In this week’s Deck Talk with Matt Johnson, he explains the importance of finding the hard bottom, especially around or near weeds. Watch the clip here—you might find this tactic to be an excellent method of landing bigger bass this summer!
The fishing on Green Bay during the Masters Walleye Circuit event there was simply incredible. Our tournament finish was no indication of how well the fish cooperated. We place 39th out of 103 teams just two pounds out of the money and 5 pounds out of the top 10. All we missed was one big bit over the course of two days.
Pre-fishing went very well. We started our search on the west shore of the bay north of Oconto and south of Marinette. The word on the street was that fish were shallow and in the warmer water. We search for the warmest water we could find and began fishing in 57 degree water. Day one ended with only 6 fish, but they were all over 22 inches with a 26 inch beauty being our largest of the day. The fish bit on both crawler harnesses and crankbaits. They day gave us enough information to build a plan.
From the data gathered the first day, we continued to expand our search. Switching between crankbaits and crawler harnesses we eventually put a good plan together for the tournament. By the timet he tournament began, our strategy was to fish an area well south of Oconto on a break between five and seven feet of water. This was right on the newly emerging weed beds in the area as well.
The plan was to run #5 Berkley Flicker Rigs in Pink Shine and Blue/Silver on one side. 50 feet back with no weight or with one small split shot put the baits in the zone. These were fished on the deep side. On the shallow side, we ran #5 Ghost Blades in Whites and Pinks 30 feet back with one or two small split shot. This kept baits just over the emerging weeds.
The speed that got the most strikes was just above 1.0 mph. The I-Pilot link made navigation while fishing a breeze. Cruise control and auto pilot used together was the ticket. By the end of the event, we had more than enough way points to create a route and let the Terrova do the driving for us.
Over the two tournament days we landed over 100 walleye and weighed 5 each day over 22 inches. Again, the large Kicker fish that eluded us was the difference. If there was a bite we missed it was the deeper fish of shore. It looks like we got sucked into the shallow bite and ran out of time to explore anything else.
Not a bad start to the year and nothing to be disappointed about. The next stop is Devils Lake, ND in August.
Johnnie Candle – Crestliner National Pro Team Member
ST. PAUL, Minn. (April 29, 2013) – A pair of accomplished anglers from the Park Rapids area will host Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon for the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 11. Jason Durham will fish with Governor Dayton, and Dennis Mackedanz will fish with Lt. Governor Prettner Solon.
Jason Durham is a Park Rapids area “lifer,” guiding visitors to the Park Rapids area since he was 15-years-old. With 22 years of experience as a fishing guide, he not only shares his favorite fishing holes, but also touts his love for the area. He has authored two fishing books, writes numerous articles for outdoor publications, and shares his fishing techniques through seminars and guest spots on TV fishing shows.
Beyond being a die-hard fisherman, Jason is passionate about his other career, teaching kindergarten students for the Nevis School District. With a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, he is completing his 13th year of teaching young students. As a fishing guide and a kindergarten teacher, patience and flexibility come natural to Jason. Jason is married with three boys to share his love of fishing with. He also played a key role in working to get his community to host the Governor’s Fishing Opener event.
Dennis Mackedanz has been a fishing enthusiast since he was 8-years-old. Born and raised in Paynesville, MN, he grew up fishing with his grandfathers. Dennis attended college in Alexandria, earning a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement, further pursuing a position as a deputy sheriff in Yellow Medicine County, where he honed his love of fishing. In 2000, he became a paramedic for North Memorial Health Care in the Brainerd area, enthralled with area fishing holes, of course! He began fishing tournaments with friends, placing high each year. Dennis currently serves as the manager of the Park Rapids division of North Memorial Ambulance – residing in an area that offers five lakes within minutes of his home, and which feeds his passion for fishing!
Dennis also serves as chair for the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener, guiding the Park Rapids planning committee team to host a successful 2013 event. He looks forward to “catching a memory” in Park Rapids this year.
The Governor’s Fishing Opener has been a treasured tradition in Minnesota since 1948, while fishing is a key part of one of the largest sectors of our economy, tourism. The Opener is also a kick-off celebration for the statewide summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $11.9 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually. This year’s Opener is the perfect opportunity to spotlight Minnesota fishing and the Park Rapids Lakes Area. For more information, and high-res images, visit www.mngovernorsopener.com.
The five mile run across Lake Granby from the Stillwater boat ramp up into Columbine bay takes your breath away. The steep walls of the pseudo-fjord dive deep into the water. Moose and Elk occasionally swim the channel. The bald eagle’s nest near the inlet guarantees you will sight a big bird, or two, every trip.
