Top-Water Popping Frog is Bass-Killer

It's all about visual surface distrubance, underwater sound waves and your reaction time!

By Forrest Fisher

Deep hook sets are common with the new LiveTarget popping frog.

Some of us white beard anglers of today grew up fishing surface frogs 60 years ago.

At first, we baited real frogs, but after we ran out, plastic frogs were invented in the late 50s and we learned how to use them fishing with short, deep-sea fishing rods and wide-spool, open-face fishing reels loaded with 40 pound test Gudebrod braided line tied direct.

Those old plastic frogs were so very basic and mostly were only hollow, air entrapping plastic caricatures of frogs that floated. They sank after a while. Today, the new “best frog” out there has a popping action and it is much more sophisticated, more durable and is killer-effective. Gotta love some things about the word “modern.”

Vicious strikes are the norm when you fish frogs near weed cover.

Personally designed as a “Signature Series” product by LIVETARGET Pro Angler and TV personality, Scott Martin, the Hollow Body Frog Popper has become a personal favorite in my topwater tackle box.

The frog is new in that it has a narrow profile and cupped face that make this bait special when you walk it across the surface.  Special in that the face creates a unique sound message below…”Hello, I’m food, c’mon, get me,” and it offers a different sort of visual splash attractant message to join with the sound message.

I tried several colors and up north, the frog colors worked best for me, especially in heavy, super-thick cover, though it is still a mystery how the fish can even see the bait in thick weeds. Toemayto or Towmahto it is not, it seems to matter.

Color seems to matter in places you fish, but related cover may affect color choice.

Down south in Florida, summer time Florida bass yield to the white frog LiveBait color more than any other. Why? The difference between oatmeal and hominy grits is what I think. Very little, but it matters if you live down south.

The two-hook design is not unique, but what is unique are the extra strong forged hooks that embrace and provide stealth cover for the soft collapsible body of the frog.  Their extreme sharpness provide deep and sure hook-up. The only thing between you and fish is your line and if you fish these in thick cover, check your line often, use a good, modern, braided line and a positive knot with a stiff rod that will allow you to haul the fish out of the thickest cover you might imagine.

The proof is in the live well. Click the picture for the full video and the source of the pictures used for sharing this effective new lure.

The acid test? Here it is. Drop a 10-pound anchor in the thickest weeds you can find, then move your boat 30 feet away and see if you can rip that anchor up and out without breaking your line, your rod or the gears on your reel.

For line, I like 60-pound Gamma Torque, I simply cannot break it. Other brands work too, but I think you could tow a tree with Gamma and it is thinner than most others to allow longer casts. Visit: http://gammafishing.com/.

For the frog, one last thing: best of all, these new LiveTarget Popping Frogs are available in two sizes for working extra thick matt or thinner lily pad style cover. 

If they don’t wack it in the weeds themselves, they seem to panic and inhale the lure when the popping action occurs at the weed edge. They don’t want that easy meal to get away. Visit: https://livetargetlures.com/collections/hollowbody/products/frog-hollow-body-popper.

Fun fishing!

(Author Note: Photo’s are recaptured with permission from attached Scott Martin video.)

Take Advantage of the Goby Invasion

  • LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tails and Curly Tails perfectly mimic the Real McCoy
Round goby image courtesy of Shedd Aquarium

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (February 22, 2018) – Round gobies have forever altered the ecology, and the angling landscape, of the Great Lakes and connected waterbodies. Since their discovery in the St. Clair River in 1990, these invasive stowaways from the Black and Caspian seas have become key players of their local food webs. Indeed, round gobies are among the few fish that consume undesirable zebra and quagga mussels, themselves transported to the Great Lakes within the same ballast tanks that harbored the first goby colonists. At the same time, gobies have become established as integral components of many gamefish diets.

 

LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail

Smallmouth bass are among the Great Lakes gamefish that have benefited dramatically from the goby invasion. Indeed, a study of Lake Erie smallmouth bass demonstrated that while crayfish were the primary foodstuffs of smallies before gobies appeared on the scene, bronze bass rapidly converted to munching gobies – as often as three-quarters of the time – once the invasive baitfish became abundant. Moreover, juvenile smallmouth bass grew longer, and faster, once gobies became their primary forage base. A similar preference for gobies is now established within other Great Lakes gamefish, including brown and lake trout – a fact that savvy anglers can exploit to enjoy bigger, more consistent catches.

