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Everything posted by jatc

  1. For my schedule, it works better to get on the water at 3:00 AM and fish until noon than start at 6:00 AM and fish until 3:00 PM. The other thing is I can fish where I want to and not where the 6,000,000,000,000 other boats force me to! This year, albeit only fishing a few times, I agree the dark bite hasn't been there like it was the last few years. In fact the dawn bite has been behind the mid-morning bite all the way around for us. Most of our fish are coming between 8:30 and 10:30 this year.
  2. Don't forget about Black Screwball and Wonderbread!
  3. jatc


    Is this a new type of flasher/fly rig?
  4. Fish Hawk is now owned by Trevor Sumption and things have changed over there. Customer service is awesome if you run into a problem. I really like the X-4 setup they have out these days, and the old issues of screwy readings and battery life of the 840 has been fixed. I've heard good things about the Depth Raider as well.
  5. Best thing I've found to save my gas money is going to an Aviation sight for your port and looking at the winds. Within 24 hrs this seems to be the most accurate forecast I have found. The key is knowing which winds and at what speed makes your port unfishable. I gave up on NOAA years ago.
  6. Well my friends made it up from Kansas and we headed out of town about midnight on Saturday. Based on the reports I'd had heard I wasn't expecting a banner day, but this was the only day my friends could go and they were super pumped having never been on big water before. Launched the boat around 4:00 AM on Sunday and motored out to 80' straight out and put it on a North troll at about 2.2. First issue was apparent when I put the probe down and realized it wasn't working. Changed batteries and still nothing. Don't think it would have mattered much anyway. Took me a little while to get the spread out being the first trip out this year and we commenced to rod watching. We were marking some fish and bait in the top 50' so I kept most everything high. 5:15 we were in 150' up by the lighthouse and the wire diver back 50' with a white slick fishcatcher and a bloody nose fly started jumping. One of the Kansas guys grabbed the rod and pretty soon we had a 12# king in the boat. Cool, my goal was to get at least a couple for these guys to tangle with. On a hunch, I put a standard size wonderbread spoon down 48' on a rigger and as soon as I turned away it popped. The other guy from KS got that rod, and soon we had another 10# fish. Put that spoon back down and within 20 minutes it took two 6# kings. Mission accomplished for me and everyone was happy on the boat. 4 for 4 at that point all within 45 minutes of the first hit. By 6:30 we were north of the point in 180' still headed north. I was looking at the spread when the corner rigger down 32' with a glow grey ghost J-plug double over and started screaming. I grabbed the rod and handed it off. This fish was a 16# king that put on a clinic for us. Jumped a few times and went on a couple of 350' runs before charging the boat. I knew we were in trouble when the fish went straight sideways about 20' behind the boat. Somehow we were able to weave the rod under the downrigger boom and around the wire diver before the fish took my buddy all the way around the boat. Good thing we have a walk around center console. After circling completely around the boat he managed to wrap himself around the rigger cable and I got lucky and was able to stab him with the net just as the line broke. That is one fish those guys I don't think will ever forget. After that I was just a boat ride for the rest of the morning. Had one drive by steelie on a seven color with a lemon ice spoon in 350' that gave us a couple of jumps before getting unhooked. Other than that, nothing. We really didn't care though. Last fish was a skipper that we had dragged on the seven color that we found when we were bringing in the rods at the end of the day. He wasn't in good shape so we boxed him too. Counting the skipper we ended up 6 for 7. Not bad compared to the reports I've been getting. All in all areally nice day on the water with quite a bit of excitement early. If this lake ever sets up nice, I think the fishing will get good. Right now it appears you have to cover water and find an active school because we marked several fish later in the morning but they just wouldn't go for us. Here's a shot of the fish and the newly hooked salmon fisherman from Kansas.
  7. If you have a large open area I would suggest tying your wire around a tree and pulling it off of the spool by slowly walking backwards checking the wire carefully for kinks and abrasion as you go. If the wire had been reeled in with very little tension, it may be wrapped over itself on the spool which is causing the backlash and breakage where it is catching on itself. If the line is in good condition after you unspool it, it will probably be fine if you reel it back up keeping good tension on it as you go. This is a good way to check your coppers and cores before each season also. I have found it is much easier to fix the bad spots while standing in my yard then while on the boat while trying to fish.
