The Anatomy of A Fisherman's Mind - BLOG (3 months of blogging)

December 15, 2005
Opening of the Cat Eye Outfitter - BLOG -
Just a first foray into the world of blogging. As time goes by I can quickly publish notes about the website and forum that may be of interest to their user's. I have not updated photos to the new website as I'm busy at school. When the cold winds of January blow and I hunker down by staying at home instead of getting out on the ice for one last bite those "new" photos are sure to appear. The forum has a glitch in that I can't get up any meta tags... I'm still looking for a solution to that problem. Fishing has been excellent on the Red this early winter and I hope that I'll have some time during the holidays to get out there to hoist up another big mama green

December 16, 2005
Storms Move Through Manitoba
A large low pressure system has just made its way through Manitoba over the past few days adding a good layer of snow to our lakes and rivers. For many this is not a bad thing as it quietens down the environment and even gives some added material to put around the ice shack. Not surprisingly the snow also insulates the ice slowing down the amount of ice we expect to be made over the next while. A down side to the snow is that it makes transport over many bodies of water a little more difficult (or easier if you have a snowmobile) and it will also cause some flood waters to appear on certain lakes. Fishing reports are coming in from all over and the regulars, eg. Dauphin lake Red River are all doing quite well

Weekend Ice Fishing
Had a very interesting opportunity to get out to the Whitshell to fish for Pike and Tullibee. The pike action was reasonable with perhaps a 6-7 #er caught and I managed to hooked into a 16" tullibee. The interesting thing about fishing this day was that the fish were very tentative. Watching them on the Vexilar showed that they would come up to have a look at my bait but few would bite. I know I missed a few (by the little pecks) and even had a couple on (but came off half way up), hooking them was very difficult. Weather-wise We were at the tail end of a large low pressure system that had spent at least four days covering Manitoba and upon moving out the cold northwest winds of a winter time high had moved in. Nothing extraordinary but the thermometer in the truck had said that it was -27c when we started fishing. Very good day as I had seen new water and had the opportunity to fish with new folks. Go back bet

December 19, 2005
Little tricks to better fish
One of my objectives this year is to keep an eye open for little innovations/insights that I see other anglers have made to make them better anglers. Not all that tough to do but saying is often way easier than doing. In some cases I've recently met with a very good angler who was willing to share some of his insights. The problem however was to translate these innovations into a language that I understood. During the conversation I would do my best to draw as many experiences as I could draw from him to clarify what was being said.... and then I would even try to draw more details so that I could continue with my own research after our conversation. It's the little tricks and insights that make all the difference some days...

December 20, 2005
Ice Auger Blues
On a couple of occasions this ice season I've run into temperamental augers. All seem to have had trouble with their gas delivery systems. In one instance the auger had had a tune-up and it was running out of power as it would idle and as it would get to the bottom of a drilled hole. I think in this case the auger needed a carb adjustment. The slow speed adjustment screw is closer to the motor head and the high speed screw is furthest from the motor. One mechanic said that it was probably leaned out and the carb had to be set a little richer. Now does that mean more gas or more air? I would think gas as the auger would go when you'd hit the primer. In a second instance the carb was leaking gas. The most common problem with a carb in this case is that the diaphragm/gasket is broken and gas was getting by to the primer hose. For $4.22 the repair can be effected. A #15 torx screw driver is needed to undo the four nuts that hold on the "bulb" at the bottom of the carb. A small exacto knife is needed to remove any of the old gasket that may stick to the carb's surfaces.

December 22, 2005
Different ice rods for different species and conditions
As I prepared for another ice outing I realized with the number of ice rods that each and everyone of them has a purpose. Some have as their purpose a more utilitarian function than a function related to a species being targeted. As an example I often find that a lighter rod in ultra cold conditions does not "work" as well as lets say a shorter stouter pole.... OK you sacrifice a bit of sensitivity but they tend to work a little better when eyelets freeze up or line has frozen chunks of ice attached to it. I often find that even my ability to hold and feel a lighter ice rod is impaired by the thicker mitts and even increase layers of clothing (which limits my ability to act when I feel a bite!). On the other hand I'd have to admit that a lighter pole with lighter line really helps out where conditions permit their use. Generally speaking most species that I'll angle for in the middle of winter will not be biting very aggressively. A lighter rod in this instance allows me to "see" and feel a bit that much more easily. In some instances I will even add a spring bobber tip to help me pick up the lightest of bites. Line too is an important consideration. The newer ice super lines don't fray nearly as much as their early manifestations and they really do help with the detection of a bite. Definitely the solution to the question of being able to use the ice rod most appropriate to the species being angled for is to fish in a hut!

January 03, 2006
Something New
Before Christmas I had a chance to get up to Big Whiteshell lake to fish for its pike and tullibee. I had passed through the lake on a number of occasions during the soft water months to go to Crowduck and other surrounding lakes. On this particular occasion we had the plan to set tip ups for pike ( a common practice by ice fisherman on this lake for its winter time pike) and to jig a little bit with our vexilars to see if we could entice some of this lake's large Tullibees... Well we had a great day and I managed to pick up one of the lake's large tullibees .... after losing a couple on the way up. The day was very satisfying and I really enjoyed the walk out to the place where would fish the day. Biggest pike was bout 5-6# and my tullibee pushed 16" a Manitoba master angler. Great day and an interesting new winter experience for me.

January 11, 2006
Fishing Friends
Really important for success on any fishing trip is good information in advance. I find my best source of information comes from a network of buddies that I've established over time. In the process of setting up this network I have come to realize that more important than "hammering" the fish is getting to know the people I fish with. If we catch fish that's a bonus but spending time with my friends and sharing thought/ideas with them is of greatest value to me. Just think about it fish don't bite all the time, but having a good friend is something you can always count on....

January 12, 2006
One interesting insight that I had during the break and fishing for tullibees was how jig movement would effect the mood of the fish. On that particular day these fish would move out and into the cone of my vex quite quickly. They also really gave themselves away as being really interested in my offering by the way they would either rise up to my jig or go down to my jig. One of the tell tale signs of a pike versus a tullibee by the vex was the time the fish would stay in the cone. The pike would stay in the cone much longer and they would not rise as quickly to bite a bait. You'd really have to be patient with the tullibee as they would rise and would stll take some time before they would bite the hook (they were probably in the cone but just off to the side of the bait). The other interesting thing about their bite was that they would barely move the bait when they finally made contact with it. Having a spring bobber or a very sensitive rod was very useful. A good learning experience with one species.

January 13, 2006
Crappie bytes
Interesting experience vis a vis Crappie.... A very good friend had said to me that Crappie had a tendency to bite better in the morning and evening and another said that if we kept moving we would have crappie action all day. Well looking back on our day both were right. The morning and evening bite were best but so long as we kept moving/looking for them we would have action throughout the day. I look at this experience and draw a comparison with most fishing that I'll do. It is necessary to keep looking for the series of conditions that will yield bites for whatever species we may be angling for... Not an earth shattering observation but one that bears itself out on those days we all have and where we say "Where are those fish?" Persistence and trial and error are required attributes for any angler.