LIVETARGET offers highly refined, purpose driven solutions for anglers chasing gamefish that feast on gobies with their soft plastic Goby Paddle Tail and Goby Curly Tail baits. With an unparalleled combination of biomimetic size, shape, profile, color, and action, LIVETARGET goby-inspired baits stand ready to help anglers put more fish in the net.

LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tails are staggeringly accurate artificial representations of the Great Lakes smallmouth bass’ preferred forage. These intricately designed soft baits include three-dimensional anatomical features, including dorsal, ventral and pectoral fins, gill opercules and eyes.

LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tail

Goby Paddle Tails have internal weights ranging from ½ to 1 oz,, helping anglers to mimic the behavior of living gobies by maintaining close bottom contact as baits are worked back to the boat. A slow drift or drag across the bottom brings the bait’s paddletail to life, providing strike-eliciting action and vibration. After the bite, the Goby Paddle Tail’s premium hook keeps bass pinned tight, putting more bronze bombers in the net. The LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail is available now, in seven ultra-realistic color schemes, with MSRP $13.49 – $14.49 for a pack of three pre-rigged baits.

The LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tail shines when conditions call for a more lively presentation, or one where the bait swims methodically along the bottom. In these baits, the anatomical precision of the LIVETARGET Goby body is united with a robust, high action tail for enhanced vibration and lifelike swimming action. As with their Paddle Tail counterparts, LIVETARGET Goby Curly Tails are available now, in three lengths, three weights, and seven premium color patterns with MSRP $13.49 – $14.49 for a pack of three pre-rigged baits.

 

The unparalleled design features of the LIVETARGET Goby Paddle and Curly Tail baits are matched only by the simplicity of the presentations needed for their effective use. Living gobies spend the majority of their time sitting atop their pectoral fins on the bottom, hopping and darting from one rocky perch to another. Savvy anglers deliver LIVETARGET Gobies on long casts and let them settle to the bottom. A series of short hops, delivered with twitches of the rod tip, brings the soft plastic LIVETARGET Gobies to life with subtle wobbling body motion and active tail vibration that elicits strikes from nearby bass, trout, and other goby-munching Great Lakes predators.

LIVETARGET Gobies also have a place in your walleye arsenal. Many a walleye feasts on native darter species, which, aside from their more svelte profile, appear quite similar.

LIVETARGET Goby Paddle Tail and Curly Tail baits perfectly mimic the size, shape, profile, color, and action of their living counterparts. When fishing the Great Lakes, or any other northern waters where invasive gobies or native sculpins abound, LIVETARGET gobies are the best choice for enhancing your catch rate.

 

ABOUT LIVETARGET: Since its launch in 2008, LIVETARGET has grown into a full family of life-like fishing lures that Match-the-Hatch™ to specific game fish forage, with over 750 styles and colors of lures for fresh and saltwater fishing. The lures feature industry-leading designs in realism and workmanship that closely mimic nature’s different baitfish species. Headquartered in Ontario, Canada, LIVETARGET won ICAST Best of Show awards in the hard and soft lure categories in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. 

 

 

It’s Christmas, let the good times Roll…and Rattle! Hang on!

  • LIVETARGET’s Lipless Rattlebait ICE FISHING PRIMER for HARDWATER WALLEYES
  • Mission Critical ADVICE in the story that follows
  • Step-by-Step Technique that will WORK FOR YOU
  • Click the Image to the right to go right to…
The LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65 is Chad Maloy’s go-to tool when conditions call for downsizing.

Ontario-on-the-Lake, Ontario (December 23, 2017) – Recent years have witnessed explosive growth in our understanding of the hardwater walleye. As more anglers tread familiar and exotic walleye waters, our repertoire of productive techniques for everyone’s favorite Perciformes has expanded rapidly. Gone are the days when we were limited to set lines dangling sucker minnows along weedlines, hoping for a random bite or two as the sun tucked behind the trees. The most successful walleye anglers have adopted a power fishing approach, running-and-gunning with big baits and aggressive presentations; a mobile mindset that has been rewarded with more and bigger fish.

