn it, stop it and jerk it. You can almost rip it like a dang jerkbait if you want. I mean I’ve just annihilated them on it. I am still learning with it but I like what I see when I throw it. It has the reaction capability of a jerkbait or a spinnerbait. The King Shad has been a sleeper for me. It is one of the lures that I wish I could have kept a secret. I wish I could have kept it off the market. GP: It is amazing when you think about the number of hot baits and bass fishing techniques that have been developed over the last few years. It makes you wonder what the next new tactic might be on the horizon. KVD: I can’t tell you what the next big thing is going to be, but I can promise you it is going to be here. The Bassmaster tour drives guys to come up with new things. To build better mousetraps. To come up with variations that are going to be more efficient and effective. I’ve been fishing professional tournaments now for 21 years and it is a never ending process. Just when you think nothing new can come along, somebody comes up with something.
GP: When you first broke into the elite leagues various lures dominated the fishing scene. Many of them, however, seem to have fallen out of favour. Yet, when you won the Bassmaster Classic in Pittsburgh in 2005, you dug way back into your tackle box, found an out-of-date Smithwick Rouge and won the world championship. Do you think other legendary lures might make comebacks? Very few, because the technology and engineering that goes into the design of our lures today is so much more sophisticated. Crankbaits are a good case in point. We now know how water flows over a crankbait. We know how to balance them, use weight-transfer systems, circuit-board bills and tungsten. The technology is state-of-the-art. There are a lot of old baits I used to catch fish on that I don’t even throw anymore because there are better baits. When I started fishing, the 7A Bomber and Bomber Long A were staples for me. I don’t even have any in the boat anymore. I have a lot of other things I have more confidence in. That is not to say something won’t come back. The Rouge that I used to win the Classic was unique because it was something that I used for a certain situation. It was built to go super shallow and that is how I was fishing it at Pittsburgh.
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KEVIN VANDAM INTERVIEW
There is a chance something will pop back onto the radar screen. And there are lure categories that I think will come back. Buzzbaits, for instance, are going to be one of those things. Prop baits are going to be another. There will be a big tournament won somewhere on a prop bait. These are baits that have been around for a long time but people are designing them better now and they work more efficiently. It’s going to be a variation of one of these lures that we’ve been using for a while. GP: After you won the tour event at Grand Lake, you said that, “Fishing to win and fishing to do well are two different things.” You also said that you spend considerable time in practice looking for the kinds of fish that will put you in the Top 10. What do you do differently when you’re looking for big fish versus numbers of fish? KVD: Because fishing at the professional level is so expensive and the demand from sponsors is so high, the reality is that a lot of guys say they’re there to win but they’re there to have a good showing. That is not what I am out there to do. When you’re truly committed to winning you’re going to be able to accept failure because it is going to happen a lot more than not. You have to go out, swing for the fence and miss. That is just the nature of competition. You have to fish with that attitude. Until you’ve won it is hard to get to that mentality. But once you’ve won, you know what it is like. Finishing
Photo Credit: B.A.S.S
tenth doesn’t satisfy you anymore. It is no different winning the Bassmaster Classic or something else. You win once and you want to win again. A lot of it is your decision making. You can’t have any fear of failure. Because of their financial situation, a lot of guys on the last day of a tournament find themselves in 15th or 16th position, five or six pounds off the lead. They go out with the attitude, “I am probably not going to win, but I can have a good finish and cash a good cheque. So, first thing this morning I am going to go to my limit spot, make sure I catch five fish, and then try to upgrade from there.” My mentality in that situation is to say, I am going to take a shot and see if I can’t catch a couple of big fish early and not worry about failing. Believe me there is a lot of times that I do fail. As a matter of fact, you’re going to lose a lot more times than you’re going to win. There can only be one winner in the sport. So you have to take chances. In the beginning, I definitely fished not to miss a cheque. I wanted to be sure that two days into a four day event that I was doing okay. Instead of taking the big chance and trying to move way up in the standings, I would lay up a little bit and go for the sure thing. Catch a limit and try to have a decent finish.
