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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Understanding Thermals and How it Affects Deer Hunting

Lets say you get in the woods for a morning hunt. You get set up on the lower end of a hill side. The sun has risen and the dark woods start to lighten up. The first thing you do is check the wind with a puff bottle. The air is relatively calm on this morning, but the powder drifts down the hill and to your right. You already know that the deer are likely behind you at this time, in a field and slowly coming your way to feed on the acorns that lie below the hill. At this point you give out a rattling sequence to them. Knowing that any approaching deer will probably try to wind you, you patiently look down the hill for any movement. Suddenly, you hear two loud stomps behind you. It’s the sound no hunter forgets, the sound of an alert deer stomping the ground. You want to turn around to look but you know he’s looking right at you. Seconds later the deer blows and runs off into cover. You immediately grab your puffer bottle and squeeze it to find that your scent shifted in the opposite direction. Understanding thermals and how it affects deer hunting can help prevent mishaps such as these.
In the morning, cool air is warmed as the sun rises. This warm air becomes less dense and begins to rise. In fairly calm wind conditions, this can cause your scent to shift in another direction, especially when on a hill side or down in a bottom or ravine. Evening hunts can have the opposite affect. As air cools from the sun lowering in the sky, air becomes more dense and sinks lower. One way to counteract this is to get set up high during morning hunts, and low during evening hunts.

Periodically check the wind throughout your hunts under different wind directions, speeds, and conditions to learn how this may affect your stands that are in hilly areas. Understanding thermals and how it affects deer hunting is a great tool to add to your scent control methods.

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Look and Listen to Catch Saugeyes and Walleyes Near Shore at Night

Saugeyes and walleyes are frequently found near shore at night. So you have prepared for your night of fishing. You’ve considered wind direction, as well as the time of year to decide on the best location that has the best odds of success. However, one factor that is often overlooked is food. Other then during the spawn, food is the primary factor of fish location.
Baitfish tend to move deeper during the day, and shallow at night. Sometimes they will stay shallow in the day in stained water. At night, they can be so shallow that you can see them from the bank. If you see baitfish along the shoreline at night, you’re odds of success are way better.

Listen closely and you may hear them swimming swiftly and frantically along the surface. If you hear this, immediately start casting. There’s a good chance that marble eyes is beneath the surface trying to get a meal in. Sometimes you can even hear these toothy predators break the surface as they stalk their prey.

One common mistake people make when this happens is casting too far. When fish are this shallow, keep your casts within the proper shallow depth to keep your presentation in the strike zone longer.

Be patient. A typical feeding period can be as short as only 15 minutes. Being there at the right time is the key.

In conclusion, some of the largest fish are caught at night, and long hours along the shoreline can really pay off. If your lifestyle allows it, take advantage of this strategy for catching saugeyes and walleyes at night.

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Suspending Jerkbaits for Fall Walleye and Saugeye

1017130_987556867996707_3267416865447760809_nThey can be worked fast and aggressive for when fish really put the feed on. They can be worked painstakingly slow or suspend completely still in the water column when fish become lethargic in cold winter waters. Almost every predatory fish can’t resist them. Plain and simple: If you have not added suspending jerk baits to your fall arsenal, you are missing out.

Ever since I first started using these incredible baits, they had become one of my all time favorites, and rarely do I leave home for a fishing trip without them. For one, they make for a whole lot of fun. To me, nothing compares to the excitement of a fish whacking a completely still jerkbait so hard it almost knocks the pole out of your hand. Or when I make that last twitch of the bait, inches from my feet and watch as a giant rises from the depth and crushes it with fury. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what will. These are the things that make fishing so exciting. Also, expect your stringers to get heavier. These baits are a real producer and many trophy fish have been caught with them.

