Mister Walleye`s Spring Secrets Continued from Page 1



Mister Walleye`s Spring Secrets Continued from Page 1
Lake Winnibigoshish 2011 Fish Population Outlook
By Chris Kavanaugh
assessment netting on Winnie
for 2010. Overall, the status
of the main game species in
Winnie is in good shape and
there are no major problems
with the fishery right now.
Walleye: The catch of 5.9
walleye per net in 2010 was in
the top 25% of historical catch
rates. Walleye sampled varied
in length from 7 to over 26
inches, and the average length
was just above 15 inches.
There was a good diversity of
sizes and it appears that most
age classes are represented.
The walleye population
in Winnie is benefiting from
strong year classes in 2001,
2005, 2006 and 2007. Most
other year classes are at least
average, the last really poor
year class was back in 2000.
The 2008 year class may be
poor due to the late spring and
cool summer. There should be
good numbers of 14 to 17 inch
fish available in the summer of
Northern pike: The catch
of northern pike in the 2010
assessment decreased from
the high catch observed in
2009. High catch rates in the
sample usually mean a smaller
average size and that was the
case again this past summer,
however, fish longer than 30
inches were captured and
average length and weight
increased from 2009.
average length and weight of
northern pike was 21.6 inches
and 2.4 lbs.
Yellow Perch: Perch are a
very important species for both
anglers and as a prey item for
walleye and northern pike. The
catch of perch in assessment
nets reached an all-time low in
2005 largely because of poor
year classes in 2000 and 2002.
As the strong year classes from
2003 and 2004 are maturing,
the catch of perch is increasing.
Again, as the 2003 and 2004
year classes continue to grow,
anglers should start seeing
more of the larger fish.
There is a little concern
about the condition of the
tullibee or cisco population.
This species is an important
prey item for larger northern
pike and walleye. The catch of
cisco in the assessment nets
has been low for several years,
but seems to be increasing.
They certainly benefitted from
the cool temperatures of last
Finally, the walleye protected
slot regulation will continue for
the foreseeable future. The
analysis of the data showed the
17 to 26 inch protected slot had
met the population objectives
of higher angler catch rates,
stabilized spawning stock
biomass and recruitment.
We also considered relaxing
the protected slot to 18 to 26
inches and offering alternatives
of a reduced bag limit. The
public input received supported
keeping the 17 to 26 inch
protected slot with a bag limit
of six walleye
against the shoreline.
I like to fish jigs in the
shallows, but you have to
keep your jigs light in weight
to reduce snagging and create
lifelike motion and appeal. I
usually start with 1/16oz either
a round head like a Northland
Fireball for rocks and sand
or a banana head Weed
Weasel with a double plastic
weedguard for use around
brush and timber. If perch are
in the lake, I use a combination
orange-yellow-green head to
imitate the forage. If the water
is dark, I try a more visible
orange or chartreuse.
I also tip the jig with a
small minnow like a shiner
or fathead, most of the time.
Smaller baits tend to be best in
spring. I only go with a larger
minnow if I know the walleyes
are feeding on larger rainbow
dace, chubs or suckers. I like
to hook the minnow inside
the mouth and up through the
head for durable casting. But
not through the skill: more like
up between the nostrils so it
doesn’t kill them. This creates
better action, and the minnow
stays alive longer.
Basically, you try a few
different combos, and let the
fish tell you what they prefer. If
the water has had a chance to
warm up into the 50’s, I may try
a half-crawler, which is good
in warmer water, especially
around river mouths. Walleye
are very temperature-oriented
at this time of year, and if warm
water is available, they’ll find
In such shallow water, I prefer
to use swimming retrieves, no
draggin’ or snaggin’. Just a
slow reel, holding your rod tip
high, to glide the bait across
the tops if the rocks. Maybe
Mister Walleye’s Spring Secrets
By Gary Roach
Walleye spawn amidst shallow
broken rocks along shore,
atop shallow reefs, or within
feeder creeks and rivers,
usually a couple of weeks after
ice-out. As postspawn fish
disperse from these areas,
they turn almost immediately
to the nearest available food
sources - perch, shiners, shad,
minnows - whatever the lake
River mouths, creeks, bays,
rocks turning into sand in
Minnesota waters all have the
potential to attract fish coming
off the spawn. Rocks that
make a transition into weeds
generally indicate poke in back
ends of bays. So when I’m
after walleye in early spring,
I usually stick to areas with
rocks and sand.
In rivers, I look for rock
and gravel bars with current
particularly in the stretches
below dams.
are basically combinations
of lake and river habitat, so I
check both areas of current
flow in feeder rivers and main
lake rocky shoreline areas,
for the presence of baitfish
and walleye. Once you figure
out what the lake has to offer,
walleye usually aren’t that hard
to pattern.
I also fish fairly shallow in
spring. The shallows offer
the warmest water in the lake,
and tend to hold the most
food. Find the first shallow
food source outside spawning
areas and you usually find the
walleye too.
Water color provides a good
clue for how deep you need to
fish. If is fairly clear, I usually
begin fishing around 6 or 7
feet deep, just outside rocky
spawning areas. I prefer to fish
early or late in the day, when
reduced sunlight penetration
makes the fish more active.
If the water is dingy or dark,
however, walleye may be up
in as little as 1 ½ to 2 feet,
right amidst the boulders and
broken rock. They will bite
right during the middle of the
day, particularly with a little
wind and wave action washing
Continued on Page 11
UPNORTH, The 1000 Grand Lakes Area • 2011 SUMMER EDITION
Jason Green
Cowduck Designs:
Brent Burich, Art Director
and Jason Green
Chris Kavanaugh, Gary Roach,
Tom Neustrom, Ted Takasaki,
Greg Clusiau, Steve Mattson,
Dave Weitzel, Travis Peterson,
Jason Durham, Byan “Beef” Sathre
Jeff Sundin, Tony Roach,
Ted Pilgrim, Jason Green
Cover Photo Courtesy of: Noel Vick.
All rights reserved. Use or reproduction of
any information contained in UPNORTH’s
Publications is prohibited without
Deep, Down, and Dirty-Northern Pike
By Tom Neustrom
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Roaming the depths of
certain bodies of water can be
memorable for those seeking
better than average Northern
Pike. The disdain for smaller
pike has been passed down
their nicknames “snakes” or
hammer-handles or slimes”.
Bass and walleye fisherman
would often curse these lure
thieves; notorious for biting
off jigs and other baits. Older
anglers often thought that
additional hatred was spurned
by the smaller versions of pike
that were hard to utilize as a
food source being filled with
bones and very little meat.
development, however, a pike
manages to put on enough
weight and muscle to catch
up and make itself a formable
sport fish. Many pike are
categorized as “late bloomers”
just as the small skinny kid
growing up that turns into a
muscular specimen later in life.
Their food sources, activity and
possibly gene pool will many
times dictate the evolution of
larger species. An adult pike’s
hard hitting, rod-ripping, drag
pulling ferociousness make
it a sought after species for
providing many memories
to young and older anglers
alike. A number of anglers
will sometimes hook and land
a couple large pike in the
spring of the year, but only a
few have managed to study
the migrations of larger pike
through the season.
As summer arrives, fewer
large pike are caught in the
shallow bays and along the
emerging weedlines. When the
water starts to warm up in late
June and into July and August,
the larger pike meander out in
the deeper confines on certain
bodies of water. Not every
pike in the system will go of
course, but in most cases the
larger pike definitely search
out the deeper water and food
sources that are available. In
the case of larger pike ”we are
what we eat” comes to mind
and many bodies of water offer
rich bodied food sources that
can “put on the pounds” as we
say. Up north we are blessed
with deep cold water lakes that
have tulibees and even smelt
that drives these large pike to
them as if it were a “grocery
store”. I like to chase these
deep pike in the summer and it
almost becomes a hunting and
fishing expedition with a notion
of success when you hook into
several pike in the 8-12 pound
class and many times even
the pay-off is catching and
releasing pike sometimes in the
33-40 inch range. Without the
use of my Humminbird it would
be impossible to target the bait
in these open water confines,
none the less the larger pike
that I am seeking. Unless I
am trolling large crankbaits
that simulate the prey the
pike are feeding on (ex. Deep
Diving Husky Jerks, X-Rap
Magnums, Deep Tail Dancers,
Storm Thunder Sticks), I prefer
jigging these marauders with
a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce Northland
Mimic Minnow Jig Head with
a 4-5 inch golden shiner, dead
smelt, or one of Northland’s 4
inch Slurpie Smelt. Many times
the strike is subtle when jigging
in deep water and the notice
of added weight dictates the
appearance. Other times the
larger pike about pull the rod
out of your hands with bone
Dave Schmit with a 40 inch plus Northern Pike from deep water.
As nomadic as these
larger fish are there are
key components in their
locations and they can
become very territorial as
long as the food sources and
water temperatures remain
somewhat constant.
electronics are key to finding
schools of baitfish and the
larger pike that are in close
proximity to the food sources
they are seeking. Many times
these larger predators are in
a neutral feeding mode and
will move in on the food with
lightning speed when they
want to. My Humminbird 998
SI allows me to employ a side
imaging concept to locate bait
balls in the open water depths
and then I return back to view
the presence of larger pike in
conjunction to the bait. The
998 is so accurate that I am
able to pinpoint these pike and
efficiently come back to them
and fish them successfully.