January 14, 2006
Pails for fishing
With all the different ice fishing opportunities in Manitoba it's hard to have all your equipment in ready to fish all the different types of fisheries and species that we have here in Manitoba. One of the things that I've been doing in preparation to a variety of fisheries and species that you can find therein is to have different pails ready for a variety of trips. Certainly we don't need to have enough equipment to outfit a gang of anglers but a couple of extra rods means we have an opportunity to prepare a number of buckets ready to go on a moments notice. Not spooling these rods up with reels and line that are too heavy is another trick to greater flexibility. Lighter means that fish that will become more and more fickle as the season goes on are easier to detect when they brush up against a bait offering you may have for them on any day. Another trick is to pack smaller boxes with fewer lures that you will use. What's the use of carrying all the lures in Manitoba if your not going to use them. I'll tie up three that I'll use and another three I would like to try. Colour assortment and bait has also to be species appropriate. Certainly your buddies can also loan out a lure or rubber bait that might be working if you don't have one in your box. Lastly for the pail I'll have an ice scoop, pail seat and a rod holder that attaches to a pail (and I'll use it so long as I have enough weight in the pail to keep it from being dragged down the hole) and finally, a must here in Manitoba, a pair of pliers. A five gallon pail is also good point of departure as it provides the size of container that a vexilar will sit in quite nicely. Pails for fishing, yup, they're almost indispensable

January 15, 2006
Ice Equipment considerations
One thing that I'm becoming more and more aware (or perhaps cautious) of with my ice fishing gear is the necessity to do one of two things. For the auger it is important to leave it outside and to have it full of gas as often as I'm able to do that. Not keeping it full or bringing it in will spell trouble by the way of condensation. A very good product that helps with even the minimal amount of condensation that occurs even when the equipment is outside is Sea-Foam. You don't have to use to much of the stuff and it keeps everything running worry free. As for the equipment that you'll bring inside it is very important that it is laid out so that air can get at all parts. In one case I found that my vexilar was wet and full of moisture....well I wondered what all that moisture was doing to the unit. After that instance I would make sure that I would open to the warm dry air of the indoors. In effect I'm very careful to dry out everything that I'll bring indoors. I haven't had any difficulties with my ice fishing equipment since I started taking special care of how its put away after use.

The Master's Rewards...
Master Angler fish.... What does that mean. Well it used to be a weight and fortuitously it has change to a length measurement. Picture length, minimum measurement, affidavit, witness, picture fish, individual species, specialist designation, replacing smaller master angler fish with larger master angler fish in one's own portfolio. Apparently started up in the Neepawa area and now in place for more than thirty five years. An interesting and well thought out program that means many people challenge themselves to become better anglers, better in the sense they are able to target bigger fish, more fish or specific fish at a specific time of year. I have participated in it over the years and will continue to do so. It almost seems to create a small purpose for getting out there or it helps celebrate those catches that are extraordinary. I have to say however that it has a more important social function that gets anglers to talk to one another and to share ideas, experiences and in the end making fishing more fun. Kudos to Manitoba for keeping up with the program. As the saying goes there are "The Master's Rewards".

January 16, 2006
Inside Angles
One tiny advantage I've worked on over the past while has been to get to know well some of the local bait and tackle dealers. In the process it isn't long before you get to know what is going on out there. Of course when fishermen come in to pick up their bait and tackle they share their successes with the guys that sell them the minnows and tackle. Knowing the guy who sells the minnows or tackle means having info almost as soon as the bite happens....Its something that doesn't always bare out but every little bit helps. Its as simple as a bit of loyalty this or that dealer even biting the bullet on an item that maybe five dollars more (besides you'll probably burn that much gas driving to the place with the item for a few bucks less). Inside angles means more fish...really!

Keeping track of stuff...
Well it's a privilege and sometimes a bit frustrating but having all the right stuff with you all the time is a challenge when you follow the adage that you'll never have enough tackle to catch all the fish that are there. I recently lost a bag of jigs that I purchased on sale and only after the fact - a day later - I discovered that I had lost them on a lake that I had taken them out on to use.. Argh I even had put the bag in my shirt pocket but due to a good bite on a particular jig I accessed the bag because it was closer than the rest of my jigs that were in a sled about 100 yards away. It isn't really a question of money as 30 or so jigs at 1/32 oz. aren't really all that expensive but it is a question of some habits that I need to practice so that stuff like this doesn't happen in the future. Having stuff in its place (or putting it in its place) means it'll be there when you need it....

January 17, 2006
trout pond politics
Interesting enough the fishing values that every angler has will effect what kind or kinds of fisheries that we can have. A little project of the local game and fish has in its future some very significant decisions that will impact on the kind of fishery that it will become. Give it the regular provincial regs and it will be like most other trout fisheries in the parkland area. Set up a kid's fishing derby in the winter and it'll become a point of departure for what can become a very rewarding life long pursuit....angling. If on the other hand the developers decide to put some special regs on it it might become something different, different than most lakes in the area. Personally I don't think that the size of "Ansom" lake is really an issue. A trout grown to size, caught, released is there for others to catch again.... This little thread is going to continue and there remains a whole lot more to be said about it.

January 18, 2006
Tackle Selection and local tackle sales sources
One of the challenges of being a fishing fan here is rural Manitoba is the sore need for a competitive tackle source with adequate selection. On more than one occasion I've been wanting for tackle because there was no local tackle source. Of course over the years in a number of small towns I have seen various sports enterprises rise and fall and all for much the same reason...they found it impossible to compete against the big retailers who can sell for a much lower price. But most of these enterprises have been sole proprietorships with single sources for wholesale items (I'm not saying that the wholesalers have to do better but it's help with everyone's business!). In effect anyone now who proposes to set up a sports shop is pretty much damned to failure given prevailing retailing practices. The question I have for some of these sportsmen is whether or not they have considered some other models for furnishing sports products. Perhaps if sports clubs or local game and fish clubs could set up a cooperative with reference to purchasing sports equipment we might see other possibilities. Having a cooperative might mean that we could have a board that would hire a manager (part or full time dependant on the amount of business) who would be paid to do the work of getting the stuff in. The purchase would always be at a percentage above the wholesale and would also include a front end investment and continuing investment to keep the coop going ... or whatever model is decided upon. But the idea is to change the way we do business and to give people an opportunity to invest in their own community when buying in on sporting goods. Would it work... Don't know. Has it been tried? Yup, and it works in towns where the population barely hits 500 souls in some other towns. Some coops even become huge in the process eg. MEC It sure would be interesting to give it a try out here in tackle barren western Manitoba (-to be continued with a view to mail order and internet purchasing)

January 19, 2006
Of all the equipment that I'll use while ice fishing, propane accessories can be some of the most difficult to locate and customize. As an example I recently purchased a CSA and UL laboratories approved extension hose. However the hose is only good for the one pound disposable tanks. As such on any given ice fishing day I can burn 2 maybe three tanks of propane costing somewhere in the neighbourhood of ten dollars. Now to switch over to a tank of propane a special adapter / or hose is required. Well just try to find the right adapter especially when they've gone and changed most of the out-going fittings Q.C.C.1 vs. P.O.L. on the larger portable tanks. I'd say after four or five calls I'd finally tracked down the right adapter, however the guy wouldn't sell it to me because we had a distributor for them in our town... ARGH! OK after two weeks of calling them it looks like its finally going to get here. Well I believe it when its in my hands... to be continued

January 21, 2006
Cabin bound
Its been a while since I've been hit as hard with the FLU but its here and hard. I missed some Perchin' this weekend on Lake Manitoba. Seems as though when everything else slows down the guys can always find a perch to bite. All the regular spots are "on" from my sources. It just a matter of time to get out there to get at those little guys. The best part about perch is just getting out of the house to go here and there when everyone else is hunkered down for at least another six weeks.

