TILLY, TILLY – It’s a Thankful Season for Walleye Fishing

  • A Highly Versatile Walleye Bait that Produces in a Variety of Situations
                                                                                                 Tilly TL 5-7 , 1/4 oz, Bumble Bee

Ramsey, MN (Nov 13, 2017) – Phantom Lures, widely known for its design and manufacture of high-quality proven fishing baits is pleased to introduce the arrival of the Tilly, a new walleye catcher that has the versatility to tackle a wide variety of fishing situations.

“We are thrilled to bring our latest innovation, the Tilly, to market for the 2017-2018 Ice Fishing Season,” stated Operations Manager Jeff Schulte. “The entire Phantom Lures Team is passionate about fishing year-round, and with the close of the open water season, comes frozen lakes for those of us located in the Ice Belt. We feel the Tilly is a great entry point into the growing sport of ice fishing, and we expect that with the introduction of Tilly, our brand can bridge the gap between open and hard water seasons.”

The Phantom Tilly is a drop-the-gloves vertical jigging bait with an aggressive flutter on the fall that also incorporates a strong BB rattle for when it’s time to ring the dinner bell. The Tilly is 2.5 inches of individually hand-painted fury. From hardwater to open water this bait is no one trick pony, the Tilly puts Walleyes on the board in all situations, making it a multipurpose, battle-born product anywhere there’s a fight to be had.

The bait is available in two sizes, the Tilly TL5-7 at ¼ oz and the TL-9 at 5/16 oz, both are identical in length, but weighted differently to accommodate fishing in deeper or shallower water, weather conditions and presentations.

For more information about the full product lines from Phantom Lures, visit the Phantom Lures website or contact Jack Gavin at: jack@providencemarketinggroup.net.

About Phantom Lures:Since 1996, Phantom Lures has built a strong and loyal reputation in the muskie fishing industry by making excellent, custom, quality baits that are used by first time fishermen, guides and tournament anglers. This reputation is now migrating to the walleye and bass world. Our tournament –winning baits produce actions that put trophy fish on your line, leaving you with great pictures and lifelong memories. For more information about Phantom Lures, visit PhantomLures.com or call 763.951.2902.

Niagara Falls USA Fishing Report & Forecast for Nov. 22, 2017 – Destination Niagara USA

  • New York Power Authority fishing platform FISHING IS STILL HOT
  • Jigs, ¼ ounce, Working to Fool Walleye and Brown Trout
  • Trib’s have Fish TOO

The water in the Niagara River is still in bad shape according to many of the local charter captains looking to target musky in the upper river or trout in the lower river. It could be fishable by the weekend.

Shore fishermen have a bit of an advantage over the boaters when the water turns muddy. Find some clean water and you should catch fish. One spot that is still available is the New York Power Authority fishing platform. The announcement just came through today that (weather permitting) the final day for fishing will be Dec. 3. Mike Rzucidlo of Niagara Falls has been casting his homemade ¼ ounce jigs to take some more walleye and even a nice brown trout the past week off the platform.

Downriver along Artpark, chartreuse trout beads and egg sacs fished under a float was the ticket for trout. While the water was off color a bit earlier in the week, the scent emitted by the sac helped the trout to locate the bait. Spoons and spinners still work as well.

Remember that lake trout season is closed in New York until the end of the year but the season opens Dec. 1 in the Province of Ontario waters. If you do catch a lake trout incidentally, release it quickly and unharmed. If you take a photo, make sure it’s a quick one.

In the Lake Ontario tributaries, there have been good numbers of fish and not too many fishermen at Burt Dam and the Fisherman’s Park area of 18 Mile Creek. The final day of charging (fees) at the park will be today. Good numbers of fresh Coho salmon are still working their way up to the dam with eggs, egg imitations (like trout beads), and jigs tipped with wax worms all working under a float. Live bait could catch some fish, too. Move around to find the active fish.

Four mile and 12 Mile were both high and muddy on Tuesday. No report out of Keg Creek but that had fish last week.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Bill Hilts, Jr.
Outdoor Promotions Director

Destination Niagara USA
10 Rainbow Blvd.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
p: 1-877 FALLS US | 716-282-8992 x. 303
f: 716-285-0809
www.niagarafallsusa.com

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Where is the Guide?

  • Lake of the Woods: Walleye Capital of the World
  • Anchor, Relax, Catch Fish All Day…Seriously
  • Simple Jig-Minnow Fishing

By David Gray

Captain Cassy Geurkink makes happy anglers when they come to fish Lake of the Woods near Baudette, Mn.  Dave Gray Photo

“Where is the guide?” was my second question.  My first question was, “Which boat is mine?” 

The boat was one of many 27-foot long Sportcraft walleye charter boats neatly tied-up to the Border View Lodge docks on Lake of the Woods, Baudette, Minnesota.

This was my first experience going out on a walleye charter.   I really was not excited, a walleye charter never did sound like my kind of fun fishing.   

I was attending a conference at Lake of the Woods in Minnesota and fishing buddy, Dave Barus, a skilled Lake Erie angler, had arranged this Walleye Charter.  Going out in a big boat on big water with six anglers and a guide did not appeal to me.  By the end of the day, I found out it was not only productive, it was great fun!  It was a very enjoyable way to spend a day on water…in the rain!  

I enjoyed every minute of our fishing trip on Lake of the Woods, catching walleye and sauger at an unbelievable rate. Forrest Fisher Photo

Tom at Border View Lodge answered my first question, “Your boat is the one in that slip.”  “The one with the girl in it?” I asked.  “Yes, that is your boat.”

The girl, Cassy, answered my other question.  “Good morning, I am your guide.  Get in and we’ll get going.”  My first thought was this local trip has been engineered as a tourism publicity moment with a lady guide.  Preconceived notions are not good things, but one crept into my brain that Cassy did not look like an experienced or hardened north woods woman.  Of course, I really can’t describe what an experienced north woods woman should look like.

Cassy had a very serious look on her face as she readied six anglers and their gear, nosed the boat out into the river current and headed for the open water on Lake of the Woods.  I would come to understand this serious look latter in the day, it was pure focus.

The new Kamooki Lure is spreading like wildfire across the fishing world. They’re a unique vertical jerkbait that will invoke a strike even when fish are not hungry.  Forrest Fisher Photo

My thoughts turned back to Border View Lodge.   Part of the charm of fishing in the North Country is visiting a new lodge.   All have a charm of their own.   Border View Lodge had a special charm that makes any angler feel at home the minute you walk in the door.   Wood paneling, fish mounts on the wall, dining area overlooking the docks and river and friendly people saying welcome.   

Border View Lodge is a family owned and run business.  The original lodge was a commercial fish operation when burbot was harvested to make cod liver oil.  Around 1962, Border View became a fishing lodge serving anglers.  In 1981 the current family purchased the resort.  Today, Mike and Lisa Kinsella run the resort, oversee nine guides and 10 launch boats.  In the winter they have 60 Ice Houses on the lake.  Border View is a full service resort for people that like to fish and the resort has amenities all anglers like.  Mike has a variety of packages to fit the needs of any group.   Call Mike at 1-800-ProFish, tell him what you want and he will take care of you.

Another glance at our guide, Cassy, and the same serious look was locked on her face as she stopped, put out the anchor and baited up six rods with a jig and minnow. 

Charter Captain Cassy Geurkink at the helm, showed us a fun time on a rainy day when nearly no other boats dared to leave the dock due to the weather.  With the best country and western music playing from Sirius, we knocked the socks off the fish!  David Gray Photo

It wasn’t long before the first walleye hooked up.  A nice walleye and as Cassy skillfully netted it I noticed the serious look was replaced by a huge smile.  That was it, serious look when getting clients loaded and handling the boat, but all smiles when the bite starts.  That is my kind of guide!  

The rest of the day made me smile.  I went from never wanting to do a walleye charter to, “Can’t wait to do this again.”   We hooked more than 75 walleye and sauger, some to 28 inches long, and we put six fish apiece in the cooler.  Cassy kept minnows on the jigs – baiting every one with her secret hook-up method, netted every single fish, and kept everyone fishing and in conversation. Quite a feat. 

So much for pre-conceived ideas! 

Share the Outdoors editor Dave Barus says, “We learned that walleye and sauger, big and small, live and thrive here thanks to a good fisheries management program and plentiful baitfish supply.  David Gray Photo

Cassy Geurkink is currently the only lady guide in the area, we found this out when we returned to shore, AND, she is considered one of the best guides on this part of the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods.  Cassy grew up fishing and hunting with her dad Tom who is also a guide.  Before becoming a guide, Cassy worked at a Chevy Dealer in the Minneapolis, St Paul area. Cassy eventually worked her way up to the Sales Manager position.  She would visit Dad on the weekends and started not wanting to go home.  Cassy left the car dealership and for a season worked in the lodge office.  But, as she says, “I am an outdoor girl and wanted to be outdoors.”  To be a guide on a waterway that borders another country, you have to have a Charter Captain’s license which involves study and a lengthy Coast Guard test.   So I started studying and passed the tests.

Cassy now guides four to seven days a week.  On days off, she takes her 7-year old son Finley out jig fishing.  Cassy said the best part of guiding is meeting different people.  She says, “Guiding teaches you even more about fishing.”  She learned how to be patient and how to help people catch fish.   When Cassy first started guiding, a lot of guys looked and said, “Oh boy a girl guide.”   Now many of those have become regular repeat customers and ask for Cassy.  I can understand why.  Pure dedication, highly skilled, not afraid to try new things and focus with a smile.

Cassy puts you on the fish and makes a happy boat.  If you can book her, say, “Oh Boy,” because you are going to have a great fishing day.   

Catching fish with Cassy explaining the details, the options, the reasoning behind using chosen jig colors, that was pure fun.  It was an education in fishing.  We pay for the fishing, the fun and instruction is free.  Can’t wait to do it again. 

