Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Artist's lures are absolutely outstanding

Lures are hand-painted to look like minnows of Northwestern Ontario
We just got the first batch of lures from our artist neighbour, Dwayne Kotala, and they are incredible. Imagine fishing with a lure that actually looks like the minnows native to your lake instead of idiotic patterns mass-produced in China. What a concept!
We gave Dwayne photos of the most common minnows of Red Lake, Ontario, and he airbrushed blank lure bodies to mimic those baitfish.
Check out the two photos below. The first shows two actual redbellied daces, the most common minnow used for fishing in Northwestern Ontario. The top minnow is the female and the bottom the male. Then look at Dwayne's reproductions, actually done on two different lure bodies. They are stunningly lifelike.
Redbellied dace, female top, and male bottom

Artist's version
These two lure bodies, the top with an unusual round lip and the bottom with an L-lip, will probably troll at about six feet of depth. That's my guess. The best walleye lure we have seen up until now has been the Shallow Shad Rap, also with the L-lip. The smaller version of this -- just a hair longer than the lure above -- runs at six feet. This depth catches walleye from ice-out until late-July.
In this first batch of lures Dwayne did four daces, seen at right.
The top two are the female and male redbellied daces.
Third from the top is a pattern that resembles a whole bunch of Red Lake's baitfish, including fathead minnow, pearl dace, lake chub and blacknose dace. Not a colourful lure but then with the exception of the male redbelly dace, most real baitfish are drab. I would suspect evolution and survival have a lot to do with that. The bottom lure is a reproduction of a finescale dace.

Dwayne created four different four-inch floaters: shown at left. They are, from the top, emerald shiner, white sucker, smelt and perch.
The details on these are outstanding. I include a close-up of the emerald shiner at the bottom just to show this. Incidentally, did you ever wonder what advantage shiners might have with their mirror-like sides? It's actually a cloaking mechanism. From beneath they look like the sky. They mirror their surroundings. With that in mind it is probably not the best idea to make a lure that is, for all intents and purposes, invisible. It needs to look like the target fish but it also needs to be seen. I don't know about you but I've never had much luck with chrome-finished lures in the past. This could explain why. Dwayne's lures are not chrome. They're bright but you can actually see the sides. I think this is great.
Close-up of emerald shiner shows amazing detail on this hand-painted lure.

Dwayne has included some crayfish lures that also look outstanding. There are times, especially mid-summer, where every northern pike we clean has crayfish in its stomach. These are deep diving lures, probably crawling down to 9-12 feet and are extremely lifelike. I hadn't mentioned
 crayfish to Dwayne when we first thought about his painting lures for us but it was a great idea. His first crayfish looked great but, hey, I thought, let me send him a photo of our actual crayfish species, Orconectus virulis -- sorry, it doesn't have a common name that I'm aware of.

The next day, Dwayne sent me images of his first two O. virulis lures. They weren't ready for my photo shoot of lures because they still had many more coats of paint to be added. Some of these lures have six coats of paint!
All of his lures also have extremely sharp, and expensive, Mustad hooks.
We've ordered another 10 sets of five lures as well as some others Dwayne is working on, including hand-carved wooden ones. Whoa boy!
Just when larger lures are beginning to work for northern pike again too!
Incidentally, a really unusual lure that will be included in a lot of the sets, if not all, is the wounded minnow, seen below. This is a floating lure that floats on its side and when twitched, dives and wiggles off in a sideways direction, just like a crippled minnow.
You know how pike love to grab a small walleye when you reel it in and it is pulling sideways? Yeah, like that!

For all those people who have ordered sets of lures, we need your feedback on how they work. Please take notes.
I'm getting requests for lures, not only from our guests, but those from other camps and even other camp operators. I think Dwayne has found a niche in the ultra-competitive fishing lure business. Just think, lures that look like the minnows in YOUR lake. What a concept!
So, we're getting more sets of five lures and the price is still just $10 Cdn per lure for a total of $50. If you want a set, you can e-mail me until May 1. After that I will be at camp and will be too busy. Hopefully Dwayne will have a web-presence by then and you can contact him directly. When he does I'll report it and put a link to it here on the blog.
(Update, April 28, 2016, see CrankyFinnGuy which is Dwayne's site.)
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