Ground Zero for this hardwater walleye revolution is the lipless rattlebait. A mainstay of open water anglers throughout North America, the lipless rattlebait is just as deadly when presented through an eight-inch hole. Wait, better make that a ten-inch hole, because when you fish lipless rattlebaits to their full potential, you’ll need that extra space.

The LIVETARGET Golden Shiner is the gold-standard of lipless rattlebaits for hardwater walleyes.

There is no better way to shorten the learning curve on a new technique than to pick the brain of an expert. North Dakota-based angler Chad Maloy, past president of Fargo-Moorhead Walleyes Unlimited and a veteran of the Masters Walleye Circuit, is a lipless rattlebait specialist, bringing trophy walleyes topside using ice fishing’s hottest presentation on both sides of the international border. We asked Chad to help direct budding rattlebait warriors along the path to success, and he did much more: Chad provided a veritable roadmap that is guaranteed to help you catch your first lipless rattlebait walleye this season.

Maloy is a big believer in LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits, which he fishes throughout the hardwater season. “I use LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits all season long. They do an awesome job of locating and attracting the most active fish in an area, and turning those fish into biters.

“First of all, LIVETARGET rattlebaits have an infinite dive curve. They can literally be fished from shallow water, less than a foot deep, to the deepest section of the lake. That allows me to target walleyes with lipless rattlebaits all season long, and at all hours of the day.”

Money where his mouth is. On the left, Chad Maloy hoists a Leviathan walleye he fooled with a LIVETARGET Golden Shiner Rattlebait.

What is the most effective way to present the lipless rattlebait through the ice? Maloy continues, “I start out dropping the lure to the bottom. There have been times when it never gets there because it’s intercepted. If that doesn’t happen, I give it a few very long and aggressive rips to the lure, which sends out a shock wave of sound and vibration.”

That shock wave, easily audible to anglers on the ice, originates from LIVETARGET’s unsurpassed internal rattle system. “What I have witnessed over the years, landing giant walleyes from Devil’s Lake in North Dakota to greenbacks from Lake Winnipeg, is that the rattles in LIVETARGET rattlebaits are unlike any other. They have a special, effective sound that others don’t…and it’s killer!”

LIVETARGET Golden Shiner Rattlebait in Glow White. (Photo courtesy of Target Walleye)

Let’s get back to that hole in the ice.

Once Maloy rips his LIVETARGET rattlebait to call fish in, he starts paying close attention to his electronics, watching for, “any blip in the water column.

It’s not uncommon for larger fish to be anywhere from bottom to 3 feet below the ice. I see a promising mark, I bring my lure right above the fish and try to seal the deal with one of three different moves. First, I get the lure to shake, activating the rattles without making large vertical moves. Alternately, I imitate a fleeing baitfish by giving the bait shorter rips.

My ace-in-the-hole is to slowly lift the lure an inch or so, then drop the rod tip quickly to throw slack in the line. This makes the lure freefall, and shimmy dramatically on the fall. All that’s left to do is set the hook and enjoy the ride!”

(Grab a pen and notepad, because what Maloy just said is mission critical. Let that rattlebait fall with zero resistance to maximize the flutter. With even a touch of tension on the line, the shimmy is marginalized, even negated.)   

Setting up shop over the biggest, most aggressive walleyes on your favorite frozen lake is no time to break out the whippy noodle rods, either. Thirty to thirty-six-inch rods with a medium to medium-heavy power rating are preferred. Consider the St. Croix Mojo Ice (MIR36MH) while hole-hopping, or the Frabill Bro Series 30” Large Walleye/Pike Combo for fish house operations where lateral space is limited.

The ridiculously accurate LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait is a threat to weed-walleyes. Yes, walleyes eat more juvenile panfish than meets the eye. 

When it comes to line, a stout braided line like 10 lb. test Seaguar Smackdown, tipped with a leader of 15 lb. test Seaguar Blue Label 100% fluorocarbon, will bring lipless rattlebait walleyes topside. Rather than joining the braided main line to the fluorocarbon leader with a typical Double Uni or Alberto knot, use a small swivel instead, which will further reduce line twist with the added benefit of being easier to tie in bone-chilling winter walleye weather.