KEVIN VANDAM INTERVIEW
And that is important when you are trying to win Angler of the Year. You can’t afford to have a single bad tournament so there is a balance. You can say you’re going to swing for the fences and finish 85th. You can’t bomb so bad that it is going to take you out of the race.
GP: Kevin, thanks so much for candidly sharing your thoughts with the readers of iFish. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we wish you the best in the future. KVD: Thanks, Gord. Well, we’re sure gonna’ give it a run. I am not here to lose, I can tell you that!
On the other hand, when you have a shot to get yourself into position to win you have to go for it and make the most of it. That is hard for some people to do. The competition is better than it has ever been. I mean it is tough out there. These new guys, they’re out there to catch ‘em. They’re fishing for big fish. They’re fishing big fish techniques. They start out with a big wooden swim bait and they’re fishing that way all day. That is a tough transition to make for a lot of guys who have fished for a lot of years. We’re fishing much better bodies of water that have huge populations of big fish, so you have to fish now for seven or eight quality bites a day instead of going out and catching 25 or 30 bass and culling up like we used to do. You have to target those big fish from the get go. That is not easy to transition to. We are fishing toad lakes and they are hawgswinging contests. GP: If you could give iFish readers 2 or 3 things to focus on to become better anglers what would you suggest? KVD: The more accurate you are, the better you can present a lure where it needs to go, whether that is underneath a dock or into the centre of a brush pile with a quiet presentation. The better you can cast, the more fish you’re going to catch, because you still get a lot of reactionary, shock-type bites. It is still the basis of all shallow water fishing. The second thing is that the amount of information at the hands of Just Fishing! readers is so much better now than it was even a few years ago, what with the magazines, things like Bassmaster television show and the internet. But you still have to be able to apply the knowledge. That is where a lot of anglers go wrong. They’ll read in a magazine or get on the internet and say, hey, I am going to a certain lake for a spring trip. Then they’ll hear that guys are catching them on red Rattletraps. But things change so quickly. The red Rattletrap is a good starting point, but you still have to go out there and apply the information and make the adjustments.
B.A.S.S on Social Media
There is still no substitution for time on the water.
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Story by Gord Pyzer Is there scientific evidence to suggest that holding a big lake trout, muskie, northern pike or catfish by its jaw or gill plate … without supporting its belly … can be injurious? There isn’t. But only because the problem has never been studied. Ask some of the top fisheries’ biologists if the practice is prudent, however, and they’ll tell you it isn’t. There is simply too much anecdotal evidence to suggest that the typical “vertical fish hold” is a “smoking gun”. Rob Swainson is one of the most vocal fish managers. And for a good reason. Swainson is responsible for managing Ontario’s Lake Nipigon and Nipigon River. The latter is home to the world record brook trout, while the gigantic lake feeding the rambling river is managed on a trophy basis. As a result of the special regulations, it may be the best drive-to lake trout fishery on earth. Swainson says anglers need to educate themselves on the need to handle big fish differently than small fish.
“Most people are just not used to catching big fish,” Swainson says, “so they don’t know how to handle them properly when they finally do. I know I certainly wasn’t. I moved here from eastern Ontario and was used to catching lots of fish, but nothing of a size that required anything more than a one handed lift into the boat.” That changed when Swainson landed his first Lake Nipigon lake trout. He gloved it by the tail and started lifting it out of the water for a picture. That is when he heard the unmistakable popping sound as the vertebrae separated in the trout’s backbone. He says the resonance sickened him. “The trout only weighed about 18-pounds,” he remembers, “but I can tell you it is one fish I have never stopped thinking about.” If holding a heavy fish vertically by its gill plate, without supporting its belly, can result in so much damage, why is it we catch so few fish with obvious injuries?
