Fishy Facts: American Paddlefish

Sometimes I cannot help but be amazed by nature. Just look around at all the beauty found in the land, plants and animals all over the world. And at other times I cannot help but be puzzled at some of the weirdness nature provides as well. Certain characteristics about plants or animals are downright ridiculous. Any funny-looking animals keep meme-generators going at full steam ahead. The largest concentration of unusual animals would have to be found underwater. And for this month’s Fishy Facts blog we will focus on one such interesting finned-friend: The American Paddlefish.

The American paddlefish is a prehistoric looking fish that is closely related to sturgeon. The term prehistoric is well earned for this fish as some of their fossil records go back hundreds of millions of years ago. They are a smooth-skinned fish that used to inhabit wide ranges of freshwater in North America. Currently there are only two species of paddlefish left in the world (the American and the Chinese) and both of which are considered vulnerable or critically endangered (respectively).

They are named after the characteristic front snout (or rostrum) that is shaped like a paddle. This rostrum is loaded with sensory receptors that are key for finding their main food source. The paddlefish’s main diet consists of zooplankton. They are filter-feeders, so they will swim around with their mouths wide open collecting their microscopic meals.

American paddlefish were once common throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Due to habitat loss, pollution and overfishing their numbers are significantly depleted. Their once native range has been reduced to being found in only twenty-two states and are protected in all of them.

Fishing for paddlefish is still legal, just where sustainable. Some areas rely on governmental restocking programs to keep these fish present. While these fish eat the most miniscule of food, they grow quite large and are impressive fighters. (You would have to be, to survive millions of years of sharing water.) But because they are filter feeders, paddlefish will not go after baits or lures. (Have you ever tried hooking into zooplankton?) Fisherman actually try to snag their targets in order to catch them. In several states the record for these fish is well over 120 pounds! In fact, the largest on record catching of an American paddlefish was about 200 pounds and over 6 feet long!

Huge efforts have come into place to keep the paddlefish around. They are commonly raised to keep their numbers going. They are also sources of consumption, for both their meat and caviar. Because of this they are also raised in other parts of the world, including China.

Of course without knowledge, there can be no education. Many people have become more aware of these magnificent fish lately. Paddlefish are becoming more and more common in aquariums as an example of why we must protect our most precious resources.  

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

Yellow Perch

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Smithville Fishing Report

Fishing Report


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Morgan McLain and I fished a tournament on Smithville on Sunday.  We got 6th place with 14.11 pounds and our biggest fish weighed 4.85 pounds.  The crank bait bite is on at Smithville.  If you find a point with a bunch of fish on it, just start cranking.  Square bills are always a good choice on Smithville.  I even caught a 22” walleye and a 15” white bass on a really old medium diving crankbait that I have not used in 10 years.  We caught all these fish but our big one on main lake points.  Later when the sun came out, we switched to flipping flooded willows to catch our big fish.  Look for little points or pass ways through the willows, just like when you look for points and saddles on a lake.  These will be your more product willows.  I try to put the bait in the middle of the tree if possible.  If the lure doesn’t go through the leaves right away, shake it a little and then it usually falls through.  Be aware of how deep you are fishing and count the lure down to the bottom.  If it normally takes 6 seconds and the line stop before 6 seconds or keeps moving after 6 seconds, set the hook!  I leave the lure set for 5 seconds and gently tighten the line to move the bait.  If there is a heavier than normally feeling, set the hook and get the fish out as fast as you can.  Hopefully the whole bush will shake and the water will boil with a good fish. Listed below are the items I used for each pattern.  The core is expected to start releasing water on Saturday which should make the main lake point bite even better.  You can get current lake conditions here. This page is updated daily.  If you visit the page often, you may need to refresh the page (F5 in Internet Explorer) to get retrieve the most recent information.  Good luck fishing and may all your fish be keepers!

Cranking

Rod: 6’ 6” Medium action Bass Pro Shops Crankin’ Stick

Reel: 6.4:1 Johnny Morris Signature Baitcasting Reel

Line: 15 pound XPS FlouroCarbon

Lures: Bass Pro Shops XPS Square Bill in Pearl Splatter Back

Bomber Fat Free Shad (Green back and white sides)

 

Flipping

Rod: 7’6” MH Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite Micro Guides Casting

Reel: 7.1:1 Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcaster

Hook: 4/0 TroKar Tube Hooks with TroKar Barb on Shank

Weight: ¼ ounce Tungsten Bullet Sinker pegged with Bass Pro Shops Bobber Stopper

Lure: 4.25” Watermelon Bass Pro Shops River Bug with tail dyed Chartreuse with SpikeIt.

 

Aaron Olsen - Fishing Pro Staff for Independence Missouri Bass Pro Shops

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Fishy Facts: Yellow Perch

To me there are a few quintessential “Americana-esque” images of the outdoors. One being that of those old Chris-Craft boats being rented by lake tourists. Another would be a hunter in the woods wearing a buffalo-patterned shirt, making us wonder if camo really matters. And the last would be a canoe beached on the shore with a hole stringer of yellow perch hanging on it. For some reason yellow perch always just make me think of simpler times, which makes sense because these fish have been a delight for generations to catch. While many focus on the all-mighty largemouth bass or the crazy-fast swordfish, I’d like to slow my roll for this month’s Fishy Facts and take a look at the classic Yellow Perch.

The yellow perch is a freshwater fish native to North America. It does have a cousin across the pond in Europe, but the two are considered separate species. The perch is well known for its distinctive yellow coloring with large dark triangles along their body. Their fins are a touch lighter with orange accents in them. They may not be the “flashiest” fish in the water, but they are quite beautiful to look at.

Yellow perch usually live from nine to ten years of age. Some studies have shown that the northern populations of these fish do grow larger and live longer lives when compared to the southern populations. While they are native in certain parts of North America, they have also been introduced into many more bodies of water. This happened for a few reasons. One being for recreational and commercial fishing purposes and the other to act as food for bass and walleye. Perch patterned baits are common for walleye fisherman, and when on a trip to Canada my stepdad was sure to take some with him.

I do believe it is a rite of passage for kids in the Midwest to catch perch. Scientific studies have not been done, but from what I understand it is so. In fact one of our Front End Leads grew up in the Midwest. I talked a little bit to him about perch and you could see how happy he was recalling catching them growing up. Like I said above, they have been delighting anglers for generations. In fact, the yellow perch is the longest standing record for freshwater fish caught in North America. The fish was caught in New Jersey all the way back in 1865! It weighed 4 pounds 3 ounces and measured 18 inches long. Just think about that, the yellow perch record has not been broken since the Civil War was ending!