  8. Flasher/fly setups on my boat are are pretty simple. 11" white paddle with a green fly on my deepest rigger mid-morning is usually hot for me. Sorry, I couldn't tell you who makes which flies I use because I've got so many on my boat I can't keep track of the manufacturers anymore. For flashers, I run a lot of Fishcatchers and E-chips, and a few Spin Dr.'s also. White/green or Mtn. Dew 8" flashers on the wire with green, mirage, or white flies seem to work well for deeper fish on my boat. As far as a chute rod, this can be a pain BUT, with a large enough crew, I have caught several fish on a full core with a green ladderback J-plug out the back. Just have to make sure someone is available to burn it in if need be. Don't be afraid to run spoons and plugs on your diver rods. Early morning I seem to catch many more fish with splatterback J's and spoons on my divers (especially my high fireline divers) than with FF's. Just the way it seems to work on my boat. A chrome cut plug J-plug on my high diver back 75 to 100' is just killer for us at first light. I normaly run magnum Dolphins (green or blue) on my coppers and do well with them. Can't seem to make the FF's work on the copper, but many of my friends do very well with them. Oh yeah, don't forget the two color or short copper with a double orange crush spoon WAAAYY out on a board for the steelies. Accounts for at least two fish almost every trip out. Just keep changing up until something works. I have a fifteen minute rule, every fifteen minutes I change speed, depth, or presentations until things start firing. No sense dragging a dead spread all day. Amazing how my catch has pretty much doubled since I instituted this rule.
  9. On those early mornings before light with little moon, I've had really good luck running a magnum Silver Streak Black Screwball (without charging the center glow section) running off of a fireline dipsey back about 100' on a 1 1/2 setting on the same side as a glow flasher/fly combo on the rigger back 15' down about 25'. Seems to work well in combination with the spoon taking about 70% of the hits on that side. I have also done extremely well before light with uncharged green splatterback Ace-Hi's off of the riggers. Very faint glow. Have popped my share of fish on white fishcatchers and seaweed flies at night also. The one constant I've noticed is a preference most mornings for a very, very faint glow. At dusk into dark my experience seems to favor the brightest thing I can get in the water. Go figure.
  10. San Diego Jam Knot (also known as a reverse clinch knot) is what I use for rigger rods with 12 or 20 Big Game. Grandpa tought me this knot 30 years ago and I use it on all mono connections. Rarely ever breaks even with 4# leader for steelies in the river. Always lubricate any knot you choose to use and ALWAYS test the knot before putting it out. Most knots involve a "wrap" of some sort, and if you get a little lazy you might end up with an overlap somewhere which greatly reduces the knot strength. A quick "pull check" will find this problem. Polomar knot for braid is usually a pretty safe bet and hard to screw up.
  11. For me, it really depends on where I finished up the night before. Out of Frankfort I guess I'll consider "deep" as 225' and deeper which isn't very far out of port. If I am sticking fish Friday night at dark in 200' of water, that is probably where I'll already be when the sun comes up on Saturday. If I didn't fish the previous night and don't have a trusted report to point me out there, I'll usually set up in about 100' before light and work out from there. In Frankfort, the first light boat pack seems to hang in the 100' -150' zone and if at all possible I try to stay outside of them. I'm usually one of the first boats into 200' on any given morning that I'm out. As was mentioned before, boat traffic can really shut down the bite in a hurry, so I like a little seperation. That, and it is so much more peaceful when you don't have to try to weave through the boats! Somedays my fishing deep at first light does work against me. There are a few days each year that I should have stayed in the pack with the super active fish, but overall my bite is fairly steady past 200'.