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HOLDING BIG FISH PROPERLY
Even Swainson is quick to point out that he has only seen one or two large lake trout with deformed backbones. The reason is they likely die. “I am not surprised I haven’t seen many,” Swainson explains, “because the sound of popping vertebrae is likely the death knell for the big guys. Yes, they swim away. But do they survive? I doubt it.” Indeed, Swainson says he is more surprised that he has seen any healed survivors. Just as in humans, back and spinal cord injuries can be devastating. He calls the few fish with deformed backbones that he has handled … “the lucky ones”. “I have spread the word as much as possible locally,” says Swainson, “and many of the folks who fish for big trout on a regular basis now handle them properly. But the majority of anglers still don’t know that the big lads need that extra body support. If someone were to lift you up,” he asks rhetorically, “would you want to be held by the neck or would you rather they lifted you up by putting both arms under your body?” As a retired assistant hatchery supervisor, Ohio DNR staffer Elmer Heyob has seen more fish with deformed backbones than most field biologists. Heyob says most of the fish he has seen with crooked spines are survivors of genetic defects. You don’t see them in the wild, he notes, because they would never make it past the fry stage. Like Swainson, Heyob is also an avid angler. Muskies, in particular, are a passion. He says a “problem” with holding a big fish in a vertical position is that it appears to “calm” down.
Anglers need to educate themselves on the need to handle big fish differently than small fish As a result, many anglers think it a safer or preferred method of holding them. Ironically, Heyob says he would have to agree that the fish appear calmer. But only because they are nearly paralyzed from the strain on their vertebrae. “I can give you a great example of what the weight, unsupported by water, can do to one of these great fish,” Heyob explains. “An Ohio based muskie club holds an annual summer tournament at which Ohio Division of Wildlife personnel often attend. We keep a redwood measuring board handy that we also use in our research work. One of the contestants caught a big muskie that they hung from a hook at the Marina. When they measured it with a tape it was 51-inches long. We then measured it on the board and it had shrunk back to 49-inches.” “In a perfect release-world”, Heyob says, “we would just look at the fish in the water and remove the hooks. But how many anglers do you know that don’t want at least a picture or two and a near exact weight of a 50-inch fish?” If you must lift a large fish out of the water, it is essential to support most of its weight with one hand firmly placed under its belly. Heyob is also critical of the way many anglers use the new tools that grip a fish’s mouth and contain a built-in weigh scale. The constant swivel on the tool makes it difficult to control a spinning fish and more dangerous to remove the hooks. The other problem, of course, is that the tools encourage anglers to vertically hang the fish by its jaw. A much better and more fish-friendly method, explains Heyob, is to place the fish in a knotless net turned on its side. Then use the gripping tool to hang onto the hoop and weight the fish. You can subtract the weight of the net later to get a precise measurement. Catching big fish is one of life’s great pleasures. Landing, measuring, photographing and releasing them correctly are not difficult tasks. And doing those things properly means more big fish in the future.
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Combine state-of-the-art science with today’s hot new swimbaits, then fish one of the best pike lakes on earth and you’ll find yourself knee-deep in ‘gators.
At the end of the Second World War, Winston Churchill described the Soviet Union as “a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.” Churchill could just as easily have been talking about northern pike because no other fish bewilders more anglers.
GIANT ‘GATORS GALORE
Part of the reason pike puzzle fishermen stems from their extraordinary potential size and gleaming dental work. When a fish can grow almost five feet long, weigh in excess of 30-pounds and slice a walleye in half, it is easy to assume it is a bully doing whatever it wants, whenever it wants, wherever it wants to do it.
is packed with pike. This makes it an exceptional place to carefully study northern pike behavior as well as test some leading edge pike presentations.
Yet, that is so un-pike like.
Case in point: It will surprise you to learn that Kesagami Lake Lodge is only open for a short eight week window each year, from ice out in mid-May until early summer in midJuly. That is about half as long as it could operate weatherwise, but the giant lake’s super shallow waters warm up quickly, dialing down the pike frenzy and if McDonald can’t guarantee his guests optimal conditions, then he’d rather they waited until the following season.