Not only have anglers been enjoying yellow perch for decades, but so have diners. They are considered one of the finest flavored of the panfish and are loved for their delicious flavor. This is one of those fish that does not need to be breaded to be enjoyed.

There are many different ways to fish for yellow perch. You can use still bait or action baits, depending on your and the fishes mood for effort that day. Worms, crickets and minnows are extremely common baits and because of this most “perch lures” resemble them. They are a schooling fish and known for their voracious feeding habits, so if you bump into one get ready for a bunch more.

No matter what fish you are really hooked on catching, all fishermen should be able to appreciate and delight in catching the always-in-fashion on line or on a plate, yellow perch.

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Grayling Northern Pike Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass Peacock Bass Walleye

Billfish Dolphinfish Crappie Catfish Bull Shark Tilapia Smallmouth Bass

Brook Trout Bow Fishing Bowfin Common Snook World Fish Migration Day

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A Few Tips for the Walleye Run

     As spring time approaches and all our ice is melting, anglers in northern Ohio have a great opportunity for some excellent walleye fishing.  In many of the Lake Erie tributaries, walleye will begin to migrate as the waters begin to warm up to spawn.  In particular in my area, the Maumee and Sandusky rivers are the primary areas that anglers target as the walleye move up these rivers to spawn.  There are many access areas to both of these rivers.  However, the key to catching these walleyes is location and understanding what to look for in these "key" areas.

     Rather than getting into lures, gear and setup, I would rather focus on some other important factors for catching these walleye.  When the walleye move into the river to stage for the spawn, they are going to look for gravel/rocky areas to spawn.  As they move into these areas (often times around riffles), the walleye will hold in deeper holes below the riffles until they are ready to spawn.   Accessing these areas often times requires a good set of chest waders.

     Another very important factor that many people overlook is the water level.  As the river changes levels very often this time of year, it is important to look at the river predictions to determine which areas you will be able to access, as well as which areas may be too shallow to fish due to receding water.  Remember that if you walk into the river early in the day and the water was just below the top of your waders, rising water may put you in a difficult position to return.  With the cold water temperatures and current, safety needs to be the #1 priority on your mind.

     Lastly, another key factor to keep in mind is with your lure presentation.  Walleye position themselves facing into the current.  When you are fishing in this current it is important to cast upstream at approximately a 45 degree angle and let the current sweep your rig downstream.  Lure weight is key.  You want to use a weight that consistently can bounce off the bottom, but not too heavy that your lure just drags on the bottom.  It is very important to get that bottom contact.  Getting the right sweep of your lure in the current may be the difference between catching walleye and not.   I want to wish everyone luck out there this year.  Hopefully, a few of these tips will help you determine some productive areas.   Lastly, be safe out there and have fun!
 
Kyle Weisenburger

Bass Pro Shops

Local Pro Staff

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Fishy Facts: Smallmouth Bass

You all remember that one younger kid on the playground, that no matter how hard they tried they could not get out of the shadow of their “big brother”? Yeah. Sometimes I wonder if that is how smallmouth bass feel when compared to largemouth bass. Think about it, largemouth bass has made modern fishing tournaments what it is. Look at any associate’s polo at your local Bass Pro Shops and that is definitely not a smallmouth embroidered on their shirt. So what’s the deal? Are they not as good as the largemouth? Does everyone expect the smallmouth to go to community college while the largemouth gets in on a full ride scholarship? Nay says I! The smallmouth bass is one of the most fun fish to catch and should be respected just as much as the largemouth bass. So that’s why this month it is the star of our Fishy Facts blog.

The smallmouth bass is a freshwater fish, considered a member of the sunfish family. Its true home is with the other black basses (including the largemouth). They are a prized sport-fish due to their strength and intriguing patterns. They can grow up to 27 inches and weight close to 12 pounds.

Because many anglers enjoy these fish, they have been stocked in non-native areas for game. Anglers have many nicknames for these fish including: smallmouth, smallie, bareback bass, brown bass, bronzeback, brownie and bronze bass. These fish are usually brown with red eyes, an upper jaw that extends to the middle of the eye and has dark vertical bands.

These fish prefer clearer waters than the largemouth live in. The kinds of water they live in can actually have an effect on their coloring or shape. In rivers they tend to be darker and more narrow while in sandy water areas these fish can be more yellow in color. They can stand cooler waters than the largemouth, but are more sensitive to changes. These fish can be affected easily by pollution and are a standard species monitored when checking the health of an ecosystem.

These fish are carnivorous and like to eat smaller fish, crayfish and insects. Fishing for smallmouth bass has a range of techniques. Almost anything can serve as a good lure, just keep it moving. Smallmouth bass tend to chase their prey rather than ambush them. But don’t retrieve your bait too quickly as it can tire the fish and turn them off. Fly-fishing for these feisty fish is growing in popularity and is quite fun.

Now just to clarify a statement at the beginning, smallmouth bass are sometimes allowed in the creel for professional tournaments. But they do not nearly get as much publicity from these kinds of events that the largemouth bass will.

While they are edible, think about if you really want to keep one. It is not that they are vulnerable as a species but always consider catch and release. As long as you got a picture with your prize, it might not need to end up on your dinner plate.

“Catch” ya later! Speaking of catch, look at what our very own Cole caught himself a while back!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

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Fall Walleye Fishing

Fishing for small fish like crappie and sunfish might be fun for the kids but sometimes having a little adult fishing is just what is needed. This is where fishing for walleye comes into play. These fish grow large in the temperate waterways and lakes here locally, and are great fish to fight on a line. But the best thing about walleye is definitely their meat. This firm, white and mild tasting meat is perfect for everything from a fillet to a grilled medallion. Here are some tips and tricks for catching the walleye of the year.

The first thing many people who fish for walleye will notice is their mouth full of teeth, this is due to their place as one of the apex predators in the waters. On the other hand there is another feature of the walleye that fishermen need to look at in order to get a sense of how they hunt. This is the eyes, walleye have big and often times oversized looking eyes. Given this fact walleye are very susceptible to changes in light, particularly increases in light. So when fishing for walleye it is good to time the day around what fish you are looking for. If you are spending the entire day on the water fishing, try out walleye fishing in the early morning, in the evenings, on cloudy days, or days when wind puts chop in the water. During other times of day, or when the conditions are not right it is probably safe to try catching other fish in the area. When the light is right or the conditions are right for walleye fishing it is often a good idea to use a Strike King® Pro-Model® Walleye Crankbait, throwing this bait across an area with a lot of bait fish and cranking it steadily will give the action that the walleye can’t resist giving a rapid strike.