  12. Last year we had our best success running large paddles that were predominantly white or all white with 11" slick glow white fishcatcher leading the pack. Fly color was usually green or blue most days with Bugeye double glow chartruese being my top fish getter. The old seaweed horsefly behind an 8" green/white fishcatcher really stuck a ton of fish on the wire divers also for the first time in about five years on my boat. Two years ago, most flasher/fly fish were on black or chartruese paddles and I couldn't buy a bite on the white stuff. Last year I think I cought only one fish on black and a few on chartruese. Really curious to see what they'll want this year.
  13. I have to agree here. I used to run a ton of meat up until three years ago. What happened to me was that in 2008 I had a very tough time finding quality herring when I needed it, so I started going without the meat rigs. What I learned kinda shocked me. I actually do better without the meat than when I used to run it exclusively. My mid-day catch rates have increased the last two years running standard rigs. I sure don't miss messing with the smelly stuff anymore. Then if you add in the cost, I can pick up a couple of good spoons or plugs per trip that will last me much longer in the long term. For a lot of guys it is a confidence thing. They know that if you stick a meat rig on a wire diver and put it back 200' during late morning that they are running a very reliable rig. I guess I just learned that there are other "very reliable" rigs to run as well, you just have to experiment and network a little bit. I am in no way bashing meat, and for many guys it is a great presentation for those off times. In fact, it works extremely well for the weekend guys that can't get a lot of time on the water because as long as the bait is good, it is hard to run this stuff wrong with today's manufactored rigs. Just don't fall into the trap of believing that you just can't catch fish during the day without the stuff. There will be days that a flasher/fly will out produce the meat, but you won't know this if you are running just meat on your deep stuff.
  14. If I had to pick just one, I'll have to go with Magnum Green Chille Wille. By far my best long copper spoon. For all around spoon, it'd have to be a Nuked Veggie in a standard size. Riggers, dipsies, cores, coppers; doesn't matter, you can't mess up unless you don't get it wet.
  15. I think it has more to do with "where" you put the line rather than "how" you deploy the rig. Obviously if you just let the dipsey freespool on back it will tangle itself up just like a mono or braided dipsey will, this has already been covered in this thread. I've seen where guys get into trouble when they set the dipsey on a 3 setting and let it back 200' and engage the reel. At a high setting the dipsey is going to pull off to the side, especially on thin wire. If you are running cores or Cu fairly tight to the boat, in all likelyhood the wire is going to cut across and into these lines causing a huge mess. The wire diver won't "ride over" a 300' Copper line like a 10 color rig will. For this reason, my wires are always inside of my long lines with a lot of seperation between them. If you have a wire on a #1 back 200' it dives at a much steeper angle than the 300' copper will. If there isn't good horizontal seperation, they can and probably will tangle on turns which cause the copper to stall and fall into the wires path. You have to watch out too if you are running long leads fairly shallow on your corner rigger. In this case I let the dipsey out the side so it doesn't have to cross my rigger lines at all. You really have to picture things in 3D when running different types of rigs.
  16. Don't forget that what you run for lures has a huge impact on the depth. A j-plug will dive and easily run a good 10 foot deeper on a 100' Cu than an 8" flasher/fly combo. A standard spoon will affect the depth the least. I run 30# Cu, and I find that my 100' rig runs about the same as my 7 color lead with the same lures on it. Standard spoons at 2.2 I usually figure about 25' down. Awesome rig to run at first light for me.
  17. I have my best success with sliders when I have my riggers working deep, like 100+. Sometimes I will use a free slider when I am just out searching and picking away at scattered fish, but the hook-up rate is fairly low on them. I still run them anyway because even a missed fish will help me key in on a pattern sometimes. I have my best luck running standard size spoons in green or orange. When the fish are somewhat spooky during mid-morning, sometimes my best bite will be on my fixed sliders. I'll drop the ball below where I expect the fish to be and run the slider "in the zone". I don't have a picture of the rigging, but I'll explain the system I use. I tie up a leader with a swivel at one end and a surgeons loop at the other. I then tie another swivel to the tag end of the loop. The swivel by the loop goes over the main line of the rigger rod (don't forget this part cause I've lost a few lures due to this). Next, I take a small orange off-shore pinch pad planer board release and half hitch the loop through the hole. The release is then hooked to the main line below the attached swivel. I get around 80% successful hooking percentage on this rig, and zero tangles with the other lures to boot. Rigging like this will allow me to run a large flasher fly on my main rod, and a spoon or a j-plug on the slider. You can run lipped plugs with this setup because the release won't allow the rig to ride all the way down to the ball. A killler set-up for me has been an 11" yellow tail flasher w/double chartruese bug-eye fly on the main rod and a green/blue splatterback Ace-hi on the fixed slider. You can do the same thing with a stacker rod, but like was mentioned a slider in Michigan is a bonus lure that doesn't count towards the three rod rule. Love using them when only two or three guys on board.
