Fishing Tips

Below are my tackle recommendations for the various fish:

For Carp

For those fishermen who haven't tried carp fishing, you are seriously missing out. They're fun to catch and pull like a freight train!

Location: In rivers, most carp can be found in slack waters. Some fish will be in
stronger currents or even up at the dams, but you will find most of the
carp in stretches of calmer water and in backwaters.

Equipment:
ROD: 6'6" to 7' in length, one piece, medium to medium heavy action, spinning rod

REEL: Spinning reel with the capacity for approximately 200 yards of 17-20 lb. test

TACKLE: Gamakatsu Octopus #6 Hook, 1/4-1/2 oz. bell sinkers, small split shots

Bait: Corn mixed with a little vanilla extract does the trick! Take a can of sweet corn and pour it into a Ziploc bag. Pour a few drops of vanilla extract in the bag, zip the bag up and shake it up. Let it sit for a few minutes. The vanilla draws the carp to the bait and gets them to hang onto it longer without blowing it out.

Most of the carp we've caught have taken our baits and move with it right away. If you lay your fishing rod down on the ground and tighten the line, they will usually set the hook on themselves and all you have to do is lift your rod up up when they pull. Pay attention and be patient. The bites will happen very quickly.

Chumming: Chumming is a technique to lure carp into your fishing area. Just take one or two handful of sweet corn and throw out in the area you plan to fish. I would say two to three chums per hour is plenty. This will keep the carp in your area and it will give you a better chance of having a carp pick up your bait instead of the chum.

Click here to view our Carp Album.

For Lake Trout

Lake trout are a medium to dark gray or olive color with white worm-like wavy marks on their backs and on top of the head. Occasionally, they have bars or spots along the side mainly tinged with red. Lake trout average between 20 and 24 inches and 3 to 6 pounds, but are capable of reaching 50 pounds.

Lake trout require cold, clear, well oxygenated water, so they are found almost exclusively in oligotropic lakes. In summer they often move to depths of 50 to 100 feet, but in spring and fall you can find them at depths of 20 feet or less. They prefer water from 40 to 52 degree F.

What I like best about lake trout is they do not leap, but instead wage a strong, determined underwater battle. My personal best is 31" caught in May 2005 on Rowan Lake in Ontario, Canada.

Equipment:
DEPTHFINDER: The most important piece for your tackle! At least a mid-priced Lowrance and being able to read it at your fastest speeds is critical.

ROD: 6'6" to 7' in length, one piece, medium to medium heavy action, baitcasting rod

REEL: Baitcasting reel with the capacity for approximately 165 yards of 12 lb. test

LINE: PowerPro (20-50 lb. test), Sufix Elite (10-12 lb. test)

TACKLE: Mepps Flying C Spinners, Rapala X-Raps #10 or #14, Worden's T-50 or T-60 Flatfish, 2 oz. bucktail jigs, and Sutton Spoon (As for color you can't go wrong with silver; white, pearl, chartreuse and orange are also great colors. For stickbaits like a Rapala natural colors are best like black & silver or blue & silver.)

Technique: There are two ways I fish for lake trout. Jigging and trolling. Jigging is a numbers game, not so much on size. Trolling is for size. During the spring and fall when I travel to Canada the lake trout are shallow and usually less than 20 feet deep. With good electronics finding lakers is very easy. When in deeper water, anything you see of size, is usually a laker. By early July the trout should be set up around structures related to the main basins of the lake. This usually happens once the surface temperatures get above 52 degrees. Cruise the lake and find the holes. Everything 60+. Then cruise the edges of the holes, focusing on points, underwater humps, etc. and you will see the trout very clearly. If you are not seeing any trout in the holes, they might still be in shallower water (where they often spook before you can drive over them and mark them on your depthfinder). They'll bite vertical jigged spoons and lead heads, or trolled lures that get in their depth range. Speed and erratic lure movement will trigger lakers to bite. Note: Make sure you set your drag properly. The laker will make big runs and strip line!

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For Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are acrobatic and put up a fun battle! My personal bass record to date is 21" weighing 4.8 lbs.! Click here to view the fish in my personal records.

