A new fishing experience…Mississippi River Backwater crappies!

I love learning new fishing stuff. Whether it’s a new lure/bait, new fishing tactics, new fishing spots, or chasing new species I have never caught before. Maybe it’s the new adventure of it all that draws me. However, many days it ends with me scratching my head trying to figure out what the heck just happened. Long days, long drives, long walks and a lot of hours can often end in frustration when exploring anything new in the fishing world.

However, it’s also that unknown possibility of finding the jackpot of a great bite or some big fish that no one else is fishing that also draws me. It’s that occasional reward that keeps going through the long drives and long days.  Well, just this past week, I found one of those rewards fishing a completely new body of water.

I have been exploring some of the backwaters of the Mississippi on P3 in search of panfish. Many of these areas I have fished in open water for early season walleyes but I know that this area of the river holds some nice panfish so they have to go somewhere in the winter right?!

After getting on a nice crappie bite last week (see video link 2) I kept exploring new spots, drilling out football fields of holes, fishing them with my flasher and also exploring them with my camera. Well what I found was the holy grail of fishing finds!!!

I was (and still am) ecstatic! So motivated by the thrill of finding this huge crib, I headed out once again to the same general area of the river. I thought if there is one crib there has to be more. I could probably just plop down on the crib I already found and hammer nice crappies and gills all day. But it is more that chase to find the unknown that thrills me. So off I went again drilling and cameraing holes hoping to find some more river treasures! After a bunch of holes and finding nothing, I was starting to give up hope that there were anymore crib gems in this area.

It was just then when I saw a dark shadow about 12-15′ away from one of the holes I cameraed. I drilled a few holes where the camera was pointed and to my great surprise here is what I found!

Wohoooo, my heart was racing and once again beyond excited! This crib was different and looks like it was probably homemade, but none less it held a ton of fish! I fished it for a while and pulled a few fish off it but nothing of size so I continued drilling holes and fishing. Below I have embed a video from this same Mississippi backwater explaining what I have been doing to catch these fish along with a few pictures of my trips out there the last few weeks!

Instead of boring you with more of my writing  :) I will let the videos and pictures do the talking!

13.5" and the biggest crappie I have pulled out of these backwaters so far

13.5″ and the biggest crappie I have pulled out of these backwaters so far

Some more nice eater 10.5-11.5" slabs!

Some more nice eater 10.5-11.5″ slabs!

My humble and cozy abode for the past few months

My humble and cozy abode for the past few months

A screen grab of the 1st crib I found!

A screen grab of the 1st crib I found!

A nice 12.5" slab that is featured in the video below

A nice 12.5″ slab that is featured in the video below

~Evan Pheneger
imnfishing.com Pro Staff

Fishing Report from Red Lake, MN 12/12/15

I will try to keep this fairly short text wise and let the pics and videos do the talking. I’ll stick to sharing the info most people are asking

Away from everyone fishing near the crack!

Away from everyone fishing near the crack!

RED LAKE:

Location: A few miles east of Rogers Resort (accessed lake privately)

Ice thickness: 5-6″

Fishing depth: 8-9′ FOW

Water clarity : 3-4′ clarity, best its been yet this winter

Status of cracks: Still opening up along SOUTHEAST shore. The furthest one out (which we didn’t cross). We found deep enough water and didn’t want to risk it. As of 12/14/15 this crack is still opening and closing daily. There is also a rescue mission currently going on because of this crack, read here and here BE CAREFUL!

Best tactics: First day (12/11/15) was all dead sticks with fatheads and second day (12/12/15) was almost all caught on jigging spoons with minnow heads.

Best tip/advice: Get away from the crowds if possible. Fish a break line. Find out early in your outing if its a jigging bite, dead stick bite or combo, once you figure that out switch both lines to that tactic.

IMPORTANT!!!: If you plan to keep fishing after you have your limit please stop one fish short (see pic below). This allows you to keep a fish that may happened to get gut hooked without having to release a fish that will most likely die!

One short of a 3 man limit!

One short of a 3 man limit!

So now for a little recap of our fishing adventures. We got out around noon on 12/11. We were marking a good amount of fish on our jigging sticks but couldn’t get a single one to commit. So after a while of hole hopping I decided to just relax and put up some tip ups. My thought being that with the high sun, thin ice, and shallow water that these fish were spooking or sensing something wasn’t right when they came in on jigging sticks. For once, I happened to be right on. Flags started popping up everywhere.

The first day, and I kid you not, I didn’t catch a single fish on a rod. We must have iced 20-30 eyes from noon till 4pm all on tip ups. A few tips here with fishing these walleyes in shallow water on tip ups. Don’t run to your flag, walk gently, these fish will spit the bait quite often when they hear you coming. Also, wait for the fish to run away from you before setting the hook, this really helps on hook up percentage! Here are some photos of our first day fish! Clean em up…and eat em up!

