Utilizing Lake Maps for Saugeye Success

Looking for new locations to fish at your favorite lake? Are you planning a dream vacation for some prime fishing in another state? No problem! Lake maps can offer a wealth of information to any angler. With a little knowledge of how to interpret them, you’ll be better prepared for any situation.
Lake maps use contour lines to show depth changes. Each line represents a change in depth, usually indicated somewhere on the map. Alot of maps are calibrated to a 3 foot depth change per line. In the following example, the depth gets deeper farther away from shore to a depth of 9 feet. 

The distance between each line represents how steep the depth change is. Lines that are close together show a steep drop-off whereas lines that are far apart show a flat. Also note the dark blue line that represents the creek channel.

Lake maps also show how a point lays out beneath the surface of the water. Also note how the map shows irregularities of the point, such as the steep drop-off shown in this example, or where the end of the point meets the channel. These irregularities have potential to hold fish.

Islands are shown by the contrast of color of land to water, while submerged islands are shown as the same color of water, and again the contour lines are used to determine depth change.

Deep holes are shown in the same manner. 

Many maps also show structure such as rocks, wood, and brush piles. With the use of a search engine, there is a good chance you’ll be able to find a map of the lake you plan to fish. 

To put it all together, maps can point out potential hotspots, as well as show areas of the lake that are less likely to produce. Apply knowledge of what saugeyes do at certain times of the year as well as weather trends to decide what depth and structure to approach. Circle any areas that have potential, and again pay attention to any irregularities. A small steep drop-off among an otherwise gradual slope might be just enough to hold fish. The opposite also should be considered. A deep hole also can have its time to really shine, especially during fall and winter or for a hot daytime bite. For more information on the habits of saugeye, check out the saugeye and walleye category on this page. When utilizing a lake map, these locations can be known to an angler, and potentially increase success.

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How light effects Saugeye

Years ago, I frequently fished the tailraces below a river dam for sauger. When I first lstarted fishing this area, I was rather clueless to the proper methods of fishing it. This particular tailrace had a pier below it, and during the late fall and winter months it was usually filled with anglers. My first approach involved finding an available spot on the pier, and slowly dragging a heavy jig across the bottom. As I looked down the pier, I noticed an angler pulling in sauger with every cast. “The bite is on!” I thought to myself. Both anglers on either side of him also started pulling in fish with every cast. For the next half hour or so, the three “lucky” anglers continued to pull fish after fish over the pier while the 15 of us down from them caught nothing. I began to wonder why the only fish being caught was at this far end of the pier. As the evening progressed, the next group of anglers down the pier began to catch fish. This trend continued until finally, I felt a distinctive tap on my jig and hooked my first fish of the evening. It was almost dark by then, and I caught a limit of fish within an hour. I fished this pier alot that winter, and found that the fish behaved the same way every day. One day I arrived early and had the pier to myself. I dropped my jig to the bottom at the end where I first saw fish being caught that day. This end was very deep! I checked the depth all the way down the pier and found that it became progressively shallower. I reached the spot on the pier where I caught my limit, and found out that it was only 5 feet. Something clicked on that day. I realized that these fish were moving shallower as the daylight decreased. I applied this knowledge to reservior and lake saugeyes and have found that the same holds true.
Saugeyes seem to seek out a certain amount of light, and to understand this amount of light, we must think like a fish and imagine being in their under water environment. Picture a bright calm sunny day and the time is around 1pm. The location is the deep end of the lake, near the dam. The sun shines brightly through the water column. During a moment like this, saugeyes will tend to be feeding in deeper water, possibly 20+ft deep, and relative to how deep the surrounding water is. 

Now lets consider a different location, same time, same day, and the same lake. This time our saugeye is located in a shallow feeder creek, about 5 feet at the deepest spot. It rained hard the previous day and the water is very muddy. The muddy water counters the powerful sunlight and gives the saugeye the perfect lighting for feeding time. 

Our third example is the same lake and at the feeder creek. On this particular day the creek is clear and the sky sunny. Around 4pm, a front approaches. The sky suddenly becomes darker and the wind roughens the water’s surface. Rain begins to fall on the surface, making it even harder for light to penetrate. The front darkens the water once too bright, and feeding time begins!

This last example is the same lake and on a shallow bar, roughly 8 feet. The sky is partly cloudy and the wind is calm. The time is 3pm. Overhanging trees line the shoreline, creating lots of shade and blocking out the sun. The saugeye move to this shaded area to feed.