Largemouth bass are moderately compressed with a deep body. The back of the mouth, when closed, extends past the eye. This characteristic distinguishes it from the smallmouth bass where the back of the mouth does not extend past the eye. The largemouth also has a black band that extends down the side of the body.

Largemouth bass prefer ponds, lakes and slow, sluggish streams.

The average size largemouth bass in Minnesota runs from 1 to 2 pounds.

Largemouth bass usually spawn between mid-April and mid-June. They eat crayfish, frogs, large insects, and other fish.

Equipment:
ROD: 6' to 7' in length, medium action

REEL: Spinning reel with the capacity for approximately 200 yards of 8 lb. test

LINE: Sufix Elite (8-17 lb. test)

TACKLE: 1/8-1/2 oz. jig and pork/plastic trailer, Rebel Pop-R, Rapala Fat Rap, Banjo Minnow, Yamamoto 5" Senko and Kreature baits, Rat-L-Trap, spinnerbait, Mister Twister 5" Curly Tail Grub, buzzbait, Moss Boss, 4" tubes, and Silver Minnow. (As for colors mix and match between pearl, black/blue combination, silver, chartreuse, gold, red, purple, pumpkin, etc.

Technique: Largemouth bass can be caught on a wide variety of natural and artificial baits using casting, spinning, and fly fishing gear. The best time of year to catch largemouth bass is May, June, and July, but they can be caught throughout the year.

Topwater: My favorite way to catch a bass is using a topwater such as a Pop-R. Make a long cast with the Pop-R. Let it settle for a few seconds, then begin popping the lure with your rod tip a couple times and let it settle again. Then pop again, followed by a series of short snaps of the rod tip reeling in between the jerks. This creates a side to side darting action which drives bass nuts!

Texas-rigging: In deep weedbeds, a Texas-rigged 5" Senko flipped in pockets is deadly! You will want to keep semi-slack line as the worm sinks and watch for any line movement. Any bump line could mean a largemouth taking the worm and an irritating pecking sunfish. You will know the difference after a few outings. Reel in the slack line and set the hook immediately if you detect a bass has picked your lure.

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For Musky

If you've ever had a huge musky follow your lure to the boat only to turn away at the last second and your heart is throbbing and your knees are shaking, that's the feeling you never really ever forget. Or the time when a monster took a massive strike at boatside and missed... It is one of the most heart wrenching feelings you can have and your adrenline just kicks in. Oddly enough, the musky makes up all of my Fish Tale stories. My personal best musky record is 50" in length. Click here to view the fish in my personal records album.

Muskies are strong fighters and provide a great thrill and challenge to anyone lucky enough to hook one. Many people say to me that a musky is caught in about 1,000 casts. Although I do remember the countless casts and hours that rolled by without even seeing a fish, all it takes is one cast with the right bait at the right place at the right time. Well I can't say more other than I am always ready on every cast for that elusive fish!

Musky are long, slender fish with a large duckbill shaped mouth and needle sharp teeth. The dorsal fin is soft and located near the tail. In contrast to its cousin the northern pike, only the upper half of the cheek and ear flap have scales.

Muskies caught in Minnesota average from 30 to 40 inches long and weigh from 5 to 15 pounds. Muskies in the mid-40 inch range is considered a trophy.

Prime musky habitat is found in heavily vegetated lakes with lots of tree stumps and bays. Muskies usually spawn in April and early May when water temperatures are in the low to mid-50s. Muskies prefer suckers and gizzard shad as prey.

Equipment:
ROD: 7' in length, one piece, medium heavy to heavy action, baitcasting rod

REEL: Baitcasting reel with the capacity for approximately 200 yards of 36 lb. test

LINE: Sufix Elite (20 lb.), Cortland Musky Master (36 lb.)

TACKLE: Mepps Magnum Musky Killer, Musky Mayhem Double Cowgirl, Banjo Minnow, Bucher Super TopRaider, Hi-Fin Mag Teasertail, 1 1/2 oz. J-Mac Musky Jig and 6" Lunker City Salt Shaker trailer, and Suick Jerkbait (As for color you can't go wrong with black. Black offers the best silhoutte against the sky. Firetiger, orange, perch, white, silver, chartreuse, and any combination of these colors will work.)