Westwinds cooked em up nice for us!

Westwinds cooked em up nice for us!

Day two (12/12) brought a completely different result. With overcast skys and the low light morning, the walleyes were hammering the jig stick! Almost every fish you marked would come up and hammer your bait. However, they didn’t seem to want the set line deadsticks at all. We had one short of our 3 man limit in about 45 mins. The bite continued this way until about 1pm when we left the ice to head home and beat the storm. It quickly became a RED LAKE RELASE FEST!!

We even were able to catch and release a few low 20″ fish!

Catch at release at its finest!

Catch at release at its finest!

Here is another nice eye that we put back!

Andy with a high teens releaser!

Andy with a high teens releaser!

All in all it was a great weekend to get on some ice and let the walleyes chomp!

CHOMP CHOMP on the lindy rattlin flyer

CHOMP CHOMP on the lindy rattlin flyer

Thanks for reading and stay safe out on that ice!
~Evan Pheneger
imnfishing.com Pro Staff

Follow the bait! (LOTW style)

Some of the finest walleye fishing of the year takes place during the fall. The trick is to find the best action, and to match your presentation to the mood of the fish. Fall walleye fishing can be extremely unpredictable, but most will say that usually the poorest weather conditions will produce the largest fish. Most large fish caught in the fall are females. To nourish their developing eggs the female walleye needs to consume large quantities of food.

LOTW Shiner

LOTW Shiner

In September the Rainy River and Four Mile Bay experience a shiner run. This shiner run generally lasts through the formation of ice. The Walleyes follow the shiners into the Rainy River providing high walleye concentrations. This is some of the best close in walleye action of the year.
First of all, these big females have to eat, right? They will move shallow in a lake or river to feed and usually they need some reason to do so. The reason, that is where the prey fish have moved. In the fall this would mean that the depths of a lake are warmer than the shallows. In the fall the cooler water is on the shoreline. Big walleyes will swim into the shallow waters to go on a feeding spree. If you are in the shallows when this takes place hang onto the rod, you are about to catch some of the largest walleyes of your life.

A nice bag of fresh shiners

A nice bag of fresh shiners

As they get full they may slide down to deeper parts of the lake, but again remember they have to eat and one of places to start looking for big walleyes is shallow. How shallow? Sometimes it maybe six inches of water, just enough to cover them. On Lake of the Woods early fall patterns find big walleyes moving shallow enough for some fisherman to actually see the walleyes. In the fall big fish like big baits. In fact, that is never truer than prior to our ice season. The water is cooling down rapidly and those fish won’t put a great deal of energy on a snack. They want something substantial. (Large & In Charge) Fish tend to locate along transitional zones. Here bottom may change from sand to rock or from mud to weeds; a drop-off may occur or slope into deep water; or water in one sector may be a slightly different color. The most important transition zones are the weeds. The weeds or vegetation may be the key to successful angling. (We have plenty of that in the river!) With either natural bait the presentation must be realistic. It should appear that what you are offering is part of the normal food chain. Hunger is certainly a major motivating factor, but fish also respond as predators and strike something that moves. At times, they even exhibit hostile behavior when biting an intruder to drive it away.

Big Fall Walleyes!

Big Fall Walleyes!

Walleyes love live bait, especially in the fall, and there’s no more practical way to present live bait than behind a slip sinker slowly dragged along the bottom. Rigging allows an angler to comb a lot of water quickly. It’s a great way to search for walleye schools that are scattered along a drop-off. (That is what are launches offer here at Wigwam Resort on Lake of the Woods)

Don’t overlook a jig as a live bait delivery system. A jig can be very effective as it allows a live bait to hop along the bottom. If you have multiple people on your boat you can forward troll a jig on both sides of the boat so lines will not be tangled. I recommend glowing jigs in orange, chartreuse, and gold/red with a minnow. Happy Fishin!

Fishing Report from Lake of the Woods, MN 9/21/15

Fishing was steady all weekend. The winds had it a little rough Saturday. Jigging was the best method in 18-22 feet. Seeing action still up north in the islands and down south more in the mud. The shiner run on Lake of the Woods will continue to show some healthy female moving down south in the next couple weeks. For the most, everyone was catching good limits throughout the weekend!

9-21-15 Retina LaValla

Look at those smiles!!!!

 

Chomp! Chomp!

Chomp! Chomp!

Also, the fish are moving in towards the river. You don’t have to go very far out to find them right now. A couple miles out from Pine Island in around 29′. Jigging was productive over the weekend, as well as pulling down-riggers. Pulling spinners has died down for the most part. Pink, gold, chartreuse, and orange are some productive colors to choose from. Smaller crank baits have been working very well. “Baby walleye” has been doing very well, as cannibalistic as it sounds. River fishing will be picking up here in the next couple of weeks!