January 23, 2006
Tackle and the "outback"
Well I'll have to eat my words a little on tackle sources for out here in Western Canada. Outdoor Sports out of Saskatoon has been installed in Winnipeg for at least a couple of years and some good stuff is starting to come of it. Just recently they published a catalogue that has more "winter" tackle options than the Cabela's Master catalogue. It's sad to say but even the biggest and best of companies like Cabela's have in my opinion given up on tackle selection and have sold themselves out to the mentality of the big ticket or the most profitable items (eg. clothes). I have Cabela's catalogues from 15 years ago and to compare them with what we have today ....well there's no comparison. Outdoor sports on the other hand has put out a good catalogue with enough items to outfit any fisherman. It's good to see that at least out here we can still have a shot at some of the tackle that catches fish.

January 25, 2006
Open Hole
Just tried a new technique to keep a hole open for my windlass tip up. If the wind isn't too strong and the snow isn't blowing I put a tuna tin with cardboard and parafin wax (about a 1/4 full in a hole lit) and secured with a wire to one side of the hole (#14 electrical wire is stiff enough to bend and use as an anchor). The resulting warmth that the can produced kept the hole open enough for the tip-up to continue working. When I have a bite I make sure that I am able to put the little heater off to the side (firstly) and then I am able to set the hook and hand bomb in the fish. This is a little innovation this year that has had an impact on total fish landed on ice

Fixing a Jiffy Pull Cord
Just refreshed memory on how to fix a Jiffy Legend Series 30 pull cord. My friend had been out ice fishing and on a first pull had had his motor backfire and it proceeded to suck the cord out of his hand and snap in the process. I don't know if others have had this experience but that seems to be the #1 instance where you'll break a pull cord with some consistency with a Jiffy. The other of course is just plain wear and tear . Well after four bolts allowed for the removal of the pull cord assembly it was as easy as removing the old knot, rewinding the coil spring assembly and then passing the cord through the winding assembly hole and securing it with a knot that you can repair the pull cord on a Jiffy. I'll use a double knot at the cord's end (just pass the tag end through the loop an extra time) to keep the cord from pulling through.

January 27, 2006
I found an interesting list for getting ready to go fishing. It is far from being complete but it gets you thinking if you've got the stuff needed to get fishing 
Some FISHING GEAR Summer and Winter
Fishing Licence
Tackle Box / Fly Box (essentials: jigs, rigs, hooks, split shot, slip bobbers, soft plastic bait, cranks 
Pliers / Vexilar / Underwater camera / extra battery / Spare Mono or Fishing Line
Fishing Rods & Reels Fishing Boots / Waders
Rain Gear Life Jackets Boat Seats / Filet Knife / Filet Board / Filet Glove / Sharpener
Fishing Gloves/ Markers buoys
Side Planers Anchor / Rope Sunglasses Sunscreen
Portable Fishfinder Fishing Net
Electric Motor / Battery / Charger
Gas Motor / Gas Tank / Oil / Did you charge the batteries
Mosquito Repellent (Muskol brand concentrated oil preferably)
GPS and Batteries
Compass Fish Scale / minnow pale / frozen minnows
Tape Measure Camera
Bathymetric Maps (maps with contour details)
Live Bait (Leeches and Crawlers)
Fish Chain / Stringer Hook Sharpener Forceps / Mouth spreaders
Chapstick Nail Clippers Binoculars
Small Bucket Rags / hand warmers / gloves mitts / toque
Head Lamps / Auger / Ice scoops / Ice tent / 
Warm Sweaters / Sweatshirts
Windbreaker / parka / Long Johns warm dry socks
Gym socks
Shoes / Sandals / Slippers / boots / rubber boots
Pants / lots of small polypropolene gloves
Shorts / sweat pants
T-Shirts / anything with gortex as a second layer
Long Sleeve T Shirts
Hat / snowmobile suit / gators

Flashlights Axe Leatherman Knife Garbage Bags
Pillows Sleeping Bags Toothbrush/Toothpaste
Anti Perspirant Comb/brush Facecloth Towel
Soap Shampoo Razor / Shaving Cream
Contact Lens Supplies Dish Soap Dish Cloths
Playing Cards Books / Magazines / Portable DVD Player
Mini Sound System or Boom Box / Batteries

Shore Lunch Pan Breading for fish Salt / Pepper
Condiments Small Cooler Large Cooler Ziploc Bags
Bottle Opener / Can Opener / Corkscrew Coffee Maker 
Ice or Ice Paks Drinking Water Lighter / Matches
Paper Towels Paper Plates / Plastic Utensils / Plastic Glasses / Styrofoam Cups
Cooking Utensils Pots and Pans Cooking Oil Butter Milk Sugar
Personal medications, aspirin/tylenol Dettol, Bandaids

January 29, 2006
Lake Manitoba Perch end of January
Just received a report last night of someone who made his way up to Twin Beaches for Perch. To his surprise he hit a few Perch but more significantly he ran into clouds of Tulibees. He said they were hard to hook but in the end when he got a feel for it he was able to land about ten in an hour. One of the things he noticed on his vexilar was that he's lose his hook in the clouds of fish that were under his hole. He had trouble setting his gain to pick up his jig and fish. Sure wish I could have been there.

January 30, 2006
Fishing Blogs
Well just a quick note on and from what I've read to this point, the blog is an excellent example of what a blog can be for the reading public. in effect you have information on fishing in an area that I'd have no idea on where to start. The other thing about a good blog is that it seems to go beyond just the local but it also seems to include observations about the subject in general. Finally, a good fishing blog is just interesting to read.

January 31, 2006
New Fishing Friends
One of my objectives last year (2005) was to get out and angle with different people in different locales. I guess I had the opportunity over the season to angle in about 9 different spots with about 20 different guys. Apart from seeing some new territory (not really that much) I had a chance to speak with guys about their interest in fishing. Some of the guys were fanatics and others were just interested in a hobby they practised every weekend. The outcome of all these meetings will be an article that I'll post later on this year on my site. Interestingly enough there wasn't one angler with whom I fished that didn't teach me something. I guess that's the advantage to getting out there to meet and fish with different guys.... there's always something to learn!