  18. I guess I'm old school. I've played around with the newer releases, but I keep going back to the old style Off-shore pinch pads. I do not want my release to pop unless it is a big fish because I feel I get better hook sets this way. I twist up my line and bury it deep into the pad. I can get good rod tension this way and the fish will hook themselves. If I happen to get a pile of small fish like young coho hitting, I'll use a couple of rubber bands half-hitched to my line and put the other end in the pad. This gives a little play that will allow me to see the rod tip jiggle (use the same method for walleye). More important than the release on my boat is how you set the line to begin with. It took me a while to catch on, but dropping the rigger while using the drag on the rod is the only way I've found to keep the bow out of line. You have to reset the drag each time, but it really isn't that big of a deal. Get rid of the slack and use a high tension release, and you'll be able to tell when you've hooked a fish and you'll hook up a large percentage of the biters. This is what works for me anyway.
  19. I have electric riggers, Fish Hawk, Gps/fishfinder and autopilot. At some point I've had to make due without one of the above. The one feature I absolutely cannot live without anymore is the autopilot. I often fish with only one or two other guys on board (or just me and the kids) and the frustration level can ruin a trip without the AP. It seems that many guys just can't get the idea that a boat takes a little while to respond at trolling speeds, and more often than not they will overcompensate causing tangles or we end up in 80' when we need to be in 150' of water. It seems that everyone tells me they want to go fishing until the night before we are supposed to go, and then my 4 man crew turns into a two man crew. Throw in some choppy waves and a little wind, and two guys trying to drive, rig, and net gets to be no fun anymore. Without AP, my trips would be limited to days that at least three able bodied fisherman can go. So while it is true you don't need AP to catch fish, there are days I definitely won't catch fish without it because I wouldn't be able to go out with just myself and my 7 and 10 year olds. Once you have one, you'll never go without one. Second would be my GPS chartplotter. Last year I had some electrical and transducer issues. Having the GPS with old tracks saved a couple of trips for me until I worked out the other bugs.
  20. I would highly recommend this. My 300' and 400' Cu rods put many more fish in the boat than my cores do for some reason. I like magnum spoons on the copper. Best luck I've had with 10 color is with plugs. Just for some comparison here is my typical mid-morning spread most days (my boat has a 8' -6" beam and my riggers have 5' arms): Starting inside to out, 1. Corner rigger w/ arm perpendicular to boat and rod in a stern rod holder. 2. Wire diver in rigger rod holder 3. 300' or 400' copper on in-line board. 4. 10 color or 7 color on in-line 5. 3 color or 50' copper on outside Mirror image on other side for a normal spread of 7 - 10 rods. I have 6 rod holders other than my rigger holders on each side and I also have my rocket launcher that I often put my outside lines up there. I used to run stuff down the chute, but with long lines off the side I started running into too many tangle issues, so now everything goes out the sides. Once the fish tell me what they want, I'll taylor my setup to work that zone.