It’s painstaking at times, but
to the leader I attach an InvisaSwivel to eliminate any line
When trolling extremely
deep water in the 70-100 foot
range, once I target the bait fish
and identify larger pike with my
Humminbird then it’s “game
on”. I will usually incorporate
a two fisted approach while
making sure my customers are
doing two different but similar
presentations. On one line I
will attach a Rapala #11 Tail
Dancer and the other will be
a #15 X-Rap Magnum. While
using the new 832 Suffix Braid
I will sometimes attach a snap
weight 10-15 feet above the
lure to gain additional depth,
and on the other line I will just
flat line troll with no additional
weight. With approximately
100 to 130 feet of 832 Braid I
can get the baits down 30 to
50 feet. Line Counter reels are
essential, but not mandatory.
No one makes a better one
than Daiwa’s Accudepth model
for smoothness and precision.
When trolling these baits try
to stay in the 2.5 to 3.5 mph
range and vary your speeds
and zig-zag troll to trigger
more strikes. I prefer longer
rods in the 7-8
foot range with a
fast tip so I can
feel the vibration
of the bait as
wobbles. Gary
Dobyns makes a
great rod for this
application and
is sensitive and
There is a “Troller’s Bible”
that is a necessity when it
comes to selecting the right
baits and their dive plane
when trolled. Called Precision
Trolling it’s laminated, water
proof, and available at Ben’s
Bait in Grand Rapids.
Think beyond the box,
and you’ll realize there are
opportunities on bodies of
water that you never dreamed
of. If you want to find big pike
in the summer, with very little
competition, then come out to
the depths that few ever fish
where the “Deep, Down and
Dirty Northern Pike” live.
Tom is a Professional Fishing
Guide and Fishing Hall of Fame
Minnesota Fishing Connections
Guide Service
[email protected]
218-327-2312 or 218-259-2628
crushing power. Ninety-five
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2 Kinky from
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my main line
then to the jig.
I rarely get a
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KISS Your River Walleye
By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson
Rivers pulsate with life in
spring. In all rivers and reservoirs,
walleye and sauger will charge
upstream and collect in huge
numbers just below dams or
rapids. After they spawn, the
fish travel back into the reservoir
or just spread out in smaller
schools downstream in search
of food.
The time between the
charge upstream and the retreat
downstream offers some of the
best fishing of the year. Every
strike may be an egg-laden
female at her heaviest. Big fish
packed in tight schools are the
stuff of dreams.
Rivers also offer some of the
biggest challenges of the year. It can be tough to control your
boat in current and to present a
lure precisely where it needs to
be. This is all while keeping an
eye out for big commercial ships
cruising by. Yes, there’s a lot to consider. What is the best course? K.I.S.S.,
Keep It Simple for Success. Start by breaking challenges
down to manageable tasks. Start with location. Rivers
change daily, in fact hourly, as
water levels rise or fall. But no
matter what the river, the same
principles always hold true. Seen one river, seen them all is
true. The K.I.S.S. approach is to
simply realize that walleye and
sauger concentrate in bunches
during the spring. There are often
tons of boats which highlight
the community spots. Start
by fishing out and around the
boats, but don’t crowd anyone. Most of the boats won’t stay
long on spots without fish. Most
commercial produced maps
leave few secrets outline the hot
spots. Buy one. Find your own spots by
taking a longer look at that map. Focus on the bends where
the natural flow of the river is
broken as the water changes
direction. Walleyes and sauger
will conserve their energy or lay
their eggs in the slacker water of
the flats on the inside turns.
Current also concentrates
fish behind natural and artificial
structure which slows moving
water even more. Resting fish
can slide behind the current
break. Feeding fish can slide
in front or to the side of the
structure closer to the current. Current breaks range from
points that form slack water
behind them called eddies to
wing dams where an area of
slower current forms along the
bottom on the upstream side
of the face. Water slows on
the front and back of bridge
abutments or even trees lying in
the water. Holes in the bottom
create current breaks.
Are you faced with high water
and fast current? Target the
current break closer to shore. Slow current? Fish will be
toward the end usually towards
the middle of the river.
Slack water will also form
where current from a feeder
creek or tributary meets the
current of the main river. In
spring when rain can cause
runoff, those spots are also key
if water from one source or the
other is cleaner. Another factor to consider walleyes and sauger prefer hard
bottom like gravel or even clam
beds. Look for the transition
areas where hard bottom meets
mud. Just remember, river bend
plus current break equals
fish. K.I.S.S. monofilament line by offering
less water resistance. The
braided is also more sensitive so
light bites are detectable. Other
pros prefer to use heavy jigs of
¾’s to 1 ounce no matter how
fast the current or how deep the
water. They believe bouncing
the heavy weight on the bottom
lets fish zero in on the bait.
You can typically eliminate
long straight stretches of river. Walleyes and sauger will move
through them as fast as they
can because there’s nothing to
hold them in any one spot. The
exceptions might include points
jutting into the main channel or
even holes gouged in the bottom
by current, dredging or the prop
wash from barges or ship traffic. River tactics are something
else that too many people overthink. They shouldn’t. K.I.S.S.
Slipping downstream using
jigs is among the oldest, simplest
and most effective tactics. The
bait must be on the bottom where
the fish are. Some pros like to
use the lightest jig possible. Thin
braided line, like TUF-Line, helps
with that process better than
K.I.S.S. for boat control
means - chase the line. Use an
electric trolling motor to follow
the line and match boat speed
to the current. The goal is to
keep the jig vertical and directly
below the boat to feel strikes
better and avoid snags.
Add a stinger hook for
getting light biters. Change up
colors. Add a fathead minnow
or chub. Experiment by putting
different actions on your jig. Try
holding the bait steady just off
the bottom, drag it, bounce it
slowly, or really snap it. Let the
fish tell you what they want. Upstream trolling is also
effective, especially in dinghy
water. If water is dirty, a walleye
or sauger facing upstream may
not have enough visibility to see,
turn, and attack a jig moving
definitely not essential.
Don’t forget to bring pliers or a
hemostat to retrieve your hook
from the toothy mouth of a
walleye or incidental pike.
Next, grab some live bait
and head to the lake. It’s
convenient to simply stop at the
bait shop to pick up a carton of
downstream. But that same
fish might be able to focus on a
crankbait or live bait on a threeway rig moving by from the side
and to the front. Three-way rigs are simple,
too. A three-way swivel tied to
the main line holds a dropper
to a weight or a big jig and a
3 to 4 foot leader to a floating
crankbait, or a plain hook or a
floating jighead (tipped with a
minnow). A small bead in front of
the hook would add color. Motor
upstream through eddies with
the trolling motor at the speed of
a slow walk. Faster current may
require using a gasoline kicker.
leadcore line is another tactic
that is made too complicated. Use medium-action rods, like St.
Croix ‘s Avid AVC106HM2 and
spool up 18-pound leadcore line
on a large baitcasting reel.
Peel back the nylon sheath,
remove about 3 inches of
leadcore, tie on a small #12 barrel
swivel, a 3 to 10 foot green TUFLine leader, a crankbait snap and
the lure. Start trolling at 2 mph or
faster to cover more water. Run
from river bend to river bend
and troll each one. Leadcore
runs deeper at slow speeds and
shallower at faster speeds due
to water resistance. Watch your
GPS or speedometer on the
sonar screen. Try to get your
crankbait to run just off of the
bottom by keeping track of the
combination of speed and line
Simple is better when it
comes to rivers. K.I.S.S.
Tight Wallet Spring Walleye
By Jason Green
We’ve all felt the strains of
rising and falling markets over
the past few years. Whether it’s
a ballooning mortgage, steadily
climbing fuel prices or the hefty
insurance premiums, money is
tight for many Americans.
necessarily need to be a
premium past time for those
with a fat bank account. Even
catching the elusive walleye is
an achievable feat for the penny
pinching angler.
First, a good, quality rod and
reel definitely improves your
odds of feeling the subtle bite
from a walleye and the reel’s
smooth drag ensures your
fish makes it to the net, but
just because you don’t own
a $400 rod and reel combo
doesn’t mean you won’t catch
fish. Think about how many
kids land a lunker on a starter
combo or how many seasoned
veterans still rely upon their
lucky rod from decades past.
High quality gear is nice, but
gear required to catch spring
walleye is pretty basic. A few
jigs (lighter is better in shallow
water), a couple Roach Rigs, a
slip-float rig and maybe a long
bodied minnow type crankbait
and you’re covered. You
can always build your tackle
collection gradually over time.
crawlers, leeches or a few dozen
minnows, but in the spring,
picking your own nightcrawlers
is simple. You can definitely find
them at night in gardens, front
lawns, even football and soccer
practice fields. Yet a quick hand
is imperative and often times
the slippery nightcrawler slides
back into its hole or pays the
ultimate price and breaks in
half. An easier method is to go
for a drive the morning after a
warm spring rain. You’ll find
areas where large quantities of
nightcrawlers wriggle out onto
the warm blacktop. It’s free
bait; you just need to pick it up.
Some people will tell you
that ‘crawlers only work in
the summer and leeches or
minnows are best in the spring.