Here is a video we made on a recent fishing outing as well!

 

Look for more reports soon from us girls up at the Wigwam Resort!

Tricked a little bigger one!

Tricked a little bigger one!

Us ladies can catch nice walleyes too!

Us ladies can catch nice walleyes too!

Even some Pike came out to play!

Even some Pike came out to play!

~Liz Henderson

imnfishing.com Pro Staff

 

 

Punching for bass, a beginners perspective

“I am not a bass fisherman. I am not a bass fisherman…..I AM NOT A BASS FISHERMAN!” This is what my brain always tries to tell my body, but for some reason my body doesn’t listen and  I find myself headed out time and time again to fish for bass. I would consider myself a “walleye guy” but realistically I am more of a panfish enthusiast who bass fishes frequently out of my walleye boat…with an on and off again dabble in the walleye world. That’s a mouthful. However, with that being said, I love trying new things when targeting any specie. That brings me to my newest adventure, late summer lily pad and milfoil punching!

If you are like me, and most other fisherman, you dabble in the weeds/pads with top water, you might fish some deeper weeds or weedlines with plastics or jigs/minnows and occasionally throw your most weedless lure into some thicker stuff. That’s always been me…outside of occasionally throwing cranks for bass, I WAS the frog and plastics guy.

I was, THE FROG GUY

I was, THE FROG GUY

Along with that, the thought of focusing directly on the thickest weeds in the lake and playing in them all day was and still is quite intimidating to me. Will I feel the bite? Will I end up instantly snagged with weeds? Where the heck do I cast? Once I cast, how in the world do I work my bait? How am I going to navigate my boat through this?!?!

Milfoil!!!!

Milfoil!!!!

All these questions, fears, and uncertainties have kept me out of these areas for years. The same areas where many of a lakes/rivers largest bass live most of the summer. I figured a top water approach to these areas was enough and I could still stay in my comfort zone while justifying that I was “covering” these summer hawg houses.

It all changed early this July, I was coming off a huge bass fishing slump. What I was doing wasn’t working. The senkos, the texas rigs, the cranks, the frogs, the buzz baits, fishing deep, fishing shallow, NOTHING WAS WORKING. Maybe I happened to just hit a string of bad fishing days? Maybe nothing would have worked well these days? Either way, I was ready to change, I was ready to try something new and jump out of my comfort zone. It was also likely that this recent hawg largie (that was caught in my boat by a buddy while panfishing) may have pushed me back into my love affair with bass fishing…I wanted that high of a monster bass again!

Travis and the "bass heard round the world!"

Travis and the “bass heard round the world!”

So what do you do when you want to try a new fishing tactic? If you are like me, you read everything you can on it, watch every YouTube video you can on it, and talk to everyone you know who knows how to do it. So here is the conclusion I came to

1) I was going to dedicate a few fishing outings just to pitching/punching/flipping or whatever you want to call it and focus on the heaviest cover in locations I thought were likely to hold fish. No matter what, sticking to this tactic, even if it was failing miserably. I needed to take the time to learn it.

2) I wasn’t going to invest a bunch of money in it. I had a good amount of jigs already with weed guards, a good amount of trailers/creature plastics and just a medium heavy 6′ 6″ spinning rod with a larger 2500 series reel rigged w/ 40lb braid, that would have to do.

3) Lastly, I was going to keep it simple. Punching only two different set ups (which I will get into later) and changing them just based on water color. Darks/blues with rattle in stained water, natural colors with no rattles in clearish water.

Here is what that looked like:

My hodge-podge punching set up

My hodge-podge punching set up

As far as the baits go, the one on the left is a standard jig and trailer with a rattle and weed guard. However, the one on the right is a under used way to rig a plastic called the “punch through rig.” Essentially it is a upside down Texas rig made for fishing heavy cover vertically, it allows hook sets to penetrate directly into the bass’ mouth without having to rotate 180 deg before setting into the mouth. Here is a quick pic and a good article on it if you want to know more.

punch through rig

punch through rig

Ok, so lets get to the good stuff. I headed out, fears a side, and my eye on the prize. Which I would have loved to be a large bass, but for the first few outings I was happy catching nothing and just practicing and refining the technique. So, you could imagine the look on my face when the 3rd pitch and twitch twitch twitch into some wind blown milfoil, I feel a thunk. I thought oh wow, you can feel the bites, that wasn’t so tuff. I preceded to lean back, set hard, and rip that bass out of the clump of weeds. Yes I said bass…but it wasn’t a bass, my 3rd pitch ever punching and I had caught a what??? A giant bullhead? What in the world….

A bullhead punching plastics?

A bullhead punching plastics?