For more info, here is the link: http://www.borderviewlodge.com/.

Where Fishing is King

  • Walleye Capital of the World – Lake of the Woods
  • Sportsman’s Lodge, Oak Island Resort, Eagle Ridge Lodge
  • Catch a Sturgeon here too!

By David Gray

Thanks to the fisheries management program for Lake of the Woods, happy angler and book author, Bob Holzhei, caught many healthy and plentiful walleye like this one, while fishing with guides from Sportsman’s Lodge.  Forrest Fisher Photo

It goes without saying that Sportsman’s Lodge on Lake of the Woods, Minnesota, is one of those iconic destinations where everybody with a fishing rod meets to catch fish. If you are a walleye angler and live in the north or mid-west, you have probably visited (or heard of) The Sportsman’s Lodge. It’s a bucket list destination for every honest angler.
If you have never been to Sportsman’s Lodge, you need to go. You WILL enjoy the lodge, the staff and most of all, the fishing. Anglers can target walleye, sauger, northern pike, musky, sturgeon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch or crappie. Choices. A good thing. I’m drooling again! On each of three trips there, my friends and I caught more than 50 walleye and sauger per trip, simply jigging with a minnow, the old-fashioned fun way. Hard to beat the fun. So many fish.
Located right on the Rainy River, Sportsman’s Lodge offers long-standing fishing success story traditions with a proven heritage. The service of hosting outdoor guests started here in the 1940’s (Jesmes Resort) and has continued to grow since. For the last decade, Gregg and Diana Hennum have expanded services with modernization and new comforts for guests.

Walleye and sauger during September and October can fill the sonar screen just a half-mile from the outlet of the Rainy River.  Forrest Fisher Photo

For 46 years Sportsman’s Lodge has been a family owned and operated resort. Family-owned means the guests are treated like family and that is evident the minute you walk thru the door.
The staff are hard-working, friendly folks, dedicated to assuring that your stay is nothing but the best. Sportsman’s Lodge can handle groups from 2 to 200. They host weddings, family reunions, corporate groups, meetings and father-son fishing trips. The Lodge is full service. They provide anything and everything you need.
The great restaurant selections are offered in two large dining rooms: the Dockside and Riverside. At the end of the day, the “Sandbar” will accommodate your fish catching tales and provide refreshments for relaxation, the bar is over 70 feet long! A choice of hotel rooms, cabins, villas, ice houses and, of course, fishing guide services are at your option and are available. You only need to bring your clothes, a camera, yourself and be ready to put some fish in the boat.
In 2003, Sportsman’s Lodge expanded with the addition of Oak Island Resort, 34 miles up the lake by water. Oak Island is smaller, but a full service operation for multi-species fishing. Favorite fishing targets from this location include musky, walleye and smallmouth.
Not far from Oak Island Resort is Eagle Ridge Lodge, a beautiful and ultra-private vacation home resort with all the allure of the wilderness and all the comforts of home. Eagle Ridge provides the best of both worlds not often found on an island located in one of the worlds best sport fisheries.

Gregg and Diana Hennum have provided coordinated programs for fishing, food and accommodations at the Sportsman’s Lodge.  David Gray Photo

In any location, you have choice of meals and guides, or if you are an accomplished angler, bring your own boat and guide yourself.
Gregg shared that a new “Adventure Package” is becoming popular. You leave Sportsman’s Lodge main location in Baudette on a Charter Boat, then fish your way up the 34 miles to Oak Island, stay overnight, then fish your way back. A no-hassle fun fishing outing, though customized trip packages are also available.

The new villa accommodations offer brand new rustic seating that is accompanied with a view of the Rainy River and a beautiful sunset each evening.

Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge and Oak Island Resort. Winter Ice fishing is very popular and Gregg added, “More people are coming in the summer to get some relief from the heat of farther south, but winter fishing is also a tradition here for hundreds of families.”
Sportsman’s Lodge is a large, family-owned resort that has not forgotten its roots of treating guests like family. Fishing is king at Sportsman’s Lodge. This location on the Rainy River area of Lake of the Woods is noted to be the Walleye Capitol of the World. I asked Gregg Hennum why, he answered, “Because we have 10 Million of them!” After just spending three great days at Sportsman’s Lodge, I think it may be more than 10 Million!
My buddies and I can’t wait to go back next year.

A Special CASE for “Border Water Walleye and PERFECT Boneless Fillets”

  • Expert Guides DO Simplify Catching Fish – with simple JIGS
  • Rainy Day BLESSINGS on the Rainy River  
  • One BEST Fillet Tool CAN SIMPLIFY Cleaning Walleye by the Dozen

By Forrest Fisher

Nature and the peaceful wilderness to be found near Sportsman’s Lodge in Baudette, Minnesota, will create NEVER-FORGET memories for all that visit. Forrest Fisher Photo

We arrived in the front lobby of Sportsman’s Lodge on the Rainy River in Baudette, MN,   The weather was cold and nasty, and VERY rainy.  We were in a momentary downpour.  I looked disappointed, my better half smiled at me and joked, “It’s ok, it’s gonna be good luck, it’s raining and we’re on the Rainy River!  I couldn’t help, but smile back.

Hungry Lake-of-the-Woods walleye are asking anglers, “What’s for Dinner?”  Forrest Fisher Photo

We were one step closer to the fishing the Walleye Capital of the World that we had read about so often, not to mention a few decades of dreams.

What I didn’t know was that the number of fish to catch in the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods was beyond the normal angler’s day of fantasy fishing.  We discovered a brand new REALITY here, an iconic, never-forget celebration of most-ever-walleye-caught memories.

Not long after we arrived, we were fishing with Captain Ralph Christofferson (218-634-1342) aboard his 27-foot Sportcraft, a beautiful, fully-equipped, big water vessel.  Lake of the Woods offers about 1,700 square miles of fishing with more than 14,500 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline.  Impressive fishery numbers and with plenty of forage in the form of emerald shiners, tulibees and various crustaceans.

We boated out to the lake and anchored, only a 10-minute ride with that giant 454 Chrysler engine humming us into competition with throngs of honking Canada Geese that were nearby.

Captain Ralph provided everyone his hand-made, 6-foot 2-inch, personally customized, St. Croix fishing rods to use.  The rods were light .and beautiful, a pleasure to hold.  Perfect balance.

Captain Ralph Christofferson provided the expertise that enabled us to catch walleye and sauger at the unbelievable rate of more than 20 fish per hour.  Forrest Fisher Photo

The rods were geared up with an open-face spinning reel, 6-pound test monofilament (P-line) and gold-plated 3/8 ounce jigs tipped with a salted emerald shiner minnow.  The minnows were “slid” onto the hook with Captain Ralph’s “secret twist.”

It didn’t take long to discover active fish at our anchored spot.  In less than 3 hours, we landed more than 50 walleye and sauger. Captain Ralph said, “It’s sort of a slow day.”  In the words of our young friends and millennials, OMG!  Except, he wasn’t kidding!

We kept our daily limit of 4 walleye and 2 sauger each, and there was five of us.  Yes, we had a cooler filled with 30 fish and ice, ready for the pan or the freezer.  We arrived at the dock, it was a short walk to the Sportsman’s Lodge state-of-the-art fish-cleaning house.  There were plastic bags, foam trays for holding the clean fillets, saran wrap, ice and lots of bright lighting.  I could see the light.  Indeed, in more ways than one.

While some anglers use an electric knife to clean fish, most old-timers know there is about 15 percent waste with that method.  I’m an old timer and I had a brand new fillet knife that I received on my birthday.

A manual fillet knife job will yield the most meat for the plate.  If you consider some of the catches for the week – and we ate most of the fish right on site the day we caught them – you might think that manual filleting the fish was a tough task, but not so.

My 6-inch W.R.Case fillet knife is unequalled as an angler tool and doubles as my favorite kitchen tool.

It’s not work if you a knife like mine, a new 6-inch Case, fixed-blade, fillet knife (Model BR12-6 SS).  My Case fillet knife is so sharp and rigid, but also provides some bend in the blade if you press a bit, to be flexible, making it so simple to use.  It seems to never lose its really sharp edge and we cleaned so many fish with it.

Every now and then, I touch up the edge with a very gentle stroke on a carbide diamond wedge, then a final stroke or two using a very smooth Arkansas super-fine stone and water.

One other thing about this knife, it is ergonomically perfect to fit my hand. It feels just right, you know, comfortable and solid.  The steel blade and formed poly-handle are melded as one, permitting full control, and it works like a hot poker through butter.  Even with potatoes, onions, carrots and sausage, you get the idea.  It’s my favorite all-around cutting tool.

Many things we buy in the USA are now manufactured elsewhere, but W.R.Case knives are made in the USA (http://www.wrcase.com/knives/), one more of many reasons why I like them.

The bottom line for a good knife: can it hold an edge?  Indeed.  This thing holds an edge like no other fillet knife I have ever used, and I have used most of them.  I’m not sure what kind of steel alloy this Case knife uses, but whatever it is, please tell them to never change it.

My grandkids will want one of these 20 years from now and, of course, my Case will be here ready and waiting.

Last, this knife is an easily affordable investment at about $25-$30 cost.  Check google for the best price or go direct to W.R.Case.

Love this knife, the expert guides and this deluxe accommodation where we caught all these fish just a short boat ride and simple drop-jig cast away.  Dreams are made of this.

We’ll be back soon (http://sportsmanslodges.com/).