  21. I have found over the years that I will catch many more fish by keying on and working structure than trying to just find pods of fish and staying with them. I should say up front that I spend probably upwards of 90% of my time fishing Frankfort which is LOADED with structure. I've fished out of St. Joseph a few times and for me, it can be a little tougher to find fish. Down there I find myself concentrating on the thermocline and just trying to cover as much water as possible. If you were to overlay my gps waypoints over a bathygraph chart of the Frankfort area, you will definitely see a direct correlation between fish marks (I mark every bite I get on gps) and some type of structural bottom element. Late morning offshore bumps in 200 -300' have become my bread and butter the last few years. Early and late I tend to look for hooks and bends in the "shelf" (fast dropoff parallel to shore) and concentrate my attention in these areas. My theory on these bends is that the predator fish tend to herd the baitfish into these "box canyons" if you will. I guess I have taken my love for deer hunting and applied the strategies to salmon fishing. When I am setting up a treestand for bowhunting, I tend to look at the lay of the land because I know that the deer use edges and funnels when they move. Feeding deer in farm country can be most anywhere in a field, but the typically use concentrated entry points into the field. A buck looking for does during the rut will use cover and edges during the day while traveling around. Same thing applies to salmon. I can burn up a pile of gas searching for salmon feeding scattered over a large featureless 120' flat (deer in beanfield), or I can find a small reef in the middle of this flat that always seems to have a few fish (predators and bait) that relate to it and concentrate my efforts in this small area (funnel). Now find a couple of these humps and get them locked into your gps and you will be on to something. I use this method most of the time unless I happen to hit one of those days when the feedbag is really on and all you have to do is find the right depth to get into the fish. Since these days or periods of days are short or inconsistant, learning to find and work structure will really help extend productive fishing hours and put many more fish in the cooler, especially on those days that everybody seems to be struggling finding the fish. The other huge advantage for me is that I don't have to be on the water at 4:30 AM (though I usually am). The last few years, my best times for fish per hour of trolling has been 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM and then from 4:00 PM - 7:00PM. Makes it nice if I have novices with me who just aren't real sure about heading out into the blackness before dawn. We can wait for light and I'm still confidant we'll pop some fish even if we missed the magic hour of first light.
  22. When nothing is working, put the boat on a west troll (east coast of Lake Michigan) until you catch fish.
  23. I honestly don't feel trolling with or against the current makes much difference as far as hook up ratio. Most days it will make a difference in the number of hits I get but not as far as landing percentage. I've found speed at the ball seems to have more to do with my landing rate. The faster I go and still get bites, the better I seem to do. My theory is the active fish will hit the faster lures and these fish tend to inhale the presentation and stay hooked up. My typical number is around 9 for 11 but if the fish are looking for slower presentations it might drop to 5 for 11. It also seems to change by the day. One year friends and I were in Frankfort for a Steelheaders Tourney. Friday evening we hit 6 for 7 on wire divers at 2.7 sog trolling into a slight current. The next morning, Tourney Day, trolling into the current again the fish wanted it much slower. We dropped all the way down to 1.8 sog with the exact same rigs we used the night before. Hooks all were sharp and we went 1 for 19! All the fish we lost were on for at least a couple of minutes before coming off. I believe these fish were in a neutral mood and just not inhaling the lures.
  24. I always yield to the smaller boats. That said I do have issues with some of the boats out there. It doesn't take that much to buy the superbright LED navigation lights and put them on a boat. There is NO WAY I would go out in a small boat in the dark with a dimly lit mast light alone. Just asking for trouble especially in the waves that makes it even harder to see small vessels. I do understand electrical failures on the water but carry a spotlight. There is a law about negligence as far as operating at safe speeds but there technically isn't a speed limit on the open lake at night. My boat runs nicely with the least amount of wake at about 18 MPH so as long as it is clear that is how fast I run at night as long as I have a spotter aboard. Solo I'll run slower just to be on the safe side. It seems some of the boaters feel that since everyone should yield to them that they don't have to follow the standards of the USCG. All that does is make it more dangerous for everybody out there. I've run up on unlit boats in the dark that were trolling knowing full well that there lights weren't working and the only way to spot them is by the headlamps they were using to rig lines. Not cool at all.
  25. A lot of what I see is guys coming from the side is due to GPS. Many guys set a waypoint at he launch instead of 1/4 mile out side the pierheads. GPS will give them a straight line heading and if they aren't paying attention WHAM! right into the wall. The other issue seems to be everyone has to be "first" at the dock or out into the lake. I get really sick of getting passed in the channel because my "no wake" isn't what others consider "no wake". Slow down for God's sake when near the piers and alot of this stuff won't happen.
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