Strike King

Another solution to getting the walleye to bite is to simply go trolling with a specific rig set up for walleye. This is usually a crankbait or a bottom bouncer with a live night crawler or minnow strung through the hooks. A good crankbait for this is the Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Nitro Shad Dancer Crankbait, this lure has the shine of a shad while also having the action of an injured shad. This along with a wiggling minnow or night crawler in the hooks will be irresistible to the walleye in the direct area.

Nitro Shad

If trolling is not the best thing for a fisherman then using the wind to propel the boat through the water is another idea for the new walleye fisherman. While the wind is pushing the boat drop a jig along the bottom for the walleye to get a shot at. One of the jigs of choice would be the ERC Jig-A-Beast Swim Jig, accept remove the minnow attachment on the bottom and replace it by running the hook through a Bass Pro Shops Double-Dipped Tube. This combination is great for getting the action the walleye are looking for in the choppy water during the day.

ERCBPS

Being out on the lake during the fall is always a great experience no matter what the occasion is. Making this experience more fun by adding a fun fishing trip with big fish and a catch that might just bite you back is always a plus. Not to mention that once the walleye are caught they make one of the best meals where fish are concerned. We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful in catching these great fish! MMake sure to check out anothe blog post, "How Weather Patterns Affect Fishing here:http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-springfield-mo/how-weather-patterns-affect-fishing As always happy hunting and good luck! 

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What's a Planer Board?

By: Jerry Costabile

Planer boards have been a part of many anglers arsenal for a long time. Salmon and trout anglers have been using boards for many years on the Great Lakes. Planer boards do so many good things when a trolling presentation is called for. They enable an angler to get lines and baits out away from the boat, which prevents spooking the fish. Boards can be used with all types of line presentations; mono, braid, wire, copper, lead core. They all are used in today’s fishing, and boards help anglers expand their trolling spread.

 Boards also make it so much easier to get multiple lines in the water. We can experiment with different colors, running depths, and shapes. This helps us determine what the fish are looking for on that particular day. No doubt about it, planer boards will help us catch more walleyes and salmon and trout.

 But, more and more we're learning that planer boards will help us catch other species of fish, fish that we probably wouldn't have caught without the use of boards. Anglers in some areas are learning that perch are very susceptible to a lure behind a board. So are white bass and striped bass in the regions where striped bass live.

I have a friend who put in a good amount of time chasing crappies with planer boards. In many of the lakes that he fishes, the crappies suspend. Sometimes they're eight feet down over twenty feet of water, and they're relating to baitfish. They're very spread out and it would take a lot of time to find them by casting. You can cover much more water by trolling, but if you troll over the top of them when they're only a few feet down, you spook them. By using planer boards and getting the bait away from the boat, you catch them instead of spook them.

Same thing is true for white bass. In some lakes in the summer, anglers watch for the gulls to start diving at shad on the surface. The shad are on the surface because the white bass are feeding on them there. When you see the gulls, you hurry to the spot and start casting. With boards however, you don't need to wait for the gulls, you just keep trolling searching for the bass. Very, very effective way to catch them! That Hornet does a great job on white bass also.

 There are several manufactures of planer boards and they all do what they are designed for, catching fish. There are different sizes for different applications, from mini’s to magnum’s.

In fishing, much of the time tools are created for one thing and we find they work equally well, even better sometimes, for something else. Planer boards are one of those tools. If you want to catch more fish more of the time, make planer boards part of your fishing arsenal.

 

 

 

 

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Grades are In and the Grade is a Z8!

By: Andrew D. Buss

Every moment on the water, and before every cast, I assess the potential for success in regards to water depth, clarity, structure, lure selection, and countless other factors. On top of being a competitive angler, my day job is to teach middle school students reading and writing. Again, assessment is my job. A theme in the classroom is I do not give grades, rather, students earn grades. Today I have a grade to share with you: the 2014 Nitro Z8 earns an A+.

She arrived Memorial Day weekend with a number of accessories: Mercury Pro XS 250, Humminbird 1199, Humminbird 999, Minn Kota Fortrex 112, a pair of 12 foot Minn Kota Talons, Hot Foot, and a Loc-R-Bar. During these short months, I have put it all to the test by beating the snot out of it. Wear and tear from small Northern Indiana inland lakes is admittedly minimal, but throw in several hundred miles on Lake Michigan, two weeks on Minnesota’s 112,000 acre Leech Lake, and a week on New York’s 254,000 acre Lake Champlain has officially broken her in.

                                              

One look at the EL20A color scheme and one must admit she brings sexy to bass boats. It took only a few weeks to lose count on how many comments I received from non-fishermen: thumbs up from passersby, admirers at convenience stores, even people at stop lights rolling down their window to express their admiration. The artists at Nitro earned their paycheck.

My previous boat was a 20 foot Skeeter. Before that, I owned a 19 foot Triton. Admittedly, I was skeptical about the Z8’s performance compared with the Skeeter, but I was wrong. My first time on the water was with fellow angler Steve Prange, who is a long time Ranger owner. He had ample experience in my Skeeter and a 2013 Ranger. As we broke the motor in, he was the first to exclaim the Z8’s ride, hole shot, top speed, and ease of performance surpasses any boat he has ridden. On top of that, his admiration of the sheer size - seating and casting space - was equally as flattering.

The first real test came on southern Lake Michigan in early June. Weather forecasters had predicted five mile per hour winds out of the south. They were wrong. Instead flags were flat as a pancake with winds out of the north. This did not stop me from venturing out, and after a few miles, waves between 6-8 feet high battered the Z8 and I. Spray saturated me and dropping down several feet between waves jolted my body, but the boat was not impressed. She rode through the waves with ease.

                                                

During the Lake Michigan Big Bass Bash in late June, fish were hard to come by. As a result I ran nearly 120 miles across the lake in search of cooperating fish. My persistence paid off with a top 5 finish, but the success belongs to the Z8. Never before was running that kind of mileage an option for me. At the end of the day, the 68 gallon tank was only half empty.

Immediately from this tournament I headed to Leech Lake in northern Minnesota for vacation. Out of character for June, we were bombarded with stiff winds for nearly our entire stay. Not a problem. Despite consistent four and five foot waves, we were able to navigate safely across the entire lake. We drifted for walleye amongst the waves and ran 20 miles to protected bays to chase musky and bass.