Some baits certainly work
Continued on Page 13
Best Bet for Bluegills
By Greg Clusiau
The ever-popular bluegill is
one of the most sought after
game fish in North America
and for good reason. As a
youngster, it was more-thanlikely your introduction to the
sport of fishing. Great fun and
so simple to do, all you had to
do was toss out a worm under a
bobber and get ready for some
hard-fighting action. Chances
are, you still cast a line for that
little fighter today. I surely do.
Over the years, I’ve caught
bluegills on baits too numerous
to mention but will give you
tried and true techniques that
have worked wonders for me.
These are my favorite methods
for catching “gills”.
*Off shore angler - This
always starts with the new
season, when the ice is gone
and water is warming. Fish
are near shore in droves and
reaching out to them is never
a problem. Also, pick the right
spot and this method can work
all summer long.
My gear consists of rubber
knee boots, for maneuverability,
long spinning rod, and a
weighted, casting bobber. The
longer rod, preferably 7’ or
more, allows you to whip that
bait a good distance and the
heavy bobber adds to the load.
You can really cover a lot of
water by doing this.
I like to use heavier line,
when practicing this method,
as snagging up is a distinct
possibility and you don’t want
to break off. Therefore, I use 8#
test line for this application. I
know it sounds heavy but when
the fish are biting, they are so
focused on the bait in front
of their face that they don’t
seem to notice the heavier line
and reeling in a big one, right
through the weeds, is a lot
easier to do.
On the business end of all,
the basic hook & worm works
well but most times live bait isn’t
needed. I prefer using smallish
plastic jigs like Northland
Tackles Mimic Minnow Fry,
which imitates young-of-theyear minnow fry. I’ve caught
bluegills up to 1 ¼ pounds
using this presentation.
*Wade fishing - When you
want to cover even more water,
slipping on a pair of waders
will give you that option and is
one of my most favorite ways
to catch panfish. Find the right
shoreline and you can walk
several hundred yards, catching
fish and having the time of your
Here too, I’ll use the longer
spinning rod and Mimic Minnow
Fry for fishing in heavier weed
growth and lily pads.
vegetation or just outside the
weedline, nothing is more fun
than casting a small crankbait,
like Yo-Zuri’s “Snap Bean”, or
using a fly rod. Many times a
mixed bag of bluegills, crappies,
and bass will keep you more
than busy.
*Anchor up - Some of the
lakes I fish have big bluegills in
a general area but finding them
is a challenge at times. Using
a boat, I’ll drop down a small
jig or plain hook, tipped with
a piece of nightcrawler, and
slowly drift with the bait near
bottom. If bluegills are in the
area, you’ll find out in a hurry,
as they generally can’t pass up
a worm.
Once found, I’ll drop anchor
and fan-cast the area with
bobber rigs, using small plastic,
feather, or hair jigs. If fishing is a
bit slow, don’t hesitate to slip on
a piece of crawler or waxworm.
Sometimes we have to employ
the scent and taste of live bait.
It’s always exciting to see
that bobber disappear in a
flash, right before your eyes. I’ve
pulled out some nice gills, up to
1# 5oz, using this technique.
*Slow trolling - Another
productive method for finding
and catching bluegills is to
cover water, trolling for them.
When they are up shallow and
frequenting weedlines, which
they normally are, all I have
to do is make one long cast
behind the boat and slowly troll
along until they commit to my
For this presentation, I
prefer small plastics, fished
alone or with a small splitshot
sinker added to get it to the
right depth. This is key. Don’t
give up if nothing is caught
right away. Start with no sinker,
working the top of the water
column and add a sinker or two
until fish are found. Try different
weights until the fish make an
appearance. Many times they
are situated right at the base
of the weeds and I can’t stress
this enough, “go slow”.
bouncers - Using bottombouncers and spinners for
walleyes has had me finding
good schools of bluegills and
big ones at that.
Trolling in 20-25’ of water,
aided by a 2 oz. bottom bouncer
with a crawler harness in tow,
I’ve felt the tell-tale “peck peck”
many a time. Sometimes it’s a
pestering perch but on several
occasions it was a school of
hungry bluegills. You get to
know the “feel”.
When this happens, I’ll
stop and drop down a panfish
presentation to see what
happens. One of the best to
offer is a small jig, tipped with
a piece of crawler or better yet,
a leech. Bluegills will hit a leech
so hard it makes one wonder if
it is hungry or just plain angry.
Then there are times when
you don’t have to stop to
check things out, for I’ve had
bluegills pushing 1 ½ pounds
hit a spinnered crawler-harness
so hard it amazed me. I actually
hurt my wrist one time.
When you get on top of a
good school of gills, be careful
not to spook them. Dropping
the anchor way off to the side
and allowing yourself to “swing”
over the fish if a great way to
stay on fish. Otherwise, use
your electric motor and hover
over them.
Yes, bluegills are a favorite
for many, me included, and I
can’t wait for my next trip.
For more information, you
may contact the author, Greg
Clusiau, at (218) 885-5050 or
[email protected]
Walleye and Multispecies Abound on the Cass Lake Chain
By Bryan “Beef” Sathre
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The stretch of Highway 2
between Bemidji and Grand
Rapids contains some of the
world’s finest fishing lakes. Of
all the lakes to choose from,
my favorite to fish would have
to be Cass Lake.
Just shy of 16,000 acres in
size, Cass has a lot of water
to fish and in eight years of
guiding on the lake; there are
still some places that I haven’t
thoroughly explored. Cass is
more than just a single lake,
there are numerous other
lakes that offer fantastic fishing
and are accessible through
channels. Those lakes include
Andrusia, Kitchi, Big Wolf and
other bodies of water linked
by the Turtle and Mississippi
The best part is that
throughout the entire system,
there are tremendous fish to be
caught. Those smaller lakes are
especially good fishing in the
spring while big Cass is good
in the summer and into the fall.
Cass is a multispecies lake full
of walleye, muskie, largemouth
bass, northern pike, jumbo
perch, crappie and bluegill.
There is also an abundance of
tulibee and whitefish that some
anglers target.
Check a contour map of
the lake and it is a structural
anglers dream. If you like dropoffs, mud flats, sand flats,
rocks, weeds, deep cabbage
beds, shallow cabbage beds,
reeds or shoreline structure
then Cass has plenty of it for
you to fish. A good Lakemaster
chip is an invaluable resource
throughout the system.
Probably the hardest part
about all these opportunities
is narrowing it down to a
whether a few hours of fishing
or a weeklong outing. Hiring a
fishing guide or checking with a
local baitshop like Mark Cook at
Bluewater Outdoors in Bemidji
can help you narrow down your
According to the DNR, the
walleye population of Cass
Lake is healthy and has a wide
variety of year classes and
size structure. Ten consecutive
year classes of walleye were
sampled in 2009, with the oldest
fish representing the 1999-year
class as well as a strong 2002year class with plenty of fish in
the 24 to 28 inch range. The
2006-year class is the second
strongest year class on record
and fish from this year class
averaged 14 inches in length
during fall gill netting.
The 2009 northern pike catch
showed that approximately
30 percent of the sample was
composed of northern pike
greater than 26 inches with
10 percent greater than 30
inches—an impressive catch.
Targeting walleye
There are 50-inch muskie,
Continued on Page 15
A Party for Two (or More)
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1509 NW 4th Street, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
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Two are better than one
because they have good
reward for their efforts. That
is, if you take advantage of it
of course.
Often times, I encounter
and experience anglers stuck
in a rut. They hit a good
fishing pattern, taste success
and then run that program into
the ground. Not that it won’t
work again sometime in the
future, it just isn’t happening
all the time. There are usually
reasons and the proverbial
“right place at the right time”
why it is effective. Then things
change, as they often times
If there is one thing that I
have learned as a tournament
years under my belt, it is that
you must be able to adapt.
Every day is different and
adjustments even subtle ones
can make a huge difference
and pay large dividends.
The perfect example is
walleye fishing during the
spring to summer transitional
period. The age-old jig and
minnow pattern is a solid
early season pattern but then
the water heats up and the
lake starts to change. Get
out there during this period
and happen to hit an overcast
windy day and your jig and
minnow combination can be
just deadly on walleye in the 8
to 12 ft of water range.
The next day the wind
subsides and the sun is
showing itself. It feels good
on the face, however, the jig
and minnow combination isn’t
producing like the day before.
Hmmm. Did the fish move?
Are they not eating? This is
the time to change. If you have
company in the boat then one
of you should make a change
while the other holds onto to
“yesterday”. It’s a great time
to have someone drop a livebait rig down there such as a
crawler on a Roach Rig snell
or a Northland Gum-Drop
Floater and a leech. Or even
better yet tie on a Mr. Walleye
Crawler Hauler and speed up
the troll through your favorite
walleye waters. The point is
to mix it up to find what will
trigger the bite rather than
slowly die on what worked
We all should do a better job
of presenting different options
to the fish to see what they
prefer. Maybe it will be what
we first tie on the line, but we
will never know if something
better is out there unless we
try and make a habit of doing
so. And when we have others
fishing with us, we really don’t
have any excuses for not
presenting different options.
around my father and I like
to roam the lakes and fish
the breaklines for bass with
topwater baits. Even in that
specific technique we try to
implore a one two punch to
see what kind of mood the
fish are in. We usually try this
technique on the picturesque
evenings when there is little
to no wind after a few days
of stable weather. That way,
we have a pretty good idea
that the fish will be active and
willing to bust the surface.
