Issue 02, Vol. 01 Spring 2008 | Tell a friend
|WELCOME FROM DAVE ABBOTT||EARLY SEASON NORTHERN PIKE|
|PLATINUM ELITE MASTER ANGLER||ANGLING MASTERS PRO TIPS|
|SUBMIT A STORY TO WIN|
...and welcome to the second in a series of newsletters called "The Master Angler". It's your up-to-the-minute report on great fishing getaways, tournament news, special deals from fishing suppliers, plus real stories of the chase for Manitoba trophies, tips from the pros, and lots more.
I'm Dave Abbott, your Fishing Ambassador, and President of Angling Masters International Inc. (AMI). When it comes to World Class trophy Pike, Manitoba has no equal; both drive-to and fly-in locales boast fish up to 48 inches and beyond. In this issue I share some tips for fishing Manitoba's trophy Northern Pike. The fun begins here in Manitoba on Saturday, May 13, 2008 with Manitoba's season opener. See you out there!
And while visiting Manitoba, watch for some of AMI's online tournaments with great prizes. Our events allow you to fish where you want, when you want, for any of 12 eligible species. The new Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, all-tackle World Record Brook Trout was set right here in Manitoba during one of our events in 2006. For more information on how to enter one of these events visit www.anglingmasters.com/fishnline. One of Manitoba's giant Northern Pike are just a cast away.now that would be a great first entry!
Early Season Northern Pike
We pulled along upstream of a small depression in the river bed with a great sense of anticipation. We had both seen her clearly, a beautiful chunky Northern Pike we estimated at greater than 50". We were working the mouth of the River as it pours in to the Lake. It was just after ice out and the water was so clear we could pick out our quarry as we drifted along. We had been spanking 34 to 43 inchers along the shoreline with giant sluggos and large spoons as a warm up, but we knew a really big fish could be mid stream in the small holes and drops acting as ambush points for schools of suckers using the river as a spawning ground.
There she was again, belly to the bottom, motionless, seemingly unaware of our presence. I had marked the spot and casted to her numerous times without success. With no dead bait to offer I now resorted to holding in the current directly above her, dancing the giant sluggo immediately over her nose, occasionally bouncing it off her snout. She ignored it completely. Suddenly her gills flared and the sluggo disappeared. I set the hook hard.she didn't even move. I was pumped! Then with one massive head shake she broke off in full view. Elation turned to devastation in a heartbeat. Tell me what other sport regularly delivers such intense, conflicting emotions so quickly in succession?
A couple of minutes later I was back over the hole but she was gone, the expelled sluggo revealing the exact spot. Nearby I spotted another nice fish, but much smaller. This one took the bait immediately and, at 49 inches, was to be one of the biggest fish landed through the Lodge that year. I was astonished, given the comparison with the lost fish moments earlier.
Post spawn Trophy Pike also often laze in depressions in sand bottomed bays that empty into out going creeks, back ends of small lakes, large bay areas being feed by incoming streams, and shallow sandy bay areas adjacent to deep water, while recovering from the spawn. The common denominator here is a sand based bottom warmed by the spring sun. On that note keep in mind that a small bay with southern exposure and an incoming stream for example, will warm much faster than a large bay with little direct exposure to sunlight and an outgoing stream. The former is a hotspot for a late ice out and the latter for early ice out.
The early season Trophy Pike angler will take this into consideration, as water temperature drives spawning cycles and food chain stimulation profoundly impacts Pike location and activity. Last year's hotspot could be dead this year based on these factors, and vice versa. And it's not just ice out that plays a role here. Rain and run off conditions will also factor in the mix. Just remember not to look for gold in silver mines. If you want a big Pike make sure to research lakes with a good population of Trophy fish.and Manitoba is THE place to look, with numerous trophy Pike waters offering fish-of-a-lifetime opportunities.
Sight fishing works in clearer water, but many lakes do not have sufficient clarity, so search out potential holding areas marking the spot with your sonar. Remember a one or two foot difference in a 5-10 foot bay may indicate a resting area for the big one that will always commandeer the prime spots.
Anglers will note that year after year there are consistent areas they target that always seem to pay off. Close inspection will reveal they are casting to spot as described herein.
My approach to presentation is really quite simple. I combine dead baiting with jigging at this time of year. Large old fashioned clip-on red and white bobbers, or jumbo slip bobbers, in conjunction with quick strike rigs are highly effective as part of a one two punch. Pike are highly opportunistic feeders and the spring is no exception.
Late ice anglers will often witness Bald Eagles on the ice at the very end of the season. Fish that have died during hard water while the ice is being formed become entombed in the ice until the following spring when as the ice melts away, these food caches suddenly appear. These fresh frozen treats increase the natural abundance of dead fish after ice out, and like the Eagles, the Pike are part of nature's spring cleanup crew. Many of these dead fish simply float to the bottom and are picked up by Pike early season.