Finally, participating in the B.A.S.S. Northern Open on Lake Champlain is a daunting and intimidating experience. Champlain is ranked #10 as the roughest body of water in America by Bassmaster Magazine. The sheer size is astonishing, but add persistent strong winds and waves ranging from four to eight feet in height, well, now it’s not just a matter of catching fish, but survival. Thanks to the Z8, neither were ever concerns. The Humminbird electronics and Fortrex trolling motor allowed me to locate schools of smallmouth bass to finish 23 out of a field of 180, while the Mercury was reliable, and the boat kept me in control and safe. During day one of competition, over 20 teams returned late due to the waves, but not me.

If you are serious about your boating or fishing, line yourself up with the best. Line yourself up with Nitro.

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To Good To Be True! The Savage 3D Trout Swim Bait

Are you looking for the perfect bait? Well look no further than the Savage Gear 3D Trout Swim Bait.

The 3D trout swim bait comes in 5",7", & 8". Its comes in two colors, a light and dark trout. The light colored trout is good for early spring when the water is clearer. The dark colored trout is great to use in the summer & fall when the water is a darker color. The swim bait has 3D technology, which gives the bait a life-like presentation when going through the water. It also has the perfect trout-like appearance. The 3D swim bait comes with quality hooks. The lure has a slot for a glass rattle. This slot comes in handy for when you're reeling in your bait. The tail will make a rattling sound that will attract the fish. With a price range of $6.99 - $12.99 its the perfect price for great bait. This trout swim bait is the perfect bait for Bass, Pike, Wiper, Walleye & more!

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Colorado Walleye Fever

The Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic ended today. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of great people and was blessed to give a few seminars at both the Denver and Colorado Springs stores. For those of you who braved the weather the first couple weekends I would like to give you a thumbs up and just say "Thank You" for visiting us at both locations.

One of my seminars was titled Jerk Baits "the night bite". I have given this in the past and it is a type of fishing that I lose sleep over and over again and again. With the full moon rising up from the East I thought I need to be out tonight. I was out last night with a few friends and after a long weekend at the Bass Pro Shops my body was telling me to take a break.

I did however manage to get out more than a few time as the Spring classic was going on. I tell folks that if you have never been out during the full moon phases starting in February thru December you could be missing out on a photo fish of a lifetime here in Colorado. I get out as much as I can this time of year and yes, I throw Jerk baits. Bass Pro XPS Nitro Minnows, Smithwick rattlin' rogues both in suspending versions are my lures of choice. I like a clown color and a black gold orange belly color. Firetiger and chartreuse are good to have in your arsenal also.

The key to fishing at night and being successful is to do your homework before the sun goes down and find a rocky point  that will allow you to cast parallel to the shore. The walleye like rocks to spawn on and are very active when the sun goes down. The full moon triggers them to move up. I like to make a long cast and try a slow retrieve mix in a few small twitches or a jerk - jerk pause and just let the bait sit there up to thirty seconds and jerk it down again keeping the same cadence all the way back to shore. When the fish hit it on the pause you feel a tick in the reel when they hit the slow steady retrieve they crush it. Set the hook.

Any body of water that has walleyes and saugeyes in it will produce if you put your time in. The smaller bodies of water heat up earlier and produce first then the bigger deeper reservoirs follow. You can always catch walleyes at night but early spring and late fall can produce giants.

Last week when I was giving my seminar on the night bite I told the folks I had been out catching walleyes already but I haven't landed anything worth a" CPR" Catch, Photo and Release picture yet and I hoped it would happen during the full moon phase. I went out a few days ago dressed for the wind and cold temps. I had to remember to put new batteries in my headlamp and after many No's from some of my diehard night fishing buddies I had a taker and we headed out to the reservoir at 1 am.

I worked the rocks pretty good and I finally hooked a nice one only to lose her in a bush close to shore. It didn't break my spirits but I wanted to land her since she felt heavy. I always wonder how they can manage to pull free from three treble hooks in a jerk bait but they do. It was a good hour later when I felt the tick and set the hook on the32' walleye big walleyereviving walleyereleasing walleye biggest walleye I have caught to date so far. This fish fought good and I knew she was a giant when she came to the surface. I had truly been blessed with this fish a 32'' fatty.

I always dream of a fish like this one and finally it was on the end of my line. I practice what I preach and after a few photos I gave her a kiss and let her go so someone else can have the same opportunity I just had. I wanted to share some photos with all of you and to let you know that there are giant walleyes in Colorado. 

Give it a try. that feelings and thoughts you have after you catch a few isn't a sickness....it's just Colorado walleye fever.

                                                                                     Best of Luck,

                                                                                                            Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

 

                                                                               

 

 

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A Classic Sign of Spring

A Classic Sign of spring

By: Jerry Costabile

On February 28th, the weather here in the Midwest will start to get warmer, even if it’s cold outside. From February 28th until March 16th, the Gurnee, Illinois Bass Pro Shops will be having their annual “Spring Classic”. This is the start of spring for many of us fishermen and fisherwomen. This the time to forget about the cold and snow that we have been battling all winter and get inside the store where the air is filled with fishing!

It starts with the very big sales ad, 44 pages! I can’t believe the great pricing and unbelievable deals that are going to be featured from front to back. From lures to Tracker Boats, there is something for everyone! The promotions are first class from BASSMASTER University, Daily specials on March 7th & 8th and 14th $ 15th, also, The Next Generation weekend for the kids on March 15th & 16th. Check this out, from February 28th until March 5th you will be able to trade in your old reel and get up to $100 off of the purchase of a new reel and from March 7th until March 11th, you can get the same deal with your old rods! All of the trade in rods and reels are donated to charities and youth groups and organizations. If you need a way to justify buying a new rod and reel, here you go, tell them it’s for a good cause!

There will be seminars every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the Classic. Speakers from pro fishermen talking about fishing for bass, muskies, salmon, walleyes and more! There will be fried fish sampling on March 8th, and if you are in the market for new fishing electronics, you won’t believe this, buy a qualifying unit and you will get the following: First, Triple Rewards Points, second, FREE Standard Power Pros Accessory Installation, and third, a FREE three year Gear Guard Protection Plan! This includes Lowrance, Hummingbird, Garmin, Motorguide, and Minn Kota. Plus, between March 6th and 12th, you can receive up to $100 in Bass Pro Shops Bonus Bucks!

If you are in the market for a 9.9 motor, for the Classic you can get a Mercury 9.9 FourStroke motor and receive an additional $500 after special price reduction or get a $500 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card!