Back to the baits… “I normally carry two sizes of LIVETARGET rattlebaits, size 70 and size 60,” said Maloy. “If we have had a severe cold front I will use the smaller size 60, and if the fish are on the chew, I use the larger size 70. During the later part if the ice season, when the fish are very aggressive in advance of the spawn, I will also start with size 70.

“The first lure I rig is a LIVETARGET silver/blue Golden Shiner Rattlebait. I would guess this lure has put more Manitoba Master Angler walleyes on the ice for me than any other lure. The size and shape of the lure will match the hatch of several baitfish, including shad, but certainly is a dead ringer for a golden shiner minnow. The paint and finish are extremely realistic, and the lure produces lots of flash and contrast. And did I mention the sound? The rattle output is deadly, and unmatched by anything else on the market.”

“My second choice is the LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65. The Yearling Rattlebait mimics the appearance of a baitball of minnows, but with the action and sound of a rattlebait. An equally productive alternative is the LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait. Its three sizes bracket perfectly around the sizes of the Golden Shiner. These three baits: the LIVETARGET Golden Shiner, Yearling, and Sunfish Rattlebait have produced the biggest hardwater walleyes of my life.”

The LIVETARGET Yearling Rattlebait 65 is Chad Maloy’s go-to tool when conditions call for downsizing.

While LIVETARGET baits are widely recognized as having the most anatomically accurate, 3-dimensional designs and incredibly detailed, lifelike finishes, there are times when a hint of other-worldly glow will help to close the deal. Maloy remarks, “When water clarity is low due to sediment or tannic stain, I turn to the four glow colors in the Golden Shiner family. Unlike most hyper-bright glow lures, these LIVETARGET patterns offer a subtle hint of glow, and have been excellent the past two seasons.”

Welcome to the future of hardwater walleye angling, produced by a decade of refinements in baits, tackle and presentations. Fold the family of LIVETARGET lipless rattlebaits into your walleye repertoire this winter, and let the good times roll…and rattle!

ABOUT LIVETARGET: Since its launch in 2008, LIVETARGET has grown into a full family of life-like fishing lures that Match-the-Hatch™ to specific game fish forage, with over 750 styles and colors of lures for fresh and saltwater fishing. The lures feature industry-leading designs in realism and workmanship that closely mimic nature’s different baitfish species. Headquartered in Ontario, Canada, LIVETARGET won ICAST Best of Show awards in the hard and soft lure categories in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
 

Fluoro is NICE ON ICE

  • While fluorocarbon’s been available for decades, anglers are just now taking note of its superiority for ice fishing

By David A. Rose

Surprise walleye are often part of the fun when fishing for smaller perch and crappie.  Here are some thoughts to help win the battle.

My thoughts often turn wistful when I step onto a frozen lake these days. It’s not that I’m sentimental from four-plus decades of ice fishing the waters near my home in Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula, but it’s more a recollection of the fish I caught as a kid and my absolute astonishment of how I was even able to fool a fish into biting with the makeshift equipment I used back then. My rods were literally wooden dowels — nails pounded in at one end to wrap line on and an eyelet screw twisted in as a guide on the other. To call them anything but a stick would be elaboration. My jigs were more like crudely-painted blobs of lead sporting dull, rusty hooks. And the line connecting the two? It was whatever heavy, stiff monofilament a kid could afford. Detecting a strike with that snarled line, let alone just attempting to get my offering down through the hole chopped with my grandfather’s handmade spud, was by far the most frustrating part of the day.

 

But a lot’s changed from those days of me dragging archaic gear onto the ice within a sled made from an old wooden crate secured to a pair of short downhill skis; nowadays I’m toting a Frabill flip-over shanty full of graphite rods and ice-fishing-specific reels, sonar with GPS and mapping, Aqua-Vu underwater camera and a super-sharp auger to slice the ice and quickly bore holes. But even all that technology I have in tow is not going to help me catch more fish if I don’t have one simple, yet critically important piece of the fish-catching puzzle: high-quality line made for the brutal conditions of ice fishing. Thank goodness, the choices are getting better by the year. And fluorocarbon line is getting noticed more and more as the go-to for catching more fish through the ice.

