Issue 03, Vol. 01 Summer 2008 | Tell a friend
|WELCOME FROM DAVE ABBOTT||PRO TIPS - THE TROPHEY MINDSET|
|SUMMER MANITOBA SMALLMOUTH||SUBMIT A STORY TO WIN|
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
EMAIL DAVE ABBOTT
...and welcome to our third edition of "The Master Angler". Itís 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 proís, and lots more.
Iím Dave Abbott, your Fishing Ambassador, and President of Angling Masters International Inc. (AMI) . When it comes to World Class trophy fishing for the whole family, Manitoba has no equal; drive-to locales boast Pike to 48 inches and beyond, but when it comes to family fun on the water, Smallmouth Bass is King...and Manitoba is the place! In this issue of "The Master Angler" I share some tips for fishing Manitobaís trophy Pike and Walleye with a special focus on Smallmouth Bass. Also included are some great tips for fishing summer smallies with the kids!
P.S. Check out the article and if you have questions, email me at email@example.com Iíd be glad to help. Manitoba is here for you to enjoy, come and catch the fun!
SUMMER MANITOBA SMALLMOUTH
Fun for the Whole Family...and the Trophy Hunter too.
There is just something very special about a big Trophy Smallmouth. Catching a pedestrian 18" fish can be an everyday occurrence on Manitobaís Smallmouth waters for many competent Bass anglers, but one of the things that make Smallmouth Bass so exciting is the elusive nature of the really big specimens. Even when you fool the Big One, hanging on for the ride holds only one guarantee Ė a heart pounding adrenaline rush! Landing it is another thing altogether. May I say that in this regard I will only admit to a batting average less than 500.
For this segment of the Travel Manitobaís E-Newsletter I want to focus on a key presentation approach for these giant fish that could put you toe to toe with Mr. Big...fish over 20 inches. Those anglers fishing Bass tournament circuits might agree with me when I say that it is usually the first few casts on any given spot that produces the biggest fish. This is because the really large critters are spooky to the extreme. Once they know you are there they clam up. Keep in mind they are not driven by the same competition factor that the smaller fish are subject to. Their year class is substantially diminished and they are often loners.
Let me setup a scenario. It is mid summer and you have isolated a shallow reef just inside a bay that is close to deep water, but in relatively close proximity to shore, for reasons I will explain later. This boulder strewn reef crests at 7 feet but has some nice lips at 10-12 ft before plunging off into the depths. I had the great fun of working a similar reef this summer with some of my Grandkids. We would park right on top and pull in Bass after Bass almost at will. They absolutely loved it. This approach, while catching numbers, didnít turn a fish over 16 inches. Now I knew that there would be some real sweethearts associated with the same spot, so I would come back later in the day or evening and cruise by with my trolling motor, pitching the area with my favorite weapons. Up would come an occasional 18 to 19 inch Smallie...lots of fun, but certainly nothing to write home about.
It is really fascinating to watch the interaction of various species on Canadian Shield reefs in the summer months. When the walleyes come in the Bass usually back off for a bit, when a big Pike moves in everyone else scatters. The fish seem to take their turn on the feeding grounds. In all of this there are some patterns I have come to see as predictable. Evening time, overcast periods, wind pushing the reef; these conditions all trigger activity on the reef with Smallies and walleyes taking their turns throughout the day. But a possible encounter with BassZilla always increases when you throw in stable weather and a mid summer full moon phase. Under these conditions one can fish well into the night and have a shot at the fish of a lifetime.
The thing that a reef, or a standout structure on a shoreline lip for that matter, provides is the all important point of reference for contact. The approach of evening and the primeval pull of a full moon provide ever crucial timing. This puts you in the right place at the right time, now what you need to provide is just the right presentation, and a whole lot of patience. NB: Just remember this article presupposes that you have selected the right Trophy Lake to apply this approach!
Some people reach for a tube (probably smoke or craw colour, sometimes white) in a situation like this. Personally, I prefer top waters, spooks are good some nights, poppers others, especially after sunset. For me it is all about fooling a big bass into believing a frog is going for a dip, hence the desire to have the reef at least a few hundred feet or closer to land. The first thing I do is to show up to the party early and take the time to orient myself to the crest and the flats I will be casting to. Then I anchor over deep water ensuring that long casts will drop in the zones. I absolutely know that even electric trolling motors spook big fish, especially shallow big fish. After you hook up, it is wise when possible for your net man to pull up the anchor, and the dreaded anchor rope. You just know that the Fish will wrap the line around it and break off.
As evening approaches I will start laying out casts over the crest, flats and deep water sides of the reef, imparting my very best frog impersonations on the retrieve. I do not wiggle that bait non- stop all the way in, but rather will stop and pause, then start again and pause again, all the way in. After a couple of casts I will wait. I donít want "frogs" raining down on the reef non stop for an hour. That certainly isnít natural either. Quality casts, not quantity win the day. This is where patience comes in.
When the fish does his rounds on the reef that night, if he sees your puppet show he is a potential customer, no question about it. The questions that come into play are whether a smaller fish takes your bait before he gets to it; whether he has just eaten; or at what point in the retrieve he pulls in for a closer look, if he sees you, he will slowly back off. By the way, this approach clearly illustrates the difference between Trophy Hunting and conventional Tournament fishing. Run and gun, on an established milk route wins the day at the KBI, but a patient focus wins the day on the Hunt. Online tournament events such as the ones put on by Angling Masters where you dictate place and time, are the Trophy Hunterís stage.
In closing I just have to share a couple of thoughts/observations on these big creatures. Like the big predators (Pike and Musky), when they turn on at one spot on the lake, it is as if an electrical current runs through the water lighting up all the hotspots simultaneously. If I lose a big one on one spot, I will motor top speed to the next closest, post haste. This has turned big fish for me on many occasions. Last year this approach paid off nicely again...for my wife! The massive fish my sweetheart is holding was taken, and yes released, off spot #2 as daylight was slipping. It delivered the adrenaline big time.