If you need to forget about winter and get into spring, come out to the 2014 Spring Classic and experience the biggest fishing event ever!

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Spring Fishing with Flicker Shad

                                    Beerkley

With warmer weather rolling in Walleye anglers are hitting the water and the new Berkley Flicker Shad is helping them catch more fish.  The Flicker Shad is a minnow imitating lure that can be cast or trolled.  Trolling is by far the most popular technique for Walleye fishermen when using the Flicker Shad.  The bait has a tight, subtle action that is very effective with the cooler water temperatures now in the area.  These baits also have rattles, and many of the color patterns that are standard are perfect Walleye colors.   Bass Pro Shops has four sizes and a very large selection of colors to choose from, 11 of these colors are Bass Pro Shops exclusives selected by Walleye pro Gary Parsons. 

berkley flikr shad

 

Studies have shown Walleye will target small Shad even if they have larger forage available.  Therefore, this has made the Flicker Shad one of the most productive baits of our time.  With top of the line components you get a bait that will run correctly out of the package,  featuring strong hook attatchments and a wide range of colors.   On sale now for $3.97, and continuing through the Spring Fishing Classic,  plus an additional rebate available from Berkley, make the Flicker Shad a must have lure for springtime fishing.  Stop by our Fishing Department and see one of our dedicated Associates to help you stock up on all your Walleye Fishing needs.

 

 

Additional information on the colors and sizes available in the Flicker Shad, as well as all of the details on the many Berkley rebates, can be found at  basspro.com, or by calling us at the Sevierville, TN location.  We look forward to seeing you during our upcoming Spring Fishing Classic, February 28 – March 16.

flikr shad

 

 

Good fishing,

 

Jonathan Dyke

Fishing Team Lead

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Walleyes in Skinny Water

By Chris Grocholski
Fishing Lead
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Growing up in northeast Iowa, I was faced with no lakes, or any big water for that matter, to fish. What we had were small rivers to spend our days fishing in. Small towns, like Elkader, Eldorado, and Clermont, and small rivers, like the Turkey, Volga, and the Cedar Rivers, provided lots of opportunities to catch walleyes while wading down the river or in a small boat.  Many summer days were spent with a zip lock bag full of 4” plastic worms/grubs, a small tackle box full of jigheads, and occasionally a small crankbait

What makes these rivers such a challenge and also rewarding? The rivers are never the same from year to year.  When the snow starts to melt, and the spring rains come, so does flooding and many instances of major flooding. Many times, this will change the complete look of a small river and, in some cases, completely change the river's course!

Places/Things to Look For

Some of the easiest places to look for, when trying to catch walleye in smaller rivers, are bridges and dams. Most likely, those are going to have the deepest water available for fish for quite some distance and the fish will tend to congregate there. However, keep in mind that “deeper” might only be 2 or 3 feet deeper. 

If you are on a particular river that does not have any dams or bridges, the next areas that you should be looking for are places that have sharp bends in the river. A bend will usually have an area close to the shore that has significantly more water than the rest of the area. Currents hitting the bank causes the bank to have a steep drop and any sediment coming up stream does not have a chance to Chris Grocholskisettle. Depending on the amount of current, these areas may be as long as a half mile or can be as small as just a few feet, but all have the potential of holding walleye. This picture of me holding a nice 17-inch walleye came on a bend area that was no more than five or six feet wide, and about 15-feet long, but the fish was in five feet of water, and I was standing in about one foot of water.

Another area that I like to concentrate on are rip rap shore lines and steep rock facings with any current on them. The big key to what I look for is water depth of five feet or, again, the deepest water available. If the shore has any irregularities to it, that is definitely a bonus as well...things like indentations, points, a change in rock type, etc. Anything that will divert current will have a good chance to hold fish; the stronger the current the better, because those irregularities are almost a guarantee to hold fish and will cause a larger eddy with the more current in the area.

What Baits?

My #1 choice for walleye in smaller rivers is a combination of 4” ring worm and a jighead. However, things like three- or four-inch Chris Grocholskitwister tails, small shad body baits, and even a fluke-style minnow are all good choices as well. I also, on occasion, will choose a suspending Rapala stick minnow or also a small vibrating rattle trap-style bait, as well. Jighead weights will be from a 1/16 to a 3/16 oz., but most occasions will call for the 1/8 oz. The key to jighead selection is to keep it the smallest that you can get away with, to make the bait look the most natural, but at the same time keeping in close contact to the bottom. I will sometimes go up a lure size to make a change in the way the bait looks in  the water, but not even change the jighead size, for example. Switching from a smaller 3 inch twister tail grub to a 5 inch grub will give your bait a bit more buoyancy in the water and also a bigger profile. This is a go-to presentation in the fall when fish are looking for a larger meal going into the winter season.

Questions? Please post them here or on our Facebook page and I will answer them!  Don't forget about the Spring Fishing Classic Local Tips and Seminars sessions on March 8 and 9! We'll be on hand to answer questions then, too!

_____________________________

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The Spring Fishing Classic 2014 Seminar Schedule!

Please join us for the Spring Fishing Classic 2014!


******     February 28 - March 16  -  It's 3 weeks of fun/education and yes, even sales!     ******

 

On Friday, Feb 28, we'll have 3 (count them THREE) National Pros with seminars!
Pros will be in the store 5pm -close (9pm) on the 28th.

 

Captain Dale Stroschein

 

Just a handful of the covers in which Capt Dale Strochein has been featured.

 

Prior to chartering full time and maintaining his resort, Dale fished competitively on the Professional Walleye Trail for 12 years-each year qualifying for the national championship. He was the only angler to hold Big Fish records simultaneously for both the PWT and NAWA circuits.

 

These represent just a handful of the covers that have featured Captain Dale Strochein!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casey Scanlon

Casey Scanlon Champion Trophy

 

Competing since  he was a teen - at age 15 he won his first club tournament! Casey Scanlon went on to plave 1st place in the 2012 Bass Pro Shops Central Open #2

Follow this link to Casey's articles on fishing lowland grass resevoirs.

 

Casey Scanlon B.A.S.S. numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chase Parsons

Chase Parsons with FLW trophy

 

Chase boasts a number of Pro Walleye Tour (PWT) top-tens, Rookie of the Year honors in 2005 and a tournament win at Lake Oahe, S.D. in 2011.

 

Chase Parsons at winning check presentation.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Professional walleye fisherman Chase Parsons is presented with the $50,000 cash prize for winning the FLW National Guard walleye tournament on Lake Oahe in South Dakota.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

March  1st & 2nd Seminars

 

Jim Crowley

Jim Crowley conducting fish tank demonstration at East Peoria Bass Pro Shops.