Technique: Baitcasting and trolling are the most popular ways to catch muskies. Cast to the edge of vegetation beds and submerged cover using a fast retrieve. Speed and change of lure direction will trigger muskies into biters many times. Trolling with shallow or deep running lures during the summer months will take a number of muskies in the shallows.

Click here to view our Musky Album.

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For Northern Pike

My personal best pike record is 34" in length and weighing about 10 lbs. It was actually caught in a nearby pond close to my home. The pike population in Minnesota has declined recent years but I am hoping with the new changes in the regulations the northern pike population will rebound.

The northern pike is a long and slender fish with a duckbill shaped mouth and lots of needle sharp teeth. The dorsal fin is soft and located near the tail fin. In contrast to the musky, the lower half of the opercle (gill cover) does not have scales while the cheek is fully scaled. Northern pike also have numerous white or yellow-green spots on the sides of the body which are arranged in oblique rows. There is no teardrop below the eye.

Most northern pike caught in Minnesota weigh between 2 and 5 pounds. Northern pike spawn as soon as the ice breaks, usually in late April or early May.

Northerns utilize cover to ambush their prey which is primarily other fish such as yellow perch. Pike feed primarily on fish but will take nearly anything they can fit in their mouth, including frogs, muskrats, and small ducks.

Equipment:
ROD: 6'6" to 7' in length, one piece, medium to medium heavy action, spinning or baitcasting rod

REEL: Spinning or baitcasting reel with the capacity for approximately 165 yards of 12 lb. test

LINE: Sufix Elite (10-14 lb. test), PowerPro (20-30 lb. test)

TACKLE: 1/2 oz. Rat-L-Trap, 1/2-3/4 oz. Blue Fox Aqua Spoon, Eppinger DareDevil, Banjo Minnow, Johnson Silver Minnow, Mepps #4 or #5 Aglia, Rapala Husky Jerk (#12 or #14), spinnerbaits, and crankbaits. The key here is to have a variety of baits, some of which are shiny and put off lots of flash such as silver, white, firetiger, chartreuse, and orange. Crankbaits are deadly for early spring and late fall.

It is strongly suggested to use a wire leader when fishing for pike: 9-12" in length are most common. The titanium leaders are the best!

Technique: This fish will go after anything! The most productive method of fishing for northern is to cast for them using various types of spoons. In early spring and late fall, trolling crankbaits is also very productive in luring these fish onto your line.

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For Walleye

Walleyes are my favorite fish to target during the fall period in the early morning or late evening. I have missed, hooked, and landed some of the biggest walleyes during this period than any other time of the year. My biggest walleye to date is 26.5" weighing close to 7 lbs.! It was caught in Nov. 1994.

The walleye has a long slender body with a yellow-olive color with a brassy overcast on the sides. The tail fin has a white spot on the bottom edge. The eye is large and cloudy, and there is a dark blotch on the webbing between the last three spines of the first dorsal fin. The mouth is filled with sharp canine teeth. The walleye looks similar to the sauger and saugeye.

Most walleyes caught in Minnesota average 1 to 3 pounds and are between 12 and 20 inches. Walleye spawn throughout the month of April when water temperatures are between 40 and 55° F.

Walleye prefer clear to slightly turbid waters. They are usually found over reefs, shoals of gravel, bedrock, and other firm bottoms.

Equipment:
ROD: 6' to 7' in length, medium light to medium action

REEL: Spinning reel with the capacity for approximately 150 yards of 6-10 lb. test

LINE: Sufix Elite (6-10 lb. test)

TACKLE: 1/8-3/8 oz. Lindy Glo Fuzz-E-Grubs, Rapala Husky Jerks #12, Mister Twister 3" Meeny Curly Tail Grub and 3" Sassy Shad, Rapala Rattin' Rap and Shad Rap (As for colors black and white, blue and white, firetiger, and perch are my favorites.)

Technique: My favorite method to catch these fish is to jig for them using various size lead head jigs tipped with a minnow. The most important key to jigging for walleyes is to be able to feel the lake bottom. Other techniques I use include casting or trolling crankbaits (this is best suited for spring and fall fishing when they are shallow).

 

Practice Catch & Release.