As we stop the boat in a
new area we quietly drop the
trolling motor in. The angler in
the front of the boat makes a
long cast and works the bait
relatively fast, with either a
walking style bait such as a
Rapala SkitterWalk or a prop
bait like a Rapala SkitterProp.
The technique with the
walking style bait is to get it to
“walk the dog” or twitch back
and forth during the retrieve.
This is accomplished by
pointing the rod tip towards
the water and twitching the
rod tip methodically while
reeling up the slack. It takes
just a little practice to master.
With the prop bait, I prefer to
impart three quick one-foot
movements followed by a
very short pause.
If the fish are really active,
or schooled up they are on it
in no time. This is when the
front angler gets to cash in on
explosive action with the first
cast to the area, which is often
times the most productive.
If fish are present but don’t
hit it, the topwater bait comes
back empty but does get the
fish looking up. Often times,
smallmouth bass will rise up
and inspect a topwater bait
without hitting it, wearing
high-quality polarized Flying
allow you to see it happen.
Whoever is in the back of
the boat, plays the patience
game and basically lets the
topwater lie motionless. This
technique calls for a popper
style topwater bait such as the
Rapala SkitterPop (no rattles)
or the Storm Chug Bug (with
The presentation
method is literally casting the
popper to a good looking area,
give it a quick “pop” and then
let it sit there motionless until
you absolutely can’t stand it
any longer.
Although the front angler
seems to cash in on the active
bass, the back angler seems
to score big fish of the night
honors quite frequently. There
is just something about the
motionless technique that
trips the trigger
of the big ones.
the popper ends
up “trolling” back
behind the boat
if the front man
keeps his foot on
the trolling motor.
After a short drag
we reel in and
cast to a new
The mood of
the fish on this
day (or any day)
will dictate which
angler will catch
them, but we
always mix it up
to ensure that
someone will lip
a bass that night.
world of hightech fishing lines,
be sure to stick
with line that will float and also
be forgiving when using any
type of topwater bait. Stretch
in the line is needed for
hooksets as well as fighting
fish that tend to like to jump.
For those reasons, Northland
Bionic Bass line or Sufix Elite
have proven to be fantastic
choices for this application.
The beauty of fishing with
others is you can rule out
lures, techniques and areas
much faster then you can if
you are fishing solo. It is also a
great opportunity to introduce
someone to fishing.
When we become flexible
and even a little open-minded
it can make a huge difference
on the water. We all can
improve our “pro-fish-iency”
and angling prowess when
we are willing to try different
techniques and options. And
when we do, it will be party
time on the water.
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Pokegama Update
By Dave Weitzel
Fishing for muskellunge
has become increasingly
popular across Minnesota
and in the Grand Rapids area.
Anglers from across the state
have requested DNR fisheries
to expand muskie angling
muskie management involves
identifying lakes that have
good potential to support
healthy muskie populations.
The best muskie lakes are
relatively large, deep, and clear.
These lakes have more area for
muskie to roam and are large
enough to disperse fishing
pressure across an expansive
area. Large lakes also tend
to support a higher diversity
of fish species and produce
more preferred food items
for muskie such as suckers,
tullibee, and whitefish. Muskie
management should fit with
the ecology of the lake and
with other management goals.
Fisheries managers must
acceptance when considering
a lake for muskie management.
provide a unique opportunity
within a reasonable distance
from a population center. The
lake should have adequate
public access with boat
launches and ample parking.
Muskie management must be
acceptable to the people that
use the lake and a candidate
lake must go through a
thorough public input process
before muskie management
can begin.
Pokegama Lake is a
great candidate for muskie
The lake is
large, sprawling, and deep with
over 6,000 acres and nearly 60
miles of shoreline providing
extreme diversity in habitat
The lake features
numerous shallow shoalwater
structure, depths in excess of
100 feet, and a diverse aquatic
plant community that provides
important fish habitat. The lake
has exceptional water clarity,
which benefits sight feeding
fish such as muskie and is
preferred by muskie anglers.
Recent assessments indicate
a very diverse fish community
exists that includes tullibee,
suckers, and smelt. The lake
has multiple public accesses
and is near the population
centers of Grand Rapids and
Discussions with
the local angling groups,
responses to a question asked
a 2000-2001 Pokegama Lake
creel survey, and broad public
input indicated support for
managing muskellunge in
Pokegama Lake.
Muskies are a sound
biological fit for the Pokegama
Lake fish community and
are native to the lake and
watershed. Modern anglers
occasionally report catching
muskie from Pokegama and
the Mississippi River above the
Pokegama dam. Unfortunately,
the population was considered
too low to provide good angling
opportunities and reproduction
is likely very limited. Often
times, limitations created by
poor natural reproduction and
low population size can be
overcome by stocking.
stocked in the fall as fingerlings,
which are approximately 5
Mister Walleye’s Spring Secrets
a couple of subtle hops, but
nothing too swift or dramatic.
I prefer to use 5-pound test
Camo monofilament line most
of the time, since heavier makes
it harder to cast lightweight
jigs, I use a tough line like
Northland Bionic whenever
the cover requires abrasion
resistance, and a more flexible
Northland 7-pound test Camo
when the water’s clear and I
need to make longer casts to
avoid spooking fish.
If the fish are spooky but
I think they’re concentrated,
I’ll anchor, cast a slip bobber
rig, and drift a jig and minnow
combo right above their heads.
If you arrive too late and miss
the peak bite, slip bobbers are
kind of a last resort for pitchin’
rock piles and teasing reluctant
fish into biting. Very deadly! I
use a little tiny jig, or perhaps
just a bead, for a hint of color.
The bead is kind of like a jig,
but smaller and lighter, and is
chiefly used if I’m anchored
upwind and drifting my bait
downwind to the fish.
I might even cast a Roach
Rig and minnow if the snags
aren’t too bad, letting it lay at
rest for longer periods of that’s
what it takes to trigger bites.
It’s just an extension of the
jig, with the hook and bait 12”
to 18” away from the sinker.
When casting a rig, hook the
minnow through the back of
the tail, cast it out, and twitch
it; hooked this way, the minnow
tries to swim away from you. If
you hook the minnow through
the nose, it tries to swim into
the rocks. Hook crawlers in
the nose and leeches in the
When fishing rivers, I catch
lots of spring walleye in as
little as 2’ to 10’ of water, and
vertically jig with 7 pound
Bionic. To minimize spooking, I
attach an 18” leader of 5 pound
clear with a blood knot. In
high, dirty water, bright orange
jigs that fish can see are often
best. Or glow, I like t say, “If
it don’t glow, I don’t go.” In
clearer water, you don’t need
bright jigs. Blue-white flow
imitates shiners, while blacksilver imitates minnows.
An electric trolling motor
is a must for hovering in the
current and slipping slowly
downstream, vertically tapping
months old and 10 to 14
inches in length. The number
stocked is based on the size of
the lake and the littoral area, or
area of the lake that is 15 feet
deep or less. The littoral area
can be thought of as the area
shallow enough to receive
energy from sunlight and is
a good measure of the lakes
productivity. The frequency of
stocking may depend on the
specific goals for the lake, past
history, or other factors.
Muskellunge stocking is
expected to improve angling
opportunities in Pokegama.
Leech Lake strain muskellunge
are stocked at a rate of 1 per
littoral acre, or 1,978 fingerlings,
every other year. Muskie will
be stocked in 5 out of 9 years
until 2016, followed by a period
of evaluation to determine
if natural reproduction is
occurring. Muskie fingerlings
were initially stocked in 2008
and stocked again in 2010.
The next scheduled stocking
will occur in 2012.
Evaluation is an important
part of fisheries management.
assessment is planned for
the spring of 2015 using boat
electrofishing to determine
good locations for future
assessments and partially
muskellunge in Pokegama.
Future ice out muskellunge
and northern pike trap net
assessments will be conducted
to better understand the
muskie and pike populations.
Pokegama Lake includes
stocking walleye fingerlings
surplus lake trout when
available. A recent population
assessment was conducted
in 2010. The lake currently
supports excellent gamefish
populations resulting in great
walleye and bass, as well as
excellent angling and spearfishing for northern pike. More
information about the status of
the Pokegama lake fishery can
be requested by contacting
the Grand Rapids Area DNR
Fisheries at (218) 327-4430.
Continued from Page 1
your jig on and off bottom. If
the fish are real shallow though,
I prefer to anchor and cast to
You might consider
using two anchors to position
the boat for good casting
angles when fishing a sandbar
with rocks, for example. If you
catch a fish or two, don’t be
in a hurry to leave. Fish swim
up and look at your baits every
so often, with fresh waves
of walleye moving through
on occasion. I like to think
something’s looking at my bait
just about all the time.
All of my jigging, rigging
and bobber fishing is done
with light-action spinning rods.
I designed several Mr. Walleye
series rods 5’ 9”, 6’ 0” or 6’
2” to provide slightly different
actions, but they all feature
a light-action tip for sensitive
bite detection and feel, and
a very strong butt section for
strong hooksets and power
during the fight. They work
well for casting as they do for
backtrolling livebait rigs along
the edges of structures in case
the fish drop a little deeper.