“Fully one-third of the giant northerns we catch up here,” says Kesagami Lake Lodge manager, Charlie McDonald, “are hooked accidentally by our guests when they are fishing for walleye. I am talking about pike in excess of 50-inches in length and 30-pounds in weight. Usually, the anglers are fishing with spinning gear and 1/4-ounce jigs tipped with
Think Late Spring / Early Summer – Year Round
twister tails.” McDonald’s observations are insightful, in part because he is a talented angler in his own right as well as a skilled taxidermist who has studied the prodigious predators inside and out. But he also has plenty of first-hand knowledge, managing one of the most unique fly-in pike fishing operations in Canada. Fifteen hundred square mile Kesagami Lake, located in northeastern Ontario’s vast Hudson Bay Lowlands is a wilderness paradise that, for a number of unique reasons,
Embedded in his thinking is the knowledge that every aspect of a northern pike’s behaviour is associated in one way or another with the water temperature. It is a principle that renowned pike scientist Dr. John Casselman has been advocating for years. Northern pike are heat-seeking missiles that actively search for areas in a lake, river or reservoir where the water temperature is optimal for their growth. This penchant for perfect water conditions, by the way, supersedes everything else. It is remarkable when you think
GIANT ‘GATORS GALORE
about it, but northern pike will seek out hospitable water conditions before they’ll worry about food or eating. Ignore that principle at your peril.
For big pike, the most important water temperatures range between 64˚ F and 68˚ F (18˚ C and 20˚ C)
For big pike, the most important water temperatures range between 64˚ F and 68˚ F (18˚ C and 20˚ C). For smaller pike, they vary between 68˚ F and 72˚ F (20˚ C and 22˚ C). Take a second look at those temperatures. The range is incredibly narrow and the spread between the highs and lows is separated only by a few degrees. So you don’t have a lot of leeway, especially in a giant lake or reservoir covering hundreds of thousands of acres. Something else that is self-evident is these temperatures are traditionally associated with the shallows during the peak late spring and early summer calendar periods across much of the northern pike’s range. Indeed, in late May last year when I fished at Kesagami, giant post-spawn pike were staging in traditional late spring locations along deep weedlines and pencil reed edges, on the flats at the mouths of the many shallow bays and beneath the cavernous undercut peat shoreline banks. To understand what was happening – and what occurs on every northern pike lake on the continent – picture a large kitchen table on which you’ve dumped thousands of lead shavings. Now, place magnets on all of the key structural and cover elements that coincide with the optimal water temperatures and watch how the shavings are rearranged. Even this far north, in picture postcard wilderness, you’ll find ninety-percent of the fish crammed into ten-percent of the water. The concept is just so critical to keep in mind, especially if you’ve set your sights on catching huge northern pike. Optimal water temperatures – NOT FOOD – are the key factors governing northern pike location.
He Who Adapts, Wins And you have to be able to adapt on a daily as well as seasonal basis. Again, a critical case in point: Last spring, a freak snowstorm dumped several inches of the white stuff on the first day on our parade. It chilled the knee-deep shallows and the pike reacted immediately and predictably in two ways.
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GIANT ‘GATORS GALORE
First: The shallow bay-, reed- and weed-oriented fish vanished, dropping down to the bottom, sliding out to the mouths of the coves and playing hard to get. The temperature drop clearly impacted them in a negative way. The thermal shock, however, wasn’t felt by the gargantuan beasts associated with the hard bottomed, bouldery, main lake structures. The huge amount of main lake water simply sucked up and absorbed the minor one-day snowfall and buffered the temperature change. And it had no impact whatsoever on the fish. So, back to the kitchen table. Remove the magnets from the shallow cover features, place them now on the rocky main lake structures and watch how the lead filings reorganize themselves. Had I not seen it first hand I wouldn’t have believed it. When the water temperature dropped, you had to leave the traditional, shallow, weedy, prime-looking spots in favor of the main lake points, bars, shelves and rock structures. It is an adjustment many pike anglers, especially those who mistakenly believe the fish are always in the weeds, simply refuse to make. Of course, later in the season, especially in mid-summer in the central and southern portions of pike country, this is the normal pattern as prime water temperatures are found around these deeper main lake locations. And the further south you go, the deeper you need to probe. Again, much deeper than most pike anglers are accustomed to fishing.