To know then what we know now

Seaguar AbrazX Ice affords the sensitivity to see your lure bob on a spring-bobber. (Legend Black ice rod image courtesy of St. Croix Rod)

Seaguar introduced the initial spindles of fluorocarbon into the United States just a few years before my first-ever ice fishing trip – in 1971, to be exact.

During this timeframe, there were only two types of line ice angers would even consider: braided Dacron and monofilament. The former was used mostly on tip-ups or for jigging in extremely deep water, and the latter everything else. Overall, it’s probably a good thing angler’s didn’t understand the advantages of fluorocarbon for ice fishing as catch and release was rarely practiced during this era and fish populations could easily have suffered.

The line’s benefits?

Fluorocarbon is very dense in its makeup. It’s more compressed because the fluorocarbon resin, which has more fluorine atoms and less hydrogen, packs more mass into the same space. This means it’s as close to neutral buoyancy as line can be, and, a great choice for vertical personations. It also has less stretch due to its denseness, which is crucial when it comes to getting good hook sets; especially when using the light-pound-tests lines needed for proper presentations during the winter months. And less elasticity makes it much more sensitive, to boot, not only allowing anglers improved feel, but the actual fish strike is telegraphed through a spring bobber or super-sensitive rod tip better.

Using line with such a thin diameter as fluorocarbon is key when using tiny jigs for panfish and the like. Not only is thin line less visible — which fluorocarbon is much more translucent than monofilament to begin with — it also your gives your offering a more natural presentation. Consider the minuscule aquatic insect’s fish forage on most this time of year. Not only do they waggle wildly on their own, they also waft about in even the most minute water currents. Thick, rigid line doesn’t allow lightweight lures to drift naturally and weary fish will turn tail without as much as taking a second look.

“The evolution of fluorocarbon line has been amazing,” says Troy Peterson of Mr. Bluegill Guide Service. “There was a time when I only used it as a leader because line on a reel would come off coiled like a Slinky, and worse, stay that way. But fluoro is so much softer now, and when spooled onto an in-line reel there is absolutely no looping or line twist.”

Lipless ice fishing lures, such as this LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait, perform to maximum capacity tethered to Seaguar AbrazX Ice.

The Wisconsin ice-fishing guide’s preferred line is Seaguar’s AbrazX Ice, which is offered in 50-yard spools of 2-, 3-, 4- and 6-pound test. The same manufacturer’s Blue Label is another great choice, and is offered in higher-pound tests.

“And it’s not just AbrazX’s softness and thin diameter, but its abrasion resistance [2X’s more than any other] that really sets it apart,” Peterson adds. “The bottom of a hole is rough and will shred inferior line as a fish swirls below the ice. But since I started spooling with Seaguar, my clients have lost less fish at the hole from being cut off.”

Last but not least, is how fluorocarbon comes off a reel in extreme air temperatures. Superline tends to hold water, which will freeze up quickly. Monofilament may expand once you’re in a heated shanty and fill the gaps in the wraps and come off with a jerky motion rather than nice and smooth. Fluorocarbon’s compressed nature keeps it water free and with less condensing and expansion. No more wondering

While fluorocarbon’s been around for a while, anglers are just starting to take note of its superiority when ice fishing. Soft, less stretch and a thin diameter… That’s the modern-day fluoro.

More than likely, the next time I step foot on the ice I’ll once again be in wonderment of how, as a kid, I was even able to fool a fish into biting with the crude equipment I had. I guess I’ll just chalk it up to dumb luck. In the meantime, I’m planning on upping my catch rate by spooling fluorocarbon.

Resistant to abrasions at the hole is just one reason Mr. Bluegill (aka: Troy Peterson) prefers fluorocarbon line when ice fishing. (Photo courtesy of Troy Peterson)

Big Cash for Eastern Lake Erie Walleye Anglers – Southtowns Walleye Association Tournament

  • Hot Walleye Bites, is it YOUR TURN?
  • CHANGE Lures, Speed, Turn Radius, Time of Day You Fish
  • CHECK Colors, Leaders, Hooks – Control Hand Odor Scent
Catching big walleye during tournament time is about making changes to adapt your style to the fishery of the day. Learn from what the lake offers each day.