For walleyes and saugeyes, you want these baits to work close to bottom, and in most cases over rocky structure. To accomplish this, work them in waters no deeper than 8 feet unless fish are suspending. These baits really shine during low light periods and at night. I prefer the bait to rise very slowly when sitting still. By slow I’m talking maybe a rise of 1 foot every 10 seconds. With a slow rise I can hover the bait over any rocks or snags. Plus the slow rise imitates a baitfish slowly rising out of danger which can trigger a strike. This retrieve works excellent in early fall. I normally start with a steady retrieve, twitching it in all the way with no pauses. If this does not produce, I will allow the bait to pause for a couple of seconds in between twitches. As fall progresses and water temperatures sink, I will let the bait pause for as long as 20 seconds. Also at this time, some tuning may be required. When temps sink below 55 degrees, these fish may require the bait to suspend completely still. This is accomplished by tuning. For the more common 3 treble 4 ¾ inch baits, some lead tape on the middle treble does the trick. It will take some experimenting to get the amount of tape right. Lead tape on the belly works great for the smaller baits. Use a container of water at home to test the baits suspending ability, then fine tune on the body of water you choose to fish. Tiny chunks removed from the tape makes a huge difference. Also, although the 4 ¾ inch size is an all time favorite, don’t be afraid to try the larger sizes as they produce as well.

I like a medium action spinning rod in 6’6 to 7 size, with a good quality spinning reel. A sensitive rod and reel makes a huge difference. A good drag is also important. When a trophy walleye or saugeye is hooked close to your feet, they can take off with a vengeance and without a good quality drag that is properly set, all you’ll have is the memory of that big fish swimming away with your favorite jerkbait. The key is to keep a loose drag that is still tight enough for a good hook set. Also, if you find yourself missing a lot of fish, the drag may be too tight or the hooks may have become dull. This can happen over time if a jerkbait has seen a lot of use. Replace it with a new bait, or to get even more involved, you can replace the trebles using an o ring remover. Just make sure you use the same size hook that originally came with the bait. There are some great hooks out there that are extremely sharp.

In conclusion, there are some great baits out there. However, I could never imagine a fall bite without a jerkbait being in the picture. I’ve laid out some basics on getting the retrieve right, but when it comes to being on the water, you have to experiment and let the fish tell you what they want. Good luck and may your fall season be plentiful!

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Hunting over Big Woods Acorns 

Deer love acorns. There is no disputing that fact. When the time comes for these tiny morsels to drop from the tree tops, deer will hone in on their location and engorge on them as they cover the forest floor. However, in big woods areas, hunting over these acorns can present many challenges. Though challenging, all challenges can be overcome with the proper knowledge and willpower. Follow these tips to help you find big woods hunting success.
1) Evaluate the crop

Acorn crops vary every year. Some years are over-abundant, while others are sparse. Certain trees can produce one year while others produce better the next year. In big woods situations, finding out what trees have an abundance of acorns takes some leg work. Before the acorns drop, take a walk in the woods with some binoculars. Glance into the treetops with the binoculars and see how many acorns are in each tree. Mark these trees on a map and plan to hunt around them when the acorns drop.

Once the acorns drop, look for fresh sign to determine which trees the deer are feeding under, as well the acorns themselves lying on the ground. Look for lots of turned over leaves as well as fresh droppings. This is a sure sign of a fresh feeding area.

2) Look for areas of daytime movement.

Groups of large oak trees often have a lack of cover underneath the canopy. If there is better cover available, deer may not use these open hardwoods until dark. A trail camera will help to confirm this. Getting back closer to the bedding area and into cover will increase the chance of seeing deer during daylight hours.

3) Look for funnels

Many big woods areas lack the ability to funnel deer movement. Due to large numbers of oaks, deer have many options and may not travel the same direction every day, making it a challenge to be at the right place at the right time. Seek out funnels to increase your odds of success. Look for saddles, benches, fence crossings, draw crossings, or places where the big woods get narrow between fields. Sometimes an excellent funnel is only a small strip of undergrowth and cover that runs through the middle of the woods. Large fallen trees are enough to funnel deer movement. Try to think like a deer and imagine which path would be the best to choose and safest. Deer want an easy path but also desire cover and protection.

4) Give calls and scents a try

Sometimes the best option is to break out the calls and scents and try to make the deer come to you. Keep in mind that any deer coming in to investigate a call or scent will most likely come from downwind. Try to plan your location accordingly. This tactic works best during the pre rut and rut stages.