 

 

Walleye & Sauger Slamming Jigs at Lake-of-the-Woods – Baudette, Minnesota

  • Usual Fish Catch Rate is 4-7 Fish/Hour
  • Hot Lure: 3/8 Ounce Jig (hammered gold/pink) Tipped with a Minnow
  • Angler Qwest Pontoon Boat Rig was Safe and Extra-Comfy

By Forrest Fisher

Lake of the Woods offers top notch walleye and sauger fishing just 5 to 15 minutes from the dock.  This graph is typical for fall fishing stints. Forrest Fisher Photo

Brad Dupuie and Roger Nieson treated several friends from the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) to a short afternoon “Angler Qwest Pontoon Boat fishing trip” for walleye and sauger on Lake of the Woods near Baudette, Minnesota.

Roger Nieson with a nice walleye from LOTW (Lake of the Woods). Forrest Fisher Photo

With the lake in turnover mode and the water with a tea-like water color, we still landed over 30 fish, keeping 18 in the 3-hours.

Executive Director, Julie Knutson, from the Watertown, South Dakota, Visitor’s and Tourism Bureau, were visiting and fishing with us at the conference…the action was non-stop!Forrest Fisher Photo

We dropped lines with simple jig/minnow rigs and VMC jigging spoons in 26 feet of water off the Rainy River outlet to the lake.   The technique that produced good fish was to release the jig straight down alongside the boat, let it hit bottom, then lift sharply about 6 inched to one-foot, then let the jig flop back to bottom, wait 5 seconds, then lift about 4-6 inches off bottom and wait.  Repeat every 20 seconds or so.  Slam, dunk!.

Welded stainless steel side plates and fixturing is standard gear with this Angler Qwest pontoon boat model. Forrest Fisher Photo

The Angler Qwest pontoon boat was not ordinary, powered by a 200HP, 4-stroke Merc that used very little fuel (regular gas).  The well-outfitted boat could outrun (speed) more ordinary 27-30 foot fishing craft designed for six anglers and a charter captain.

The boat featured extra special build items that included a teak floor, live wells, rod holders, deck wash-down hose, measuring board table, sidewall cupboards, set up for downriggers, welded stainless steel fixturing all around, side-deck grill options, all equipped to handle 4-ft waves in the Great Lakes.  AND, it travels at 45 mph!

Trax Tech Rod Holders  allow high-tech fishing with boards, riggers and divers. Forrest Fisher Photo

We had 8 of us friends on board too.  Rods were 6-7 feet lightweight open-face spinning reel rigs with 8-pound monofilament line, though many anglers use lightweight braided lines tied direct to the jigs.  The stained water color allows the line color of any type.

David Gray of the VEXPO North American Sportshow shared fish-catching fun moments. Forrest Fisher Photo

All of us enjoyed a great time fishing out of the Sportsman’s Lodge in Baudette, Minnesota, where special fall rates are in effect or the next few weeks.  Visit http://sportsmanslodges.com/ for more information on lodging.

Lovin autumn life in the outdoors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONUTS, HOT COFFEE and WALLEYE AT SUNRISE!

  • The “Great Lakes Experience” EVENT is Exemplary
  • Allowing Lures, Lines, Rigs, Rules and Laws, to Meet Each Other
  • Communication, Great Fishing and Laughter Create EFFECTIVE FUN
  • Summer Fishing for Lake Erie Walleye in Chautauqua County, NY

By Forrest Fisher

Which lures to choose are among key questions that anglers ask each time they head out to Lake Erie for walleye.  This year, some of the solid choices are shown here. Forest Fisher Photo

If there is a language common between anglers and fish, they were talking to each other off Chadwick Bay in Dunkirk, New York, during the Great Lakes Experience earlier in August.  More than 20 charter boats each caught dozens of walleye.  Yes, each.  If we average the catch at 20 fish per boat, that’s about 400 walleyes in less than four hours of fishing.  And when the fish are biting, good things happen, especially when folks from local, state, county and federal positions get together to discuss the recreational fishery and all that goes with it.

That’s what happened during the 9th Annual Great Lakes Experience Fishing Day.  About 100 people from Erie County, Niagara County and Chautauqua County were invited to fish together.  Attendees met at the harbor at about 6:00 a.m. on August 9, 2017, for the annual Tim Horton’s “Meet & Greet” session. Nothing like donuts and hot coffee at sunrise!  We divided into groups from there as we were assigned to captains from the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association (ELECBA), that provided a unified effort with a simple goal: To catch some fish and share more about reasons why the Lake Erie resource is so important and so priceless.

I was fishing with Captain Jim Skoczylas (Ultimate Adventure Sportfishing (716-796-5372) and first mate, Tom “TJ” Yetzer. They provided guests on board Jim’s 31-foot Tiara, a fun and comfortable time, even in the 4 to 6 foot waves that came up later in the morning. 

 

Ally Pawarski from the Buffalo Sports Commission, shares in the walleye fun and bounty of Lake Erie with a nice 5-pound fish. Forrest Fisher Photo

Skoczylas says, “While the fishing has been really good this year, each day we play it by ear to adapt when we need to change lures and methods.   On some days the fish want crankbaits, other days they want spinner/worm rigs, on finicky days – color matters, but on most days this year, it has not mattered too much what you put down there.  The walleye have been looking to eat and there are many year classes, especially young fish, in our New York, Lake Erie, fishery right now.  Many of us are wondering if there might be a shortage of emerald shiners and smelt – the primary baitfish groups out here, because the fish usually want to eat our lures quite readily.”Between hearing Yetzer holler, “Fish-on, who’s up?” and Tom Hersey, Erie County Commissioner of Environment and Planning say, “Oops, I think I might have lost that one (four times),” there was lots of kidding, laughs and honest fascination with the rigs and processes used to catch fish.” 

Captain Skoczylas found fish about 70 feet down in 80 to 105 feet of water. Downriggers, diving plans and long lead-line rigs were used to catch 26 fish in less than 4 hours of fishing. Forrest Fisher Photo

On the other hand, Ally Pawarski, Sales and Services Manager with the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission, didn’t lose a single fish and was tuned-in for the whole trip – landing the largest walleye on our boat. 

Dan Rizzo, Commissioner of Erie County Parks, Chris Catanzaro, Project Manager for the Erie County Harbor Development Corporation, along with Patrick Kaler, CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Visitors Bureau, all enjoyed fish-catching and common conversation.  I was happy to be among this dedicated group.

Spinner/Worm rig colors for blades and beads, and hook size, can vary from day to day, but the question can be finding the right one on the day you are fishing. Forrest Fisher Photo

We talked about the fishing goodness, Buffalo Harbor State Park boat ramps, the Central Train Station location, Canalside activities, Buffalo Riverworks, Lake Erie recreational access, kayaks, the health of the fishery, the Coast Guard, the people and the fun of the outdoors on the waterfront.  Add in ideas for marketing and distribution, thoughts of a virtual fish-catching program from Lake Erie on the internet, on-board drone videos for future customers fishing Lake Erie along the New York shoreline, and you can see, conversation was all-inclusive with new ideas.

Running 12 coordinated lines at depths of 70 to 80 feet down in 85 to 105 feet of water, and using all the gear dressed up with spinner/worm rigs and stickbaits, we hooked up with 26 fish in a very short 4 hours on the water.  Diving planes, weighted leadcore lines, downriggers and lots of lures and stickbaits were all part of the presentation mix with a trolling speed of 2.1 mph.  It was a perfect scenario for catching fish and to discuss issues/answers. 

After the fishing, the perfect walleye fish fry lunch was served at the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club.  We heard from several speakers, perhaps the most notable was about raw sewage overload on our Great Lakes from Rich Davenport, Director from the Erie County Fish Advisory Board. 

Everyone enjoyed a great time networking about life in the outdoors and the incredible natural resource, Lake Erie, and agreed to work hard together to keep this treasure alive and well into the future. 

There were representatives from the NYSDEC, including Stephen Hurst – Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources Bureau Chief from Albany, Patricia Riexinger recently retired from that same position, Don Einhouse and Jason Robinson, fisheries biologists from the NYSDEC Lake Erie Fisheries Unit, a host of legislative leaders – Senators and Assemblymen, the charter captains and their crews – the proper combination for networking and laughter too.    

Gene Pauszek, outdoor communicator for the Dunkirk Observer, caught this 11.41 pound walleye monster a few days before the Great Lakes Experience in early August.  He was fishing aboard Sassafras Charters with Captain Lance Erhardt and using a borrowed fishing rod and rig to fool this whopper.  Go figure.

This annual event allows local groups to bring certain very real issues to light and provides the potential for discussion on the battlefront of conservation, the outdoors and our Great Lakes resources.  There is nothing like a face-to-face meeting of the minds.  Issues and solutions, in between catching fish and a few grins, become a solid focus.  

Amidst the apparent visual complexity of multiple rods/reels, downriggers, diving planes, planer boards, temperature measurement and trolling gear, and lots of lures, the confidence in the voice of our hosts on board each charter craft was reassuring.  Confidence reigns.

The event was organized by Zen Olow (Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club), Lance Erhardt (Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association) and Andrew Nixon (Executive Director Chautauqua County CVB), and a supporting cast of dozens. 

Fish on!  Who’s up?! God Bless America.

The 2017 Lake Erie Experience: A “Must Do” Destination – Dunkirk Harbor

  • Lake Erie 2017 is a WALLEYE MECCA near Chadwick Bay / Dunkirk Harbor
  • Merritt Estate Winery offers FREE SAMPLING of all Wine Varieties
  • Cassadaga Lake is a Bass and Musky SECRET
  • Cabana Sam’s Blackened Grouper is a WINNER DINNER

By Mike Joyner

The great Empire State by any casual observation is one of our nation’s meccas for natural resources and endless opportunities for recreational pursuits. With a critical eye it is by reasonable opinion one of the top five states arranged only by personal recreational preferences.