So, that didn’t work as planned. The outing continues for about 3 more hours and I catch two dinks and missed what I believe was a larger fish but it is hard to tell. I may have set the hook with a little to much slack. That is something I have learned on the few outings I have been doing this, the tighter I can keep the line to really feel the bite and then feel the fish on the rod the more productive I have been in getting good hook sets. I also found that this gets much tougher in wind and as the pitching game takes some decent boat control. This is a time it would be nice to have those over priced, goofy looking, dual power poles or shallow water anchors.

So I come to my last strickly punching outing just a few days ago. Same lake, similar spot to the ones I was fishing the outing before. However, after this cold front the milfoil was way down from last time. I figure this would only help me as it would push fish onto the fewer thick spots in the milfoil and lilly pads that were left. Again, and I kid you not, 3rd pitch I feel a thunk on the drop. I don’t know what it is, but that 3rd pitch has been magical! This time it wasn’t a bullhead, it felt like a good fish. I wasn’t sure if I had a big girl or if the fish was just hung in the thick lilies. To my suprise it was a pig! Overwhelmed with excitement, I felt like just shouting and running around my boat.

Catching this big girl was one thing, but the commitment and dedication to learning a new tactic and getting some sort of validation was 10 times better than the fish itself. I haven’t written for a while on this website, but this experience was so trilling it got me back into writing again. And writing with a passion and excitement I haven’t felt for a good while. Heck, I even took a selfie ha. Here are a few pics. The bass measured 20.5″ and was a nice 5-5.25lbs (I didn’t weigh it as I wanted to get it back in the water).

First, let me take a selfie!

First, let me take a selfie!

20.5" - she was sucking the gut in the for pic :)

20.5″ – she was sucking the gut in the for pic 🙂

Bucket mouth!

Bucket mouth!

So…maybe I will keep bass fishing. But more-so, I will always keep trying new ideas and tactics for all species in order to make myself a better all around angler. I encourage you to always be a student of the fishing game, whether you have been in it for 1 year or 60 years.

~Evan Pheneger
imnfishing.com Pro Staff

Red Lake Walleye Limit changes again!

RED LAKE, Minn. (courtsey of NNCNOW.com) — Traditionally, the Upper and Lower Red Lakes contained exceptional walleye fisheries; however, the MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the walleye population shrank in the mid-1990s due to over harvest.
A committee was then formed in 1997 to grow and sustain a healthy walleye population; and an agreement was in effect from 1999-2014 for the restoration of walleye, but that agreement ran out in 2014.

Just last week the MN DNR, Red Lake Nation and Bureau of Indian Affairs joined forces again to sign a new five-year contract outlining continued management of the walleye population in those lakes.
They hope renewing this agreement will help protect walleye.

“Red Lake Band members are pleased that our walleye have come back and our fishing community is revitalized,” Chairman of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Darrell Seki, said.
The DNR Commissioner, Tom Landwehr, says the state/tribal harvest approached 1 million pounds in 2014.

Also, this just in from The Outdoor Report’s FB page:

“Beginning Friday, Jan. 23, the daily bag & possession limit on Upper Red Lake will be two walleye, and anglers must immediately release all walleye 17-26 in. long. The MN DNR says this is due to a record December harvest.

“Fishing pressure in December was more than double compared to last December,” said Gary Barnard, Bemidji area fisheries supervisor. “High walleye catch rates and ideal ice travel conditions attracted a record number of walleye anglers to Upper Red Lake this winter.”

Walleye harvest is up 57 percent from estimates for a comparable time period last year, requiring some action to help curtail excessive winter harvest.

Brad Hawthorne of Brad Hawthorne’s Guide Service says he isn’t upset by the new regulations. “The lake is in a very healthy state. If we take too many walleye, we’ll hurt the lake. The DNR isn’t going to allow this to happen, & I applaud them for that.”

Brad is speaking from experience. He used to guide on Mille Lacs in the winter months, but says the “mismanagement” of that fishery forced him to move his winter operation to Upper Red.

“Upper Red crashed once. we don’t want to see that happen again.””

More restrictive walleye regulations for the Upper Red Lake will go into effect on Jan. 23. The daily bag limit will be two walleye, and anglers must release all walleye 17- to 26-inches long.
For more on the restrictions, please click here.

and for even more info click here and more of the same ish….HERE!.

Fishing Report from Mille Lacs Lake, MN 10/31/14

BOO! It’s Halloween, so I  present to you creatures of the night!

LURKING IN THE DARKNESS!!!!

LURKING IN THE DARKNESS!!!!

MAN OR FISH, Which creature is scarier?!?!?

MAN OR FISH, Which creature is scarier?!?!?

Sorry for the cheesy Halloween ploy. Here is your report!

Honestly fisherman, I haven’t been this excited about a late fall bite in a long time. Winds have been anything but cooperative, however, playing the wind correctly means great numbers of fish right now. The main areas I’ve been concentrating on consist of the north end and northeast corner following south to the agate reef area. Jigging has been consistent in 5-8′ with rainbows and 1/8 oz jigs during daylight hours. Also, I have been moving a little deeper  than 5-8′ with calmer water.