So, you might wonder, why doesn’t McDonald do that later in the season? Why doesn’t he keep the lodge open through the latter half of the summer and poke around deeper water? Surprisingly, it doesn’t exist. Kesagami Lake is a huge, shallow, body of water on an otherwise flat featureless plain known as the Hudson Bay Lowlands. Indeed, the lake resembles, and more importantly functions, like a giant prairie pothole lake, albeit with black spruce trees substituting for wheat fields. And since summer days this far north are especially long, with 18-hours or more of daylight, the water warms to temperatures much higher than pike prefer. Without a significant number of deep-water refuges, the northerns sulk on the bottom. It is typical of what happens in many lakes and reservoirs across the northern pike’s range, although again, many anglers are oblivious to the event. “When I was guiding on the St. Lawrence River in southern Ontario,” Dr. John Casselman says, “we couldn’t catch pike at certain times in the mid-summer and all the old guides use to say that the fish were losing their teeth. Of course, that wasn’t the reason. Water temperatures were above the optimal. It was too warm for them. So they weren’t feeding.” When summer water temperatures become too warm, you’d think pike would simply move away and relocate to more hospitable areas. Casselman says they do, especially the bigger pike, but only when the shape of the lake allows for it. In other words, when the shallow, weedy, shoreline and backwater areas abut the deeper main lake basin. Think of complexly structured Canadian Shield-type waters.
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GIANT ‘GATORS GALORE
But, in what Casselman calls the linear context of an extremely large, shallow and weedy area (sometimes several miles long) in a much flatter, less structured lake, the pike often don’t get out quickly enough. Or, as in Kesagami’s case, there is simply nowhere to escape. As a result, many fish remain trapped in the shallows where rising water temperatures are considerably higher than optimal. And they simply stop eating. Enough, says Casselman, that when he examines calcified tissue samples from these pike under a microscope, he can’t distinguish the mid-summer warm water phase from the mid-winter starvation period. The fish actually lay down a false annual growth ring.
Sweet Swimbait Success Fortunately, our trip to Kesagami coincided with peak water conditions and temperatures, even if it did entail a minor adjustment and shift toward hard-bottomed main lake structures. Here we were able to combine McDonald’s practical onthe-water-knowledge, with Casselman’s state-of-the-art research and our own years of pushing the pike envelope. Indeed, the most prophetic thing McDonald related during dinner the first evening, as I mentioned earlier, was that fully one-third of the giant pike caught at Kesagami each year are hooked accidentally by walleye anglers using spinning gear and 1/4-ounce jigs tipped with twister tails. All I could think was that this surely is no accident. Indeed, In-Fisherman editors have written extensively over the years about how small, dark, bass-style flipping and pitching jigs tipped with soft plastic and pork dressings have often crushed pike at lakes and reservoirs across the continent. And we’ve documented several times, how black leech-like patterns have routinely excelled, especially in the far north, over more traditional pike presentations. Over the past several years, I’ve seen a similar nontraditional pattern evolve using swimbaits, especially the newer soft hollow belly baits that you’ll find in every bass angler’s tackle box. In fact, I’ve yet to see a lake where, in side by side comparisons, swimbaits haven’t matched or exceeded the catch of traditional presentations. Usually they have left them choking in the dust.
Swimbait Insurance It is essential to use a proper leader when fishing swimbaits for pike so as not to dampen and negatively affect the side-to-side motion of the lure. When using the Aaron Martens Scrounger jig head, which requires a snap to function properly, I’ve found the hair thin, almost invisible, titanium wire leaders made by Stringease Tackle (www. stringease.com) to be without peer. With bellyweighted EWG hooks and standard jigs, it is best to make your own leaders using the pliable 13- or 20-pound test Surflon Micro Supreme knottable stainless steel wire made by American Fishing Wire (www.americanfishingwire.com). Simply use backto-back uni-knots to attach the leader to your main line and a Palomar or double improved clinch knot to tie it to your jig or hook.