 It is now entirely possible to nudge a hard core turkey hunter to enjoy nearly as much, another sportsman’s activity such as fishing. It is a most somber admission after a quarter century of long beard mania madness. In all honesty fishing came first as a wee young lad, whitetails in my mid-twenties, and in 1993, gobbler chasing took over everything. Prior priorities were relegated to distant second and third rankings of outdoor passions.

I accepted the invite with eager anticipation to attend the 9th Annual VIP Fishing Day taking place out of Chadwick Bay Marina in Dunkirk Harbor. Timing with my workload fell into a rare alignment of the stars making it feasible to get away. It would turn out to be a great mid-week getaway to enjoy several days of great fishing, camaraderie, and an opportunity to meet with local leaders, and tourism professionals to exchange thoughts and ideas as well as the requisite tall tales of fishing adventures.

Dave Barus had set up ‘Chautauqua County Media Fish Camp 2017’ for us to take in and experience what the area has to offer. I cannot thank him enough for handling the logistics and details of the excursion. He has a bright future in herding cats as outdoor writers are an independent group of individuals. Sunset Bay Cottage would be base camp for the duration. Located in Sunset Bay it is a great place to meet up, enjoy the beach and dining establishments, all within short walking distances. Past NYSOWA President Wayne Brewer, Leon Archer, Steve Colley, Wade Robertson and Collin Voss would be fellow camp mates and made for a great fish camp. Steve and Wade hailing from Northern Pennsylvania would join us for the latter two days while Collin, our youngest member in camp would endure initiation rights and would enjoy the third day out on the lake. Ultimately Collin out fished us all and kept his shirt tail intact. The conversations and storytelling at camp are the very reasons we cherish our time there!

First morning out we would head to Dunkirk Harbor only to find rough conditions which had already forced a number of boats back to the marina. We met up with local bass pro’s Scott Gauld and Scott Callen and decided to head over to Cassadaga Lake for bass, both smallmouth, and largemouth on much calmer waters. We fished the upper lake and enjoyed a relaxed and fun time catching smallmouths along with a few muskies. A special thank you to their sponsors Denali Rods, Kamooki Lures, and Venom Lures for being perfect equipment choices for our time on the lake. After a morning of ‘impromptu testing’, I will be adding them to my A-list for ‘must have’ gear. 

Scott Callen. Wayne Brewer, Leon Archer

Later in the day we paid a visit to Merritt Estate Winery located in Forestville, New York. We met up with Bill Merritt the owner and enjoyed a fine tasting of current offerings. With my ties to the industry in the Cortland area, I hope to see their offerings there. The staff is to be commended for their prompt and friendly service. They present a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to enjoy the fine wines they craft. Being a big fan of New York craft beers, distilled spirits and wines, the offerings at Merritt Estate Winery was worth the trip. My wife and I routinely stock our wine racks with New York wines and will add Merritt estate wines to our preferred vino to have on hand.

We would take a short walk over to Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill later that evening to sample the dining fare of the area. Blacken Grouper Reuben was my choice, and I would go out of my way to go back there again just for that. I’ll express empathy to my other camp mates that could not be there for the dinner outing as it was a meal not to miss.

There are many other wineries, craft beer companies, and distillers in the area. It is my only regret of the trip that I could not stay an extra day or two to enjoy tastings at each of them and further enjoy the many dining choices of the area. It is my thought that the Tourism Bureau has a lot of great offerings to work with and promote. I will return to the area for that very reason.

Our second full day in Dunkirk would have us out on the Great Lake Experience Event with conditions a bit more hospitable for fishing. Although I purchased nearly the full accordion worth of licenses each year to hunt and fish, it was appreciated that the day was deemed a free fishing day as to attract invited guests experiencing their first time on the lake. The event matched up boat captains with outdoor writers such as myself, many folks from the surrounding county tourism bureaus, NYSDEC, local politicians, county dignitaries, state legislators, and Congressmen. It was estimated that over sixty participants were paired up with twenty-two well-experienced boat captains who went above and beyond to show all of us a great morning out on Lake Erie.

After being assigned to come aboard 365 Sportfishing Charters, I headed out with Chautauqua County Executive- Vince Horrigan, fellow outdoor writer Paula Piatt, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO- Todd Tranum, Congressmen Tom Reed Staffers- Jaqueline Phelps (Regional Director) & Alison Hunt(District Director), with Captain Mark Hitcome at the helm. We were after walleyes, as were the other charters. After navigating several miles out into the lake, we were in the thick of it at water depths of 70-100 feet. With a full complement of planar boards and down riggers rigged, we soon had one pole after another set hook, and there was plenty of action. Everyone caught a pile of walleyes along with a few silver bass. There were seven or eight just under the 15″ legal size, and we kept seventeen walleyes altogether. We came in an hour before the appointed time due to the lake kicking up five-foot waves. One of the walleyes I caught was one of several that came in just shy of four pounds.

Once docked and the fish taken care of we headed to the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. A luncheon get together was scheduled with invites for all the participants and special guests including NYSDEC Chief, Bureau of Fish and Wildlife Services- Steve Hurst, Chautauqua County Executive- Vince Horrigan, City of Dunkirk Mayor- Willie Rosas, NYS Assemblyman District 150- Andy Goodell, and US 23rd District Congressman Tom Reed along with other local dignitaries. Zen Olow, chairman of the Great Lakes Experience event and Club President MC’d the affair. Presentations covered issues concerning pollution in the Great Lakes that eventually flows into Lake Erie and on to Lake Ontario, upcoming/pending legislation initiatives, club awards, and comments from distinguished guests. The main course on the menu as you may have guessed was walleye cutlets which in my opinion is the tastiest culinary delight of any game fish caught in New York State. I would have to admit that begrudgingly. As a young boy, I totally believed that Northern Pike was the best fish to eat. My grandfather cubed them into one-inch pieces within minutes of being taken from the live well and placed directly into a fresh pot of fish chowder simmering on grandma’s stove. I can still remember his old F-100 coming down the driveway with giant Northern’s still jumping in the bed of the pickup. The delicious smell of fresh chowder simmering is one that stays with you all your days. Now that I leave you hungry… With over a hundred people attending, it was as much fine eating and education that you could possibly pack in between the four walls of the club.

 Our second evening was spent in camp with home cooking courtesy of our host, fine wines, and the best of company. David’s grandson Collin, would join us that evening and was a welcomed addition to our camp. Collin is an impressive young man and a exemplary example of his upbringing. The fact that he out fished all of us is something we’ll have to let go of and come to grips with eventually… all kidding aside it is a pleasure to have him in camp.

Our last morning on the lake would pair myself, Leon and local area outdoor writer Gene Pauszek with Sassafras Fishing Charters. Captain Lance Ehrhardt along with Zen Olow would be in charge of another great day out on Lake Erie. the lake would be a bit calmer than the day prior. Once all the rigging was complete we would not wait long for the hooks to set and the reeling to start. Although a little slower pace than the day before we would limit out on walleye. With calmer waters, we relaxed, told tall stories, cheesy jokes and caught plenty of walleyes! A bit of back story as few days prior to the V.I.P. event, I would learn that Eastern Lake Erie Charter Association members Lance and Zen, along with Joe Jemiolo (passed away in 2014) were the main forces behind the creation of the annual V.I.P. fishing event. All the walleyes cooked up for the grand luncheon were made possible by Eastern Lake Erie Charter Association Members in concert with Sunset Bay Shoot Out, Razor’s Big Dawg tournaments. We were in the company of great people, great volunteers.Collin Voss

It is a focused opportunity to couple what we so love and are endeared to as sportsmen to convey, to educate those that promote tourism opportunities, and ultimately makes decisions, crafting legislation that impacts our sport. It is also an opportunity for outdoor professionals & sportsmen to learn and gain insights as to how decisions are formulated. We as sportsmen can provide data or participate in the research needed to enhance our great pastime, and attract newcomers to a grand recreational experience.

Maintaining and improving the natural resources, a world class fishery was the topic at hand. I’ll speak for all that attended in that we enjoyed a grand experience of a vibrant and healthy fishery. It is a fine example of what can be achieved in the Empire State. As if you need further prodding, the word among the group was that the current state of the fishery on Lake Erie promises to be great fishing for years to come given the abundant and diverse age classes of walleye and of other fish species.

As I titled this scattered collection of impressions and honest opinion it holds so true that it is a “Must do in Chautauqua County from Dunkirk Harbor” destination. It is a gem of our great state and one that I will return to with my wife to enjoy the great fishing, as well as the other offerings that the area excels at. As an outside observer, it is impressive the number of groups, people from very different interests working together to build up a healthy ecosystem, a vibrant fishery, and a destination well worth the trip. All of us who cherish New York State’s natural resources, the quality of its fisheries extend a very large thank you to all that have made it so successful.

-MJ

© 2017 Joyner Outdoor Media (Link: http://www.turkey-talk.com/tblog/?p=622)

Get Walleye Savvy Quick – ST. CROIX Walleye EYECON® FISHING ROD SERIES

  • PRODUCT REPORT:
  • Eyecon® ECS-70LF, 7ft., Lite-Power, Fast-Action, SCII Graphite
  • When a Fishing Rod Icon creates a Walleye Fishing Eyecon®
The St. Croix Eyecon® WALLEYE SERIES of fishing rods are sensitive, powerful and affordable.  

By David Gray
Part of the fun in the sport of fishing is the never-ending search for new equipment that works and fishes better. Last April, a friend introduced me to a new rod, the Eyecon ECS-70LF from St. Croix. The rod had such a “great feel,” I talked him into letting me borrow it for a couple of months so I could try it out.
The Eyecon ECS-70LF is one of the most impressive rods I have used in a long time. It says “Walleye Series” on the rod and it does a great job presenting finesse baits, but that is not all this rod does. The rod fishes well for walleye, crappie, bluegill, float fishing for smallmouth, and is great when spin fishing for trout. I used the 7-foot Eyecon with 3-pound line and 1/32 ounce jigs for trout and the rod was pure joy. Such are the numerous unadvertised advantages, since it can also handle medium-sized crankbaits with ease too.