The night troll has been very successful for those doing their homework. By watching daytime winds and narrowing down the area’s holding bait come evening hours I have been able to stay on hungry, active, bait chasing fish! Walleye sizes have seemed to be mixed together. Plenty of eater/slot fish are hitting well right now in both daytime and after dark hours as well as the very desired, ever so plump and hungry late fall females we all like to brag about.

Color schemes are changing by the day, daytime jig colors seem to attracting fish with gold, yellow/green or orange. The night this past week has been hitting #7 Rapala Scatter Raps in 10′ in shiner colors, later into the night going shallower with #5 and #7 bent lip shads in brighter colors.

Don’t forget the pike are big and hungry as ever right now as well. We’ve landed quite a few fish the past week in the upper 30’s and a couple over 40″ as well!!!!!
Shawn Gallery
Walleye Addiction Guide Service
Mille Lacs Lake, MN
218-330-8545

More pics!

Don’t put your boat away!!!

Warning: This is a long article, but it is a very good coverall for anyone who is ready to fish long and hard into the fall and winter. In all reality, I probably put more effort into this article then I did most of my college homework! But who needs a college education to be a fisherman?!?!

Finally some cold weather! Fall is on the way, and for many of you that means it’s time to pack away the boat and open water fishing stuff and get geared up for hunting. Lucky for you I don’t hunt! So right about now, I am gearing up for the best time of year to fish! Fish all over the state are putting on the feedbags to bulk up for their long, cold, and mostly dormant winter. Also, with ice fishing right around the corner, I know a lot of you diehards, myself included, are getting the hard water itch. With our brains all excited to either hunt or ice fish; it normally means many fisherman are packing up and winterizing their boats. But wait one second. Let me see if I can convince to keep your boat out through the fall…and maybe, just maybe, keep it out for the ENTIRE winter. Don’t miss the following article for tips, tricks, and motivation on how to have an enjoyable time on open water in both the fall and winter!

 

I MN Fishing "Nightcrawler" is all ready!

It’s winter boat fishing time!

Fall Boat Fishing

So, lets say you hunt through the fall and you love it and I am not convincing you to take precious time away from hunting to fish; especially if fishing consumes the rest of your year. Fine, you win, but you are not getting off that easy. Scroll down the article a little ways and find the part titled Winter Boat Fishing, and read that! However, if you aren’t a hunting addict; this shouldn’t take much convincing. The weather is finally cool and pleasant after a long, hot, muggy summer.  Not only that but just about every water-swimming specie is sitting at the buffet gorging. And if a good, consistent bite isn’t enough to get you on the water, remember this; fall is the best time of year to catch big, fat, SLOBS! It doesn’t matter if you are a musky, bass, walleye, or even panfish fisherman; the proof is in the pudding.

Time for the hogs to feed!

Time for the hogs to feed!

 

Fall Lake Minnetonka Beast!

Fall Lake Minnetonka Beast!

 

Some Fall Top Water Hogs!

Some Fall Top Water Hogs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few tips to remember before hitting the water for a fall fish slay.

1)     The water is cooling, it is crucial that you not only dress for the cooler weather, but that you wear a life jacket, especially if you are alone. This isn’t just a good idea, it is common sense. I prefer the ones that inflate on contact with water. These life jackets sit flat and you don’t even notice them when they are on you.

Wear your life jacket!

Wear your life jacket!

2)     Check your gear! This includes your line, rod eyelids, knots, and tackle. If you are anything like me, all these things have taken a beaten during the summer.

  1. Line: Your line may be stretched, frayed, sun dried, weak, or brittle. A good practice is to rip about 40-60 feet of line off your reel and toss it in the trash. The last thing you would want is to lose a fish of a lifetime because of bad line. Remember your line connects you to the fish and is the single-handed most important link between you and the fish once you hook up! I would say it is good to restring all your reels with line for the fall. But for most people this just isn’t feasible economically. A simple line stripping will give you just about as fresh of line as restringing new stuff.
  2. Knots: Your knots are important as always in the fall. Check them after each fish with a simple tug on your lure/hook. This is a good practice in general, but even more so in the fall.
  3. Tackle: As for tackle. Don’t use lures will dull hooks from the summer, take a few minute to sharpen them and check them for weak or broken components.
  4. Rod eyelets: Going in and out of vehicles or rod lockers all year can put a beating on your eyelets. Straighten all of them and check them for missing inserts or nicks. And remember; never hook your lures on your eyelets!