To break this down, consider these 6 factors; Time of day, cloud cover, wind, shade, precipitation, and water clarity. When thought out carefully, these factors can help you decide where to fish at the right times and the right conditions. Keep track of weather reports for the day you plan to fish and the days previous as well. With the proper game plan, and if you’re willing to be mobile throughout the day, all day catches are even possible.

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Jerkbait and Crankbait Treble Hook Replacement Tutorial

Over time, the treble hooks on old jerkbaits and crankbaits can become worn, broken, or dull. Lures get banged off of docks, pulled over rocks and weeds, snagged, and if used properly, catch alot of fish. If you spend enough time on the water, your tackle will see enough abuse to benefit from a treble hook replacement. Follow these steps to bring new life to your old baits.

You will need:

1) a split ring pliers

2) New treble hooks (same size as the old hooks)

3) An old used lure

 The first step is to remove the old hooks from the lure using the split ring pliers. Work the point of the tool in between the ring and twist to open it. Do this for every hook.

If you are planning to reuse the split rings, use the split ring plierd to remove the split rings from the treble hooks. If your old split rings are damaged or you just prefer to replace them, Skip this step. You will need some new split rings of the same size.

Attach the split rings to the new treble hooks with the split ring pliers. Be careful! These hooks are very sharp.

Now, use the pliers to apply the new hooks to the lure. Make sure the split rings are completely attached to the lure.

That’s it! Your favorite old plug now has fresh new hooks. Be sure to try it out to make sure it still swims properly. Be prepared for more successful hook sets!

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Saugeyes Love Current!

It can be be day or night, or any season. At any time these fish seem to be attracted to current. From tailraces of dams, spillways, narrow spots in the lake, feeder streams, and bridges, hit these spots from shore at the right time and chances are good that saugeyes will be there. No matter where you fish, you will find that saugeyes love current!Spillways are a natural saugeye producer. You can find a few fish in these spots any time, but expect increased action after heavy rains or after the gates have been opened for a period of time. Anytime after the water in the spillway rises is a great time to fish. Look for eddies, areas of slack current, deep holes, or where two streams meet. These are all excellent spots to pick up a few fish. Jigs are the usual choice for presentation, but crankbaits and jerkbaits work as well. Any lure that works anywhere else has potential in a spillway. For snaggy areas, a snap on bobber above a jig is an excellent choice. Set the bobber so that the jig remains close to bottom. Live bait can also be drifted with a bobber.
Feeder streams are another excellent spot that is often overlooked. Heavy spring rains raise these streams and increase current, drawing in fish. Jigs with 3 inch plastic grubs have produced best for me in shallow feeder streams in the spring. If the water is stained, expect a good day bite, and a  good bite near the sunrise sunset hours in clear water, or after dark. During summer and fall, crankbaits and jerkbaits are my go to lures, but jigs still produce as well.

Narrow spots and bridges also naturally have current flowing through them. Picture a small hole in the bottom of a bucket and imagine the water streaming out of the hole. The flow is faster when it is narrowed. These spots really shine during drawdown periods. Shallow flats above narrow spots and bridges get flushed out like a toilet, but at a much slower pace. All the baitfish begin to migrate out of the shallow flats and must cross the narrow spot or bridge to get to deeper water. Saugeyes take advantage and wait here for the easy meal. Heavy rains and high water also increase the potential here, but some of these spots remain hot well after the drawdown period. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, and jigs work great during twilight and night periods, while more vertical presentations seem to do better during the day. Bladebaits and dropshot rigs are very popular, as well as jigging spoons.

When it comes to presentation, never get hung up on one or the other. Let the fish tell you what bait they want, and how they want it. Presentation can even vary from different bodies of water. Find out what works for you. When the conditions are right, always remember to take advantage of saugeyes in current!

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Walleyes and Saugeyes by the Light of the Full Moon

One thing we do know is that the moon effects tides. There are other things known as well, but alot of mystery and theories surround the timing of the full moon. For centuries the full moon has been handed the blame for many things. It has long been believed that the full moon causes moodiness in people. A popular saying after a busy hectic day at work is “Must be a full moon tonight!”. Ancient Myths even include stories of the full moon. Myths of werewolves claim that the werewolf comes out when the full moon comes. I can’t say if there is any truth to this, and I don’t believe in werewolves, but I do know one thing; When the full moon shines bright and lights the night sky, its a good idea to be out fishing for walleyes and saugeyes.