Finesse fishing for walleye can be very successful with the right tools, beginning with the right fishing rod.  Forrest Fisher Photo

How a fishing rod casts, or more precisely, how the rod transfers energy to cast a lure, is where most rods fall short. It is one performance task to bring a large bass or walleye to the boat, but a very different performance task to achieve casting distance and accuracy. The Eyecon excels in both performance tasks.
My first use of the Eyecon was an eye-opener. When I picked it up, it made me stop to do a double-take on the rod, then the line and the lure. There was a captivating synergy in just picking the rig up to hold. Simple moments that are remembered like that mean good things. My first cast with the Eyecon surprised me. It went 10 feet farther than I was aiming. My second, third and fourth cast did the same. Every cast was 10 to 15 feet further than my aim point. The Eyecon is so efficient at transferring energy, it was casting farther than most similar action 7-foot spinning rods.
My experience with fishing rods is that when they can cast light lures well, they usually do not have super-sensitivity, but the Eyecon surprised me there. It is a very sensitive rod and lives up to its finesse label.
Every once in a while, a new product raises the performance bar and the Eyecon does exactly that. Everything that you want a fishing rod to do well this rod does extremely well.
The Eyecon ECS-70 LF is as a great buy in a 7-foot spinning rod. It delivers a higher level of fishing performance, helps you fish better and makes you a better fisherman. You gotta love fishing tools that allow you to achieve all that. I have one of my own Eyecon’s now. They sell for $120-$130 and come with a 5-year warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
If you need more info: http://stcroixrods.com/products/freshwater/eyecon/.

Lake Erie-Lake Ontario-Niagara River “On-Line” Fishing & Vacation Map is FREE

  • Integrated Map Provides Fish Locations, Shore Fishing Access, Boat Access
  • Depth Contours ZERO-IN on Hotspot Fishing Locations
  • Bait Shops, Marina Locations, Shipwrecks, ALL HERE…ALL FREE
Depth Contours as well as on-shore landmarks for boater access, shore fishing, restaurants and marina locations are included for Niagara County, Erie County and Chautauqua County waterway areas.  The website map link and info is free. 

By Forrest Fisher

There is a NEW interactive, online, Western New York Hotspot Fishing Map application that is yours FREE at this link:  https://wnyfishing.mrf.com.

The regional website map has been designed for everyone, including for cellphone and laptop use.  It is the perfect “get-it-now” reference tool for many user groups.  Boaters, anglers, scuba divers, vacationers and many other groups, family fishing groups, now have good waterway reference map.  Need to research waterway areas of the Greater Niagara Region of New York State BEFORE the trip?  Here is your resource.

The map spotlights lake depth contours, boating access points, marinas, shore fishing sites, sunken wrecks, fish species locations, bait shops, information sources, dining establishments and give all that to the user with GPS coordinates.  Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties offer some of the best freshwater sportfishing the world has ever seen!

World class walleye, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, musky, trout, salmon, all here, and many species of panfish.  Nearly everything an avid fisherman would ever want.  Carp and Channel Catfish too.

The Greater Niagara Region has established a reputation that boasts excellence in sportfishing, boating, kayaking, and outdoor on-the-water recreation.  Hire a charter, bring your own boat or fish from shore, the new regional map website will be useful for everyone who looks to quench a hungry angling appetite.

The website map is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast and for families looking to get back to finding the family fun of the outdoors through fishing and boating.  There are many other outdoor attractions, state and county parks, hiking paths, bird-watching opportunities (the Niagara River Corridor is internationally recognized as an important bird area), hunting options and more.  There are cultural, historical and recreational highlights from Lewiston in Niagara County, to Buffalo in Erie County and to Jamestown in Chautauqua County.  The new website and map app offers access to outdoor information and adds value for visitors and residents alike.

The area below Dunkirk, NY, and Barcelona Harbor, in Westfield, NY, is the “HOT WALLEYE ZONE”. Here is the 1st look-see from a free fishing map link that all anglers can enjoy for the very first time at no charge.

The website (https://wnyfishing.mrf.com) offers information to get you started and headed in the right direction, from charter listings to marina information; from shore fishing spots to license information. Unfortunately, it can’t help you set the hook and reel the fish in!

Greater Niagara – You’ll “fall for us” all over again reel soon!

Lake Erie Fishing Hotline, (716) 855-FISH, www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/, fishhotlines.html

Niagara Co. Fishing Hotline, (877) FALLS-US, www.niagarafallsusa.com

This map was made possible through the funding of Erie and Niagara Counties. It was prepared cooperatively between Erie and Niagara County’s respective Sportfishing Promotion Programs, with assistance from the Erie and Niagara County Fisheries Advisory Boards. Additional maps may be obtained by calling: Buffalo-Niagara CVB at 800-BUFFALO or Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. at 877-FALLS US.

17 Walleye, Less than 90 Minutes: HERE’S HOW

  • SLOW-TROLL Tricks are Deadly on Walleye Waters
  • Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, offers Hands-On Learning
  • Bring a Camera: Canyon Colors and Walleye Go Good Together
Delicious, tasty walleye are a top goal for anglers fishing everywhere, but on Lake Sakakawea, the pristine clean water is chilly all year long and the walleye taste better than most anywhere. Forrest Fisher Photo.

By Forest Fisher

Wanna catch walleye?  Know the two rules that apply everywhere.  Rule #1: Catching fish is fun.  Rule #2: Fishing with a professional guide that understands fish movement helps to make Rule #1 possible.  You can do it on your own later.

No matter where you go, catching quality walleye as a target species fish is the primary objective for many anglers.  This story is proof that Rule #2 is a good money-saving idea.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were vacationing in North Dakota near Teddy Roosevelt National Park and my better half whispered in my ear, “You should go fishing at least one day while we are here – Lake Sakakawea is just up the road, I’ll go souvenir shopping.” Such a deal.  I could not say no.

So I asked Kelly Sorge what people fish for.  The “always cheerful” proprietor at Indian Hills Resort (http://www.fishindianhills.com/) said, “Crappie, northern pike, bass, trout and walleye – we have all those species here, but most folks fish for walleye.  They like to eat them cooked over a campfire here.  The walleye are so pure and so tasty from Sakakawea.”  That settled it.

I rushed for my cellphone to make the call to Liebel’s Guide Service.  Capt. Jeremy Olsen called me back a short while later to set up time and departure to fish this beautiful Little Missouri River reservoir – it is pristine, with millions of years of erosion providing colorful rocky backdrops on the canyon walls.

Capt. Jeremy Olsen is a top fishing guide that will teach you how to have fun catching fish. Imagine catching 17 walleye in less than 90 minutes! Forrest Fisher Photo

Lake Sakakawea in central North Dakota was created for flood control on the Missouri River by the Garrison Dam.  The average width of the lake is 2-3 miles, but it is about 14 miles wide at the widest point, heavy with clean, deep water, shallow water, many undulating bay backwaters, drop-offs, flats, and a beautiful view of colorful mountain walls – hundreds of millions of years old, that form the gorge that creates this waterway.  In short, it is breathtaking!

We met at 7 a.m. and when I saw his new boat, I was thrilled, motivated and EAGER to set foot on the 21-foot Lund, 219-Pro-V, with a 350 horsepower Mercury Verado.  Cost: $81,000, I asked.  Cost of my Charter: $350.  A win-win for any angler.  The new Lund Pro-V fishing boats are special: quiet, safe, powerful, live well, many other features.  It’s all there on this boat.

We left the dock at 7:15 a.m., took 15 minutes to motor 10 miles to a chosen fishing spot (it didn’t take long at 62 mph), set up our lines on lightweight Phenix casting rods (http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Phenix_Rods/catpage-PHENIX.html).  At 7:40 a.m., Capt. Jeremy had the fish figured out and we landed our first walleye.   By 9:15 a.m., we had landed 17 walleye!  Could we call this a great day?  No way, it was an insurmountable day!

It will be a day that I would never forget as a walleye angler.  Indeed, vacations and special fishing moments are about making special memories.   I have no doubt that Capt. Jeremy could do this again.

While I’ll admit, my standards are higher than the average – I expect to catch lots of walleye and often, to beat the usual catch rate, but who would have ever guessed this catch rate of walleye could even occur in wild waters in the middle of summer?  Not me.

Capt. Jeremy is an expert.  He knows the secrets to understanding how fish move, when they move, forage location, wind and eddy current effects, and how to attract fish to invoke a strike.  For this day, he choose Smiley Blade attractors and worms.  The Smiley Blades offer slow rotating action when tied in front of a 3-foot fluorocarbon leader that has two to four beads in front of a single 1/0 hook.  In actual use, this action is death to walleye on Lake Sakakawea.  I discovered after getting home to Lake Erie, it is deadly anywhere else that walleye swim too.  The blades turn with as little as 0.4 mph forward speed because they are made from lightweight Mylar.  Capt. Jeremy buys the blades separate and custom-makes the Smiley Blade rigs with his kids, adding a dash of special magic, I’m sure.

We attached the Smiley Rig leaders to a 1-1/4 ounce wire/bottom-bouncer and set the MinnKota Ulterra bow motor to troll at about 0.6 mph.  Three or four minutes later, presto!  Fish on!  Walleye after walleye came into the boat.  We released all the smaller fish as they were caught.

If you’re out that way, you can contact Capt. Jeremy through Lieber’s Guide Service at http://www.liebelsguideservice.com/.  He will travel to many other waters too, including Montana.

Of course, understanding where to drop lines (location), why to drop where we did (bait movement and water clarity), and how fast to go, are among reasons why we ask a charter captain to take us fishing when we go to a new lake.  A charter captain fishes many more times than we do and it is always a learning experience.

