We may be approaching
Halloween, but there sure is nothing scary about the fishing right now. It is as predictably good as it gets in the
Great White North in late October.
question is whether to go out for walleyes, bass or crappies. Then again, why not chase all three?
As I reported
in my last blog, that is what my 10-year old grandson, Liam and I decided to do
when we met up recently with Manitoba
based buddies Tom VanLeeuwen and Mike Schamber.
And while the
results were stellar - they didn't come without some hard work out on the water. That is because the late fall, cold water
phase is a period of consolidation. As
the water temperature plummets, the fish school up in ever bigger wolf packs,
so some anglers find it a hit-or-miss time of feast or famine.
That is not,
however, how we look at it. And here is the
reason why: we never put a lure into the
water until we know we're on fish.
Indeed, Tom spends more time with his lure out of the water than any
other angler I know, yet he probably catches more fish.
It is not a contradiction.
We simply believe
that you’re wasting your time fishing where there aren’t any fish. As a result, we never drop our baits over the
side of the boat unless we're absolutely certain there is a pod of fish below
Case in point:
this same week a few years ago, Van Leeuwen and I searched across a moderate
size lake we had heard harboured huge black crappies. We launched the boat that day at 9:00 o’clock
in the morning and didn't turn off the motor and start fishing until 2:00
o’clock in the afternoon.
I kid you not!
intervening five hours, we pretty much trolled the entire 20-miles of
shoreline, slowly sliding out over deep water, zigging back over the shallows
and zagging over every depth in between.
We motored across large bays and tiny coves, sauntered over main lake
points and submerged reefs. We even
meandered across the flat basin. And for
five hours we never took our eyes off the sonar screen, looking for the
Christmas tree markings that pinpointed schools of suspended crappies.
I know it sounds
like insane amount of work, and trust me, it was. But, when we finally found a
colossal crappie concentration, we pitched out a marker buoy, dropped down our
jigs and caught giant slabs seemingly at will.
surprisingly, that was our strategy the other day when we had the two boats out
on the water.
And get this:
I have two Simrad NSS 7 sonar/GPS units in my boat, while Tom has three Lowrance
HDS units in his backtroller. He uses
one to relay back traditional sonar information about water depth, water
temperature, bottom composition and of course, fish, another for side scan/down
scan purposes and the third, set on GPS to accurately trace the path of the
boat so he can see that he has traversed every inch of an underwater structure
before he writes off the spot.
It is deadly
efficient and effective.
Indeed, using what
has become our trademark search-until-you-find-‘em strategy, we enjoyed a
fabulous day of fishing. But, it was only
because we didn’t pick up our rods at a single location until we knew we were
Mike and Liam
got the two biggest walleyes, a pair of 29-inch, nine pound giants. Liam also would have caught the biggest
smallmouth, had I been a little quicker with the net.
I was certain
it was another big walleye that had his rod tip bent over dangerously, and I
was waiting for it to come up slowly and wallow on the surface. Instead, a huge smallmouth - at least 5-pounds
- suddenly streaked to the surface, came flying out of the water and tossed his
He still won't
let me forget it was the biggest bass he has ever hooked, even though he is
only ten years old.
indicative of the results that flow from putting the odds all in your favour
and not fishing until you actually mark fish.
One more thing
to consider: turn off the ridiculous Fish ID option on your sonar and rely exclusively
on the much more accurate fish arcs to tell you what you need to know. And turn up the sensitivity or gain on your
unit, as high as possible yet, still providing good detail. I also like to max out chart and ping speeds.
a blank SD card into the spare slot, if you have one, on your sonar unit and
record the day’s activity so you can later review it on your PC. You'll be surprised at the subtle things you
often see at home, that you missed out on the water.
Do these few
simple things and you'll see why the fishing is so scary good around