I use my Lowrance HD8, to keep me on the fish. A
Lakemaster chip has most all
lake and River maps. Most
of the new maps have been
updated. The new Lowrance
Structure Scan is so good
you can actually count the fish
on the screen, a must for the
serious fisherman.
and you want the wind dong
something for you. Waves
crashing over rocks bring warm
water toward shore. Offshore
winds usually aren’t best, unless
there’s an overriding factor, like
a rivermouth nearby.
All else being equal, the
At times, I’ll pitch a small,
2 ½ Rogue or tiny original
Rapala floater across the
shallows, and sometimes
you catch your biggest fish
this way. But mostly, I try to
keep things simple. I look for
potential shallow areas with
the right characteristics, depth
and cover, and prefer the wind
blowing in, rather than calm
conditions. Wind is a positive,
warmest part of the day is
my favorite. Walleye react to
warmer water, and 10am to
3pm is my favorite time. I’ve
never been a big believer in
4am. I like to believe that the
fish don’t start biting until you
get there, and I’m only willing
to sacrifice my beauty sleep if I
can’t catch’em during the day.
And at my age, I need all the
sleep I can get.
Salad with a Spoon?
By Travis Peterson
Whether you are looking for the quiet solitude of the Chippewa National
Forest, or the companionship of new friends, you will find it all at Bowstring
Shores Resort. Open year round, we are located 33 miles Northwest of Grand
Rapids, Minnesota.
49231 County Rd. 173
Deer River, MN 56636
218-832-3101 or 888-832-3101
Yes, a fork typically works
better when eating greens.
Not so however, when chasing
largemouth bass in the “salad”.
Weedless spoons are tailormade for such terrain, specifically
designed to go where no other
top-waters dare. When a bass
blasts one of these baits, the
fun has just begun.
A tug-o-war ensues
that results in an
adrenaline rush like
no other in bass
Spoons in my
“slop-box.” These
½ ounce skirted
weedless spoons
and refined about
thirty years ago by
my uncle and dad,
John and Duane
Peterson. At the
focused on learning
largemouth while expanding
Northland Tackle’s product-line.
They realized that many bass
lived back in the thickest stuff.
Trolling motors then, were not
very effective at pulling a boat
through cover. They generally
settled for working their boats
along the edge of shallow cover.
The JawBreaker allowed them
to make long casts, way back
into mats of lily pads, dollar
pads, and wild rice. They were
able to reach fish that many
anglers were not able to get to.
The JawBreaker casts well, is
virtually impossible to get hungup, and continues to produce
through-the-roof strikes from
big bass. Here’s the simple
scoop. Cast it out and begin to
retrieve the spoon as soon as it
hits the surface. With the rod
positioned at 11 o’clock, retrieve
the lure just fast
enough to keep it
on the surface. The
spoon will slither
and wobble as it
vegetation. I use a
steady retrieve all
the way back to the
boat and fire-away
I said it
was simple! Silver
shiner and gold
for on bright days
while black shiner
is a good bet on
overcast days.
Fishing Tackle has
Tight Wallet Spring Walleye
on specific bodies of water, but
walleyes will definitely inhale a
nightcrawler if the opportunity
lends itself.
The next step is finding your
fishing area to catch spring
walleyes. Expansive shallow
sand, rubble or gravel flats are
where early season walleye like
to reside. Fortunately for landlubbers without a boat, most
of these areas extend from the
shoreline. Casting from shore
or cautiously creeping out in a
pair of waders is a great way to
catch spring walleye. In fact,
some anglers that own boats
opt for shore fishing or wading
in the spring because it’s both
simple and highly effective. I
must say that I love cruising the
open water right after opener
and most of the time you can
find me tucked in on a north
shore of a larger body of water.
Generally the north shore is
protected from the cooler
Northwest Spring Wind and the
shallows warm up a bit faster. I
would have to say jigging these
areas are my absolute favorite
but that can be an entirely
different article at a later date.
The Minnesota Department
of Natural Resources website
(www.dnr.state.mn.us) actually
has downloadable maps of
fishing piers and shore fishing
locations. The information is
free and quite helpful when
trying to find the perfect early
season walleye location.
added a new weedless spoon
to it’s line-up. The Live-Forage
Weedless Spoon is another
brass spoon but sports a highdefinition photo finish that
replicates various forage types.
The silver shiner pattern actually
looks like a shiner minnow.
The bluegill, bulfrog, and baby
bass patterns are some of my
favorites. I’ll often add a 4-inch
Slurpies Swim’n Grub as a
trailer. This gives the spoons a
little “lift” in the water, allowing
them to stay on the surface with
a slower retrieve.
Heavy gear is necessary for
top-water sloppin’. For spoons
sticks, I use a St. Croix Avid
flippin’ sticks paired with ABU
Garcia’s Revo high-speed
casting reels. Heavy braided
line is a must as well. I like 65
-80 pound test. Remember,
we are talking about winching
bass, at times close to 50 yards,
through some nasty cover.
Weedless spoons like the LiveForage Weedless Spoon are
overlooked tools for sloppin’
hawg bass. (Photo by Northland Tackle)
Hawgs in a Haystack
Some anglers might look
at a large area of emergent
vegetation as a haystack, the
bass being the needle. Anglers
can tip the odds in their favor
by staying stealthy, reading the
cover, and casting accordingly,
rather than at random.
Keep noise to a minimum.
Use any breeze to push the
boat around and through the
cover. I like to let the boat sit
in the cover for while I fan cast
around the boat. Then, I’ll kick
the MinnKota in high gear for a
short amount of time and let the
boat coast into new water.
Start with small patches of
cover as they are easier to probe
thoroughly and yield more bass
per acre. Position the boat
close to or within the cover so
on each cast, the lure remains
in the cover all the way to the
Within larger fields of cover,
lush vegetation holds more
forage and bass than stale or
dying vegetation. Savvy slop
anglers look for vegetation
that “glows” green. It’s simply
brighter than the adjacent cover.
Look for greener pastures.
Irregularities in the vegetation
are key too. Look for a log
within the vegetation, a hole in
the mat, or a mix of weed-types.
While bass are often located in
the shallowest cover early in the
season, deep edges of matted
vegetation are often hot-spots
by mid-summer. Here, water
tends to be more oxygenated
than the dead center of the mat.
Big bass especially seem to set
up under mats with easy access
to deeper water.
Missed fish are a common
excuse for anglers to leave their
spoons and frogs in the box.
With some patience, practice,
and the proper equipment
however, I believe that hooking
percentages can be as good or
better with slop top-waters than
with conventional open water
surface lures. When a bass
comes through the roof for a
weedless topwater, drop the rod
tip while picking up the slack.
Set the hook hard and crank the
fish in rapidly. Anything less will
result in lost fish.
Bass anglers agree that
nothing beats a top-water strike
from a bulldozer bass. Add
the element of thick emergent
vegetation and we are talking
adrenaline rush from strike to liplock. While some anglers avoid
weeds, others dream of fields
of matted vegetation, explosive
strikes, and wild struggles with
bruiser bass. They seek out the
greenest matted vegetation they
can find and go to work. Is your
slop-box ready for the rush?
Continued from Page 5
One of the deadliest
presentations for spring walleye
is Northland Tackle’s Roach Rig.
Since a long cast is beneficial,
use a shorter snell (18-24”) and
a single hook. The single hook
won’t help you cast farther, but
minimizes the deeply hooked
fish, which is important if you
plan to catch, photograph and
release a trophy or if the walleye
you catch is too small. And it’s
no fun battling with a crawler
harness if it happens to end
up in the mouth of a bullhead!
The single hook also permits
the nightcrawler to wiggle more
Some anglers choose to
hook their nightcrawler through
the band, others prefer to
hook it as close to the end as
possible. Either method is fine,
but the key is to retrieve the bait
slowly. Cast the Roach Rig out
and let it sit for several seconds.
Ultimately the retrieve starts by
taking up your slack and gently,
ever-so-slowly pulling your rod
tip to the side. If you feel a bite,
let out line for several seconds…
If you accumulate weeds
or debris on sinker, swivel or
hook, pull it off. Walleye can be
somewhat finicky and paying
attention to those small details
can help dramatically. Also,
if your nightcrawler ceases to
wiggle and looks more like a
water-logged tube sock, put
a new one on. Remember,
walleyes love live bait, and
hence the name, it should be
Jason Green Is A Professional
Fishing Guide In Northern
Minnesota And The Editor For
UPNORTH. For More Information
Go To www.upnorthinc.com.
Sticks & Slabs
By Jason Durham
Welcome to Grand Rapids. Enjoy our traditions.
802 South Pokegama Avenue, Grand Rapids, MN • 218-326-8551 or 218-326-8552 • mysammys.com
Each year as the ice
leaves the lakes, anglers
start thinking about catching
That enthusiasm
never seems to dwindle and
crappie anglers frequent
lakes, rivers and reservoirs
throughout the calendar year.
However, that early spring bite
and transition into summer
patterns is highly enjoyable
for me, primarily because of
the change from ice to open
water angling. Not that ice
fishing is bad, it’s exhilarating,
but just as the onset of the ice
is welcome in the late fall and
winter, open water is welcome
in the spring and summer.
Spring Crappie in the Brush
As anglers take their boats
for the maiden voyage each
spring, many look for bays
positioned on the north side
of the lake, since the water
warms faster.
Yet water
temperature isn’t the only
deciding factor in where
crappie reside.