This was new water for me, I’m a Lake Erie walleye fisherman, fishing Lake Sakakawea was quite different.  To do it again, I think I’d contact Capt. Jeremy again and leave my boat home.  The trip was safe, fast, affordable and fun.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

To learn more about Smiley Blades, a video with details about rigging, design, styles and colors is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoO7MxmD-rA.

Accommodations: You can camp at Indian Hills for just $20/night.  There is a boat launch, convenience store, fish-cleaning station and running potable water at several spots.  If regular tenting is too primitive for you, there is one cabin there called “Peacepipe” that accommodates 6 people with bunks, A/C, sink and kitchen for $90/night.  At Peacepipe, you and your family can camp in comfort, and while this style camping cabin has no shower or toilet inside of it, the conveniences are an easy 200’ walk to the shower house.  There is a built-in, sit-down table that seats four, the kitchen counter includes a 2-burner hot plate, small refrigerator and wash basin (potable water is just outside) with drain.  You only need to provide your own sleeping bag or bedding.  Outside you’ll find a picnic table and fire ring, and exterior electrical outlets.  We stayed here and it was great.  Above that, they offer condo’s and lodge rooms too.  Choices are what life in the outdoor lane is all about.  The degree of “outdoorism” that you choose is available here.  My kind of place (http://www.fishindianhills.com/).

For additional general information on Lake Sakakawea and other North Dakota sites to see, visit http://www.ndtourism.com/blog/lesson-about-lake-sakakawea.

This may have been one of the most fun, most learning trips I have ever had the pleasure to experience. One last word, I love North Dakota!  My sweetheart of 48 years and I will be back soon.

Summer Walleyes in the Heat of Summer, NO PROBLEM!

Inland Lake walleyes in the mid-west are easy hot-summer fun if you’re fishing guide, Les Jarman.  Read how.  Brent Frazee Photo

By Brent Frazee

Think about the very worst conditions for walleye fishing.

High noon.  A hot sun beating down. Temperatures in the low 90s.  A blue sky, with hardly a cloud in sight.

That about covers it, doesn’t it?

So why was Les Jarman, a longtime guide, so optimistic that he and his friend, Ken White, would soon be catching walleyes in those conditions as they trolled on Stockton Lake in southwest Missouri?

“We’ve caught walleyes in the middle of the day on days that were hotter than this,” Jarman said, as he zig-zagged his boat on a flat near the river channel.  “These walleyes will get out here on these flats in the summer and they’ll suspend.

“If the baitfish are here, the walleyes will be too.  If you put a crankbait in front of them, they’ll hit.”

Staring at his electronics, Jarman saw the perfect scenario setting up.  As he trolled in 20 feet of water not far from the river channel, he watched the screen of his depth finder light up with specks of baitfish.  The occasional mark of a gamefish also showed up.

“The walleyes are scattered right now,” said Jarman, 65, who lives in the town of Stockton and operates the Specialized Guide Service.  “They’re just out here chasing shad.

“That’s why I like to troll.  Instead of sitting on one point, I can cover a lot of water this way.”

Approaching an area where a long point extended into the flat, Jarman felt something jolt the Bandit crankbait he was trolling through the Bic Sac arm of the Ozark reservoir.

When the fish stayed down, Jarman knew he had a walleye.  Moments later, he tossed that keeper into a live well already splashing with fish.

Hot weather, hot fishing.  That’s Jarman’s formula for success.  Though he fishes for walleyes year-around at Stockton, he knows the fishing doesn’t necessarily come to a halt when the heat arrives.

From early June to mid-October, he trolls for walleyes far off shore, and he and his guides clients routinely catch limits.  Jarman himself has caught fish up to 6 pounds trolling.

There is a science to his approach.  He doesn’t merely pull into open water and start trolling. He tries to keep his crankbaits cutting through the water over main-lake structure.

“I’m looking anything where there is a change in the bottom,” he said.  “Main-lake or secondary points, drop-offs, humps – that’s what walleyes will relate to in the summer.”

Jarman likes to troll with 60 to 70 feet of line out.  He uses 10-pound test and trolls at two miles per hour.  He wants to keep his crankbaits 10 to 12 feet down in water that is at least twice that deep.

“Walleyes will always come up to hit a bait,” Jarman said.  “If you troll too deep, you’re not going to catch them.  You have to be in the right zone.”

During the hottest part of summer, Jarman prefers to troll early in the day and in the evening hours.  But he knows that the fish will hit in the middle of the day, too.

He proved it on a recent sultry day in the Ozarks.  He, White and I caught enough walleyes to make a meal.  And there was a bonus.  We also caught about 20 white bass, several big crappies and a couple of keeper largemouth bass.

But such results aren’t unusual.  Jarman and his clients have been catching limits (four walleyes 15 inches or longer) of walleyes regularly in the June heat.

For Jarman, that’s just one more trick in his trade.  After guiding on Stockton since shortly after it opened in 1969, he knows where to find the sharp-toothed gamefish.

He also knows that he is fishing on the right reservoir. Stockton has long been recognized as one of Missouri’s top walleye spots, thanks to regular stockings by the Department of Conservation.

Jarman’s favorite method is to use suspending stickbaits in the early spring. He caught a 10-pound, 4-ounch walleye in March several years ago.

But he doesn’t stop fishing when the weather turns hot and humid.  He knows he can tie on a small crankbait such as a Bandit and stay on the move.

Guide-Fishing Secrets to Catch Chautauqua Lake Walleyes

  • Chautauqua Lake Secret: Work the Weedline
  • Keep Fishing Simple To Succeed Often
  • Spinner/Worm Rigs & Snap-Jigging
Jan Adair (left) landed this nice walleye, her first walleye ever, while fishing Chautauqua Lake, then caught five more walleye before the noon hour while fishing with Captain Frank Schoenacker (right).

By Forrest Fisher with guide, Frank Schoenacker (Infinity Charters)

 When great guides and charter captains talk, honest anglers that don’t always catch fish listen.  So I listen very well.  I’m as honest as they come.  One thing I’ve discovered, when anglers share life through the gift of a fishing charter, good things can happen! 

During a recent Chautauqua Lake fishing trip for one client couple, there came lasting memories and lots of fishing fun. 

The client contacted my friend and local guide, Frank Schoenacker, in December, as she had purchased a charter fish trip as a Christmas gift for her boyfriend.  Frank said, “They both fish, but haven’t done much walleye or musky fishing.  So last week, they had a couple of firsts.  She landed her first ever walleye, which was a nice 17-inch fish, then she followed up with 5 more!  That’s not all, her boyfriend caught his first musky while fishing for walleyes.” 

Frank added, “I teach my clients to fish simple.  It all starts with meeting them at a common place.  At Chautauqua Lake, for many guides and for me too, that place is the Bemus Point boat launch.  The next thing is not overcrowding the action and the people aboard. On Chautauqua, I limit clients to two people maximum and I don’t fish when I have clients.   I provide equipment and have it setup before the trip.” 

When Frank talks, he explains juicy details, “On my boat, I use an 8-horse kicker to troll weed edges at slow speed (1 mph or so), mostly using a very simple, old-fashioned, spinner/worm harness.  Small beads, a small spinner blade and small hooks are essential when fishing Chautauqua.  Lots of reasons why, they have to do with catching your targeted species.  Boat control and using electronics to see the weed edge is critical.  My boat is a tiller steer, so I have direct contact with my motor and boat direction.  I tie my harness with small hooks (size one), then use a small copper or fire-tiger blade (size 2) off a clevis, then I usually add small red beads as attractors – or whatever fish think those are!  They work.”

Schoenacker uses a sliding-sinker for weight on his 6 to 8 lb braid as mainline.  He adds, “Pretty much an old school setup. Normally I’m anywhere from 8 to 14 feet of water depth depending on the weed edge where we fish.  Early in the season when water is cool, I’ll use nightcrawlers (sometimes half-worms are better than whole ones) and I start to use a rubber worm soon after, as white perch get pesky and they won’t touch a plastic worm.” He was smiling with a big grin.

“Starting at the tail end of June, I fish a rubber worm instead of a live worm pretty much all the time.  When the bite slows at mid-morning, I have one client go to a live worm.  Sometimes we can get an extra bite or two. “

What if the fish aren’t biting?  Franks says, “I move around and pre-fish before guided trips so I have a plan based on wind and weather for the day.  Generally, during the early season I’m in the lower lake mostly (south of Route 86 bridge).  This year (2017), the channel in Bemus was good early.” 

Even in summer, it pays to bring an extra jacket when the weather send a chilly breeze at sunrise.

“It’s not as simple as I’m making it sound, you need to adapt and you know when that needs to happen after a few decades of fishing, ”Schoenacker says.  “Weed lines off the creek mouths are good, so I look around Prendergast Bay, Dewittville Bay, Goose Creek, etc.  The fish tend to be active at different places and at different times, so this is where the knowledge of the guide comes in.  Add the varying style of fishing we can do and add the potential to change position, “run and gun,” from spot to spot, we find them most every day we try.” 

If you live on or near the lake, that is a bonus.  He adds, “Pre-fishing helps me have several spots planned.  Any angler that fishes today needs to have pretty good electronics so they can see the fish for as many times as they work the weed line.  I have also seen that when walleyes are active, the white perch are less of a problem.  I’m seeing several good year classes of walleyes in the lake now, lots of 13-14 inch throwbacks, then there are numbers of 17 inchers and then a class of 20 inch-plus fish. “

Anglers are pleased that the walleye population is doing well in the lake and folks are also very pleased that the DEC lowered the walleye minimum size limit to 15-inches in 2017.  Schoenacker adds, “I do some musky trolling, but my primary focus is on fishing for walleyes.”