 We've got Jim Crowely of Hook & Hunt TV.com for the entire weekend! You don't want to be late for his 3:00 seminar - he's starting out with a short video of out-takes from his show.

 Jim Crowley, Hook & Hunt TV.com

 

 

 

 

The following Seminar and Tank Demonstrations will be held on both Saturday and Sunday:

11:00 Tank Demo: How to use lures to haul in the big ones.

1:00 Bass Class 101 - The Spring Connection

3:00 Tank Demo: How to use lures to haul in the big ones.

 

Local Pros Weekend      March 7 - 9

 
 
Seminars: Friday 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: Seminars will begin at 11am each day
 

1st 25 seminar attendees to attend a Saturday or Sunday (3/8 & 3/9) Seminar will receive a SFC tumbler!

Friday     

March 7  

 
  7pm Flipping and Pitching for Bass
Saturday   March 8 & 9   
& Sunday     11am Locating Bass in New Waters
  1pm Topwater Techniques for Bass
  2pm Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass
  3pm Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?
  4pm Become a Smallmouth Specialist
  5pm Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass

  

"Thinking Like a Fish"      Workshops for Kids!  March 15 & 16 at 2:30 & 4:30    

 

 

bluegill

We'll be teaching kids what causes a fish to think like a fish, and that alone, will give them insight to become the best fisher people they can be!

We'll cover topics such as where do they live, what do they eat and where you might best them hanging out.

 

We'll also cover fishing equipment and safety!

                                                                                                                               

Women's Beginning Fishing  Workshop!      March 15 at 3pm  Jim Crowely conducting seminar at Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria

 

Join JIM CROWLEY for our new seminar that designed just for the ladies!
 

We’ll teach you about spin casters and bait casters, fishing line, knots,  lures and worms. The workshop will be followed by a question and answer time. Your instructor will make sure to hang out in the fishing department so he’ll be available in case you want more help before or after the seminar!


Giveaways: 1st 50 seminar attendees to attend will receive a SFC tumbler.
Drawing: Ladyfish spinning rod/reel combo

 

Jim will also be delivering tank demonstrations on both days!



Join us on Facebook to stay up to date on this and other events.
Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

 

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From The Shack - Ice Fishing In Alberta

It’s that wonderful time of year where the sidewalks are slippery, pipes are freezing, and everyone is looking forward to the next Chinook in a vain hopeing that the 6 inches of ice on the neighbors sidewalk may actually disappear. BUT, some of us, will be outside, slipping and sliding like goofs to get in a little bit of ice fishing.

My first attempt ice fishing with my father was a bit of a gong show. Neither of us had been ice fishing in years,  I had a vague idea of what was needed. Some form of hook and line (possibly bait if permitted), a rod or tip up (though at the time the only tip– up I remembered using was two pieces of a hockey stick nailed into a cross that fit over the hole) and uneven chairs sitting on the ice, in snow pants, getting cold quite quickly. My dad pulled out a 40 year old hand auger, that he swore drilled through the ice like butter– then again anything is faster than hacking away with an axe right? Well maybe anything with the exception of that old ice auger.  If you’re ever in Bass Pro Shops, Rocky View you can see that auger in our antique display (sometimes they don't make them like they used to for a reason.).

With much trial and error, sometimes forgetting half the gear at home, and after coming away skunked more times then I’d like to admit, we managed to get the hang of it and pulled out a few really nice sized fish.

Things I’ve learned:

· Have a sharp auger– a hand auger will do as long as the blade is sharp. To be fair the 40 year old hand auger drilled through a little over 5 feet of ice in about 5 minutes...Although after the first hole, someone with a gas auger felt sorry for us and came and drilled us a couple holes in mere seconds.

· Research where you’re going– the internet is a plethora of information. If your going somewhere you have never been, a topographic map and hints of where people are catching will always help.

· Look for ice reports!!! I cannot stress this one enough, I always do a little poking around to try and find out ice thickness before I go out. If someone had to belly crawl to get off the ice because it was so thin, you wont catch me anywhere near that lake. 6-12” is usually when I will walk out onto the lake, no amount of fishing is worth falling into the freezing water; keeping a pair of ice picks in your pocket just in case is also highly advisable.

· Test the ice– when you walk out, drill a test hole to see for yourself how thick the ice is. Never drive out unless you’re sure the ice is thick enough: Insurance will not cover your vehicle if it goes through the ice, and you have to pay to get it out (not cheap) and you can be fined just to add monetary injury to your  already insulted ego.  Remember just because you see a small car on the ice does not mean it is thick enough for your truck.

This year the ice froze funny, lots of snow too soon. In a lot of places there’s a good foot of slush on top on the ice,  In some cases flood water, it’s really easy to get stuck and even if you’re walking, falling into the slush means cold ice water in the boots.  To put it into perspective, we got an Argo stuck in the slush (full story upon request)  If that can get stuck, so can your vehicle.

 

 · Know  The species in the lake, and what you want to target– For perch, small jigs with maggots or meal worms are always the ticket, if you think the hook is small, it’s probably not small enough. Pike– rattle baits, or smelts/minnows. Walleye-jigs with worms/ minnows/small smelt,bucktail jigs. Burbot– jigs with smelts/raw meat/Anything stinky, jigging lures, and my personal preference buzz bombs with a bit of bait. White fish– Wire worms with a couple maggots on hook.. Trout-Small jigging lures or jigs with or without bait.

· Extra clothes– if you fall in, at least you’ll have something dry to change into.

· People food– even if you’re planning to fry up some fish on the ice bring something anyways, just in case you don't catch anything.

· And the last, and my favorite part, take good company. My favorite thing about ice fishing is going out and spending time with my dad.  So go outside, and enjoy winter, because we live in Canada and have plenty of it!!!!!

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2014 Spring Fishing Classic at Cincinnati Bass Pro Shops

2014 Spring Fishing Classic

The 2014 Spring Fishing Classic is full of great FREE activities for the whole family, and it will kick off this year on Friday February 28th with our reel trade-in. Bring in a used reel and trade it in for a discount on a new reel from the 28th until March 5th. We will, in turn, donate these trade-ins to local organizations in need of fishing equipment. From March 7th to 11th we will have the same offer for your used rods.

We will also have a sweepstakes that will start on Friday that will give you the chance to win a 2104 Nitro Z7 and a chance to fish with Elite Series Angler Edwin Evers, and this sweepstakes will run from the 28th through March 16th.