By Forrest Fisher

Many anglers in the Northeast USA and especially in Western New York, have a preference for Lake Erie walleye fishing.  Many of them are ready for Southtowns Walleye Association (SWA) Tournament action that will begin very soon. 

Walleye fishing is center-stage over the first few weeks of June, especially June 10-18, when many anglers will be entered in the 33rd annual Southtowns Walleye Association Walleye Tournament.  This is a 9-day/1-fish tournament where the single biggest fish wins. That means any lucky angler can win.

BIG CASH PRIZES: SWA offers cash awards for the top 200 places, with the top 10 places winning big money.  The top prize can be as much as $8,000 in cash plus prizes.  Last year, Jim Horbett took 1st place with his 11.63 pound walleye.  See Bob Fessler or Don Mullen for info, or call 716-462-9576, or visit www.southtownswalleye.org to enter, but do it soon, as registration is closed after the tournament begins.    

The Lake Erie eastern basin walleye resource is healthy and getting bigger with local spawning stocks that can also include migratory western basin fish, which may begin to arrive when summertime is imminent.  We’ll have to wait and see if the area will receive some hot weather to make that west to east migration happen before the tournament ends.

Moving around, making changes, searching the shallow water, the mid-depths and deep water – out there, look for suspended fish in the top 25 feet, these changes can be the key to finding an isolated school of walleye whoppers.

POST-SPAWN WALLEYE:  Local walleye anglers already know that the fish are around and are here in good numbers after the last few weeks of spring fishing. The males that have been caught at night are beautiful fish in the 3 to 7 pound range, not prize winners, but freezer fillers, or are perfect for pictures and catch and release fishing fun.  As the season evolves after the area experienced a very rainy May, the larger females will be recovering from their post-spawn doldrum period and will be hungry. 

The fish will be deeper during the day, but at night, will be feeding in the shallow upper water layer offshore, and also, some fish will be very near to shore during the early part of the tournament (at night).  This fishing can be hit or miss, but if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

EARLY START:  If you have been fishing like many do, early riser at 330AM, trailer hook-up, travel and launch before sunrise, lights on, lines in, great bite and then suddenly, NO BITE.  What happened?  Simple to figure out if you think about it.  Most of the fish have been on the feed all night, especially during full moon or bright moon periods.  They’re done eating! 

Notice I said, “most of the fish.”  So don’t give up, there will be isolated schools that have yet to feed, but think about night fishing once or twice during the tourney.

Spinner-Worm Rigs are often a top choice for local area anglers, but color, blade shape, bead size and boat speed can make a sound (noise) difference that matters. Willow leaf? Colorado? Indiana blade? Copper? Nickel? Brass? Pick on and vary from there.

LURE OFFERINGS:  What about your lure offerings?  Well you never know what will work until you try, but most anglers use shallow running sticks or spinner-worm rigs and weight the lines to reach the fish at whatever their level, usually 15 to 25 feet from the top.

COLOR & LIGHT PENETRATION: Colors matter for some of us, though not sure the fish care much of the time, but the variable with color is light penetration. If the fish are on the feed, wham!  There will be fish on your line no matter what you are using.  If not, check your lure for action, assure your leaders are healthy, hooks too, then get out there.

The rest of the time when the goggle eyes are not on the feed, you may have to provoke them.  By nature, walleye are night predators, but most anglers in SWA fish daytime. Maybe some anglers are getting old?  Nahhhh!  We just like to see the hooks and jawbones we need to avoid burying in our hand with natural light.

Matching bait offerings to forage options can produce instant fish on the line. Color matters in shallow line sets.  Don’t be afraid to change to something nobody else is using! Old lures can work today too.

BIG FISH CONSISTENCY:  Anglers that win the prize for most fish and biggest fish are often the same anglers year after year.  Reasons why may be widely varied, but not for them. Winning anglers are adaptive.  They change lure style, lure size, color, shape, and they consider all their tackle box options.  Get creative, know what you have in your tackle box.  Know to change your boat travel orientation with wind direction.  Turn more, turn less, swing wide and slow, or wide and fast, but change.