“I’ll fish the weed lines until the water warms and fish move deeper.  At that point I move to open water trolling and snap-jigging.  Snap-jigging works for me right on through the fall.  I like the weedline and jigging programs best because you hold the rod and feel the fish hit.  Hard to beat that for sure,” says Schoenacker 

Schoenacker adds, “I want to help people have more fun finding and catching fish, so I’m sharing some of my program plan with walleye anglers everywhere that plan to fish Chautauqua Lake sometime soon.  This gives you the background on my simple walleye program, but don’t forget, you can always call me for a hands-on trip.”

Lastly, Schoenacker has two boats, he uses the smaller one (Lund ProV Tiller with 60hp Yamaha and 8hp Yamaha) for that up-front experience on Chautauqua Lake, but he is also a licensed Lake Erie Charter Captain and member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and National Association of Charter Boat Operators. He will also share his fishcatching secrets while aboard his Pro-Line 25 (powered by Evinrude 225hp ETEC and 9.9hp Yamaha kicker).  You can reach Capt. Frank Schoenacker by phone at 585-406-5764, email: fcs49@hotmail.com, or on his website at: http://www.infinitycharters.com/

You know, we never stop learning when people that know way more than we do are willing to share.  Hat’s off to Captain Frank!

NYSDEC Eastern Lake Erie Fishing Report – June 10, 2017

Lake Erie and Harbors

Fishing from a very windy Sunset Bay in Irving, NY, retired Charter Captain Bob Rustowicz and teammates, caught a few walleye from Day 1 of the Southtowns walleye Association Tournament in Lake Erie.

The night bite along the nearshore reefs has fallen off. Most walleye anglers are now targeting daylight hours and catches have been slowly improving in 40-60 feet of water near major spawning areas. Productive methods include trolling with worm harnesses or stickbaits just off the bottom, or by slow trolling (1 mph or less) with a bottom bouncing rig and worm harness. Working deeper edges off the walleye spawning structures is also worth a try. Some walleye anglers are still doing well at night off the Buffalo Harbor’s outer breakwalls out to 30 feet of water, with a few catches inside the harbor as well. There have been some decent yellow perch catches recently out of Cattaraugus Creek starting in 60 feet of water. Anglers fishing in around 50 feet of water report plenty of nuisance goby. Live emerald shiners fished near the bottom work best for perch.

Smallmouth bass are still available in and around Lake Erie harbors and their breakwalls. Early this week, Dunkirk Harbor anglers were catching between 15-35 smallmouth per outing. On Lake Erie, depths of 20-30 feet of water over rocky shoals has recently been productive. Good spots to try include Myers Reef, Seneca Shoal, Evans Bar and Van Buren Reef. Many smaller reefs, rock piles and humps will hold bass as well. Tube jigs, jigs with twister tails, deep diving stickbaits, live minnows and crayfish are good bass baits. For more information see the Smallmouth Bass Fishing on Lake Erie page.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Some smallmouth bass are still available in the Lake Erie tributaries. However, with low and warming waters in the small to medium streams, the bite is fading. Best chances for bass is in the lower end of Cattaraugus Creek.

Upper Niagara River

Smallmouth bass catches are on the rise around Grand Island. Bass fishing is by catch and release only, artificial lures only in the Niagara River north of the Peace Bridge, until the regular season opens on third Saturday in June.

Chautauqua Lake

Musky fishing along weedlines has been productive since the season opened. Good techniques include trolling large stickbaits along weed edges or casting stickbaits over weed beds and retrieving towards open water. There has been some decent walleye fishing during daylight hours. One group caught a bunch of keepers in 15-18 feet of water by drifting with bottom bouncing rig and worm harness and by trolling (1.3 mph) with harnesses or deep diving stickbaits. See the Fishing for Walleye page for more information. Yellow perch and sunfish seem to biting well lake-wide inside of 10 feet of water. Perch catches are also good in deeper areas.

Inland Trout Streams

Trout streams throughout the region are in great shape with moderate flows. Warming water temps also have more bug and fish feeding activity at the surface. Sub-surface nymphs are good bets early in the day, while dry flies can be productive in the afternoon. Look for hatches of March browns, sulphurs, caddis flies and stone flies on the streams that have them. Productive offerings for spinning anglers include worms, salted minnows and small inline spinners. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams and Stocked Trout Streams to choose from. In addition, Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region’s best trout streams. Check out the Fishing For Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, equipment and fishing techniques.

Spring Trout Stocking

All of Region 9’s trout stocking waters have been stocked with all of designated stocking increments. For County lists of stocked waters check the Spring Trout Stocking 2017 page. Hatchery staff stocked some surplus two-year-old brown trout in the following waters between May 23rd and 26th: Genesee River – 400 brown trout from Wellsville to PA border; Cattaraugus Creek – 400 brown trout in Erie and Wyoming Counties; Cohocton River – 275 brown trout; Oatka Creek – 275 brown trout.

Genesee River Angler Diary Program

DEC Region 9 Fisheries Unit will be running an angler diary program for the Genesee River during 2017, and is currently looking for anglers to keep diaries. The diarist program aims to record data for trout and bass fishing trips on the Genesee River from the Pennsylvania line downstream through Letchworth State Park from March 1st through October 31st, 2017.

If you fish the Genesee River (even once) and would like to contribute your observations by keeping a diary, please call DEC Fisheries at (716) 379-6372 or email fwfish9@dec.ny.gov.

More Information:

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; michael.todd@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.

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!

 

WHERE TO FIND MISSOURI JACK SALMON

  • Secrets to Finding and Catching Jack Salmon
  • Hot Lures can be Simple Lures When They Work
  • Missouri Fishing With a Special Friend   

By Larry Whiteley

Daron Whiteley and keeper Jack Salmon.

Many years ago during a beautiful spring in the Missouri Ozarks, a good friend of mine, Bob Nelson, invited me to go fishing with him for a fish he called “Jack Salmon”.  I had never heard of such a fish so I went along mainly out of curiosity.

He took me north to Stockton Lake and a creek called Turnback.  We walked up creek and found this fish with the funny name as they headed upstream to spawn.  Casting spinner rigs and spoons the fight was a whole lot of fun in the swift water.  We caught our limit and the fish weren’t the only thing hooked that day.

Just when I thought this special day was over and it couldn’t get any better, it did. Bob fileted the fish, started a campfire on a gravel bar, pulled a cast iron skillet from his truck, added some lard, cut up some potatoes and onions, opened a can of beans, covered the filets with cornmeal and cooked up a meal I still remember over 40 years later.

A plate of delicious Jack Salmon.

Unless you are as old I am, if you tell someone you are going fishing for Jack Salmon they will probably look at you kind of funny.  Today most of us know them as the delicious, fun-to-catch walleye.

When you talk about walleye most fishermen think of the legendary fishing in the Dakota’s, Minnesota, Wisconsin and several of our northeastern states.  They might also think of the fabulous walleye fishing on Greer’s Ferry Lake in Arkansas or Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee.

And I, like many of you, have made several trips to fish legendary Canadian lakes for walleye.  The next time I go, I’m going to ask them if they have ever heard of a Jack Salmon.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever go out of state after walleye.  We have some really good walleye fishing right here at home.  In fact, the Missouri state record is 21.1 pounds, caught in 1988 at Bull Shoals Lake by Gerry Partlow.  That’s bigger than 90% of the famous walleye states I just mentioned.

Walleye are native to some areas of Missouri and in some waters they naturally reproduce.  However, in most of our large and small lakes, and reservoirs as well, as some streams and rivers they have to be stocked to keep up with fishing pressure.  The Missouri Department of Conservation started stocking walleyes in the 1970s and now stock 1.2 million a year all over the state.

Lakes that receive walleye stockings include Bilby, Bull Shoals, Jacomo, Lake of the Ozarks, Longview, Long Branch, Mozingo, Norfork, Pomme de Terre, Smithville, Stockton, Table Rock, and Truman.  The Mississippi, Black and Current Rivers are also known for good walleye fishing.

During the spring, walleyes will run up rivers and streams that flow into or out of a lake to spawn.  Just like they were doing the day Bob Nelson took me fishing for Jack Salmon.  They can also be found in areas of lakes with gravel or rip rap where they will also spawn.

Wherever you go walleye fishing in Missouri, make sure you check the season, length and possession limits of the water you are fishing because they can vary.

If you are new to walleye fishing, just realize it won’t be easy.  If you’re willing to go without a little sleep, that’s good.  Walleye feed actively at night.  If you don’t mind bad weather, that’s good too.  Walleye will sometimes bite the best when the weather isn’t best.

There are other times you can catch walleye.  Early morning, low-light conditions from a half hour before to a few hours after sunrise are also good.  I have better luck though, fishing a couple of hours before sunset to right up until dark sets in.

A dark, cloudy day is usually always good because the fish will sometimes feed all day.  If it is a bright sunny day they will be at 20 feet or more trying to get away from the sunlight that penetrates the water.

Spoons, crankbaits and plain jigs, or jigs tipped with a minnow or nightcrawler, are good most of the time.  Nightcrawlers and leeches work well on slip-sinker rigs. Trolling at 1 to 1.5 mph can also be effective.

Anna Whiteley with a Stockton Lake Jack Salmon a little under the size limit, the fish was released without harm.

Last year on Stockton Lake, my grandson Hunter, granddaughter Anna and I, did exceptionally well catching walleye.  We used 1/8 ounce Roadrunners with gray shad bodies and hammered willow leaf silver blades.  My son, Daron, caught his walleye with a crappie spinnerbait.

Walleye are usually not going to hit your bait hard.  When they take it, you might just feel a hesitation or a little bump and think your bait just ran into something.  That hesitation or bump just might be a Missouri Jack Salmon and you better set the hook.