 

Winter Boat Fishing
Crazy you say? No I say! Have you ever seen those boats driving down the highway in the middle of the winter and thought; what the heck are they doing? There is 3 feet of ice on the lakes and it is 4 degrees out! I’ll tell you what they are doing. They are getting in on some of the best walleye fishing in MN within 1 hr of the metro! And maybe yes, it sounds crazy. But if you prepare and understand what the cold can do to your boat, along with endure a little cold, and equip yourself correctly it can mean fun times and great walleye fishing…from a boat…in December, January, February, and March!

Some winter walleyes and saugers!

Some winter walleyes and saugers!

It is important to know that heading out in these conditions is very risky for not only yourself, but also for your boat. Keeping yourself warm and dry is the number one priority. Here are a few tips on that:

1)     Dress like you are headed out ice fishing. Except remember, you will not be in a warm ice house and will be exposed to all the elements of winter.

2)     “YOU HAD TWO PAIRS OF GLOVES THIS WHOLE TIME?!?!….AH YEAH WE’RE IN THE ROCKIES.” I suggest wearing two pairs of gloves. First, I like to wear a thinly insulated pair of neoprene gloves. These will stay on my hands the entire time on the water. It is important to have gloves that you can tie knots in, handle fish in, re-bait with, and so on. Over these I like to wear a heavier pair of winter finger gloves. The over gloves I use are as warm, heavy, and bulky as I can get away with while still being able to feel bites and to reel.

3)     Warm boots are very important. Let me say that again. Warm boots are VERY important.

4)     NEVER GET YOUR HANDS WET! This, along with cold feet is the number one reason for pushing winter fisherman off the water.

5)     HEAT, HEAT, HEAT! Bring some hot pocket warmers with you. Whenever I find these on sale (usually in the spring) I will buy a bunch up and just store them in my boat for the year. Also, if you have a safe spot to put an ice fishing heater in your boat, go for it. I like to bungee down a 20lb propane tank and attach a sunflower heater. These things pump heat! I won’t run this the whole time as it is a huge waste, but for occasional 3-5 min hand or body warm-ups they work great. Lastly, if you do get too cold, don’t risk it, head in, and warm up at Evret’s Resort, they are great people to chat with and its always a good time hanging out in the Evret’s Bait/tackle shop!

 

Once you have yourself prepped and equipped properly to fish open water in freezing temp, its time to make sure you boat is ready! This part is a little more complex. Below, I have complied a list of helpful little tricks and guidelines to keep your boat working well in brutally cold temps.

 

Ready for a winter Evret's Launch!

Ready for a winter Evret’s Launch!

Pre-Water

1)     One of your boat’s best friends in cold water is WD-40 (or any Silicone). Take a can and spray any moving part of your boat. In the summer, it’s easy not to think anything of water that splashes on your boat and fishing tackle. However, in the winter, frozen water ruins boats, motors, and tackle. The silicon will put a protective; freeze proof coating on whatever you spray it on. He is a list of things that I spray: a) the tiller motor steering rod, switches, and ignition b) Any moving parts on trolling motors c) the boat trailer winch d) and all storage compartment door latches. There are two important things to note here. One, make sure you use a silicon can with the fine straw spray for any areas of the boat where you don’t want slippery silicon everywhere. Two, since it doesn’t take too long, I like to apply silicon before every winter boat trip, however if you head out frequently, once every two weeks will probably be fine.

2)     Trailer your boat with its cover on. This keeps all the nasty winter stuff from the MN roads out of your boat.

3)     If you have a boat heavier than 1500lbs, don’t even try to get your boat out on the river if you don’t have a good 4 wheel drive vehicle/truck. For one, you will have a tough time pulling your boat up the potentially icy boat launch and you don’t want to go swimming with your trailer, boat, and vehicle. That makes for a crappy day. Also, Evret’s resort does a great job clearing snow from their very, very steep driveway, but you never know what conditions you will be trying to get your boat home in. Yes, I know we all love Evret’s and want to hang out there all the time but I don’t really want to get stuck there for days on end with BK and his SPAM!

4) Keep your boat and trolling motor batteries charged! Charged batteries do not freeze. Batteries with no charge can freeze at very cold temps!

Launching your boat

1)     Leave your boat attached by the winch strap (with a foot or so of slack) when backing it down into the water. This is a good practice in general but even more so in the winter, I have seen many trailers get frozen rollers or bunks from the drive to the river through snowy, wet roads. I even once saw someone who didn’t leave their winch strap attached, and there icy trailer dropped their boat 15 feet short of the river onto the concrete boat launch! NOT GOOD! (See video below)

2)     Once you pull your trailer out of the water it is good courtesy to let the water drain out of the trailer right next to the water before pulling the trailer all the way out and back up the ramp. If you pull it right up you are laying an icy path on the launch for the next person to try to use.

3)     Since not everyone abides by the last courtesy, it isn’t a bad idea to keep a bag of sand in your truck to spread over the ice on the boat launch if you can’t get back up.

