Monday 23 May 2016

Walleye Opener

Walleye opener in the Bay of Quinte and Lake Ontario region marks the beginning of a new fishing season for a lot of anglers. This area is considered Zone 20 in the fishing regulations. It is a huge region stretching from Brighton Bay to Picton Bay and Lake Ontario as a whole on the Canadian side of the border. Zone 20 opens on the first Saturday of every May. Not only does the walleye season open, the northern pike season opens as well. Every year on the opening weekend, there is a walleye and pike tournament held by the Trenton Kiwanis Club. This tournament brings in anglers from all over Ontario who have the itch to set the hook on a walleye and/or pike to kick off their spring fishing season. The "Kiwanis Walleye World Live Release Fishing Derby" was sponsored by some really great companies this year. Pro Tackle offered walleye charters for two including gear worth $2000 and Rapala offered prize packages worth up to $700!  

I spent my opening weekend fishing the Picton Bay area of Zone 20. I focused on targeting walleye with worm harnesses and hard body baits. I fished 35' of water using the snap weight 50/50 method on my worm harnesses and I ran a Rapala Scatter Rap Tail Dancer, both behind Off Shore planer boards.   

The snap weight 50/50 method is a very simple way to get your worm harnesses down to the desired depth. You can use this same method for getting hard body baits down deeper as well. I wanted to fish the middle of the water column on opener weekend. So knowing I was in 35' of water and knowing I wanted to be about 17' down I turned to my Off Shore snap weight 50/50 chart. Trolling at 1.5 mph for walleye and wanting to be down about 17', my chart showed me I needed to use a 1 1/2 oz. snap weight. I simply tied my worm harness to my main line, let out 50' of line, snapped my 1 1/2 oz. weight on, let out another 50' of line and clipped on an Off Shore planer board. 

Using a Rapala Scatter Rap Tail Dancer on my other rod, I tied it onto my Sufix 832 braided line and let out the desired amount of line and clipped on another planer board. Both presentations were very productive this weekend. The Scatter Rap is designed to be very erratic. Pulling it behind a planer board can be very effective. On this particular day, the waves had picked up a bit. Every time the planer board hit a wave it would surge forward. Running braided line and having no stretch, the bait would have been surged forward at the same rate as the board. In-turn the bait would have sped up and really kicked out to the side just like it's designed to do. I specifically remember making a turn and hooking a fish on my outside board. My boat was traveling at 1.5 mph so my inside board would have been going slower than this and my outside board would have been going faster, intensifying the surging action of the planer board and the lure. 

Next time you think about heading out walleye fishing, give the snap weight 50/50 method a try on your worm harnesses or body baits. You won't regret it!

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Wednesday 6 April 2016

Product Review
Sufix Performance Lead Core

For my first product review I will be talking about Sufix Performance Lead Core. I have used this product for a couple years now. Over all I am very impressed with how it performs. I have 10 colour lead core spooled on my reels. 10 colours of lead core is 100 yards or 300 feet in length. Each colour is 30 feet long and sinks roughly 5 feet per colour. Letting out all 10 colours of lead core, you can obtain a depth of 50 feet very easily. Lead core has been a very effective way for me to get my baits down anywhere from 5 to 50 feet, depending on how many colours I put out. Making the lead core even more effective, I will let out the desired amount of colours to correspond with the depth of water I am targeting and then clip on an Off Shore Planer Board. This allows me to get my bait out and away from the boat. Priced on average at $19.99 for a spool of 10 colours, it is a very inexpensive way to get your baits down deep! Starting with a bare spool on my 30 series reel, I tied on and spooled 300 yards of 40 pound Sufix 832 Braid as backing. I then used a Willis Knot to tie my backing to my lead core. This knot doesn't look like much, but it hasn't failed me yet! Once the 10 colours of lead core is spooled on after the backing, I tie on a 30 foot, 30 pound Sufix Fluorocarbon Leader using the Willis Knot again. I finish it all off with a snap swivel to make it quick and easy to switch baits. I have used this setup for walleye, lake trout, northern pike and salmon. It has held up great and held its colour. If you are thinking of buying lead core and adding it to your arsenal, I highly recommend Sufix Performance Lead Core!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

From Beginning Till End

When you walk through the doors at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show at the International Centre and begin your tour following the red carpet from Halls 1 through 5, its hard to imagine how it all begins. I had the opportunity to spend seven days with Fish TV and see what it takes to put on a show like they do. Arriving at the International Center located in Mississauga ON, we dropped off four big enclosed trailers the booth is stored in. Monday morning the real work began. The four trailers were pulled inside and backed up to the empty 20,000 sq. ft. booth. I wondered to myself,
“Where do you begin?” 