Also let me point out the leading cause of a lost Super Fish, besides the fact they love to spit baits while flying through the air, has to be their trademark boat-side surges of power just when you think youíve won and are trying just a little harder to coax it into the net, ping! Patience Grasshopper, patience!
I have hooked into more than my fair share of big Summer Smallies with this dance and have lost too many of them. But every now and then one comes into the boat, and honestly I cannot think of a more satisfying catch.
But what is even more satisfying is working these very same spots during the day with your family. Slip bobbers floated over the crest of the reef, tipped with a crawler, works wonders and really can keep you busy...and the kids entertained. Young anglers absolutely love watching the bobbers, and the fishing can be downright fantastic. Lots of smaller fish this way, but every now and then one of Manitobaís famed Master Angler Smallmouth takes the bait and the fight is on. Then itís picture time and an experience for the ages. Catch the fish and catch the memories here in Manitoba...there is no place Iíd rather be for family fishing fun.
PRO TIPS ó THE TROPHY MINDSET
Three tips that the Trophy Hunter canít ignore.
TIMING ISNíT EVERYTHING, BUT SOMETIMES ITíS THE ONLY THING. Almost three hours had passed without a bite, not even a "hammer handle", let alone the big Northerns we were after. Armed with the right gear and the right presentation, and fishing known trophy waters in September no less, I was expecting success. As morning turned to afternoon my friend started to get restless. He wasnít a seasoned angler by any means, and my stock as a trophy fisherman had been dropping considerably with each fishless hour. He wanted to do something else, anything else.
After persisting at what I thought was the right approach, I finally succumbed to his wishes and agreed to head off to another spot to try something completely different. En route a passing weather front began to whip up the waves, the sun disappeared and it began to drizzle. My friend saw this as insult to injury, and was ticked to the point of mutiny when I spun around back to the spot we had just been pounding for hours without a lick.
I learned long ago that edges were huge in fishing success. Not just edges of an underwater reef or weed bed, but weather edges as well. First cast produced a nice 44" Pike. Second cast I boated a beautiful 50" fish, one of the biggest Northerns of my life. By the time I landed her the weather front had passed, the sun was back out, and the action was over. I tell you this not to impress you, but rather to impress upon you, that you can be doing everything right, but if it is at the wrong time...itís still the wrong thing.
Weather is just one factor here. Available light, moon phases, bug hatches, spawning, fishing pressure, baitfish movements, etc. all can play determining roles in timing. This could be a long list, but what it demands is simply stated - you need to understand these elements to catch big fish consistently. There is one more consideration. If youíve got the right bait and method, and itís the right time, you better make good and sure you are in exactly the right place.
SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE. "Are you sure you donít want to tip that jig with a worm?" my friend asked with a grin. He had already boated six fish and I hadnít been bit yet. "No" I replied. "Iím good to go here". He sure was enjoying this. Friendly competition is great, and last summer was no exception.
We were on top of a huge school of walleye and the bite was on. I noticed on the sonar a couple of big "hooks" tight to the bottom, moving with the school. It struck me that with the smaller fish so active, a worm on my hook would actually be working against me. The smaller fish would be all over it before one of those big girls could think twice. My offsetting plan was to take a twister (Cisco color); put it on a white 1/8th oz. mushroom head jig, drop it down low, keeping it very still allowing the drift to affect any movement of the bait. Occasionally I would lift the rod tip gently, just an inch or two, in case the pickup was soft.
Tap. I reacted instantly and the bow of my rod, or perhaps it was my big smile, signaled to my friend I had the One we were looking for. Up it came, a nice walleye pushing 30", a satisfying catch for more than one reason and a valuable case in point. Making little adjustments can make big differences, and fine tuning presentations can be absolutely critical to consistently successful Trophy Fishing.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. It is said this little mantra represents the most important factors in Real Estate. I believe it. And when it comes to trophy fishing, itís definitely a major component as well. You can be doing the right thing at the right time, but if itís in the wrong place...I know you get it already. The fact is many donít ever get it, and give up long before their success finds them, not realizing that trophy fishing isnít about a secret lure or even a great spot, it is about a system, and a "mindset" that is driven to always refine and update that system.
I can remember years ago taking my children fishing for trophy smallmouth. In late June and early July we loved to fish the bays and shorelines of our favorite lakes. The bass would be up shallow and eagerly hitting topwater baits, but the biggest fish caught among all the kids often came when one of them would turn and cast that topwater back out toward the middle of the bay, into deep water rather than toward the reef or shoreline.
his is where the larger females were often resting, and occasionally one would hit that top water plug, even from 20 feet down. My largest Smallmouth on Falcon Lake in Manitobaís famed Whiteshell Provincial Park, came two years ago doing that very thing, in August! As with fine tuning presentation methods, donít overlook the power of thinking outside the box when it comes to big fish location.
All these elements discussed herein, combine to reveal a dynamic Trophy system. Take every big fish experience youíve ever had, or know about, and relate it back to these three things - place, time and presentation. Every trophy fish, regardless of who caught it, represents a successful (and repeatable) formula that you need to understand in minute detail.
I have had friends inquire why I was "debriefing" a very young angler on every little aspect regarding the huge Crappie he caught recently. Didnít I know how to catch them? They didnít understand his age was irrelevant. That young angler possessed fishing gold - a successful formula, even if he didnít know or understand it! I was searching for possible subtleties hidden within his successful experience which could make me a better fisherman. THAT is the Trophy Mindset, the most important attribute of the Trophy angler.
Itís 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 her 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!