February 01, 2006
Spring Bobbers and the light bite
A significant tool employed this year by myself has been the spring bobber. It seems that many of the species that I've targeted this winter are far less aggressive when it comes to the bite. On the contrary the tulibee and perch can be notorious for their super light bites. In one instance this winter watching the vex I would see the fish coming toward my bait (and on the first occasion I didn't have the spring bobber) and then nothing or just a tiny bit of weight. There was no discernible "tick" as you might get with a walleye. It was very difficult to judge when the fish had committed itself to the bait. On the next occasion we visited the lake (and having the objective to fish for the light biting tulibee) I brought along two different types of spring bobber. What a difference that made!. On almost all occasions it was because of what the spring bobber would relate that would give me cause to set the hook or to wait a little longer before setting the hook. The finally tally was about 5X's as many fish with all laud to be paid to the 2-3 dollar addition to my fishing pole. Spring bobber now will be always available in my tackle box, especially for those days and bites when no other method will work.

February 02, 2006
Ice fishing and line
Well its not been too long now that I switched over to lighter line while ice fishing. When I say lighter I'm not referring to 6# mono but now I'm not averse to using line in the 2# range. What won me over? Well it was a trip for trout that made all the difference. Yeah no light weight fish either! The day was an interesting one as it wasn't one of the regular marathons that we'll go on but was an evening out to see if we could get something to go.... well the difference seemed to be line when we decided that all other things were equal. The fact of the matter was that was all that was different between me and my buddy. He had on some 8# mono and I was fishing 2# in fluorocarbon. After I had hooked and released two fish and was in the process of battling my third my buddy made the astute observation that not all things were equal.... well after I proceeded to land another 20+ inch trout I handed my pole over to him for a go... Not surprisingly he had a fish on in about five minutes but would loose it to a powerful run and a tick on the ice around the hole... too bad but evidence enough for both of us that lighter line is the ticket. Now as for what has happened since that trip I can say without a doubt that lighter line has increased my catch rate on the ice.. Why? Well I can hypothesize this or that (which I will late on but not today) but simply put I say it means more fish most of the time while ice fishing....

Rods of all sorts
Not uncommon to any angler who puts a lot of time in on the water, this one has a lot of different rods for a lot of different situations. But it was one of my friends who got me thinking of the various uses they have when he teased me about the Lake trout poles I was using one day while walleye fishing on the Red. Well as I've mentioned before I generally place a series of poles in a pail and then should the occasion arise to go I'll just grab this or that pail and go....However we still have our favourite ways to fish and in the case of this angler I've parked the tent and generally run and gun when ice fishing. Needed for this type of fishing is a pole that's a bit tougher and not because the fish are going to be any bigger but because you need stuff that can handle to cold weather and the rigors it places upon gear. So here I am in a wonderfully heated fish tent and I've got the stout poles not necessary for the context I'm in... oh well can't have everything applicable for all situations. But if I were to advise anyone about the kinds of poles to consider when getting out on ice I'd advise them to use the lightest pole their type of fishing will allow them to use (with the lightest line they feel comfortable with). The result is generally increased sensitivity and visually increased clues as to when things are happening below. I saw this clearly with my buddy as his light pole would transmit visual information that the vex was suggesting was going to happen. In my case on that particular day I had to hold onto the line to feel what was going on (and the latter is not always the best means of getting that hook set) No doubt a lot of different rods and pails set up with them is good idea when getting out to ice fish. There is a difference between the type of pole that you'll use when inside outside sitting or running and gunning in +2 or -20 weather.

February 03, 2006
Weather finally cools
Well the weather finally broke a little the past couple of days and we've broken the "warm" spell. Well considering we've just gone through the warmest January in years the weather has had a monster impact on the fishing we've seen this year so far. Warmer weather makes the fish a little more cooperative but it also makes it a little easier to fish. The cold weather we're in for the next little while will require a shelter but it won't be all that long before this thing all breaks and we're back on the fish near the end of the season. Gonna be fun any way cause its fishing!

February 04, 2006
Simple tip-up rigs
A simple but yet effective means of rigging a tip-up. A plastic covered wire leader and a pack of 2/0-4/0 trebles. Hook one of the trebles to the end clasp and allow one of the trebles to slide along the nylon coated wire. The barrel swivel at the end also helps to retrieve a larger fish all the while avoiding line twist. Simple, effective for hooking up and not too complex.

February 05, 2006
Red River walleye tip
One little trick that has worked well this past year on the Red for monster walleye has been to use a dropper hook in conjunction with a larger main hook. The trick it seems is to have two different options for fish to look at. I like the idea of having something to attract like a larger jig on the bottom and a single hook or a floater above. On some occasions its the different baits that you can suspend from the two hooks that makes the difference. I'll put a live minnow above and a large dead salted shiner below. Soon enough the fish will tell you what they want. On some days the fish would only take the live minnows (and this is quite often) and then there are days when its a mixed bag and the larger fish come on the shiner. Finally another slight difference that has made a difference over the year has been to suspend the hook and not always have it sit on or near the bottom. On one occasion this year two feet off the bottom on the upper dropper we caught 90% of the fish we caught that day.

February 06, 2006
Colours on the Red
This year once again proved that there were colours that were favourites on the Red but these colours were not necessarily colours that have produced for me out there. Traditionally I have found that there are some colours that are better than others. Lime green/chartreuse is the first colour that I'll go to followed by combo colours green/chartreuse. Orange too is a reliable colour and so too is the combo orange yellow. This year however lime was not as effective as it normally can be. Orange wasn't all that bad a colour but it was a combo pink/white that was the hot colour. Pink itself was OK too but the pink/white colour combo was best. Of course there were days when other colours worked but in general over the whole season the colours mentioned were best. Can't say why there was a colour preference shift but I guess it might be worth saying that we had a high water year and it was relatively mild with a mediocre shiner run.

February 07, 2006
Bait you say: When and where?
Yeah I know some days when fishing for walleye it's everything and on other days its just another component in a variety of materiel needed to boat a couple of those wall-eyed critters. I've got a whole bunch of different means to transport and care for them but when it gets firecracker hot out there minnows tend to perish at a remarkable rate. Well at least that was the case in by gone days. A new Canadian product has turned up that will certainly make a difference for a lot of anglers who really rely upon healthy and lively bait. The minnowmate bait keeping cooler has everything going for it that will make it an outstanding product for those that need to keep their bate fresh in places where it hasn't been that easy in the past. The unit is approximately twenty litres in capacity and it has a built in aerator that will run for at least 60 hours on two D-cell batteries. The insulated factor is the twist with this product that will definitely extend the life of an minnow on even the hottest of days. I can't help feel that many of those minnows lost due to any number of goofy errors on my part would not have been lost. If it gets really hot you can always add a bag of ice and have the cooler insulate it from the warm conditions. Without a doubt minnows will certainly last a lot longer with this little jewel of Canadian ingenuity.