My question was soon answered. The Fish TV crew didn’t waste any time getting started. It was like a well-oiled machine. The trout pond was first to be unloaded. Numbered from A-1 through A-10, the wall sections were laid out in order and bolted together. Next was the liner, and before you knew it the water was slowly creeping up the sides and filling.

Carpet gets laid down throughout the whole 20,000 sq. ft. booth. Then Little Lunkers was next. Little Lunkers is four sections of log wall, each being 4’ wide and when complete is 16’ long. The huge TV wall was next. Its three 55” Samsung flat panels wide by three panels high. Each one gets an HDMI cable that plugs into a splitter, then a DVD player plugs into the splitter to make it all work as one image.

Toyota is a huge sponsor of the event and front and center is the Ontario Toyota stage. A huge portion is bolted together then fork lifts are hired to lift it up and legs are bolted on. Audio and power cables are fished under the carpets and lights and speakers are plugged in. When the stage is lit and the tunes are playing, everyone in the International Center knows its show time in the Fish TV Zone!

On day one the big fish tank was trucked in and filled with water. It wasn’t long before the seminar stage was set up and the tank was full of fish and ready to go. Fish TV’s very own Ron James and Jeff Chisholm gave presentations throughout the event along with Rapala Pro-Staff, Italo Labignan, Jeremie Brooks, Shawn Banks and Scott Walcott.

Rapala is another sponsor of Fish TV and they had a booth there as well. The scale of some of the booths at the Toronto Sportsmen's Show was incredible! All the work was coming to an end Tuesday night while everyone put the finishing touches on their booths. The red carpet was rolled out through the aisles. The garbage was swept up, the carpets were vacuumed and the curtains went up.

After two days of hard work, day one of the show being open finally arrives. Wednesday was one of the busiest days. The crowd flooded in through the doors. It was non stop action in the Fish TV Zone! There was a seminar in front of the big fish tank every hour on the hour and the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak performed on the Ontario Toyota stage every hour on the half hour while prizes were given out to all the Fish TV fans.

Saturday was the busiest day. While everyone was catching fish at the trout pond, watching seminars, and fighting fish on the fish simulators, the parking lot was still filling with vehicles full of people eager to join in on the fun. There were so many people, vehicles were having to be re-directed to other parking lots.

Sunday night rolled around and the show came to an end. The Fish TV crew didn’t take long to tear everything down and load it back into trailers. The huge TV wall was taken apart and each TV was put into it's own custom made box. The pond was drained, the liner was vacuumed dry then folded, and the walls were unbolted. If it wasn't for such a great team effort it wouldn’t be possible to have completed such a quick and organized tear down. The Fish TV crew is an absolute great group of people and it was such a privilege to work with each and every one of them. 

Next time you walk through the doors at a show like the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show, just think about all the hard work and man hours that goes into putting on a show like this. And all this was just one booth. Countless exhibitors put in a huge effort and put on a great show. But it all wouldn't be the same without the fans. Thanks to all who came out and supported the event! Looking forward to seeing you next year!

Photo Credit: Valens Chu & Peter Yeung 

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Monday 15 February 2016

Winter Trolling

With the warmer weather the Bay of Quinte and Great Lakes region has been experiencing, I have taken advantage of the boat launches that are still open. I have been focusing my attention on the Eastern Basin of Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte targeting lake trout, walleye and pike. I hook-up my 14’ Lund to my truck and make my way to the boat launch meeting my buddy Matt Heayn along the way. Some days the boat launches are covered in ice and snow so this involves bringing a shovel and some sand/salt mix.

