Thursday, March 24, 2016

Artist painting lures to match Red Lake minnows

This poster of Red Lake's bait fish hangs in our dining room
It is astonishing how few of today's lure patterns actually mimic the baitfish in Red Lake, Ontario.
Let's just name a few: fire tiger, pumpkinseed, bass, rainbow trout. There are many other patterns that don't have a name because they don't resemble anything. They are bright, neon colours with stripes painted here and there and maybe a big spot right in the middle. When was the last time you saw a Red Lake minnow that was fluorescent orange, chartreuse or pink?
Most of these lures, however, really do catch fish. But what would happen if you used a lure that looked just like the minnows that the fish are actually feeding upon? Does it make a difference?
Fly fishermen are pretty convinced that it does. When they observe fish feeding upon a certain insect, they try to "match the hatch." They never find that they can catch fish even better if they offer them something they've never seen before. "Man, wait until these trout see a mayfly in fire tiger!"
We have asked one of our neighbours in Nolalu who is an artist to paint 50 lures to resemble the baitfish of Red Lake. He can get the plastic lure bodies in all of the favourite styles used by brand-name manufacturers, from floaters with small lips, to L-shaped lips and larger lips for deep divers. He will paint 10 each in five different styles.
Incredibly, considering the time it will take to paint each lure, he is selling these to us for just $10 a piece, at least on this first batch. A complete set of five will cost $50.
If you want to reserve a set, let me know by e-mail ( and I will set them aside for you. If more than 10 people do this, I might be able to get him to make more at the same price before the season begins.
It will really be interesting to see how well they work. His lures are going to mimic the minnows in the top photo: daces and shiners.
The one lure pattern from lure manufacturers that works pretty well is the perch. Just about every lure company has this and it is used by all our anglers with good success.
But here's an interesting tidbit of information. Walleye don't eat perch except for tiny ones, maybe just one inch long. Many of our anglers who have brought underwater cameras have videos of big walleyes and six-inch perch swimming harmoniously side-by-side. When we clean our guests' walleye we never find perch in their stomachs.
Kind of makes you wonder why you are trolling a perch-pattern lure for walleye, doesn't it?
(Update, April 28, 2016, contact artist Dwayne Kotala at CrankyFinnGuy.)
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Anonymous said...

I find that interesting Dan every walleye I've caught recently at red lake is with a 4and1/4 inch countdown rapala

Dan Baughman said...

What pattern or colour was the Rapala? Some usual good choices are the silver side with dark back and also silver side with blue back. We do catch walleye on the perch pattern too but I'm at a loss to explain why because walleye don't eat perch. Maybe they don't get a good look at the lure before they strike.