The pattern initially started with large fluke style baits – the biggest Zoom Flukes, YUM Houdini Shad and Castaic Jerk J minnows – rigged Texas style on large 6/0 or 7/0 EWG hooks, so you can slide them over the tops of weeds and walk them through the center of shallow growing vegetation. It has continued unabated with the introduction of the new hollow bodied baits, like the Berkley Hollow Belly, YUM Money Minnow, Bass Magnet Eye Catcher and a unique jig rigging method for the fluke style baits that transforms them into true swimbaits. Part of the attraction of the new hollow bodied swimbaits is undoubtedly their lifelike appearance. But I think it is far less important than the way they swim through the water, whether skewered onto a ¼- to ¾ -ounce jig or adorned on a belly-weighted extra wide gap hook. Swimbaits, as In-Fisherman Editor-in-Chief, Doug Stange has been preaching for years now, are one of the few lures you can retrieve in a two-dimensional manner. In other words, you can make them rock side-to-side like a crankbait, while at the same time, up and down thanks to their paddletail – there is something about this distinctive dual action movement that appeals to pike.
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GIANT ‘GATORS GALORE
Optimize Food While it would be easy to conclude that all you needed to do to tangle with Kesagami’s gargantuan pike was to retrieve a hollow bodied swimbait in 8- to 12-feet of water, off a wind swept rocky structure, it would also be simplistic. I mean, in the end it really was that simple, but there still was a reason for the heightened frenzy. It is the pike’s amazing ability to optimize food resources. It is something Dr. John Casselman has studied extensively and he still marvels at the animal’s ability to do it. According to Casselman, food is rarely a limiting factor for pike, no matter where we find them across their range. In the far north, if they want to eat a big whitefish, lake trout or grayling, they rarely have far to go to catch it. Ditto in the far south, where they can feast on shad, perch, bass, catfish or whatever.
prefer. Instead, pike eat what is most available to them in the optimal water temperatures in which they swim; hence, in some waters, it is the attractiveness of the black leech and bass jig presentations. In the case of Kesagami, however, where we found the pike sharing their preferred open water temperature zone with walleye, a properly presented hollow bodied swimbait was devoured. The key was using a heavier than normal jig or belly-weighted hook that forced you to retrieve the lure relatively quickly through the middle of the water column using baitcasting gear. I stuck with 7’ 2” long medium heavy action Shimano Cumara rods and Calcutta reels spooled with either 35-pound test Spiderwire or 25-pound test Maxima Ultragreen mono. The slightly heavier than normal weight also allowed you to stagger and sporadically pause the lure during the retrieve, which was almost always when a pike would overrun it and eat it with headshaking ferocity.
But that is not how they behave, nor how they eat. According to Casselman, pike optimize their feeding strategy by dining not on the most abundant prey or on the easiest prey to catch. They also don’t necessarily feed on what they
Which in the end, was a fitting way, I suppose, to solve a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma. Although casting the lures in one of the finest pike lakes on earth certainly didn’t hurt matters.
Mend It Magic
If you think bass chew up pricey soft plastic
Kesagami Lake is managed under a strict catch-
swimbaits in a hurry, wait until you see what a big pike can do. Fortunately it is a non-issue if you have a bottle of Mend-It. Mend-It is not glue. You can splash it on your fingers and they won’t stick together. The active ingredient in Mend-It is the same chemical catalyst used to make soft plastic baits in the initial manufacturing process. Indeed, when you use it to repair soft plastic bait it initiates a reaction that welds it back together. Do it carefully and you’ll neither see nor feel the initial rip. I have several swimbaits that I have used to catch a dozen or more pike and the baits, though bruised and scarred, still swim perfectly.