With the boat launched and my 25hp tiller motor warmed up, Matt and I head out to set our lines in sight of some lake trout. We get to the laker grounds and start setting gear. Today we are running 2 lead core lines with Luhr Jensen spoons and 2 braided lines, one with a Rapala jerk bait and one a Storm Giant Flatstick. We are fishing fairly shallow so the lead core and braid line are ideal. The lead core we are using is Sufix 10 colour lead core. Lead core is just that, a line filled with a lead core. How lead core works is each colour is 30’ long and sinks on average 5’ per colour. So 10 colour lead core is overall 300’ long and will sink to roughly 50’. I use a 30’ fluorocarbon leader tied to the lead core with a Willis knot. I also use 300 yards of Sufix braid for backing tied onto the lead core with the same knot. If I plan to run my gear deeper than 50’, I will use dipsy divers.

Matt and I decided early in the day that we would split our day up to target 3 species. Those 3 species being lake trout, pike and walleye. With our lines in the water, we focus on lake trout first and I set the trolling speed to 2.0 mph. This is a great speed to start at for lake trout as lake trout like to hit baits going 1.8-2.2 mph. So starting at 2.0 mph is right in the middle. If you aren’t getting bit try upping or downing your tolling speed. Speed can be very crucial some days.

As we approach the pike grounds we keep the baits the same but change our trolling speed. Pike like it a bit faster. I have trolled as fast as 3.5 mph in the middle of summer. Today the magic speed was 2.2 mph. Perhaps in such cold water they like it a bit slower. It is very interesting to see how the areas lakers roam and the areas pike roam overlap. If you can hit it just right, you can not only catch a double header of the same specie, but you can catch a double header of both species! Netting them in the same net is very unusual and amazing!

Pleased with the number of lakers and pike we have landed, Matt and I decide to reel our gear in and head to some walleye grounds. When we arrive, we swiftly change out our lures as the day was nearing an end and darkness was lurking. We tie onto our lines, 2 Rapala tail dancers and 2 Rapala jointed husky jerks. Our trolling speed now is 1.6 mph, as walleye like the speed quite a bit less than lakers or pike. Previous times out with my friends, Jason Cocks and Keegan Balcomb and Matt Heayn, I trolled this area for walleye and we caught a 12.9 lb and 12 lb walleye. So I was quick to save this spot as a waypoint on my sonar! With 1 pass over the waypoint I had marked from the previous times out, we got bit! Matt was quick to notice one of our offshore boards drop back out of line and grabs the rod and begins to fight what we suspected to be a walleye. The fish surfaces near the boat and reveals itself as a 10 + lb walleye. I promptly scoop the walleye out of the 33°c water and hoist it into the boat. This one tipped the scale at 10.8 lbs. We accomplished exactly what we set out to do, we landed all 3 different species in 1 day. All this occurred while we had the stereo cranked, high fiving, having a blast! There’s no life like it!!!

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Thursday 28 January 2016

Bay of Quinte Falleye

It's that time of year again for the big Lake Ontario walleye to make their way into the Bay of Quinte. During the fall and winter months the walleye will migrate into the Bay of Quinte from Lake Ontario to prepare for the annual spawn. This is the perfect time for anglers to target trophy walleye and what's called "Quinte Gold". Quinte gold is considered to be a walleye over ten pounds and they can get up to fifteen pounds or more, so the odds are good that you will land yourself some gold.

Recently I was fishing with Co-Host of Fish-TV, Jeff Chisholm. Jeff uses Garmin's Panoptix on his boat. What Panoptix does is essentially the same as what your fish Finder does but it shoots ahead of the boat. So what it shows you is what the fish are doing ahead of the boat and not just under the boat. Sometimes you will mark a fish as little as 5' below the surface. As the boat approaches you can see that fish starting to dive deeper. Then as the boat goes over the fish it then shows up on the traditional sonar at a deeper depth. So the boat has in turn spooked that fish. Now if the fish doesn't appear on the traditional sonar, where could it have gone? Out to the side of the boat. So that being said, in-line planer boards are an essential go to for us walleye anglers. What these do is get your baits out and away from the boat and puts the bait in the faces of the non-spooked walleye. Click this link to see Jeff explain how Garmin’s Panoptix really works for suspended walleye!