AVOID NO-CHANGE: Be careful not to get into that same “catch-no-fish” pigeon hole that happened once or twice last year or that last time that you never told anyone about.  If you are fishing with the same lure and using the same technique at the same speed and wondering what’s going on, you know it’s time to consider CHANGE.  Explore a bit. Get creative. In your heart of hearts, you know when something needs to change, so do it.   

THINK ABOUT CHANGE: Should you change WHEN you go fishing?  Start at 3PM instead of 3AM?  That’s your call, but what you change is up to you when you’re not catching fish.  Fish move, water temperatures swing with wind shifts, eddy currents push forage to new locations, creek outflows can attract or repel forage and predators, take advantage of these things. Talk with others.  After all that, there is one more thing, keep it simple so you can do it again.  Write it down if you have to, add it to your logbook.  Keep a logbook. Update after every trip.  You will not believe what you learn from your own notes a week from today.

The Rainbow Smelt Banana Bait from LiveTarget Lures offers another option for lure selection.  It made some novice anglers feel like old pro’s last year. It has wiggle, wobble and a sound-making shake.  When it’s time to CHANGE, you will know.

MAKE YOUR OWN CHANGE: Look at a lake map, study your sonar map, evolve to get smarter with each trip on the water and rationalize what is going on, or you can call a best friend that seems to be catching fish!  It’s really up to you to discover the new methods that will work for you. 

After each tourney, I’ve always shared what was working for me and my friends in the boat with others.  It’s what every fishing club is all about.  It’s why some friends share their secrets during the tournament.  It’s how many anglers invent their next new change, by combining what they do with others that have shared to create a new approach.

WALLEYE TRACKING STUDY: Lastly, a new research initiative on Lake Erie – east to west and USA to Canada, that started in 2015 uses acoustic telemetry to track walleye movement. Researchers are studying the west-to-east and east-west fish migration that affects the New York walleye fishery.  A $100 reward can be yours if you catch one of the walleye that have a tracking device, just call DEC (716-366-0228) and report each tagged fish along with returning the internal acoustic tag.

Good luck on the water!

 

Inshore Canals & Flats for Saltwater Fishing Fun

  • Snook, Redfish & Tarpon Highlight Spring Action
  • New LiveTarget Swimbait Lures are Killer Baits
  • Use Light Line, Strong Leader
  • Incoming Tide = Angler Advantage
The new Swim Bait that has caught fire with guides and everyday anglers that fish saltwater for snook, redfish and other species, is the LiveTarget Scaled Sardine, shown here. Just throw it in and reel it back, it sinks about one foot per second until you start the retrieve.

By Forrest Fisher

Winter has not been the same this year anywhere in the country.  Minnesota lost much of their ice by early March, Tennessee and Kentucky bass and crappie fishing turned on early, and in Florida, the steady rise in water temperatures on both the Gulf and the Ocean has led to non-stop action for many anglers.  Fun fishing!

Fishing with a fishing mentor and local veteran of the Florida saltwater fishing, Jim Hudson, I have learned so much about the nature of fish habits, baitfish preferences, lures that feeding fish prefer, line color, lure color, hook size and little things that make the difference between fish on the line or no fish at all.

The short spring snook season started on March 1 and runs through April, with the size limit in Florida waters regulated by location.  In southwest Florida, the slot limits for snook is not less than 28 inches and not more than 33 inches, with a one-fish daily bag. 

Jim Hudson says, “Slot limits for speckled trout have allowed a resurgence in Florida trout numbers and even the smaller fish will slam a swim bait, making for fast and fun fishing action.”

Hudson took the time to teach me about lines, leaders and lures, using little, lightweight jigs for speckled trout, surface baits for redfish and swim-tail lures for snook.   On my first mid-morning cast toward a dock on the canal system near Ponce de Leon State Park, my LiveTarget lure hit the water and I didn’t even move the lure one-inch when a gutsy snook slammed the bait.  He thrashed all around the dock and I had trouble keeping him out of the pilings there, but the 7-foot St. Croix rod and Daiwa reel held up their end and I was able to bring the fish to the boat where Jim carefully slipped his rubber-coated (no harm) under the spirited fish.  We released the slick fighter to grow a bit bigger for next year.