5) Be able to adapt

The trees that draw in deer can change quickly. If it appears that the current area you are hunting has been abandoned, you may have to cover some ground and walk around to look for fresh sign. Try to get your stand set up during mid day or during inclement weather. If possible, put up several stands the previous spring, so you have several oak stands to choose from and the deer have time to adjust.

Big woods can be evaluated for areas of high success percentage just like any other area. By evaluating the terrain and given circumstances, sweet spots can be discovered. Add a good game plan to the mixture and may your hunting season be successful!

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Saugeye report 10-10-16

​Water temps are warmer then usual in Ohio due to the hot summer we had and a warm early fall. Water temps are currently around the 65-70 degree range. Fish are being caught trolling shallow waters, or working deeper water in the day. Backwater areas with a creek or river flowing through can be an excellent spot to try. Baitfish tend to congregate to these areas and draw in saugeyes. Jigs, mid-depth crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, and suspending jerkbaits are all great producers. The night bite should be getting better as well. Expect a bite from the evening/night transition, and then short bites throughout the night that may last from 30 to 45 minutes. There may be as much as two to five hours between bites. When you do find a bite, remember what time it started. If you decide to return to this particular spot, there are good odds that the bite will be close to the same time as the night before. Bite times will vary from location and body of water. Patience and persistence pays off when trying to figure out the night bite. This can be a great oppurtunity to catch large fish. Things should pick up more as the water temps drop lower into the 55-60 degree range.

Find a buck’s Safe-Zone 

Picture a large field full of lush green clover. No other crop is in the area for miles. You walk into the field for some pre season scouting and you find fresh sign everywhere! All the fresh tracks have turned the field edges into mud. Fresh earth is scattered under every low hanging branch making a picture perfect scrape line. You find large trees stripped of their bark and deep grooves dug into the trunks from a mature buck marking his territory. You immediately grab a treestand from your truck and set up on the scrape line. As opening day comes, you hurry to your stand anticipating tons of action for an evening hunt. As darkness arrives, you find yourself wondering what happened. No deer showed up at the clover field. How can this be? How did all this fresh sign get here?

During a typical scouting trip, one may consider many factors. Tracks, droppings, rub lines, scrape lines, and mineral licks all give away spots that deer encounter. However, this is only one part of the equation. From this information one needs to find out what time these deer are in this area to leave sign. Most importantly, we need to know what sign is being left during legal shooting hours. An impressive scrape line is no good to a hunter if the deer don’t show up until the late hours of the night. One of the main factors that determines this is the location of the deers safe zone.

Safe zones involve danger, location, and timing. Danger involves how dangerous the location is. Whitetail deer have an incredible ability to adapt to their surroundings and this is why no two deer herds are exactly the same. There are public parks out there where the deer walk among people with no fear. The danger here is almost zero because no hunting is permitted. On the other end of the spectrum, think of public land full of hunting pressure so intense that most deer movements happen only at night. Most situations fall in the middle.

Location involves where deer herds feel safe and where they do not. In the thickness of cover, deer feel much safer. The cover provides camoflage, and if any predators approach, they can hear them coming through the thick brush and move into safety. In the open and at food sources, they are in sight and much more vulnerable to predators.

Timing involves day and night, as well as timing of dangerous situations. Deer feel much safer out in the open during late evening and night time hours. During the day, thick cover provides safety when the sunlight makes them more visible. If an atv drives through at 6:15pm every day of the week, deer can alter their routine to avoid this percieved danger. They may not come out of cover until 7:00pm. Perhaps a pack of coyotes show up at a certain time. Deer will adjust accordingly. It can even be due to a hunter walking to a stand, causing deer to wait until dark to come out.

Trail cameras are an excellent tool for determining what time deer show up in a certain area. They will create images of what deer are in the area, and they will make a time stamp on each image.

Putting it all together, every situation has to be evaluated accordingly, as not every situation is the same. The key is to get in between the bedding area full of thick cover and the feeding area, where they feel safe enough to appear before full darkness. In areas of low hunting pressure, open areas can be utilized for hunting and be able to see deer. In areas of high hunting pressure, you may have to walk back into the woods farther.

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