Many Midwest lakes are
small and might offer only one
or two shallow bays or coves,
appealing or not to a crappie,
on the entire lake. However,
many lakes do have a shallow
water hideout with attributes
that attract crappie and
sometimes they’re not on the
north end. Maybe it’s a dark
bottom, some weeds growing
beneath the surface or even
some cattails or reeds lining
the perimeter. Yet one of the
most magnetic structures to a
crappie is brush.
From piles of brush that
one might encounter at the
entrance of a beaver lodge to
rogue branches that fell from
a decrepit tree, crappies love
sticks. Single stumps don’t
always hold as many fish
compared to spindly masses of
intertwined branches or even
a root system, yet sometimes,
and especially during the
spring, wood is wood. And if
that wood is tucked into one
of the aforementioned nooks,
crooks or coves, you’ve got
great potential to catch big
It’s typically very easy
to spot brush in shallow
backwater bays sue to the
fact that most of the brush is
a result of trees falling from
the shoreline into the water.
They literally lay down into
the water beginning on shore
and extending into the water.
Now, many anglers believe
the only way to catch crappie
in the early spring is with a
minnow or maggot. That’s
definitely not the case; not
getting a bite usually equates
to the absence of fish,
versus them ignoring your
During the early to mid-summer
period, super-flashy baits get a
crappie’s attention. No better
way to lure one out of a brush
pile than with Northland Tackle’s Thumper Crappie King!
Don’t get me wrong, I like
live bait in the early season,
but artificial baits can work
equally well. A favorite is
Northland Tackle’s Mimic
Minnow fry in a 1/32nd to
1/16th size.
Contrary to
popular belief, you can fish
these baits below a float. Yet
even immediately following
ice-out, the Mimic Minnow
triggers a crappie’s natural
response to feed because of
its natural appearance with a
long cast and slow retrieve.
Summer Crappie in the
Whereas finding sticks
in the spring while circling
shallow bays only required
a keen eye, finding brush
piles in deeper water requires
electronic assistance. As the
crappies begin traversing midto-deep water environments,
finding a stack of switches
isn’t possible without sonar
at minimum. Yet definitively
understanding the structure
you’ve just witnessed on your
sonar display is effortlessly
underwater camera. Yes, that
same underwater camera you
might think is only used for
ice fishing is also an asset in
soft water too.
The first step to utilize
the camera is to throw out a
marker buoy on the exact spot
you saw the alleged brush pile
on your sonar. This is much
easier to visually pinpoint
quickly versus constantly
turning back toward your GPS
screen. Tossing the buoy is a
good idea even if you decide
to anchor, since anchor lines
aren’t tied vertically taught
and the anchor can gradually
creep across a soft bottom.
Do understand that the
purpose of the underwater
camera is to positively identify
brush and subsequently see
if the fish surrounding it are
indeed crappies. You don’t
need to visually pinpoint your
bait with the camera; you
simply need to identify your
target. Vexilar’s Fish Scout
underwater camera is the
perfect piece of equipment to
accomplish this task.
Since the crappies are
throughout the summer and
even into the fall, slightly
larger, flashier baits really get
the fish’s attention. Northland
Tackle’s Thumper Crappie
King does just that, with
a split-tail and hammered
spinner blade, brush relative
crappies just can’t say “no”!
Walleye and Multispecies Abound on the Cass Lake Chain
Continued from Page 7
bass and massive panfish all
throughout Cass, but I love
chasing walleye and there are
plenty of them all over the lake.
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Deer River, MN 56636
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You can fish for them in
shallow water as well as deep
water. I’ve caught them in 60
feet of water along a deepwater
breakline and I’ve caught them
pitching jigs in the middle of
a six-foot deep cabbage bed
during the hottest day of the
year in August.
The walleye move up and
down the breaks and humps
from deepwater to the breakline
and shallows. Once you dial in
their pattern, you can usually
keep it going for a while. Cass
Lake walleye like to school up
and where there’s one, there
are usually more.
I also love to troll on Cass
Lake because you have such
long reefs and breaklines that
give you a solid, mile-long
trolling run. I have had great
success trolling on Cass but I
don’t see a lot of other anglers
doing it.
If you are a newbie to the
Cass Lake area, I recommend
tying on a Fireball jig with a
shiner or a Rainbow Spinner
with a crawler. Cass Lake
walleye just love crawlers once
the water warms up in early
Give Cass a try this summer
and look for me out there while
you are fishing.
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Check out that Humminbird
By Jeff Sundin
It had been a long time
since I pressed a control
button on any of Humminbird’s
line of marine electronics. So
naturally, it was exciting for
me when I first installed my
898 at the beginning of the
2010 fishing season. For me,
curiousity about knowing
the function of every button
and all of the menus kind
of drives me crazy, so I was
on a mission to master the
system ASAP. There’s no
way to cover everything I’ve
learned, but here’s a rundown
of some really cool features
that impressed me over the
past season.
The first feature is simple
reliability. I’d already been
getting interested in the
Humminbird line-up and could
easily have decided to get
one based on features. But
my interest really got serious
when I was chatting with the
electronics manager for one
of Cabelas retail locations.
Knowing the sheer volume
of units that move through
one of their stores, I asked
him one question; of all the
marine electronics that leave
your store, which brand is
the least likely to be returned
for repair or brought back for
exchange by a dis-satified
customer? His answer was
immediate, without flinching
he said HUMMINBIRD. Now
when you fish every day of the
season and don’t have time
to run around getting stuff
fixed, reliabilty becomes a
huge factor in deciding which
units to purchase. So for me,
that was all I needed to hear,
search ended, the decision
was made.
Next on my list of favorite
features are those three little
buttons that let you jump
directly to a pre-set screen
view by just pushing one
button. This is really a great
idea that saves time and lets
you concentrate on fishing
instead of getting ready to
fish. Everyone has a few
favorite sets of screen views
and with this feature, once you
get the screen tweaked just
the way you like it, you save
the settings and the next time
you turn the unit on, push one
button and you’re back to the
same set-up as the last time
you used it. This is especially
good for scatterbrained guys
like me who tend to forget
what the settings were last
fishing for Smallmouth Bass
and finding the only rock pile
in a half mile stretch of sandy
shoreline. I’ve done it and it’s
really fun.
Another really great feature
of the side imaging is the
ability to move your cursor
over to a structure and then
zoom in to get a better look.
At times, you can single out
an exact rock or specific
weedbed that’s holding the
fish. Once you zero in on that
“spot on a spot”, you’ll have
the advantage on those tough
Using the shallow water range set at 3 feet, every shallow area of
the lake lights up in red. At a glance, you can see if you’re getting
close to dangerous territory.
Use it with the range set deeper and make shallow structure jump
out at you from the screen!
Humminbird’s side-imaging
feature is great tool for zeroing
in the best spots to fish. I
fish a lot of shallow water
spots so for me, using side
imaging to discover schools
of fish turned out to be a lot
less important than using it to
discover fishing structure. As I
move along a breakline, I can
discover things like little piles
of rock, holes in a weedline
or sunken timber. Using the
side imaging can really help
eliminate dead water too! I
was amazed at how much
water I have fished that is
really void of good structure.
Now I can cruise along the
drop-off watching for small,
isolated structures located in
off-beat locations. Imagine
days when you have to cherry
pick your spots to bag some
the Lakemaster charts, two
Humminbird features that
allow you to highlight given
depth ranges are tools that
you’ll use every time you’re
out on the water.
Using the “Depth Highlight
Feature”, you can look at your
chart and see at a glance
whether you’re fishing in your
pre-determined depth range.
Lets say you have a main
lake, mud flat pattern going
and most of the fish you’re
catching are in 26 feet of
water. Set your depth highlight
to 26 feet and set the highlight
range to + or – 2 feet. Now the
For me, finding isolated structure is where side imaging really
shines. Finding an isolated rock pile on a long stretch of otherwise
un-productive territory makes a huge difference in your daily bag!
chart automatically gives you
a green bar that highlights
the band from 24 feet to
28 feet. Now just follow the
plotter to keep the boat in the
center of the band and you’re
guaranteed to be in the strike
zone a lot more often.
Using the “Shallow Water
Highlight Feature” can work
for you in two ways. First, you
can set your shallow water
highlight as a warning against
dangerous areas on the lake.
Set the shallow water range
to 3 feet and every area of
the lake shallower than 3 feet
shows up in red. At a glance,
you can see if you’re getting
close to dangerous territory.
If you see red, you’ll know its
time to slow down.
A second way to use the
shallow water highlight is to
set your depth a little deeper
to help you spot shallow
structures like rock reefs or
shallow humps. Lets say you
set the shallow highlight for 12
feet, now every hump, shallow
point and rock pile shallower
than 12 feet lights up in red
in the right direction. This is
especially helpful when you’re
following an intricate contour
and want to use your plotter to
anticipate hooks and points.
Another really nice display
feature of Humminbird’s GPS
plotter screen is what I call
the bullseye feature. As you
approach one of your GPS
coordinates, the plotter image
that looks like a boat while
you’re travelling, transforms
into a red circle that surrounds
the coordinate as you zero
in on it. It’s a great tool for
me, especially when fishing
vertically over structure for
Walleyes or Crappies, when
I’m in the bullseye, I’m on the
Finally, my favorite and
most used feature is the
ability to move my cursor over
a school of fish or even over
a specific fish and then save
that location instantly as a
GPS coordinate. In one way
or another, I use this feature
almost every single day. As
you cruise looking for fish, you
spot a school of suspended
Move the cursor over a school of fish and mark it. Use the plotter
bullseye on the chart to hold your boat in position and start catching.
and they seem to jump out of
the screen at you.