The hot lure was a LiveTarget scaled-sardine swimbait, new last year, it swims just like a real live fish bait.  It’s soft and lively, is the right color, and offers a snag-free design with an above-body hook point location.  The heavy, strong, Gamakatsu EWG (Extra-Wide Gap) hook makes it perfect for big saltwater fish, but as most saltwater flat anglers know, even smaller saltwater fish will slam a big bait.  I use this rule though, big fish like big baits – they hate to waste energy.   See this video on how a bass fishing pro describes the many features of this exciting new lure:  https://youtu.be/gaNEmPQUF3c.

I picked up the two sizes that come in this color pattern, a 3-1/2 inch model (½ ounce) and the bigger 4-1/2 inch model (1-ounce) that casts into the wind with no problem.  With a unique “oscillator-design” tail, they both swim like the real thing.  I tie the lure direct with a Uni-Knot from a 4-5 foot long length of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader that is fastened to very thin 10-pound test braid with a Double Uni-Knot.

For more about this hot bait, there are two videos and more technical info about product description from our friends at Tackle Warehouse: http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/.  My basic descriptions end with, “They work.”

For more about how to tie the Uni-Knot, visit our knowledgeable fishing friends at Salt Strong in this well-done video: https://youtu.be/MtCKGnZwOb0.  Salt Strong offers many excellent fishing tip videos and a “How-To-Fish” training course that is among the best I have ever viewed.

Some of the “smart-angler” folks use the FG-Knot to tie their braid to the fluorocarbon leader, but I have always used the Uni-Knot because it is easier to tie, though the FG Knot is smaller in physical size.  This might be important if you fish with a Reaper fishing rod, which offers a high-performance rod guide that enables truly long casts and you want to keep the knot friction to an absolute minimum.

Jim Hudson has used the same LiveTarget swimbait lure for fast action along the saltwater front and hooked into other species.   Hudson adds, “Don’t be afraid to add a little red color from a magic marker near the throat section of any lure when action is slow and the water is super-clear, this can make a difference.  Then just rub a little fish-scent over it to hide any offensive odor.”

Local anglers and many guides use a cast net to capture live pilchards and pinfish, then tail-hook the live bait with a circle hook and toss into the incoming tide current with the same line-rod-reel rig.  This set-up will usually fool even the most finicky fish and the circle hook prevents gut hooking so the fish can be released unharmed.

Using the LiveTarget swimbait lures also allows the fish to be released unharmed, since the EWG hook is set around the jawbone of the fish.  Kayak anglers, boat anglers or wading anglers can effectively and successfully throw this bait.  In the salt, you could get a new arm-stretch and rod-bend very soon.

The mullet color in the LiveTarget swimbait lure is especially made as an easy-to-catch forage species for several larger predator species such as Redfish, Snook and Tarpon.

Right now, the redfish are schooling, the snook are moving into shore-fishing canal zones and under the piers at night, and the sheepshead have been schooled and active for about 6-7 weeks now.

Releasing the little ones….fishery conservation measures have allowed the Snook fishery across Florida saltwater zones to regain their predator prominence with slot limit and bag limit regulations. Jim Hudson Photo

The sheepshead prefer live bait shrimp pieces fished off a 2-hook chicken rig or a simple red-head jig hook.

For redfish, switch your swimbait to the new LiveTarget mullet color and hang on.  This is a species-focused bait color that can tear up a tight fish school.  Fish on the feed will race to get the bait first.  On the right day, action like that is in the memory book for all time.

Local tackle shops carry the bait if you need it right now, but sometimes they might not have the favorite colors you want.  When fishing the Gulf of Mexico southwest Florida, I always stop in to Fishing Frank’s Bait & Tackle on Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte, Florida.  The staff submits copy to four different periodicals each week! They also sponsor a radio show and are in the swing on where to go and what to fish each day. 

If you can’t find your “right color”, then hop on-line and head for our friends at Tackle Warehouse: http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/. 

“Big swim baits catch big fish, big fish will not waste energy feeding 20 times when they can feed once and be done,“ says Jim Hudson.  He ought to know, this Georgia native, now Florida resident, catches more fish from the salt than anyone I know.  Anglers in the know, share with others that want to learn.  Hats off to Hudson, since I always want to learn.

Tight lines.