and-release, single barbless hook protocol. Every year northern pike in the 52- to 55-inch range are caught and released. The largest pike approach 40-pounds in weight. As good as the pike fishing is, the walleye angling may be better. I was impressed with the average 20-inch plus walleyes. Contact: Charlie McDonald Manager Kesagami Wilderness Lodge www.kesagami.com, (800) 253-3474
More info at www.menditglue.com
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Tips for taking a great fish photo! Try to fill the whole frame, avoid using zoom To get the best color of the fish, take it right after being caught, with no dirt or blood on the fish Make sure your hands are wet and use both hands, make sure you don’t squeeze it’s stomach Hold the fish horizontally, supporting near its head with one hand and the other near its tail Extend yours out in front of you, hold the head slightly closer to the camera, this makes the fish appear larger Face toward the sun, take off sunglasses & smile
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Story by Gord Pyzer
Other than actually fishing, presenting fishing seminars is what I enjoy doing the most. It gives me a chance to demonstrate some of the things I’ve learned over the years from some of the world’s finest anglers. It is also an opportunity to meet some mighty nice folks, young and old alike, experts as well as novices, and to address their questions and concerns. Sometimes, though, the tables are turned. As they were at the Mid Canada Boat Show recently. Had I not witnessed it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it. The walleye and sauger swimming in the Hawg Trough provided a powerful lesson about the critical decisions we make every time we open our tackle boxes and select a lure. And while walleye and sauger were the instructors this time, the course could just as easily have been taught by bass, muskies, pike, trout or salmon.
The crux of the seminar was that choosing the colour of a lure is never the most important decision you make when you begin fishing. I demonstrated this point by casting out several superb walleye lures in various ideal shades and not getting a response from the fish. The reason is that depth control is always the most important selection criteria and I was careful to pick presentations that intentionally rode above the fish. Indeed, the walleye and sauger were all wild fish that local anglers had several days earlier. They were, then, hauled in livewells to the Winnipeg Convention Centre and released into the Hawg Trough where the crystal clear water was 30˚ F (15˚ C) warmer. The glass walls and bright lights – not to mention the thousands of spectators – all further served to drive the fish to the bottom of the tank. If ever one might encounter negative, unenthusiastic walleye, this was it. Lesson number two: speed control is the second most important decision you make when you begin the day fishing. You have to determine if the fish want your lure retrieved
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quickly, slowly or some speed in between. I knew these walleye, lying with their bellies on the bottom wouldn’t move far to hit even the most exquisitely coloured lure if it was swimming quickly past their noses. And when I ripped a bait that way they proved me right. Even when I suspended a lure above them they would not rise up to eat it. Given the conditions, could you blame them? Even when I incorporated the third and fourth elements (the size and profile of the lure) and pitched out fine five-inch long, lean lures that perfectly mimicked tasty smelt, ciscoes and shiners, the walleye and sauger refused to budge from their lairs. Stephen Spielberg could not have scripted any better what happened next. Tube jigs are not noted as being good walleye lures. Some folks may throw them for walleye but I don’t know many. And I can’t recall a single major walleye tournament in which tube jigs factored into the winning pattern. Furthermore, Junebug is not a popular walleye colour. Biologists have demonstrated that walleye respond most positively to the colours red, green and yellow.
They also react enthusiastically to natural bait fish patterns. But I had a point to prove. Casting out a lure that walleye are not noted for hitting, in a colour that walleye are anything but fond of eating, I let the tube jig spiral down to the bottom and lay there. I didn’t move it an inch. And in every seminar for four days straight, a walleye ate the bait on the very first cast. As well as the second, third and fourth. I was stunned. Even though I knew that speed control, depth control, size and profile of your lure are all more important than its colour, I never imagined it could be demonstrated so profoundly. Every time those correct decisions were made, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, a walleye bit the bait. And don’t forget these fish were in the most unnatural and unnerving setting imaginable. Yet they could not let the lure pass by without snapping at it. Which is precisely what you’ll experience this season, once you determine the depth the fish are using and the speed at which they want you to retrieve a lure in the most tempting size and profile. Only after you sort out those four essential criteria do you need to worry about the colour.
The other guaranteed system for catching more fish...
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iFish Magazine Summer Fishing Edition. Brought to you by AppsForAnglers.