First prepare a quick strike rig and bait it with a healthy tulibee or herring 8 to 12 inches in length. Then anchor near an area as previously described and soak this offering for as much as an hour.perhaps longer. The key is to make sure you have the offering in a "go to" spot for these big fish. Then my partner and I will take turns casting with a plastic tipped jig looking for an active customer. Even though fish are often more lethargic during post spawn they will sometimes take a jig and reaper, or a large twister or tube "bunny hopped" off the bottom. Another reason for this combination of presentations is the old bait and switch. Your jig can bring in a customer, and the herring can close the deal. When you are fishing for top of the line predators in heavily fished local waters especially, you need everything working for you to score Trophy fish consistently.
If one of Manitoba's many Trophy Pike Lodges is your destination, make sure to bring your fly rod. It is said that one of the most exciting fish to catch on a fly is a Trophy Pike. I would have to agree. Early season fishing in Manitoba's northerly waters can mean late pre-spawn fishing, and if you have ever experienced this, you will never forget it!
Northern Pike in the spring also offers trophy opportunities to those anglers who enjoy shore angling. There are many "drive to" locations in Manitoba that will deliver a Trophy Pike experience. This type of shoreline drama is how I caught my first big Pike. Take the time to research possible locations through the Manitoba "Master Angler" lists and watch ice out to hone in on the right spots. Whether you are in a boat at one of Manitoba's many Trophy Pike Lodges, or fishing from shore, Great Northern Pike are a great way to kick off the open water season. Have fun and send us your bragging photos!
|Are you Elite? Introducing the new Platinum Elite Master Angler distinction
NEW FOR 2008
Master Anglers can now achieve "Platinum Elite" status by catching 15 different species of qualifying, trophy fish in Manitoba.
Cats in the Cradle
Three trophy tips to increase your odds this spring
I don't think angling expectations could be any higher than a fisher heading up to Lockport for a shot at some Trophy Cats. Some days you do come home with sore arms, but other days they play hard to get, or even worse you watch another party two boats down, landing some massive fish while you can't get a lick. This installment of the Trophy Series reviews some key timing elements and effective presentation approaches to put you on top of the bite this spring. Catching Trophy Cats consistently is definitely about paying attention to details and implementing little things that make big differences.
Many anglers get out on the mighty Red River, toss anchor and sit waiting for the Cats to start biting. They sit for an hour or more in one spot, moving once or twice all afternoon and if nothing happens they give up. Cats aren't always on the move, even during peak conditions.so tip number one - you have to be.
Big Cats will often rest up against available current breaks such as rocks, subtle depressions and channel edges. Remember, a one foot drop in heavy flow provides current relief; a two foot drop is even better, etc. Sometimes Catfish are active all day long but some days their strike zone is so compressed they will barely move a few feet to take a bait. Frontal conditions, heavy spring rains increasing turbidity come into play here.
This means you must go to the fish. If you haven't been bit in ten minutes (plenty of time for a nearby customer to hone in on your offering) move, simple as that. This might mean just dislodging the anchor and drifting 15 feet before it catches again. Repeat as necessary.
Tip number two: Use freshly caught "deadbait". Some say fresh Goldeye cutbait is the best bait; others say Sucker has got it beat. To my wife's horror I have used fresh tiger prawns, and of course there is the lowly chicken liver.boy do you smell after a night of that routine. To me you can't beat live leopard frogs but I stopped using those years ago. I couldn't take watching their little hands trying to wipe away the hook. With fresh cutbait as the goal, I will bring a light action rod, slip bobber and some worms to catch fresh Goldeye on the spot.
Tip number three features current walls and eddies after sunset and into the night. The big cats go on the prowl after dark with a couple of real active periods before dawn. This time provides some effective options to soaking cut bait on the bottom. Up toward the dam slip bobbers and deadbait set at two feet and drifted along eddies can produce tremendous results. Our family also used to fish current breaks from shore, long casting twister tails and tube jigs. Reeling back high in the water column, through the slack water from the eddy, we would draw big feeding cats out of the current walls with some taking the jigs at the surface in front of us. What a thrill! My children have had a ball landing fish 34" -38" from shore on this presentation. What fun.
This spring fish keep on the move, using fresh cutbait, and work the back eddies and current walls after dark. These three tips will definitely put more and bigger cats in your cradle!
It's My Moment - Your Story Could Win!
A chance to kayak with Beluga whales? Wow! Share your best Manitoba travel moment for a chance to win. Here's a recently submitted fishing moment from Blaire Barta, from his experience in the Whiteshell:
REELIN' IN THE BIG ONE
About 20 minutes of wonderful walleye fishing, Henry felt a bit of a tug on his line. A moment later the tug became a pull and a strong pull at that. It was like someone was under water and pulling as hard as they could on his fishing line. After a battle of about 20 minutes, he finally pulled his line in, only to discover a 45 inch sturgeon at the other end. It was like nothing I had ever seen! And Henry was absolutely exhausted. Sturgeon must be released back to the water and rightfully so. Such an amazing creature deserves to go back and to promote such amazing fishing as that for many years to come! It was a moment to remember!