 

On the water

1)     Don’t run your livewells! If you aren’t tourney fishing, I would just say do without the livewell all together and put the fish you want to keep in your dry livewell or a bucket/tub. If you have to use them, I prefer to fill my livewells by scooping water into them with a 5-gallon pail.  There are two things to remember here. Make sure not to spill any water in the boat when you are scooping it into the livewell because it will freeze and you will end up slipping on it and falling into the water or busting yourself up in your boat. The second is don’t just pull the livewell drain once you are out of the water. Your drainage lines will freeze which could end up ruining them. You will have to scoop the water back out by hand!

2)     Be careful when you are running out to your fishing spot. Many times there are ICEBERGS DEAD AHEAD!!!! Ice chunks that are breaking up above the dam will often be traveling down river and can do a number if you hit them while going fast. They can easily rip the lower unit off your motor and even worse, send you flying from your boat into the icy waters of the Mississippi.

3)     If it is below 15deg F you are best off letting your big motor run on idle the entire time you are fishing. This will keep the water in your lower unit from freezing, expanding, and ruining your lower unit. Also, if your big motor isn’t spitting water like it normally does, don’t worry.  EVEN THOUGH THE BAG IS NOT INFLATING, OXYGEN IS STILL FLOWING THROUGH YOUR MASK!!!! Water is still circulating in your motor; the exhaust hole is more than likely just frozen. Having a frozen exhaust hole won’t ruin your engine. The water will drain through other areas.

2013 Freeze your butt off tourney! (5 deg F)

2013 Freeze your butt off tourney! (5 deg F)

4)     I prefer to run green 15lb coated ice braid on all my winter reels. Any line is really fine here besides standard summer braid (which will freeze) and monofilament (which isn’t abrasion resistant enough for icy line guides and icey chunked water).  Green is just my preference as it allows me to better see if I am fishing vertical. Which is important for winter jigging.

5)     Once Again….DON’T GET YOUR HANDS WET!!!!!!

6)     It’s not a bad idea to start the day using plastics (like the B Fish N Tackle stuff). Many times it will out fish live bait anyway. Also, this is one of the only areas where I confidently fish blade baits. However, if neither of these baits is working, I always have minnows just in case. But I prefer to not have a rebait a lot, dig for minnows, and worry about frozen minnow buckets.

So once you have your limit of walleye and saugers, and you have had all the fun you can bare for one day, you have to get off the water and back home with your boat still in working order!

 

Coming off the water:

1)     The first thing you should do once your boat is trailer-ed and out of the water is run your big motor for about 5 seconds and blow all the water out of the lower unit. Once you do this I like to double check that it is all out and lower the trim on the motor all the way till it is about the bottom out on the ground and make sure all the water has run out. You can do this all while your boat trailer is draining water. Just don’t slip and fall into the river.

2)     Cover your boat and drive home!

3)     Once I am close to home I like to head into a self-wash garage that I can pull both my truck and boat into.  This will allow your boat to thaw for a little if you don’t have a heated garage, and I will then wash all the salt, water and snow off my trailer. This will prevent it from rusting.

 

Trailer and boat washing time!!! SPLISH SPLASH!

Trailer and boat washing time!!! SPLISH SPLASH!

After you are home safe, eating fresh fish, warm chili, and sitting in front of the fireplace telling stories from the day, take a second to pat yourself on the back. You just took an awesome adventure into the frozen river tundra and successfully did what few fishermen can ever claim they have done! Fished from a boat….IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER IN MN!! Congrats, you are a true outdoorsman-fishing beast!

~Evan Pheneger
imnfishing.com Pro Staff

One (Fisher) Man’s Confession

One (Fisher) Man’s Confession

 

A confession? About fishing....with a what?!?!

A confession? About fishing….with a what?!?!

OK Folks… Time to come clean. I will admit I have a fishing problem, but this might

be on a whole different level of obsession. Over the course of the entire month of

August (minus the 30 minutes I trolled a Daredevil!?) I have spent exclusively bobber

fishing. Am I ashamed? Absolutely not! Throughout the month, I have seen countless

fish spanning 12 different species hauled over the gunwale in “Ol’ Blue”, all with the

simplicity of a bobber rig set up. Initially, my boat mates have been plenty skeptical, but

once they see just how effective it can be during late summer, they are hooked faster

than a rock bass!

It's as easy as ONE....

It’s as easy as ONE….

My weapon of choice has been my trusty 5’6” Shimano Convergence ultra-light rod

with a 20 series Pflueger President reel spooled with 4lb. Berkley XT. I have also

been alternating between a 1/16 oz. Northland Jig and a #4 or #6 Gamakatsu hook

(depending on the species) under a #3 Thill Stealth bobber with either a leech or a

piece of crawler. Real. Simple. Stuff. Any similar combo will work and some anglers

prefer a little heftier setup, but I choose this rig as it will handle just about any species,

and if used correctly, can put you in some really epic fish fighting battles! The key

with this ultra-light setup is making sure you change your line often (I have 3 times

this month alone!), and using a reel with a quality smooth drag. For its price point, the

President is definitely able to handle the drag melting runs of any chunky smallmouth

bass or fat and sassy rainbow trout.