Planning to fish a day on the bay usually starts the night before in the garage, tying on your favourite Rapala. I personally run 50lb Sufix braid and then tie on a 6' long 20lb Sufix flurocarbon leader using the double uni-knot. I don't use fluro for its invisibility but for its great durability and abrasion resistance. Then I'll tie on a lure with an improved fisherman’s knot. Be sure to wet the fluro a bit with saliva before pulling your knot tight. 

Lure choice can leave a few folks mind boggled. So let me mention a few of my go to baits for walleye on the Bay of Quinte. My number one lure would have to be a Deep Tail Dancer (TDD-11). It will dive to 30' and the action is irresistible to feeding fall walleye. If you tie it on your line and drop it over the side of the boat and just watch it, it's mesmerizing. 

Next in line is the Jointed Deep Husky Jerk (JDHJ-12). Diving to 13' it's ideal for targeting higher suspended feeding walleye. But if you choose to run it a bit deeper, you can add the use of a snap weight.

Third on the list is fairly new to Rapala's line up. It's the Scatter Rap Tail Dancer (SCRTD09). They really outdid themselves with the action on this lure. Diving to 19’ and adding the evasive, erratic action that the Scatter Lip creates, you have one deep-diving, aggressive lure.

Last but certainly not least is the Deep Down Husky Jerk (DHJ-12). Diving to 19', it's a great lure to add to your spread.

Start the day by letting out the desired length of line to get the bait down to its diving depth. Then clip on an in-line planer board. Offshore planer boards are the go to for most walleye anglers. Make sure to leave a little slack in the line between the two clips. This allows the board to track better. With the board clipped on, send it out away from the boat to target those suspended feeding walleye. Planer boards are made to plane out to the right (starboard) or the left (port) side of the boat so you can run multiple boards on each side of your boat.

Speed is crucial. 1.7-1.9 mph is the normal speed to troll. But don't be surprised if they want it a hint faster or slower. If you have a bigger motor and are having trouble getting your trolling speed down, look at getting a trolling plate or drift sock. These tools could make the difference between putting fish in the boat or having the smell of skunk in your boat.

The Bay of Quinte doesn't just produce big walleye. As myself, Rob Grouchy, Rob Farrell, Melissa Cochrane and Jeff Chisholm show, it produces some very respectable pike and lake trout too. Using the same lures and set up you can achieve the same success for pike and lake trout as you do for walleye.

The walleye in the Bay of Quinte can truly reach an incredible size. And what the smaller fish lack in size they make up for in numbers. This past fall, Jeff Chisholm, Rob Farrell, Rob Grouchy and myself ventured out on to the Bay in search of some gold. We spent the better part of the day running around trying to find a pod of walleye that would eat. That time spent was well worth it. Rob Farrell was next up to reel in, but what we didn’t know was he was about to reel in a new personal best. Blowing his previous personal best out of the water with this 13.8lb walleye.

It wasn’t 10 minutes and 2 fish later, Rob Farrell was reeling in another big walleye. The fish came to the surface just behind the boat and we couldn’t believe our eyes, it was bigger than the 13.8 lb! We net the fish and bring it in the boat and weigh it. It was 15 lbs on the dot! So not only did Rob Farrell beat his personal best this day, he beat it twice within 10 minutes of each other.

Now that your Rapalas are in the water, your planer boards are out to the side of the boat, your speed is dialed in and your rods are in their holders, you anxiously wait to hear the clickers go off. It's only a matter of time before you hook into your very own Bay of Quinte trophy walleye.

If you have wanted to fish the Bay of Quinte for Falleye then now's the time! Stop at Pro Tackle Musky Shop off Hwy-37 in Belleville and grab your Rapala lures and Off Shore Planer Boards.

If you don't have a boat and the gear, there are lots of charters on the bay to choose from like Bay of Quinte Charters and PB&J Charters to name a couple. You can use this link to find more. If you are coming from out of town there are a few places near Quinte to stay including Picton Harbour Inn, located in Picton, Twin Peaks Motel, located in Napanee and Millhaven Inn, located in Millhaven.

Get to the Bay of Quinte and join in on the fun catching these once in a life time trophy Fall Walleye!

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