We will also have our National Pro Staff members in on Friday night giving FREE seminars and meeting and greeting our customers. At 7pm, Mark Brumbaugh, National Walleye Tour Angler/9-Time Professional Walleye Trail (PWT) Champion will be here to talk about Lake Erie Walleye Fishing. At 8pm, we will welcome Dave Mercer, Host of “Facts of Fishing” TY Show, and Bassmaster Elite Series Emcee who will be giving you the “Facts of Fishing”

The weekend of March 7-9 will bring members of our Pro Staff and local professionals and experts to give a host of FREE workshops. The first 25 people to attend each seminar Saturday and Sunday will receive a Free Fishing Classic Mug (must be 18 or older). Here is the weekend schedule:

Friday March 7

7pm – Flipping and Pitching For Bass

Saturday March 8

11am – Locating Bass In New Waters

1pm – Topwater Techniques for Bass

2pm – Spinning Reel Tactics For Bass

3pm – Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?

4pm – Become a Smallmouth Specialist

5pm – Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass

Sunday March 9

11am – Locating Bass In New Waters

1pm – Topwater Techniques for Bass

2pm – Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass

3pm – Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?

4pm – Become a Smallmouth Specialist

5pm – Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass

The last weekend March 15/16 will be our Next Generation Weekend for the kids, with an added twist of a Women’s Fishing Workshop as well. Here are the Next Generation events we have on tap:

Noon to 5pm: Catch and Release Pond and Free Photo Opportunity – Both Saturday and Sunday

1pm to 4:30pm – Free Wood Fish Craft Magnet – Both Saturday and Sunday

2:30 & 4:30 pm – “Thinking Like a Fish” Kids Workshops – both Saturday and Sunday

3pm – Women’s Beginning Fishing Workshop – Saturday only 

The first 150 kids each day to participate in our activities will receive a free Bass Pro Shops Tackle Box. The first 50 women to attend our Women’s Workshop will receive a FREE Bass Pro Shops Mug

 

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Spring Fishing Classic 2014 Line Up

The world's greatest fishing event is back!

February 28-March 16, 2014

Spring Fishing Classic - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

 

  • Great savings on the equipment you need!
  • Free seminars from the pros
  • Next Generation Weekend with Catch and Release Pond
  • Free Kids' Fishing Workshop
  • Daily Specials
  • Reel and Rod Trade-Ins
  • Bonus Bucks

 

First weekend - March 1

Join us to welcome our national pros during Bassmaster University!

1 p.m. - Win Stevens - Missouri B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Angler - Using Your Humminbird Electronics

2. p.m. - Chase Parsons - Host "the Next Bite" TV show and Walleye Tournament Champion - Walleyes 2014

3 p.m. - Casey Scanlon - Bassmaster Elite Series Pro - Jig Fishing

Bassmaster University - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Second Weekend - March 7, 8 and 9

Local Pro Fishing Tips and Seminars!Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff - Kary Ray and Lance Baker

March 7 - 7 p.m. - Flipping and Pitching for Bass

March 8 and 9th - (Featuring our Pro Staff Kary Ray and Lance Baker)

11:00 a.m. - Locating Bass in New Waters -  Pro Staff Seminar
1:00 p.m. - Topwater Techniques for Bass
2:00 p.m. - Spinning Reel Tactics for Bass  - Pro Staff Seminar
3:00 p.m. - Does the Color of Your Bass Lure Matter?
4:00 p.m. - Become a Smallmouth Specialist - Pro Staff Seminar
5:00 p.m. - Choosing the Right Soft Plastics for Bass

 

Third Weekend - March 15 & 16

Free Kids' Fishing Workshop - Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Next Generation Weekend!

  • Noon-5 p.m. Free Catch and Release Pond in our new, larger indoor pond stocked with live fish!
  • Free 4x6 photo with a Keep America Fishing Certificate.
  • 2:30 and 4:30 - Free Kids' Fishing workshops
  • Free Kids' Craft - 1-4:30 p.m. both days - Keepsake magnet fish craft (while supplies last).

 

Watch for details on specific events and specials in future blogs!

_________________________________

Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona
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Fishy Facts: Northern Pike

Hmm… would you look at that? It appears to be Fishy Fact: 30. Which of course means it is time for another fishy fact. This month let us cover one of those toothy bad boys of freshwater: Northern Pike.

The northern pike is an apex predator in their ecosystem. The veracity with which they attack their prey makes them an awesome fighter when hooked. They also grow to relatively large size, which means the bigger the fish the bigger the fight.

The pike got their name due to the resemblance their structure has compared to the pole-weapon commonly used during the Medieval Period. This pointed structured helps them cut through water and they use impressive bursts of speed to run down their prey.

They are usually an olive green with some yellow and white along the belly. They also tend to have a number of dark spots on their bodies. They look a lot like the muskellunge, but have their differences. The northern pike has a number of sensory pores on their head and along the underside of their lower jaw.

Typical prey of the northern pike include: fish, leeches, insects, amphibians, small mammals and even birds. There are pictures of cute little ducklings swimming along as a hungry northern pike salivates below in the water. Pretty accurate, honestly. Northern pike tend to be solitary predators.

Along with being solitary they tend to stay in the same waters. Their homing sense is very strong, and will keep them in the same area for years. They tend to breed in the spring. In summer they stay closer to vegetation than when it is winter.

Typically fishermen will pitch assorted baits and lures in a semi-fast fashion to try and attract the bite from the northern pike. When I was in Canada it was common to switch to pitching for pike instead of jigging for walleye to break the boredom. If we didn’t feel like pitching, it went to trolling. Plugs, jerk baits, inline spinners, soft baits and spoons tend to be the most effective lures used for pike. Many like to use something with some shine that will glint in the water to attract any possible pike nearby. Ice fishing for these large predators is also popular, just be careful being in that close of proximity to something that strong with that many teeth.

Many fishermen will overlook pike as an edible catch. This is due to the high amount of bones in their long, slender bodies. This makes it very hard to get meat off the fish, which is why many do not spend the time cleaning them. If one were to take the time to learn a little trick for cleaning pike they would also learn just how delicious they are. Pike is a common fish consumed in Europe.

Now because pike are as strong and toothy as mentioned above, fishermen either are very careful when handling them or just club them. When I went fishing for them there were two rules, watch the teeth and don’t drop the net. I was able to follow the first rule but may have forgotten the second. In fact, the story of me is dropping the net right after Uncle Scot said not to is one of his favorites. It took us quite the time to get the fish out, but when we finally did it was worth the effort!