It has long been known that the full moon tends to provide trophy fish catches of walleye and saugeye. Also, the night before and the night after seem to be good as well. If I was limited on time during the fall months and only had three to five days of vacation to use for night fishing, I would schedule my days surrounding the full moon in October and November. These nights are definitely worth trying all night sits.

The techniques for night fishing remain the same during a full moon. Try the same lures that work on other nights, including jerkbaits, bladebaits, crankbaits, jigs, swimbaits, or whatever has worked for you. As always, if it’s not working try different retrieves, different baits, or possibly different locations. Just remember that fish can be extremely shallow and close to the shore.

I can’t say for sure why the full moon makes for good night fishing, but I do have a couple of theories. One is the increase of light. It is possible that the increase of light provides that perfect condition where walleyes and saugeyes can see, but baitfish have difficulty seeing. Perhaps the full moon lengthens the time of this occurance, and the walleyes and saugeyes happily take advantage.

The other is tide. Obviously this effect is smaller on small bodies of water, but maybe there is something there.

The last theory I have, is maybe the light draws baitfish closer to the surface and closer to the bank. Just like when a light is shined into the water, baitfish will tend to school up under the light.

For whatever reason, my best nights of fishing have been on or surround the full moon by a couple of days. Maybe the reasons for this are best unknown to me. Perhaps this adds to the mystery and mythical aspects of the full moon, and adds a little more fun to the equation. Also, Legends of trophy walleye and saugeye full of razor sharp teeth are more exciting than werewolves any day!

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Use this technique for reading depth from shore


Bank fishing presents advantages, as well as challenges. Boat fishermen have the luxury of access to every acre of water. Offshore spots are many times beyond the distance a casting rig can reach, but a boat gives a fisherman the ability to quickly adapt from shore to the depths. With todays electronics, a wealth of information can be obtained regarding a body of water. Depth, fish location, and bottom content are easily identified and displayed on screen. Depth finders are now available that can be used from shore. However, if you don’t have one there is a way to get a rough guess of some of this information. It’s not as good as having electronics, but it will work in a pinch. This method starts with a simple jig head, and a small amount of math and physics.

To figure out depth, first tie on a jighead to your line and use a rod that has a spinning reel. I prefer an 1/8 ounce head but you may prefer heavier jigs for depths beyond 20 feet. Now, find an area close to shore where you can visually estimate the depth. I aim for 5 feet if possible. Now cast your jig to this spot and as soon as the jig hits the water begin to count in seconds. A timer can also be used but isn’t needed. Allow your line to freely spool off of the reel and watch the line. When the line stops, stop counting. For this example, lets say it took 1 second to drop 5 feet. This means the jig falls at a rate of 5 feet per second. Now cast out farther. This time it takes two seconds to reach bottom. This means that the depth is 10 feet. By casting all around you, you can get a basic idea of how the bottom lays out, regarding depth, drop-offs and bars.

Bottom content is a little trickier to detect. For this I use a heavier jig, at least a 1/4 ounce. Cast out and allow the jig to hit bottom, and then slowly reel in the jig. You want as much bottom contact as possible. A rocky bottom will feel differently, and the size of rock will even change the way it feels as you reel it in. Gravel will pull slightly, while bigger rocks will grab harder and snag easier. An isolated snag can be from a rock pile or tree. Weeds will be more of a soft pull that hangs on more. By casting along a shoreline, you can find weed edges by finding out where the weeds end.

Try out this technique next time you fish from shore. You may be suprised about what you find at your favorite fishing holes!

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Drawdown Scouting for Walleyes and Saugeyes

When walleyes and saugeyes go shallow, the bite can be out of this world. This event also allows those without a boat to have the ability to catch their share of quality fish. For those without a boat or electronics, there is a way to see shallow water structure, and the time for this is after the drawdown of lakes and reservoirs.

Drawdown is when the water level is lowered significantly in a lake or reservoir, exposing shallow structure that normally cannot be seen with the naked eye without an underwater camera. This exposes many key structures that are important, including points, rock piles, wood, drop-offs, channels, bars, as well as the composition of the lake bottom. A enjoyable walk around the shoreline during a warming trend can provide a huge wealth of information to anglers about the body of water they choose to fish. Note: Check and make sure this is legal in your area.