The full windshield on Bernie’s Crestliner Fish Hawk keeps the 40-degree wind off your face while the Mercury Verado engine quietly moves us up the bay at 40 mph. At5:00 AMin mid September the sun barely illuminates the fog. At the last deep section of the bay the kokanee show themselves on the surface of the water. Dimples and fins give them away.
Three key things come together to create a four-week opportunity to cast lures in lakes for Kokanee salmon. Each fall the fish gather near inlets, dams, and boat docks due to spawning urges. This concentration of fish makes finding them a simple affair. The surface water temperature during mid-to-late September hovers at 54°F allowing the salmon to feed on the surface near their preferred conditions. Third, the salmon prey on zooplankton and zooplankton avoid light. So, for one or two hours a morning the Daphnia will be within the upper reaches of the water column and the salmon instinctively chase them. Once the light hits the water the zooplankton swim downwards and the surface fishing ends.
By the time the boat drops off plane the fog has lifted slightly. Dimples show up just out of casting range. A few clicks on the handheld iPilot and the MinnKota Terrova silently maneuvers the boat into casting range. The spot-lock option on the motor uses aGPSsystem to control the prop and keep us in place. It takes a few casts but eventually a kokanee bites the spoon on the drop. A short but vicious fight ends with a silver-sided fish in the livewell for later.
A fairly limber medium action rod like the Eagle Claw Skeet Reese Tube Jig Rod (WMESRM TJ 610S1) increases landed fish because it flexes when the salmon shake their heads. Similarly, 6-pound monofilament like Berkley Trilene XL absorbs some shock while fighting the fish. Pair everything with a medium-sized Wright and McGill Sabalos 2500 reel and it is time to make some casts.
It is not possible to catch and put microscopic daphnia zooplankton on a fishing line but the mature salmon will regularly hit flashy fluttering spoons. The Lindy Viking and PK Flutterfish in the 1/8 to 1/4-ounce sizes both cast well and come in the pink and orange colors preferred by kokanee. If casting is not your forte a small jig tipped with a waxworm 3 to 6-feet under a bobber will also work. Fly fishermen with a generic#8 to #12, orange or pink-colored, beadhead nymph are not matching any hatch but accomplish the same attraction and flash as the spoons.
An hour into the morning the sun starts making its way across the water. The three of us cast frantically towards every rise. Although we see only a few rises at a time, the school is so big it covers almost the entire inlet. As soon as we cast in one area it seems the fish start rising behind us. At no other time of the year can you be surrounded by literally a thousand fish!
The retrieve of the spoons can be a key to success. The best speed could be described as “medium-slow” with about two turns of the reel every second. A jigging retrieve unlocks the action of the fluttering spoons. Moving the rod tip 6 to 12 inches with a small wrist action before letting the spoon fall for a few seconds works best. It is vital to note that the fish hit as the spoon falls and the jigging action is not a snagging-style motion.
If there is one fish that should be taken home for dinner it is pre-spawn kokanee. The silver salmon die after spawning anyways. The few lakes with naturally reproducing stock have special regulations against salmon harvest to protect their numbers. Other lakes fed by stocking programs expect that fish will be taken at some point in their lives. The kokanee either feed you or die and feed the bears.
The sunlight hits the far side of the bay and pushes the shade towards us. The salmon stop rising by7:30. At that point you have a couple of options—troll for the deeper fish, focus on lake trout, or head home for the freshest possible salmon benedicts.
For salmon, the trolling options simplify this time of year as well. The 54°F water temperature allows the fish to hunt throughout the water column instead of being confined to a small section of comfortable water. Plus, they do not move far from where they were in the morning.
The only variable left becomes depth. With your sonar running and zoomed into the top 40 feet of the water start driving around the area to located the school. Watch the sonar for fish arcs at a certain depth. Mark each fish with a GPS way point to create a trolling path for the day. Once you see at lest three fish at a certain depth start fishing. If you do not see anything, take an extra lap through the area. If still no fish show on the finder you can assume the big school is still relatively shallow and nearly invisible on your finder.
The simplest trolling rig for fall kokanee consists of four Tazmanian devil spoons tossed out behind the boat. The 1/2 ounce (21 gram) spoons troll at approximately four feet and act as a mini-dodger due to their wobbling design. With 112 color choices available choose four slightly different spoons with pink and orange highlights and cast them out. Keep an eye out for fish showing up on the fish finder because they will follow the depth of the zooplankton throughout the day. Pull these lures at 1.4 to 1.8 mph.