 

....TWO....

….TWO….

My favorite tactic for summer bobber robbing (as I call it) is very similar to running and

gunning during the ice fishing season. I will map out a few target areas before I hit the

water and then I will attack them one by one. Over the course of the month I have

had success fishing deep and shallow weed edges, deep mud flats and transitions,

long rocky points, deep isolated rock piles, and deep open water (for trout). I start by

checking over an area with my electronics and if I don’t mark fish, I move to the next

spot. Once I mark fish, I deploy the anchor, set the line using an ice fishing depth

bomb, and take a cast. I quickly work the area with 4-5 casts and if I haven’t had a go

down, I move on. This tactic will keep you on active fish and has also been helpful to

find new fishing grounds!

 

....THREE!!!!!

….THREE!!!!!

My most recent outing included finding smallmouth bass stacked on a very sharp rocky

break in 24′. I caught many nice smallies on one side of the boat and then I readjusted

my slip a few feet shallower and caught walleyes and beast bluegills by casting on the

other side of the boat. A perfect outing if you ask me!

Next time you are having trouble finding fish during the dog days, dust off the old

bobber rig and give it a shot… you never know, you might have to write your own

confessional

 

“Bobber” – D Lenny

imnfishing.com Pro Staff

walkerd07@yahoo.com

 

Here are a few more pics!

Rainbow trout on a bobber

Rainbow trout on a bobber

Another nice 'bow

Another nice ‘bow

Bobbers down!!!!!!!!

Bobbers down!!!!!!!!

 

Even big bull gills get fooled by bobbers from time to time!

Even big bull gills get fooled by bobbers from time to time!

A mixed bag of bobber feeesh!

A mixed bag of bobber feeesh!

Have a good night and awesome time on the water folks!

Have a good night and awesome time on the water folks!

 

 

 

 

Fishing Report from Park Rapids and Leech Lake, MN! 5/24-26/14

Sunset on Leech!

Sunset on Leech Lake!

A fine holiday weekend for fishing by all accounts, which in reality turned out to be a nice weekend for a boat ride with a few fish to pass the time. I spent the weekend fishing with my brother Cody “Chode” Walker and buddy “Wild” Billy Kuhn, and although the fishing was not lights out, there were absolutely no complaints about the weather! Our target for the weekend was strictly walleyes, which may have played into our success (or lack of!).

The boyz!

The boyz!

We fished a mix of local Park Rapids Area Lakes as well as a day trip to Leech on Saturday. Locally, it has been a struggle to pattern fish with wildly varying water temperatures which were ranging from 48 to 65! We spent the weekend fishing typically decent early lakes and spots with limited success. We fished from depths of 4’ to 30’ with a mix of jigs/minnows/plastics and also running leech/minnow/crawler rigs and spinners. We managed only a handful of walleyes which seemed to be scattered randomly and not concentrated and schooled up like they generally are this time of year. We also managed a few crappies (which would have probably provided a much more willing target!), a few nice perch, and tons of bass and lake racer pike.

Lenny with a "handfull" of walleye

Lenny with a “handfull” of walleye

Another good eye

Another good eye

We even encountered one of the most bizarre things I have experienced during open water fishing which was a small pike hitting my jig and my brother’s jig almost simultaneously leading to a brief wild fight with the fish and each other. Being a good brother, Chode let me reel it in, but I let him have the picture 🙂

That's a double....single pike!

That’s a double….single pike!

Our day trip to Leech Lake on Saturday started promising with 2 walleyes boated within the first 20 minutes (a 21” and a 25.5”) and then not another fish until afternoon. The morning started with a nice south breeze blowing into the points, but then quickly diminished and died between 9 am and noon, before switching to the SW and picking up in the afternoon. If you have ever fished Leech you know that a decent wind always helps the fishing and may have played into our success. We managed a few other fish including a 26” for Chode, his new personal best open water walleye. We did not see many other fish caught throughout the day and pulled the plug about 4 pm. We fished primarily in 6-18’ with a jig and a minnow.

Leech Lake eyes!

Leech Lake eyes!

Finally a nice one!Finally a nice one!

Finally a nice one!

The fishing on Leech should only get better throughout June and if you have ever considered making the trip, the next 30 days are the time to do it! I am confident that fishing here in northern Minnesota will only improve throughout the month of June with the possibility of catching a wide variety of species to keep you entertained! Summers are short but sweet here in Minnesota so MAKE time and get out on the water!

– D Lenny

imnfishing.com Pro Staff

walkerd07@yahoo.com