Humminbird GPS features
that really saves a lot of head
scratching is the directional
arrow on the plotter screen.
Unlike units that I’ve used
in the past, Humminbird’s
plotter not only tells you
where you are now, but also
has an arrow that points in the
direction that you’re moving.
At times when you’re moving
slow, like when you’re backtrolling, there are short pauses
between updating points. In
the past, I always had to use a
compass to be sure that I was
creeping along in the correct
direction. Now I just watch the
directional arrow and it lets me
know that the boat is moving
Crappies. Move the cursor
until its set on the school of
fish, save the spot and go
back to catch them. Once you
get the hang of it, you’ll never
throw out a marker buoy
Well there’s a start, just a
few ideas to get you thinking
about your next move.
Whether you’re rigging a new
boat or just thinking about
upgrading your electronics,
this time, check out that
“Jeff Sundin is a full time,
professional fishing guide
and founding member of the
Northern Minnesota League
of Guides. For more articles
and fishing reports, visit www.
Slice and dice through the water with blades this summer
By Tony Roach
Lake Winnibigoshish Resort Area
Dixon Lake
1. Becker’s Resort
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To Squaw Lake
2. Bowen Lodge
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To Sand Lake
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Cut Foot
3. Dixon Lake Resort
"Quality air-conditioned theme cabins
on a secluded, great fishing lake."
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4. Eagle Nest Lodge
Lake Winnibigoshish
"Warning! May Be Habit Forming"
800-356-3775 www.eaglenestlodge.net
5. Four Seasons Resort
Little Winnie
6. High Banks Resort
800-525-0457 www.fishingwinnie.com
Mississippi River
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7. Denny’s Resort
10. Nodak Lodge
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Where Guests Become Lifelong Friends."
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8. Little Winnie Resort
& Campground
11. Northland Lodge
14. Winni-B-Gosh Dam Place
"Your Favorite Family Resort On The Fishermen's Favorite Lake."
"New Owners, Friendly Atmosphere, Great Food"
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218-665-2222 or 218-256-2196
"New Pool, Seasonal Campground, New Cabins"
800-346-8501 www.littlewinnie.com
800-752-2758 www.nodaklodge.com
800-272-2338 www.northlandlodge.com
9. McArdle’s Resort
12. The Pines Resort
& Campground
"New Cabins, Harbor, Food, Launch Service & Guides"
"Convenient Location, Winter Lake Access, Camping"
800-535-2398 www.mcardlesresort.com
866-494-7325 www.tamarack-lodge.com
Like the old saying goes,
you don’t bring a knife to
a gunfight. Walleye aren’t
packing heat, luckily, so there’s
nothing wrong with pulling out
your blades this summer.
I’m talking about spinner
blades. Almost as deadly as
a six-shooter but way more
legal to use on the water!
There are a lot of blades
out there but the ones with
a holographic baitfish-image
that let you match the hatch
anytime of the year rather than
just matching the color are my
only choice.
Beginning in the spring and
running all the way into the fall,
I love using blades for walleye
because of their versatility in
a lot of different applications.
Northland’s new Live Forage
blades are really changing
the way we look at colors and
the way we look at traditional
styles of presenting livebait.
Using advanced digitalimaging technology; Northland
replicated real live preyfish
to perfection and created an
entirely new category of ultrarealistic spinners.
These baits work in every
body of water, but work
especially well in big bodies
of water and clear bodies
of water where walleye can
feel and hear the thump of a
blade but also see it from a
considerable distance. That
thump brings them in, and the
intricate lifelike features of the
custom printed Live Forage
pattern closes the deal.
These blades come in a
wide variety of colors as well
so I can use them on structure
locations as well as in the
basin and always match the
hatch. Let me explain what I
In a lot of structure fishing
applications, I like to use
perch, shiner and even tulibee
imaged spinners. I’m usually
fishing these areas in the
spring so because the baitfish
are still pretty small, I’ll use
smaller sized blades.
As we get into the middle
of the summer, I’ll use shiner
and cisco type colors and I’ll
increase the size of my blade.
I also increase my trolling
speed. That’s the biggest
warms, your trolling speed
needs to increase.
I’ll start off in a controlled
drift either just a bit faster than
the current or a bit slower. A
good trolling motor and a drift
sock make controlling your
boat at a steady speed, no
matter the conditions. If the
walleye are hitting short, then
slow down.
As that blade spins with it’s
holographic, baitfish-image
you recreate the image of an
actual fish which is irresistible
for walleye. When I fish a new
body of water, I’ll change my
blade to match the hatch on
that lake for awesome results.
Best way to use?
determination of trial and error.
One of the great reasons for
using a blade is that you are
making a livebait presentation
that is very precise, but you are
also covering a lot of water.
Let’s say you go from a good
jigging bite in the early spring
and the fish are loaded on a
reef. As the spring progresses,
those fish get spread out. You
can cover more water pulling
blades based on where the
fish are spread out.
There are times for other
tactics like jigging, rigging, slipbobbering and crankbaits, but
regardless of the time of year,
if I was in a situation where I
fished a spot, and found out
the walleye were scattered
throughout the area, I’d tackle
it with a blade.
On a lot of bodies of water
where you have a good forage
base, you have to compete
with natural food sources. A
basic livebait presentation
will entice a response while a
blade triggers a strike.
[email protected]
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48919 State Hwy 38
Marcell, MN 56657
800-342-1552 www.thepinesresort.com
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a lot of people constantly
change colors. Remember,
it might not be the color. It
might be a perch bite and
you have a perch bait but
you aren’t catching anything.
Don’t change the color; adjust
the snell length, the bait
presentations and the speed
of your trolling.
Faster speeds mean a more
precise bait presentation. Hook
a crawler right in the nose,
minnows through the head
and leeches on the sucker for
a precise presentation. Faster
trolling also means using an
active minnow and one that
can keep up with you, such as
a redtail or shiner.
If you are working through
the trial and error process and
begin catching fish but they
are biting short, then switch
to half a crawler or increase
the distance between your
My point here is don’t just
instantly assume you are using
the wrong color. If you are
confident the color is matching
the hatch, then switch up the
other variables and you’ll be
surprised on how well you do.
Self-tie or pre-tie?
Throughout the years it
seems like the pre-ties are
getting better and better. I can’t
say enough about the pre-tied
spinners from Northland that
are hand-tied right there in Know when to hold ‘em
When dragging blades,
dinosaur, but I
can remember
ancient times
when pre-tied
spinners were
Now they are
customized to
anglers with
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components and enjoy tying
my own. I like to mix and
match bead colors with blades
and experiment on the water.
When I’m fishing clear
water lakes, I like to use a
fluorocarbon leader. I also
like the versatility of tying my
own for choosing the number
of hooks for a crawler or
adding a stinger for leeches or
Don’t skimp in line diameter
either. Pulling a blade at a slow
speed really gets that clevis
pin digging into the fishing line.
Fluorocarbon does a great job
holding up to the action and
still remaining invisible. My
preference is 10-pound test
fluorocarbon on a Northland
system. Be sure to vary your
snell length anywhere from
four feet on up to eight feet.
If the walleye aren’t going
after blades, however, I’ll
switch to crankbaits and go
roaming because that usually
means the fish are very spread
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Livebait Plus Boat Control Equals Virtual Walleye Invincibility
By Tony with Gary Roach
In The Heart Of The Chippewa National Forest
In Northern Minnesota
832-259-3825 | [email protected]
There is something for everyone at,
Nodak Lodge!
I’d hate to fathom a guess
at the number of big walleyes
that have crossed the
gunwales of Lund boats. It
wouldn’t be easy to calculate
the number of tournaments
won in these famed fishing
vessels, either. Or for that
matter, trying to estimate
how many 5 to 10-pounders
my uncle Gary has boated
over the years. Hundreds
surely, though numbers are
probably in the thousands.
Of all those big fish and all of
his tournament wins, a major
percentage of them have
been driven by masterful
boat control while properly
presenting livebait.
By itself, lively bait holds
the zeal and appeal to put
loads of fish in the net.
Likewise, skilled boat control
will, on its own merit, keep
your hook perpetually inside
the fish zone. But combine
the two into a singular
system, and you’ll be boating
hawgs, snapping photos and
winning tournaments. Think
boat control doesn’t make
that much of a difference?
Guess again.
Quality livebait plus skilled
boat control equals near
invincibility. Boat control is
everything when it comes
to maximizing efforts. Sonar
units are so good these
days that given enough time,
anyone can locate walleyes
and keep track of them. And
that’s a key first step. But
staying on fish is the skill that
separates anglers like Mr.
Walleye from the others. It
takes continual practice, and
precision operation of your
electric motor, kicker outboard
and main engines, with eyes
ever attuned to sonar, GPS
and an underwater camera.