If the fish show up deeper than 10 feet then use lead core, downriggers, snapweights, or inline weights to take the lures to the fish and try inline planer boards to spread out the lines and avoid tangles. Downriggers provide the most accurate depth control but sometimes the fish avoid the weights and will not bite. Leadcore requires a rubber snubber due to its low-stretch nature. Let out one color of lead core for each 5 feet of desired depth. If you do not have a downrigger or lead core then clip a one-ounce snapweight about fifty feet in front of the lure or tie a one-ounce inline weight about 5 feet in front of the lure and put out twice the line as the desired depth. Calibrated line counter reels such as the Abu Garcia 5500LC help control the accuracy of your presentation.
at 1.5 mph
|20 feet||30 feet||40 feet|
|Lead Core||4 colors||6 colors||8-9 colors|
|1-oz Snapweight or In-line weight||40 feet past weight||60 feet past weight||80-90 feet past weight|
By the beginning of October the salmon move on up the river for spawning and this casting and trolling pattern vanishes.
Anglers Insight Marketing
Published June 30, 2012
Crestliner/Mercury Pro Doc Samson went out this morning promising a win. He said on stage, ‘ I was ready. It takes a list, and I was ready. I also was a little cocky.’
‘Now I’m going to have to eat some crow; I have always said I’d never win a trolling tournament!’
Doc was pulling custom painted large spinners supplied by Silver Streak blades bought locally at Erie Outfitters, and credited the research he did, and help early and during prefish from local talent. He’s known for swinging for the fences, and when he wins, he usually wins big. This time, he beat a field of anglers who repeatedly said the Lorain area provided the best big walleye fishing they have ever seen, and beat them by two big fish at 16 pounds. This was Doc’s eighth major win.
Second went to a hard charging Lund/Mercury Pro Mike Gofron, who came from back of the pack in the top ten to second on the virtues of 59.32 day three weight. Mike was trolling cranks deep, and had a tough second day with 48.25 after a first day weight of a then record setting 63.03.
Speaking of records…
Don Loch had a VERY tough day yesterday, arriving late with a good weight to be disqualified. Despite the obvious loss of a chance for his first major win or at the very least a good check, came back on day three, and fished with Matt Pikka, a Muskie convert fishing the AIM Co- Angler side. Don set an all time AIM record at 7 fish over 10 pounds and 70.2 pounds. If he had arrived on time yesterday, he would have taken the win handily.
Third went to Mike Zaborski, fourth to Chase Parsons, fifth to Charles Robinson, sixth to Gary Parsons, and seventh to Keith Kavajecz rounding out the places earning a check.
Gary Parsons was drawn for the Yamaha 9.9 kicker from the anglers who registered early.
Next up for AIM is the Pro Team event in Oconto. Watch the AIM website at www.aimfishing.com for information on the AIM Oconto Team Challenge.
“What are all of those black spots on this fish”? The guide clients face contorted in disgust as they examined the small sunfish dangling from the end of the fishing line at arms length.
If you fish at all, you’ve probably encountered one of these speckled specimens, their scaly skin rough with tiny black dots.
Called Neascus or black grub, this tiny parasite is released into the water, in egg form, by fish-eating birds. Those eggs hatch and the parasite grows inside of snails.
The Neascus parasite matures and then swims freely, attaching to fish and penetrating into their muscle, eventually forming a cyst that looks like a small black spot. Birds eat the fish and the life cycle simply begins once again.
The guide client, reluctant to grab the spot-covered bluegill to remove the hook inquired, “Can you eat fish with these spots”?
According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, fish fillets with Neascus present are not harmful to humans, so long as the fish is well cooked.
Another client in the boat added his presumptions regarding the parasite. “I heard that the spots are more common in fish that live in very clear lakes, not lakes that have some color or stain”.
In reality, water clarity has little correlation with the prevalence of Neascus, though certain bodies of water have more fish with the parasite.
Doug Kingsley, a DNR Fisheries Supervisor, says lakes with greater numbers of fish eating birds combined with a strong population of snails harbor more of the parasites simply due to those two “hosts” which are integral to Neascus’ life cycle. “Eutrophic (fertile) lakes sometimes have more fish with the black grub (Neascus) simply because there is more vegetation for snails and greater natural habitat along the shoreline for fish eating birds”, says Kingsley.
He also adds that fish which are in poor condition or stressed are at greater risk for acquiring Neascus. Although the parasite is not fatal, it could further contribute to the poor condition of a fish.