February 08, 2006
Walleyes and flashers
A minor break through I encountered this year involved getting a little more info into the world of jig flashers. It's come to my attention that there are more jig flashers than the Apex spinner jigs you'll find at Wal-mart. Not that there's something wrong with the Apex model available there. On the contrary it has been a welcome addition to my walleye box and has been a very effective tool on our famous fall greenbacks. Perhaps my only critique of the Apex flasher jig is its connecting components which on the odd jig seem to get covered with jig paint and as a result become an object of added attention. Well more precisely about 50% get junked because the paint is nearly impossible to remove (and in the process of cleaning them up I'll break off the spinner mechanism...). But that brings me to some of the products that I've found elsewhere and which seem to be as good if not better a product .... Northland has an interesting product in the Thumper spin. This spinner consists of Northlands silicone sleeve set up that can be slid up over the collar area of most jigs. You've probably already seen some of their single and double barrel rattles that have this same connecting method. The blade for the thumper comes in a few different colours and two different sizes. I personally prefer the smaller size as it seems that a spinner need only draw a bit of attention and not necessarily be the main attraction of the bait. The other walleye spinner jig that has been very effective for me this past fall and early winter season has been the Reel Bait company's walleye spin. The blade shape is a bit different in so far as it has a willow leaf shape. Reel Bait has a larger 3/4 oz. size that is very effective come fall and first ice for monster Mama Green -- I know this from personal experience ;). All the components of this piece of tackle are of high quality and the colour combinations are excellent. I would say with the upcoming inclusion of a 1/2 oz. model many anglers will be stocking their tackle box with a lure that'll get the attention of some pretty significant fish. Walleye and spinners a natural combo.

February 09, 2006
A company who's reputation is important
Well late last summer I bought a plastic collapsible bait buck that also had its own bubbler. The top of this bucket also has a piece of vinyl that can be used to zip the bait bucket closed. Of course it doesn't seal it completely shut as the zipper is porous but it does stop large amounts of water from spilling out of the bait bucket. The fact that the whole unit is collapsible and has a soft side means it can fit into places where a rigid minnow bucket can't. This "minnow-life" unit by Frabill also has a large handle that allows for easy transport. I was particularly impressed by the length of time that the bubbler would run on a single battery in particular when you would use one of those more expensive nickel metal hydride batteries in it. The bucket worked very well until it got really cold. When it was super cold (not quite freezing) I had a bit of trouble with the zipper. The zipper tab (used to pull closed and open the zipper) wasn't staying on the zipper. Finally the tab fell off. Well with one phone call out to Wisconsin to tell the folks at Frabill what was happening I had another unit delivered to me with what appeared to be a different and a better working zipper. Apart from hypothesizing what the company had discovered about their original design I was completely impressed by this company Frabill and their immediate attention to my concern about the product I had bought from them about four months earlier. The complete replacement of the unit with the new improved zipper really says a lot for this company and their commitment to customer satisfaction. I'll be buying other products with this kind of customer service!

February 10, 2006
To Glow or not to Glow
Well this may sound counter indicative but I've got my doubt on how often you can put down a glow product. Just recently I was out looking for walleye on a local lake and I had an experience that suggested that glow isn't always the answer. The lake in question has a population of walleye perch and pike. I was sitting at the end of the point, one which generally produces some nice walleye (not too many) but enough to fill the fry pan now and again. On this particular day I was firing up my glow product with a Taser and was fishing live minnows. Interestingly enough I was getting a lot of fish to come in an have a look at what was glowing but to my chagrin I was unable to convert. No matter how much I tried it was not working. Suddenly a thought came over me to drill another hole within a few feet and fish a line without the glow product. The result was amazing. I had three fish within five minutes (two perch and a walleye) and they all hit the regular jig! Perhaps there is something to be learned from this. In so far as the fish were curious as to what I had down there glowing away it was different enough that they were somewhat spooked. Getting down just the normal fare was the difference on that particular day. I'm not saying that glow doesn't work, not at all, rather you'd better be aware as to how the fish are reacting to it before you just give up saying they're not all that interested today!

February 11, 2006
Manitoba Perch
Got a chance to get out an see if the Perch were going in the south basin of lake Manitoba. Well the day wasn't exactly stellar but it was sure nice to get out there. The variety of species made the day interesting. The larger perch that we did catch were in the 10" range and were a bit thicker. At the end of the day once nice 2# walleye did pick up my bait and dropped it two more times before I was able to set the hook. We walked out about a 1/4 mile and saw fish through much of the day but the difference was that they would show up but wouldn't necessarily take what we had to offer. Cold because of the wind but quite nice inside the shelter that we had brought along. I'll be back out there in a couple of weeks.

February 12, 2006
Another Perchy Lake
Today offered another opportunity to have a look at another interesting perch opportunity. The lake in question is called Crawford, crystal clear water that covers about a quarter section of land just west of Sandy lake Manitoba. The day was slower but I had an opportunity to simultaneously use my vexilar and aqua-vu. I guess I lost a couple of fish to all the hardware hanging down the hole but the overall impact made it well worth it. The perch wanted half a minnow, tail end on a 1/32 pink and white glow jig. The depth was also important. I punched holes from 28 to 16 feet and the fish were in the 20-23 foot range. It's surprising how we just fluked it by drilling our first holes at the right level. It was a good day even with the half mile walk in all that freshly fallen snow.

February 13, 2006
Clear Lake Whitefish
If you haven't done it you should consider it. Even if you have to shell out the extra $25 for the federal fishing licence and you'll have to spend a few extra bucks on some bismuth or steel jigs, seeing a whitefish come in for you hook in crystal clear water makes it well worth the effort. Of all the things I remember from ice fishing each year I remember seeing whitefish coming in from many feet away (this is one place where the aqua-vu really shines). I've also been particularly impressed by how many pike will come in and just sit a ways off watching what you're doing when you're jigging. In this latter instance I can vouch first hand for the effectiveness of the "hold" manoeuvre when jigging because that's usually when pike will attack a lure. I also have a motorized pod mechanism that will rotate the camera head so that I'm able to see in all directions and it's usually when i'm using this mechanism that I'll see some interesting stuff. In particular how many minnows there are in an area and how this corresponds with what my friends tell me they find are a part of the stomach contents of the fish they keep for smoking. Also corresponding with this observation is how certain colour combinations also correspond with increased angler success.

February 14, 2006
Battery Power
It finally hit me the other day when I started to calculate how much I saved by buying rechargeable batteries. I've saved a lot. The only time I've had to buy the throw away types has been when I've forgotten to charge the others. I've been very pleased with the re-chargeable alkali variety but have been recently even more impressed by the newer re-chargeable NMh variety. The latter seem to have even more power than commercial alkali batteries (that are very expensive in their own right). Beware however as to amount of milli-amps that these batteries deliver. It seems that their cost is related to the number of milli-amps they'll deliver. I have three grades of AA and it is really evident which has the greatest number of milli-amps available. My GPS unit is an excellent judge of the quality of these batteries! Now there's definitely another consideration when it comes to the smaller 12v batteries that I’ll use in my Aqu-vu or Vexilar. I haven't necessarily found a "better" 12v 7.5 amp battery. It seems that if I run a battery down and am careful with the recharge cycle, the life of the battery will be extended.