Nice, right? PS- Uncle Scot caught that, I just look too cool with my sideburns.

Pikes Picnickin’ with Prickly Pear Paws! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts:

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

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Tips for Walleye Fishing

Some of the most elusive of fish in a fresh water lake tend to be some of the most tasty and fun to catch. This is very true when fishing for walleye. Knowing the areas where they frequent, their habits, and good rigs for catching them is important to a successful walleye fishing trip.

The first way to increase the chances of catching a walleye is to know their seasonal patterns. During the summer months, walleye tend to stay in areas where the water is cooler and the oxygen levels are higher. This means they tend to hang out in deep pools where tributaries flow into a lake. Another great place to find ‘eyes  in the summertime is just off rocky points where the bottom suddenly drops off into colder and much deeper water.  Remember that summer walleye are somewhat lethargic during the day.  As evening approaches they tend to start moving around more and looking for minnows closer to the surface of the water.

In the fall, walleye tend to be a little shallower in the water column and will usually position themselves just off weed beds where they hunt for minnows. They are still mostly active during the evening and night hours.

When spring rolls around, walleye tend to be in river currents or along the shore where they will spawn in sand beds. Pre-spawn they will hang a little deeper, while post-spawn walleye will stay around these areas to protect their eggs. This protective instinct makes them excessively aggressive and very fun to fish.

Summer can be one of the hardest times to catch walleye. A good way to get down deep to the walleye with a jig is to use a three way swivel. To the first swivel, attach your lead line. From the next swivel, attach a 1/16oz lead weight on a few inches of line. From the final swivel, attach about 3 feet of line then either a jig or a Rapala brand minnow. A bait that works well for this is the Rapala Original Floating Minnow. This has the action for this rig and works very well. A great way to use this rig is to throw it over a school of bait fish and aggressively reel it across the school. It is alright to troll over the school once or twice but after that the action of the boat will scare the walleye and they will stop feeding. In the spring, an effective way to run a walleye rig is to take a 1/16oz lead weight 2 to 3 feet up from where the bait is tied on. Hold the lead weight in place with a split shot. Then a great lure to use is the Rapala Husky Jerk Minnow. You can use the same technique as summer. To get the best result, throw over a spawning area and rapidly retrieve to get good solid strikes on the lures.

Husky Jerk

The search for walleye is always hard but the results of a successful fishing trip is one of the best tasting fish of all time. While knowing the areas where the walleye are usually located, the best baits and the techniques that work a fishing trip for walleye oftentimes becomes a fishing trip for whatever can be caught. Get everthing you need at Bass Pro Shops to catch walleye! http://www.basspro.com/Fishing/_/T-12100000000 As always, good luck and happy fishing!

 

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American Gizzard Shad in Fox Chain O' Lakes

American Gizzard Shad in Fox Chain O’ Lakes

Gizzard shad are native to central and eastern United States mainly in warm low gradient rivers and streams as well as reservoirs, lakes and ponds. Shad are filter feeders; they prefer warm nutrient rich waters. Their range is temperature limited. Die offs usually occur when the water temperature drops below 37oF. Shad can extend their range during a string of warm years; the Illinois DNR collected its first sample of gizzard shad in the Fox Chain O’ Lakes in 2007. These shad migrated up the Fox River over fish ladders and dams in order to make it to the Chain.  Lakes that receive flood waters from the Des Plaines River can also have them.

The gizzard shad is a deep bodied fish that is laterally compressed (nearly flat when lying on their side). The dorsal fin has 10 to 12 rays and the last one extends back towards a deeply forked tail. The gizzard shad has silvery blue-green to gray coloration on its back and the sides are silvery with no lateral line. The mouth is small, with the lower jaw slightly shorter than the upper jaw. The mouth does not extend back past the gizzard shad’s large eyes. Like most shad, juveniles and young adults have a dark spot behind the gill plate. This spot is faint or disappears completely in larger, older fish. The belly tapers to a point where the scales fold over forming a saw like appearance.

While most shad live for 3-5 years, some have been documented to live past 10 years. They reach maturity in 2-3 years and females can produce 40,000 to 450,000 eggs. Spawning takes place during the middle of spring to early summer and usually occurs in the evening. The preferred spawning temperature is between 60oF and 70oF.  Male and female shad congregate along the shallow sandy or gravel areas where eggs are released and fertilized. Once the eggs hatch they are on their own since there is no parental care from the parents. The success of the shad fry correlates with the abundance of zooplankton along with stable water level and warmer temperatures.    Drastic changes in water level and temperature can decrease the survival rate of the fry. Once they reach the juvenile stage, they grow rapidly by feeding mostly on phytoplankton and zooplankton. At this stage they develop a gizzard and begin filter feeding for food. Sediment and sand are also ingested by the gizzard shad that helps it to digest food in its muscular gizzard; this is where the fish got its name.

Fishermen on the Fox Chain O’ Lakes have been seeing large schools of shad swimming in the shallow weedy bays. While they are rarely caught with the traditional hook and line, most anglers inadvertently snag shad with their hook or lure while targeting game fish. Gizzard shad provide an abundant food source for bass and walleye, but they may compete with bluegill, crappies and other young of the year game-fish for food. Shad have rapid growth rates, often growing to 5.5 inches in length during their first year. This provides a smaller window of opportunity for bass and walleyes which are gape limited and can only feed effectively on shad up to 6”. The lakes and rivers in southern states have an over abundance of adult shad measuring 8” or larger due to lack of predators. Fortunately, the Chain has a healthy population of muskies, which are capable of feeding on adult shad. Muskies have benefited from this new food source which is not only abundant but it’s easier for them to catch than bluegills and perch. The less energy a fish spend chasing its prey the more energy it saves on growing.

Muskie appears to have gained between 1 and 2 pounds per fish since gizzard shad showed up.  Males are about 1 pound heavier and females are about 2 pounds heavier for older mature fish.  A 45" female musky in 2006 weighed about 27.7 pounds and a 45" female in 2012 weighed about 29.9 pounds.  –Frank Jakubicek, IDNR

Gizzard shad can alter the size and density structure of a fishery. They may stunt the bluegill population through common food competition or by reducing the predation pressure which allows for higher recruitment which leads to stunted population. Bass may grow larger due to having more food available for them to eat but their fry may have to compete for food.  At this point it is hard to predict what the overall outcome of the gizzard shad will be on the fishery. At least for now, it gives fishermen hope that the shad will help produce record size game fish in the Fox Chain O’ Lakes in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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