Fortunately for anglers and those who dine upon freshwater fish, the parasite usually burrows just beneath the skin, so those flaky white fillets everyone desires are either not affected or the Neascus can be easily removed with the tip of the fillet knife. But again, if prepared properly, the parasite is not harmful to humans and does not affect the look or flavor of a fish meal.
Though all species of freshwater fish can host the Neascus, it is most commonly found in bluegill. However, it’s not uncommon to catch an occasional perch, bass or northern pike with the black spots. Yet, it is rarely seen on muskie.
In other words, while filleting fish, don’t worry about the spots and speckles, but simply look forward to entertaining your guests at your next fish fry.
For more information on fish diseases, check out the Minnesota DNR webpage; http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish_diseases/index.html.
Jason Durham — Crestliner National Pro Team Member
Jason owns and operates Go Fish! Guide Service in Park Rapids, MN and has published two fishing books, Pro Tactics: Panfish and Pro Tactics: Ice Fishing. He additionally writes for numerous outdoor publications.
Devils Lake, ND – Johnnie Candle of Devils Lake, ND and partner Dave Noble of Dixon, IL, once again showed that they are one of the top teams in competitive walleye angling.
On June 1, 2012 they placed 3rd out of 125 teams competing in the Masters Walleye Circuit event. Then on June 2nd the duo placed 10th out of 213 teams competing in the Cableas National Team Championship. The events were held simultaneously on Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota. The top 25 finish in the National Team Championship earns the team All-American Status for 2012.
The MWC event was the first of the year for Candle and Noble. They will also compete at Lake Winnebago, WI, Lake Oahe, SD and Cass Lake, MN later this year. The goal is to score enough points to qualify for the prestigious World Walleye Championship which they won in 2010.
The National Team Championship consists of teams from all across the country that were awarded spots from their local clubs and tournament circuits. Johnnie and Dave represented the Lake Region Anglers Association from Devils Lake, ND. This is the largest team championship for walleye anglers in the country. This was the 2nd time in 3 years that the team has finished in the top ten in this event.
Candle and Noble fished live bait rigs on many types of structure between 23 and 33 feet of water. Leeches proved to be the best bait, but a few fish were caught on night crawlers and Berkley Gulp! Killer Crawlers; a new bait that Candle aided in the testing.
The regulations at Mille Lacs Lake prohibit anglers form keeping any walleye between 17 and 28 inches in length. The team found keeper size walleye between 14 and 17 inches on the sand flats in the north end of the lake, then switched gears to the main lake mud flats to find a lunker. One day one of the events, Candle landed a 6.59 pound beauty that was also the largest fish of the day for the MWC event. That fish proved to be the key to the two top finishes.
Here it is, the morning of Minnesota’s bass opener, 4:39 a.m. to be exact. I’m sitting here wondering if I have everything I need. I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to things like this. While guiding I’m always on top of my game, and have everything laid out and ready prior to the trip. Well, today I’m fishing for fun. Fishing for myself. I don’t treat myself as well as I do my clients…
Here are some tips for anglers looking to stock a new tackle box or boat, or re-stock missing items before realizing it’s too late, like me!
The boat checklist should be a given, but some anglers don’t know the rules and haven’t been taught the necessary steps to safe boating. Others are new to the sport, or may be new boat owners. For everyone else, this list is something you should go over in your mind often, to be sure you’re always safe.
Aside from the 100 unnecessary items in your tackle box, you know, those lures you HAD to buy last time you were at the sporting goods store… like those beer can bobbers and bikini jigs that blink, these are items that are essential in the box.
Hopefully you already have all of the above stocked. If not, I hope I sparked something in your head, and you are able to boat more safely and fish more efficiently. Good luck fishing, and safe boating!
Crestliner Pro Staff
Matt owns and operates Northcountry Guide Service & Promotions in Bemidji, MN. When Matt’s not guiding, running fish house rentals, or promoting, he can be found working at the hospital as a sleep specialist, hanging out with his family, or in the woods with his two bird-dogs. Matt lives for the outdoors.
Mike Sorensen has been an active outdoorsman his whole life and enjoys passing on his passion to others. Not only is he active on the water as a Pro Team member, a trusted fishing guide, and family man, he also makes time to work with Boy Scouts of America and other youth groups where he educates kids about fishing and the outdoors. This past week we were fortunate to work with him on Lake Minnetonka where he was featured as the “talent” on Friday morning’s news broadcast with KSTP’s Rusty Gatenby. Hopefully you were able to tune in and see Mike in action! He did great, and we look forward to working with him more as the summer continues.