February 15, 2006
Best Walleye Year In A Long While
I haven't had a chance to put this down anywhere else but this past fall and early winter was one of those greenback runs that'll go down in my memory and the memories of many people I fished with this year. My best day was seven fish over ten pounds and there was another half dozen or so fish in that same range that were lost due to anglers lacking experience in hooking up with such large fish. I was still bedazzled by the size and number of fish that we saw that day. As the season progressed I saw some interesting changes in location in terms of depth and location along the 20 or so miles where walleye will set up on any given day. Bait, live or otherwise, types of jigs and colours as well as different types of rigs, boat control, anchor tactics and time of day tactics all had an impact on the number of monster fish we caught but having as many monstrous fish in the river made all the difference. I suspect "all" the water we saw last summer was related to the success we had during the fall season. As for shiners I really didn't see a lot of them and I even heard the commercial guys weren't having an easy time of it. I've got a few new articles that I'll be publishing a little later on this year about experiences had during the '05 greenback run. It doesn't matter what year it was there are always some new observations that come from getting out there on a regular basis

February 16, 2006
Outdoor Canada Walleye Reference
Just lately I received a call from a friend who asked me if I know if my name had been published as a guide for the Red River and in particular for fall walleye. OK I've been know to spend an inordinate amount of time on the river and some people will even ask me why I spend as much time when I have so many lakes available to me else where... Well to be honest its almost like a gut feeling about when you should spend a lot of time out there and when you should fish else where. The Red is a like a parsimonious banker, she most years grudgingly gives up her cache of wealth but on others its like a gold rush where everyone has a shot at hitting the mother load. It's almost like having your hand on the pulse some years its faint but on other years it sure is fun getting out there to feel it pound. OK there are some years and I've even come to decide that early on in September its better doing something else than getting out there to get after the red river's green. But as the season really gets underway you get in touch with the rhythm of the River and are rewarded copiously. Yeah that fellow was right when he said he didn't understand why I spent so much time on the river and didn't spend more time else where but then again if I wasn't there I wouldn't partake of her bounty either!

February 17, 2006
VIP and Pro-Guide Status
Interestingly enough there are some rewards for the thousands of hours on the water and countless dollars spent buying and trying different types of equipment. For the casual angler finding a sale at this or that tackle outlet is a good thing for the pocket book but far from what a pro angler needs in the way of a regular supply of gear. I've paid full price on a lot of occasions. However having a VIP and Pro-guide status means that when I restock I'm stocking with numbers that would equal a small tackle store. Obtaining wholesale prices means a few more hooks that might mean the difference between a successful and a not successful day out n the water. I really appreciate it when a vendor gives me the prior mentioned status and I'll be sure to let people know about their service and treatment of their clientele. I'll also tend to use the stuff that works so if tackle works I'm going to be using it as well as those that will fish with me......

February 18, 2006
Electronics down a single hole
Well despite all the praise that a lot of winter time electronics have received of late there's another side to this story. It so happened that a recent trip that I had taken that I saw some downsides to all this gear hanging down my ice hole. I was surprised and had it always as a goal to hang both my camera and flasher down the same hole that I was fishing out of. Yes I could spot the fish first on the flasher and then subsequently pick it up on the camera. I could even see the in coming fish and his attitude vis a vis my bait. It was interesting to see perch come in at 23 feet and flare their gills when they wanted to bite. The only problem I hadn't mentioned in previous posts was that there was two more obstacles to overcome.... Both cables that hung down the hole. Well the vex cable was easy enough as it just hung beneath the ice but the camera cable was down about 18 feet and would require quite a bit more doing than the previously pulled vex cable. Well the long and short of this situation was that I had two perch wrap themselves around the cable and subsequently un-hook themselves. I also stepped on the 'ducer for the vex and the lens of my camera iced up to a point where it was difficult to see out of (it was -20 that day making the use of all but the minimum tough). I would say that the innovations that are being used are great but there are limits.

February 19, 2006
Vex vs vu
Without a doubt there is an ongoing discussion amongst fishermen about which electronics best suits ice fishing, especially ice fishing success. I have both an aqua-vu and a vexilar and I see the effectiveness of each unit. I have however seen a video recently that comes as an instructional tool for new purchasers of a vexilar unit.. In that video one of the people says they have tried both and really feel the vex is a superior fishing tool. I'm sure the purpose of such a statement is to let the purchaser feels that all that money spent is worth the unit they now have been before them. I take a different tact on the subject by suggesting that each tool has its niche and perhaps/depending upon the type of fishing and where you fish each has a specific advantage. The vexilar is especially good for dirty stained water and for seeing a wider field of view. The aqua-vu is especially advantageous for ultra clear water, especially where you'll have the mo=pod to help see in all directions.

February 20, 2006
'06 plans
I was thinking a little bit about plans that I'd like to undertake this year for fishing. A big part of my plan is going to involve getting at some species that I've only putted around with in the past. Sturgeon has to be one species that is going to see a few of my hooks this year. I'd also like to get out after some lake trout this year. Having a larger boat means I can get out on water that before may have been a little uncomfortable getting out onto. A couple of other things that are of interest to me will be to use more techniques and approach some fisheries that I fish on a regular basis from a different angle. Maybe going beyond what was comfortable and trying something a little different or stuff that hasn't been tried is what is in order. I'm also planning to put a lot of stock into getting out with a variety of fishermen for different species in different locations. I've got this view that I've seen a lot and its not so new any more. Getting out with different people means that at least I hear some different ideas on what's possible out there.

February 21, 2006
Ski-doo and ice fishing
It figures that the year I want to get back out ice fishing in a heavy way that my sled has not been tuned nor is it ready to go.... It's my fault as I left the sled in storage for the last couple of years and haven't been out on the ice in the past couple of years like I've been out there this year. If you've got a sled you know that they have to be stored with the storage spray and the tank has to be empty.... all of which I did. I also had the sucker tuned before I put it away... to the tune of $140.00 argh. and now I go to start it a couple of years later and guess what.... it won't go.... hah. Oh well, I guess I just have to keep on walking out to fish where ever. It's really been kind of challenging to pick spots that aren't too far and to mush through the snow only so far so not as to get overly heated in the process -- which if you over heat getting out there inevitably means a shorter day on the ice as the ol' body goes numb with the freezing sweat that permeates your clothing... Apart from the learning curve on where and how far to go we've been pretty fortunate so far with our choices. Fishing has been really successful.

February 22, 2006
Minnow Management
A very good friend who cares for a lot of minnows at any given time had a little bit of unfortunate luck lately. It is well known to him that when you keep any minnows that there are a few components to manage for their well being. Firstly minnows need to have water free of nitrates. Ultimately this is the one element related to their defecation which is their greatest enemy. Once the level gets up to a certain point the PH level in the water changes and makes the water acidic.... making it an environment that will not support life.. Certain chemicals can be added to the water to lower acidity but in turn it puts other pressures upon a minnow bringing about there quick demise. Perhaps the best way to control the acidity level is to change water frequently and to keep the water cool (in effect slowing down the metabolism of the minnow) and also slowing down the life that is often supported in water that has a nitrate base. Blue stone is often used by bait dealers to prolong the life of minnows but if you've ever had some set in blue stone treated water they don't last too long. Keeping your minnows in the dark in a fridge and removing the deceased are just little ways of extending the life of your minnows.