To learn more about Jack Salmon, I mean walleye fishing, in Missouri, go to the Missouri Department of Conservation web site and search for walleye.               

Lake Erie Committee Announces Walleye and Yellow Perch Harvest Levels for 2016

Maintaining a healthy Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fishery is the responsibility of fishery scientists and managers from many states and nations that meet each year to discuss the monitoring data behind the delicate balance of understanding a healthy fishery. Forrest Fisher Photo

The binational Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fish Commission (GLFC), comprising fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario, and Pennsylvania, met in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and recommended a total allowable catch (TAC) of 4.937 million walleye and 9.208 million pounds of yellow perch for 2016 (Walleye are allocated by number of fish; yellow perch are allocated in pounds).  These TAC recommendations are an allowable combination harvest of recreational sport fishing and commercial fishing, for 2016 the numbers represent an increase in allowable catch for walleye from 4.114 million fish last year and a decrease in yellow perch from 10.528 million fish.

The Lake Erie Committee’s TAC recommendations are reflective of the status of Lake Erie’s fish populations and take into account the goal of consistent harvest from year to year. The individual provincial and state governments adhere to and implement the TAC recommendations in accordance with their respective regulations and management objectives.

TAC recommendations are produced after extensive lakewide biological assessments, analysis, discussions, and consultations with stakeholders. A central mechanism to discuss walleye and yellow perch management in Lake Erie is called the Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group, or LEPMAG. Through this process, stakeholder input directly informs the development of harvest strategies.

A healthy fishery affects the recreational economy and millions of people that utilize the resource.

WALLEYE

The Lake Erie Committee today recommended a 2016 walleye TAC of 4.937 million fish, a 20% increase from the 2015 TAC of 4.114 million fish. The TAC recommendation for 2016 reflects a stable adult population and a moderate to strong hatch in 2014. The 2011, 2010, 2007, and the 2003 year classes continue to contribute to the stability of the walleye fishery and allow for the increase in TAC from last year.

Each Lake Erie jurisdiction is responsible for implementing its portion of the TAC. The Province of Ontario and the States of Ohio and Michigan share the TAC based on a formula of walleye habitat within each jurisdiction in the western and central basins of the lake. Under a 2016 TAC of 4.937 million fish, Ohio will be allocated 2.523 million fish, Ontario 2.126 million fish, and Michigan 0.288 million fish. Most of the walleye harvest comes from the western portion of Lake Erie and, as such, jurisdictions in the eastern end of the lake are outside the TAC area. Harvest limits in the eastern basin are established separately by Ontario, Pennsylvania, and New York and remain in accordance with lake-wide conditions and objectives.

The walleye TAC recommendations are consistent with the Lake Erie Walleye Management Plan, which sets fishery goals and objectives for walleye. The plan is the result of extensive stakeholder and manager input through LEPMAG. In addition, the Walleye Task Group, comprising scientists and field biologists from all Lake Erie jurisdictions, provides scientific advice to the Lake Erie Committee. The committee also takes into account recommendations from LEPMAG and is informed by a model, developed in conjunction with stakeholders and Michigan State University.

YELLOW PERCH

The Lake Erie Committee remains strongly interested in maintaining stability in harvest while ensuring yellow perch sustainability. Consistent with that primary objective, the Lake Erie Committee recommended a 2016 TAC of 9.208 million pounds of yellow perch, a decrease from last year’s allocation of 10.528 million pounds. The decrease in the yellow perch TAC reflects declining abundance in the central eastern basins, coupled with increasing abundance in the western basin. Like the walleye TAC recommendation, the proposed yellow perch TAC is the result of deliberations among the jurisdictions and with stakeholders through the LEPMAG process.

The five jurisdictions on the lake share Lake Erie’s yellow perch established under an area-based formula. Under the 2016 TAC recommendation, Ontario will receive 4.385 million pounds, Ohio 3.876 million pounds, Michigan 0.209 million pounds, New York 0.119 million pounds, and Pennsylvania 0.620 million pounds.

The Lake Erie Committee noted that the lake-wide yellow perch fishery is performing at long-term trend levels and, thus, the overall TAC reflects a relatively small decrease. The performance, however, is not uniform throughout the lake. In some areas, called “management units,” the change in yellow perch abundance (and, hence, allowable harvest) is significantly different in 2016 compared to 2015. The Lake Erie Committee has strived to maintain harvest stability while still responding to specific trends in each management unit. The committee discussed the need to evaluate methods, including population modeling and assessment, for better understanding percid recruitment in the central basin.

THE LAKE ERIE PERCID MANAGEMENT ADVISORY GROUP (LEPMAG)

The Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group was first convened in 2010 and serves as the primary method to incorporate stakeholder needs and objectives into the Lake Erie yellow perch and walleye decision-making process. LEPMAG consists of senior representatives from all provincial and state jurisdictions on the lake, recreational fishers, commercial fishers, and other interested organizations. Through LEPMAG, fishery managers and stakeholders work together to identify the harvest policies for Lake Erie percids that meet the needs of all stakeholders while maintaining stability in the percid fishery. Michigan State University’s Quantitative Fisheries Center facilitates the LEPMAG process. Walleye are now being managed under the Walleye Management Plan, which was developed through LEPMAG and formally adopted by the Lake Erie Committee in December, 2015. LEPMAG members are in the process of developing population objectives and harvest strategies for yellow perch in Lake Erie. The objectives and harvest strategies are expected to be completed in the coming years.

THE LAKE ERIE COMMITTEE AND TACs

The Lake Erie Committee comprises fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario and Pennsylvania. The committee’s work is facilitated by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, a Canadian and U.S. agency on the Great Lakes. Each year the committee recommends a TAC for walleye and yellow perch. The TAC represents the number or weight of fish recommended to be caught by sport and commercial fishers without putting the fisheries at risk. The individual agencies implement the recommended total allowable catch.

Stop Spinning your Wheels this Winter

spinningwheels1

I’d be a very rich man If I had a dollar for every person who believes that the reason they don’t enjoy the same results as some of the more successful anglers is because they don’t have access to secret lures, covert baits, hush-hush scents and cloak-and-dagger waypoints.

The reason this view is so out of whack is because the key to success most days is not in the big picture or the grand scheme of things, but rather in the subtle, often cunning and clever refinements.

The little things really do add up most days to making a huge difference in your fishing success. And if you enjoy ice fishing as much as I do for walleye, black crappies, yellow perch and bull bluegills, I have a brilliant refinement for you.

spinningwheels2

Truthfully, it is a game changer.

In fact, here is what I want you to do this winter to prove it to yourself. Use one of the new single action fishing reels like the Rapala R-Type Ice Centerpin and prepare to be amazed for one very simple reason. Because of the natural way that your line comes off the spool, and goes back on – like a fly reel – and because there is no drag system to twist your line, it never coils and develops a memory.

As a result, when you drop your lure or bait down the hole, it remains dead still and doesn’t spin like it does when you use a spinning reel. And if there is one thing that walleyes, perch, crappies and bluegills detest with a passion, it is a lure or bait that twirls around in circles, as they stare at it and size it up.

spinningwheels3

It is the subject of this week’s video blog that I shot the other day while ice fishing on Northwestern Ontario’s majestic Lake of the Woods.   How good was the fishing? In two days, the yellow perch action was non-stop with only two or three fish measuring as small as 12-inches. The vast majority averaged over 13-inches in length, with so many 13.75 to 14.25 inch jumbos approaching two-pounds that it was spellbinding!

Click on the following video and see for yourself.

 

Secret to Icing Reluctant Walleyes

Are they biting light? Turn ’em on with these teasing tactics

reluctantwalleyes1

When a big fish shows up on your sonar screen, there’s a natural tendency to drop your lure in front of its face. But trying to make it easy for a fish to bite rarely works. So how do you get the fish to bite? By making it harder for them! If you understand the species you’re targeting, you can trigger their predatory urges by tempting, teasing and goading them into attacking your bait.

Since walleye are the largest North American member of the perch family, you’d think you could fire up a school by using the same teasing tactics that work on yellow perch (coming soon!), but that’s rarely the case. Maybe it’s because perch are more gregarious and huddle together in greater numbers, so their competitive instincts are that more intense. Or it could be that yellow perch just aren’t the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. I suspect it’s a blend of the two.

That said, I will use the same larger lures for walleye that I use for aggressive perch: W3 Jigging Raps and W30 Warblers (but tipped with minnow heads) and ¼-ounce Freedom Minnows. I’ll also use a fluorescent orange or chartreuse/orange ¼-ounce ReelBait Flasher Jig tipped with a lively minnow, and a lipless crankbait such as the Kamooki Smartfish (below), LiveTarget Shad or Rapala Rippin’ Rap.

reluctantwalleyes2

When I can’t see any walleye on the sonar screen, I’ll drop one of these baits to within a foot or two of the bottom and pause for 10 seconds. Then I’ll pop it up briskly and pause for another 10 seconds before letting it fall back down to repeat the process.

The thing you always have to remember when ice fishing for walleye is that your presentation consists of two very distinct phases: attraction and triggering. You jig your lure to attract the fish, then trigger them into biting by teasing them.

reluctantwalleyes3
Bay of Quinte Gold in Ontario for Bob Rustowicz of Western New York! From this past Saturday (January 30, 2016), Rustowicz warns, “Last of the safe ice up there, above freezing temps next 4 days and longer daylight hours will end the ice season there, for now.”

The problem is, you can never count on walleye to do anything consistently. Sometimes when you’re lifting and shaking your lure as if you’ve had too much coffee, one fish will rush in and smack it without hesitation. But then two minutes later, you’ll have to tease the next fish forever to entice a bite. Consider that there may be a solution! Click below to check it out.

http://www.outdoorcanada.ca/Ice-fishing_Friday_The_secret_to_icing_reluctant_walleyes