A smartphone or hand held gps unit is very valuable to record your new discoveries, and to be able to locate them later. Many apps are available that allows you to record coordinates. Take pictures as well, to know what kind of structure is located at each coordinate.
As spring approaches, lakes and reservoirs slowly fill up and the water level rises, covering up the treasures that were once exposed. As the days get longer and warmer, the shallows get warmer and baitfish will move out of the depths and seek out these structures for needed cover. The fishes’ metabolism eventually increases and their increasing hunger will drive them to seek out these baitfish havens. A prepared angler will be there, at the right time and at the right location, and the anglers hard work will be greatly rewarded.

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When Going in Blind Goes Right

Pre season scouting and preparation is a great idea. Being prepared gives any hunter a great advantage. Knowing deer habits, travelways, primary scrape areas, food sources, funnels, and typical rubline locations ahead of time are all an important part of the success equation. However, sometimes things do not go as planned. You may find yourself in a situation where your early preparation did not work out as planned. You may not be seeing any deer or fresh sign and the rut is swiftly approaching. It’s prime time of the year and the scrapes and rubs you anticipated are not showing up, and everyone else is bragging about all the sign they are seeing. Maybe life’s responsibilities got in the way of preparation this year and there wasn’t any time to prepare. Your buddy may have called you up and invited you to come along and hunt some brand new property. No matter what the reason, sometimes going in blind is needed, and at times can even give you an advantage.
One of the main advantages of going in blind is the element of suprise. While going in blind, you are potentially hunting an area that has been left alone all season. No hunting pressure means the deer may be more relaxed and possibly more likely to show up at daylight. Many times this strategy can mean big buck sightings on the first hunt, provided that your stand is in the right location. Look for fresh sign, and signs of recent buck activity if hunting during the pre rut and rut phases. Add a good funnel to to the equation if at all possible.

To help remain undetected, put your stand or blind up during mid day, and if possible during a rain. You want to enter the area when it is least likely to spook deer. Also, try to avoid bedding areas, unless of coarse, if you want to go all in and make a big gamble by trying to catch a buck on his way to bed.

Aerial and topographical maps can help you scout a property from your own home. These maps can tell you the lay of the land, show fields, woods, thickets, funnels and bodies of water. You will most likely still have to do scouting in the field to fine tune your discoveries, but using maps can narrow things down.

If things aren’t panning out as planned during your hunting season, don’t be afraid to take action and try going in blind. It is one of many effective methods for outsmarting mature whitetail bucks. With the right approach, it has the potential to really pay off.

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How to Use Blade Baits Effectively

Bladebaits are extremely versatile. It really is hard to work them improperly. With their wiggling action provided with vibrations sent out through the water and an enticing eratic fall, these lures can really bring in fish. Fish can detect these vibrations from a distance and seek them out. Follow these tips to help you use blade baits effectively.

The most common presentation for these baits is vertical jigging, and it’s also where they really shine. Fine tuning this presentation depends on preference and the fishes’ mood. They can be jigged hard enough to set the hook and moved at a distance of two to four feet in the water column, to more subtle approaches of mere inches at a time. Some allow the bait to free fall, while others keep the line semi tight on the drop to be able to detect strikes better. Both approaches work and are a matter of preference. In most cases, the fish will strike as the bait falls. Sometimes a shake of the wrist can trigger a strike after the bait falls. In extremely cold water and during slow bites, a dead stick approach might even earn a few strikes. Suspend the bait and let the wind and water currents give it action. This doesn’t always work but may be the ticket when nothing else produces. When jigging make sure your drag is set properly. When setting a hook directly overhead, alot of tension is applied to the line and it is easy to lose fish if the drag is set too tight. Sometimes the hooks will pull free or worse, the line will break.

These baits can also be casted and retrieved like a crank bait. For variation, they can also be casted out and retrieved with a jigging motion, allowing it to fall after each lift of the fishing rod. Adjust your retrieve speed accordingly to the fishes’ mood.

Always find the correct depth and work these baits where the fish are in the water column. For saugeyes, this will almost always be near bottom. Some prefer to keep the bait one to two feet off of bottom, while others will allow the bait to pound the bottom on the drop, which stirs up silt and can attract fish. Also, it is recommended that you use snaps instead of tying directly to the bait. Keep the line tag short to prevent the hooks from tangling, and make sure you can feel the bait through the fishing rod. If you can’t feel it the hooks are probably tangled in the line and need untangled.

Try these baits out sometime. They are an excellent addition to any tackle box. At times they can be the best choice for a successful fishing trip. Also, when it comes to a fish inhaling the bait directly from below, they are just plain fun!

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