February 23, 2006
Minnow Matters
Recently a friend from Ontario asked me..."Why can't I keep my minnows longer than three days?". According to Rob the regs in Ontario are far less stringent vis a vis the acquisition and possession of minnows for bait. Rob tells me that he'd put in a trap before he was planning to fish and that he would pull whatever number of minnows he would need for whatever species he would fish. The only regulation that there was in place with regards to their use was that they were not to be dumped into whatever fishery you'd fish... they could be dumped back into the waters from which they came or be destroyed. But this was the point once caught they could be kept and used for an indefinite period of time. Also if he would buy them they weren't a waist of money after three days.... Well I really couldn't give him good and solid reasons for our Provinces regulation of a three day permit. I tried to rationalize by saying that there is a need for the province to know how many live minnows are being used and where the bait minnows are being taken from. I also suggested that they permit system regulates more precisely the types of minnows being used and from where they come (not from other provinces or states) as well as giving trappers a more controlled environment (bait blocks) from which they can make their living. Honestly there doesn't really yet seem to much good reason for the three day permit. It is rather arbitrary and is in an ironic way somewhat wasteful. Its too bad there is no open discussion on the matter I'd love to see what a good discussion might bring.

February 24, 2006
Fishing Trivia
Why is it that we are restricted to only one pole in the summer? Why are we allowed to use two poles in the winter? Well as is usually the case I listened to my friend muse and I was open to listen to some of the logic that would be expressed to suggest other possibilities. As far as my friend is concerned it doesn't really seem to make any difference if we use one or five poles in the summer... Why you ask? Well if the regulation sets a limit to the number of fish that we can take well what difference does it really make if we use one or five poles as they both only allow us to get to the limit of fish.... Many American States have this kind of logic operative and allow for the use of multiple poles by a single angler and I guess the net result is negligible As for the two poles/lines being used during ice season.. why? There doesn't seem to be any good reason other than it had been convention. Hey I've recently heard a good question about using a pole and line and a bait with no hook.... Is it fishing where you are just attracting fish with a hookless item?? Hah I guess there a lot of good questions but not a lot of answers

February 25, 2006
Heat in the ice shack
Ok I'll admit it there are those days when its super cool out on the lake (not because of the temperature per se but as a result of the wind chill that I'll have to put on a heater to stay out there a little longer. What kind of heaters do you ask? Well I've actually got quite a few and each has their specific niche. To start I have white gas and propane heaters. When its super cold outside, let's say a wind chill factor of -40 propane doesn't flow all that well in the 1# bottles. At this temperature either white gas or a larger 10# or better tank of propane may be necessary. The two white gas heater I have come out of a different age, an age before the smaller more portable 1# bottle. One of the heaters works on a pressurized system and a fuel injection system similar to that of a coleman lantern except the which mechanism is made of mesh steel. Does it work yeah... but it is difficult to get going on some occasions. The other white gas stove is a true catalytic heater that draws gas up into a material that seems to be a combination metal and material. This heater really does work well but takes a while to get fired up and it also takes some time to cool down/ shut off. As for my more modern heater I have over time purchased a variety. I guess the number of heaters a guy has is related to the actual time he spends outdoors and the age he has...... The first is a 3000 btu heater that works off a 1# propane bottle. Below minus 20 and this little heater just doesn't have enough umph... Another heater that I've bought recently is a Mr Heater Buddy that puts out to around 9000 btu OK I guess for most days to -25. This heater has a number of safety devices that are at once good and not so good. The low level 02 sensor is excellent and is an option I think invaluable especially when we fish in such enclosed spaces over the winter months. The other device is a auto shut off is the unit is tipped or hit.... well this option is quite a pain to be quite honest. You're all dressed up and are clumsy as it is and then this heater is shutting itself off at ever little move you make... A bit annoying to say the least. My other heaters are all sunflower types one even allows you to cook over it. Sunflowers are great and do provide a lot of heat....however they are large, bulky and they do take up a lot of space (something sometimes that isn't necessarily a good thing when space is at a premium).

February 26, 2006
Lake Manitoba Twin Beaches
Just this past weekend we got out to lake Manitoba for some perch fishing. The fishing wasn't all that bad. The perch were active during the day and as night fell we ran into some tullibees. Our tactics were fairly common with live and salted minnows and small jigs of all sorts of colours. We were fishing in 12 feet of water and had our vexilars turned on to let us know if anything was happening below. The interesting thing about the day was how much ice and snow there was above the open water below. We had forgotten the extension for our auger. In order to get through with our three foot auger fighting it was necessary to dig down through about a foot and a half of snow and then drill our holes. We would also drill our holes close enough that we could see both of our baits below on the vexilar. Throughout the day it was sure interesting to see how the fish would react to either the still or hand worked line. The day saw Perch bite throughout the day and then slow down towards the end of the day and then the tullibee pick up at the end of the day. The one insight I had during the day when fishing for perch was that there are hooks that are too small when using minnows as bait. I lost a lot of fish until I finally came to the conclusion that it was necessary to size up my hooks to put down the minnows we had that day. I guess if I had meal worms or waxies I might have stayed with the smaller hooks and had a lot of success.

February 27, 2006
DVD Fishin' Videos
One of the more interesting developments in the past five years that has been the proliferation of numerous fishing DVD's. It was in the past that we'd sit down to some Saturday or Sunday morning TV to watch our favourite fishing personality on this or that TV fishing show. Some of these programs also boasted large video libraries of fishing material.... but who do you know that built a library of VHS tapes? Well OK I know a few guys who bought a few over the years but they were all limited in so far as the wind/rewind and play functions operative with a VHS tape. Now however with the DVD you can play replay rewind and pause not causing any damage to the media. In the end a DVD is far superior when it come to watching/playing a favourite program.

February 28, 2006
Don lamont Moves On
A couple of weeks ago Paul Pihichyn the editor for the leisure page in the Winnipeg Free Press announced that Fishing Columnist Don lamont was moving on to work with Travel Manitoba. Don's resume is like no other angler in the Province and his long list of accolades and volunteer works have brought Manitoba fishing a long way from where it was ten years ago. His television, radio and tournament fishing have also put him in a position to fish and fish with the best anglers in our province and region. His movement to work with Travel Manitoba was no real big surprise (with the number of representational spots hes was doing with the department each year). I would go so far to say that his presence in that department may bring some insight that a beaurocracy might be missing. I just hope he doesn't fold to its weight and momentum that could always use some new directions. When i asked Paul P the question of who would take his place here was his answer....
Hi Dan, 
I am looking for someone who has superior knowledge of angling in Manitoba, coupled with the ability to write an entertaining, timely and informative column of 800-1,000 words a week.
I guess we'll see who takes Don's place. It'll be some boots to fill.....