The boat itself is equally as
fundamental to the system,
It’s no accident that Gary
and the best walleye anglers
in North America run the
boats they do. You’ve heard
of certain cars that “hug
the road.” That’s a pretty
apt description for the way
Lund boats interact with
the surface of the water. It’s
exactly why we chose our
boats—a Pro-V for Gary, and
a Pro Angler for me. The hulls
on these boats are simply
more “fishable” than anything
else on the water. I’ll yield to
the engineers on things like
freeboard, reverse chine and
IPS2 hulls. All I know is that
when wind and waves really
start rockin’, I can maneuver
the transom upwind, hunker
down and stay locked on a
spot while other boats get
blown off course.
requiring their own methods
of boat control. But even
about livebait, rigging and
jigging doesn’t seem to be
as cool or in “vogue”, the
simple truth is that most of
us still catch the majority
of our walleyes using oldschool approaches. And it’s
simply because walleyes still
stack in relatively deep water
and must be approached
vertically with livebait.
There are two things I
know for sure: If you put
any two anglers throwing
artificial lures in shallow
water up against Gary Roach
backtrolling livebait on deep
structure, Mr. Walleye is
going to win 9 times out of
10. Second, if you can learn
to position and hold your
boat steadily above a specific
piece of underwater turf, or
even just hold at a precise
depth along a steep breakline
that’s holding fish, you’ll go
home with walleyes in your
livewell more often than not.
One of the most enjoyable
ways to catch walleyes is
hunting individual fish with
sonar, and then put my Lund
to work while tempting the
fish with a luscious minnow,
nightcrawler or leech. So
it goes: Cruising along the
outer edge of a broad point,
the motor to hold position
directly above the fish. I have
also snatched up a nearby
rod, pre-set with a Roach
Rig—slip-sinker, InvisaSwivel,
and a fluorocarbon leader
snelled to a #6 octopus hook.
From inside my baitwell or a
Frabill Aqua-Life Bait Station,
I dip a super-frisky live chub
or shiner, or perhaps a leech
depending on the bite. Within
the space of five seconds,
I’ve got bait working its
magic in the face of those
two whoppers.
line angle, assuring that my
bait is directly beneath the
No doubt, making this
happen is a major function
of experience. But mostly
it’s those learned abilities
to observe and use wind to
your advantage while making
continuous neutral, reverse
motors. Think of yourself
like an ace Coast Guard
helicopter pilot whose skills
require you to drop a rescue
Lund Legend Tom Neustrom, another advocate of total boat control, tames a walleye with Mr. Walleye, Gary Roach. Photo by Bill
Lindner Photography
Author and professional fishing guide Tony Roach, hoodwinks big
walleyes by skillfully controlling his boat to hold a vertical position
over the fish, keeping livebait continuously in their faces. Photo
courtesy of Lund Boats (www.lundboats.com)
There’s a lot of talk today
about precision trolling for
suspended fish, too, as
well as casting crankbaits
and swimbaits to shallow
walleyes in cover. Both can
be awfully entertaining and
my sonar paints two beautiful
arches within a foot of the
bottom in 24-feet of water.
Even before sonar is finished
drawing the image, I’ve done
some multitasking, punching
in a waypoint while shifting to
neutral and then reverse with
Observing direction of the
prevailing wind, I’ll point the
boat directly into the blow—
bow-mount electric in light
wind, backtrolling in gusts.
I never take my eyes off the
sonar or my waypoint, either.
I want to stick directly above
the fish so that the sonar
shows an almost continuous
line—fish kept below the
transducer signal. Ideally,
I also want to be able to
monitor my sinker, as I use
my rod tip to alternatively
pick it up and set it gently
back on the bottom. In major
rough seas, or when fish are
on the move, this isn’t always
feasible, but it’s my goal.
And if nothing else, I want to
maintain a near 90-degree
basket on individual targets.
With practice, the technique
can be learned.
Done right, your bait
stays within that dangerous
walleye zone. The inevitable
result is a major boost in the
number of strikes. As you
gain experience and skill,
you’ll notice other boats
around you drifting right
through clusters of walleyes,
their baits in front of fish for
mere seconds before slipping
off structure and into empty
Make sure to give ‘em a
friendly wave as they drift
away from what’s become
your own personal school of
Making Muskie Music
New Blade Proves its Mettle on Pressured Water
By Ted Pilgrim
(218) 246-9630
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38499 State Hwy 46
Deer River, MN 56636
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Greg Clusiau
When muskies launch into
radical feedings rampages,
there’s simply nothing else
like it in freshwater fishing.
Jaws snap, hooks set, water
explodes, and the aquatic
world goes haywire for a while.
It’s exactly the type of chaos
that ‘muskie-heads’ live for.
The problem, of course, is
that these wild chomp-fests
don’t happen every day.
Most muskie quests consist
of long hours of casting and
figure-eighting, punctuated
by fleeting windows of
activity. As well, the success
of days and days on the
water is measured more in
follows than actual fish in the
Frabill. Further complicating
matters is the dreaded “P”
word. Fishing pressure on
many muskie waters is at an
all time high, with scores of
talented anglers jockeying
for a limited number of fish.
More often than not,
most of these fishermen
throw blades—inline and
safety-pin style spinners that
offer the right combination
of flash, vibration and the
illusion of a substantial meal.
Given the success of baits
like the Double Cowgirl,
you’d be silly not to. Still,
like all great baits before it,
the muskie love affair wasn’t
destined to last forever. The
past few seasons, more and
more anglers have reported
difficulty getting fish to
chew on the old standbys.
More recently, some of the
country’s top muskie-men
have continued scoring lots
of big ‘skies on the same
the legends have lost their
luster. As it turns out, the
ticket hasn’t been a radical
change to a whole new type
of presentation, but rather a
minor tweak in bait selection,
as well as slightly altering the
way guys retrieve them.
veteran muskie guide Chae
Dolsen discovered a new bait
called the Boobie Trap from
Northland Fishing Tackle,
spinner with a few distinctive
features. Dolsen, who works
the heavily pressured waters
of Webster Lake, Indiana as
well as the muskie mecca of
Lake St. Clair, Michigan, had
been a longtime proponent
of double #10 bucktails.
When a local tackle sales rep
turned him onto the Boobie
Trap, however, his catches
took an immediate and
dramatic jump in both size
and numbers.
Meanwhile, on the waters
of Ontario’s Lake of the
Woods, another exceptional
muskie madman was doing
groundbreaking work in the
realm of the muskie blades.
Don Schwartz, also a
talented muskie lure maker,
discovered over the past
few seasons that it’s not just
the size and shape of the
blade that matters, but the
thickness and composition
of the metal. Like Dolsen,
Schwartz has in recent
seasons spent plenty of
time throwing double #10
bucktails. Yet as his catches
started falling off, he began
studying scores of different
baits, eventually narrowing
things down to the absolute
ultimate spinner blade. “If you
take two baits, each sporting
double #10 Colorado blades,
identical in every other way
except the thickness of the
blade itself, you’d still have
two lures that perform very
differently,” says Schwartz.
“Thinner blades tend to
offer slightly more water
resistance, making them
rotate slower and further
from the shaft. This also
makes them more difficult to
retrieve at higher speeds.”
In contrast, Schwartz
believes, thicker blades up
to .05” pull through the water
easier and rotate faster and
closer to the shaft of the bait.
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Print & Digital Media
“These thicker blades are
nice for their ease of retrieve.
But if you get too thick with
your blades, I think you give
up some of the powerful low
frequency vibrations that
muskies hear best. Physically,
a few one-hundredths of
an inch in thickness seems
insignificant, but from a
performance standpoint, the
difference is amazing.”
muskie catches, Schwartz
found his perfect match—
Trap. The Boobie Trap, he
discovered, offered blades
that were thicker than those
on competing models, yet
slightly thinner than a .05”.
At the same time, he started
tying his own baits, again
using these key “compromise
blades.” Using both baits
this season, the results have
been remarkable, allowing
him to convert countless
follows into ferocious gillflaring strikes. “There’s just
something special about
these compromise blades
that have been magic
for muskies,” he offers.
“When fish turn wise to
old standby baits, it’s not
always necessary to make
wholesale bait changes.
The standard inline spinner
design is still a classic, yet
not enough anglers pay
close enough attention to
the most important element
of the bait—the blades.”
Which brings us back to
Chae Dolsen. On initial trips
with the new bait, he would
often throw a conventional
double #10 bucktail while
his clients tossed Boobie
Traps. The difference was
immediately and profoundly
evident. “This season,” he
reports, “the Boobie Trap
has just been on fire. Nearly
every one of our bucktail fish
has eaten this bait. Anglers
in my area have really started
to take note of its appeal to
muskies. Since tying up this
bait, we’ve had many, many 6
to 8 fish days. This last week
alone, I think we had close to
60 fish in the boat, including
a beautiful 50-incher from St.
Clair that I caught with my
kids along. What a blast.”
Dolsen continues: “There’s
no doubt that this bait offers
something different in the
blades that’s convincing
fish to eat. The #10s are just
slightly smaller than those on
other baits. And the blades
pull more easily through the
water; they rotate faster and
turn closer to the shaft, too.
This makes them easier to
burn at fast speeds. Another
thing that’s been key is the
position and component
rigging of the upper treble
hook. We’ve been hooking
and landing a really high
percentage of fish because
of the design.
Other than that, all I know
is, my clients are really having
fun throwing these baits, and
so am I.”