Friday, January 25, 2008

Trolling for Walleyes and Northern Pike

Trophy Canada Walleye
Many anglers at Bow Narrows Camp prefer to troll for walleyes and northern pike. This method works great and allows a person to cover more territory than he or she would by casting or jigging.
There are two distinctly different methods of trolling when it comes to walleye fishing. There is backtrolling with Little Joe type spinners or Lindy Rigs and there is front trolling with crank baits.
Back trolling (trolling the boat in reverse) allows you to make a slow presentation and this is always the best idea when using live bait rigs. You want to use enough weight on your line so that you are "bumping" your rig on the bottom, at least every few minutes. (See Red Lake Walleyes Everywhere.)
Our 20 hp Honda four-stroke outboards idle very slowly, produce no smoke like the old two-stroke outboards, and are so quiet you can barely tell they are running when idling.
If it is windy, you may need to troll frontwards, even when bait fishing, to prevent waves from splashing over the transom while backtrolling. Or you can backtroll when going downwind and front troll when going upwind while working a productive spot.
Front trolling is usually always the best way to fish crank baits. This is true both for walleyes and northern pike. Rapala, Cotton Cordell, Bagleys and many others work well on Red Lake.
Use models that are 3-7 inches in length. Ones with small lips run shallow and ones with big lips dive deep. Shad Raps and lipless Rattle Traps and Rattling Raps and similar lures are great.
When trolling shorelines the person fishing on the shore side can use a shallow runner and the person fishing on the opposite side can use a lure that dives a little deeper. You want the lure to be fairly close to the bottom.
It is best not to use a weight when using crank baits as the sinker interferes with the action of the lure. Just choose the lure that runs to the correct depth.
Back trolling with bait can be done with the same light weight rods and reels described in Lighten Up for Northern Pike.
Front trolling with crank baits could require slightly heavier equipment (but don't get carried away. We're not talking about deep sea fishing!) A medium action rod and spinning reel with 10-12 pound test should do it. The line can be mono or the new braided lines like Spider Wire. The braided lines have the advantage of providing more "feel" since they do not stretch. This helps you distinguish between the bottom and a fish. They also let you set the hook better when you have a lot of line out behind the boat.
Lots of people do a combination of trolling and casting and jigging. They troll until they locate a school of fish, then switch to casting and jigging.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Best Fish Unhooking Tools

Baker HookoutLippa4LifeRed Lake walleye on Lip Grip
One operation that often goes overlooked when on a fishing trip to Canada is how to safely remove fish hooks from the fishs' mouths.
And that means safely from the point of view of the angler and also safely from the point of view of the fish. The method we all want is to quickly get the hooks out with no damage to either party.
You actually need two tools to do this effectively: one to hold the fish's mouth open and the other to reach down into that toothy maw and work the hook backwards and then out.
Most people use long-handle needle nose pliers to do the reaching and unhooking but the very best tool we have ever seen for this is the Baker Hookout. The pistol grip on this device makes unhooking a breeze. It's not expensive, perhaps $6, and is sturdily made. It will last a lifetime.
The second tool, the mouth opener, is the one most people don't bring.
We're seeing quite a few Lip Grip tools now. These fasten securely to the fish's jaw and won't let go, even if the fish flops. The very best of these is the Boga Grip. Rapala also makes one and so does Berkley. Others use a spring-loaded jaw spreader.
One problem with Lip Grip devices is they can injure the fish's mouth if the fish flops and twists.
I see a new device on the Internet that looks like it would be excellent at holding the mouth open without injury. It is called the Lippa4Life.
You squeeze your hand together to close the jaws, which are very rounded at the tip to protect the fish. The jaws don't totally close either so you can't crush the fish's mouth.
I see Cabelas has these for sale and I imagine Bass Pro does as well.
It is probably worth the $29 for the stainless model of these as, again, it will last forever.
Just tie a lanyard to it (and any other of your mouth-holding devices) so it doesn't go overboard.
Bow Narrows Camp
Red Lake, Ont.