March 01, 2006
A Stronger CDN dollar and Fishing
A stronger Canadian dollar doesn't necessarily spell all is well for fishing in Canadian fishing. From the perspective of the Canadian fishing consumer a lot of stuff becomes a lot easier to get at for a lot better price. I just look at a Cabela's and Bass Pro Catalogue and I see stuff that normally with shipping and brokerage isn't all that competitive. With the stronger dollar many items become all that much more attractive... I've also seen prices fall up here in some of our fishing stores. The overall impact for consumers is yet to be seen but for now it looks promising. On the other end of the spectrum those camps who earn money from folks coming up to fish our northern waters there is a decrease in the profit margin many operators factor in with a stronger US dollar. When the difference is closed between the two currencies as has occurred recently, many camp owners don't realize as much profit. I guess it should also be mentioned that the margin exacerbates some other factors that effect profit margins for many camps....Gas at 4.00$ a gallon doesn’t help either with a business that is so energy dependent. Many operators will have to raise their prices which in turn make a breaking point (the point where not as many people will go because it becomes too expensive) for many tourists that much closer.

March 02, 2006
Fish Traps
It's getting near the time when the big mama pike start to show up just outside of those places where they'll spawn. The strategy for this kind of fishing is to get out into the general area, maybe a bit further/deeper out where the pike will spawn. Tip ups or fish traps as I call them will be set at considerable distances apart from one another. Depths for the baits will be different for each set as will the actual bait that will be used. Smelt, tullibee, sardines are all options for pike. One idea that is often operative when we make our sets is to sit away from the tips ups and to remain relatively quiet while waiting for a bite. When a fish does go on special care is taken when pulling line as a good fish will run and a line caught on ice will either break free from its entanglement or it will snap. A buddy at the hole is also very helpful when it comes time to pull a big fish up and through the hole. If your buddy can get a hand in on the fish when you pull and keep the pressure on it you'll generally be successful.

March 03, 2006
A bigger fish
It was finally my year to nail a master angler sauger on the Red this year. Funny thing about it was it was a fish that I had thought might come but really never had targeted. About 7 weeks later on the ice I saw what I think was one of the biggest saugers I think I've ever seen. I wonder if the guy is going to register it. I was about the third week in December and it measured at least 22 or 23 inches. The fish must have weighed at least 2 1/2 or three pounds. Saugers were also very active up at the dam a couple of weeks later and have stayed very active throughout the winter.

March 04, 2006
Keeping fish fresh on ice
Interestingly enough there is a flip side to actually keeping fish once they've come up the hole. I've seen so many time fish on top the ice frozen solid. I don't know if you've had much experience with fish frozen at twenty below (and on the ice all day). Well get home and it'll be at least three hours before those fish are ready to prepare..... I've seen some better sized fish take as much as four hours to soften up so filleting was possible. Well a solution to this little dilemma is to use the same strategy as you'd use on soft water. Well a simple stringer for .99 is perhaps your best bet. String on the fish you plan to keep (forget releasing them once on the stringer) and drill a separate hole to put them down. I'll attach the stringer to my auger and without a doubt my fish will remain in good thawed condition so long as they stay in the water.

March 05, 2006
Pro-guide help
The other day my wife and I went into a local tackle dealer where a younger fellow was busy putting up all the new tackle that had arrived. i had overheard him talking to another person who had walked into the shop and the conversation seemed to go to that "special" place where anglers go when word gets out about a hot bite. Upon further determination ... OK I pursued the conversation personally to see what the buzz was about and soon made a couple of observations. Firstly like any other angler once you got on to the discussion the info flowed fairly well. I was not overly impressed by the lack of humility on the part of the repartee. As my wife would say later, "he sure was confident about himself...." and to this I was beginning to have my doubts about the information that I was trying to gather. I never heard from this guy that he ever had difficulty while fishing in the area we were discussing. Then after asking a series of questions and getting answers for all of them with little or no doubt from the pro-guide in question I mentioned that I had had no great luck this past year at the local using my electronics. The young fellow had no idea bout what I was talking about and when I went on to explain how my electronics worked I could see he realized that he had to calm down his rhetoric. I know I'll get into that mode once in a while and every once in a while and need to calm it down making it realistic

March 07, 2006
International Shopping
A little beef I've got about shipping stuff from the U.S. is the charge often made for shipping north to Canada. OK there is a bit of a difference but is Canada really all that far away? No not really eh. But time and time again if something is shipped to Canada you can almost bet that the cost of shipping and handling doubles in price. I'm not sure if retailers are aware that they would get more business from a lot more guys like me if they were only fair with the shipping rates to Canada. OK there may b some extra cost involved but the cost often charged if 50% more than it really costs to ship....... A bit of a rip off..... Now if i have a box number or a shipping address right over the border and go down there to pick up the item I can save a whole lot of money..... I guess that's what I'll have to do to keep saving a few bucks in the future...

March 08, 2006
Quick Strike Rig particulars
Part and parcel of a successful spring pike hunt is the construction of an effective quick strike rig. Now I know I've written about this before but one thing I failed to mention was that you cant go to big with your treble hooks. When you put the hooks into the bait it is necessary to put the end hook in the head of the bait with the slider hook somewhere else in the pike's body. Image a big pike attacking the bait head first with the hooks put in the same direction as the pike would take on the bait. The other consideration is to put the bait a goof foot or more off the bottom. This placement is important as a pikes eyes are on the top forward section of its cranium. Naturally a pike sees up about itself.... and if the bait is hanging there in that magic spot ....hold on and don't burn your hands!

March 09, 2006
Buffalo Bay Pike
About this time of year stuff starts to happen in that great big bay of LOTW that runs into Manitoba in the province's southwest corner. The strange thing about this great big chunk of water is that it looks like another big non descript piece of water. But anything further from the previous statement would be true. The bay itself is a whole eco-system. A couple of rivers run into the bay and act as magnets for gigantic pike that come into the bay to do their spring dance. Longer days and warming waters from the rivers and melt are the drawing ticket. The pike themselves are also to some extent resident in the area as about two miles out a sandbar exists and provides ample forage some great big toothy critters. Getting out there with the right bait and presentation is all it takes to get into some BIG fish.

March 10, 2006
Decoy Minnow
Just recently I had a bit of an insight into getting perch interested in what/where I was fishing. The trick is relatively simple. It involves using a smaller 1/16 oz. jig and a large live minnow. How you hook the minnow is very important as its action is the key to what this approach counts on. I'll usually hook the large live minnow just behind the dorsal fin. I'll also anchor the minnow to the hook with a stinger that incorporates a tool hand material making perch larceny nearly impossible Note I've said nearly impossible as nothing is completely bullet proof. Some perch it would seem have the ability to pick a bank vault safe successfully. Well back to the idea. I'll place the decoy minnow just about one bar above the bottom (about one and a half foot). Surprisingly most perch will come up and look at the minnow but won't bite it. However the other jig that I'm working by hand will take about 95% of the fish that do come in. I'll jig below the decoy and above. If a fish follows the hand manipulated rig I call them hot and I'll usually stop and hold or just jiggle. Generally when you stop hold or jiggle they bite (that is if they followed you up). A simple method that works quite well for Perch