Don's Fishing Methods
Smallmouth Bass & Largemouth Bass Fishing Methods:
I have caught loads of smallmouth and largemouth bass on either Spinner baits or Buzz baits. They are the all around favorite of many fishermen fishing our waters. When the fish are active they are a great lure for catching almost any specie of fish that swim our waters from May to September.
While guiding a guest from Lexington we caught back to back a 21" smallmouth, which we were fishing for, and a 48" musky on spinner baits. Other times it could be largemouth or northern that are hitting them. Love that feel you get when watching your spinner bait working just under the surface and you notice a huge fish inhale your lure. Or the Big Whoosh as a whopper hits your buzz bait and goes ballistic on the waters surface. Using Buzz baits for largemouthbass we sometimes head right into the reeds and cast parallel to the weed bed looking for clear pockets in the reeds. Largemouth are much more weed oriented than Smallmouth, but to say smallmouth are not is to miss out on some great action sometimes. Usually smallmouth are not far from deep water. Look for rocky points and you will find smallmouth. There are so many smallmouth in our waters that it would be very rare to have a great looking point without a few bass hanging off of it. Spinner and buzz baits are great for the novice fishermen too as they don't require the finesse or feel a jig does, are easy to cast, go through the weeds with less interference, inexpensive, and the hook comes out of the fish easier than with a crank bait. Don't leave home without bringing a few!
Bring some jigs and colored rubber tails too because this is another favorite way to catch bass. It has been proven over and over again in our waters that jigs take many a wary bass. This is where your light spinning equipment is used. Six or eight pound test line is the norm. Jigs from 1/8 to 1/4 ounce are used most frequently but having a couple lighter and heavier jigs are worth having along and under certain circumstances are what you need. Some of my guests do very well with rubber worms using them either Carolina style or Texas rigging them. Another method is jigs and leeches. Smallmouth love leeches and so do many other specie. Some of the biggest smallmouth are caught off jigs and leeches and are another option avilable to everyone but only 10% of fishermen use them. The method has proven itself over and over again in our waters and on many a trophy fish.
Top water lures like the Baby Torpedo or Pop-R's etc. take both large and Smallmouth Bass any open water month.
Dancing a floating Rapala or similar minnow bait will take bass as will "walking the dog" with a Zara Spook.
Consistently fair weather for a few days and light wind brings on top water bass action anytime from May to September. Some of our biggest smallmouth and largemouth are caught on top water during the summer. Don't leave home without a few top water baits.
Another lure I seem to do well on for any type of Bass are Bill Lewis Rattle Traps. At times, burning them over the weed beds or rocky points as fast as my reel will take in line is hot. Shad or Rattalin Raps, Rogues, are other great lures for working points for smallmouth too. Up until the water cools right down in later September, we use these methods. In cold water smallmouth stack up like cordwood in 35 to 45 feet off major lake points and feed with a frenzy we often think of happening only in the summer. Your jig may never hit bottom before another smallie takes it when they are located in the cold water period. Often in the cold water they are found in big schools and on the bite.
We do not keep bass unless they are injured. Selectively harvesting of all fish makes sense. Why throw a severely injured fish back and keep a perfectly healthy fish? When you are catching the numbers of fish we frequently do, there is always a few fish that are badly hooked in the gills or throat. Those are the fish we harvest and for the overall health of this fishery we encourage everyone to do the same.
Northern Pike Methods:
Northerns spawn early after ice out and are found stacked in the bays. As the water warms, they disperse and are caught in the deep cabbage weeds and at times in the sandy bottom areas, humps, and main lake points. The fishing regulations here protect the top of the line(27 1/2"to35") breeding fish. The result has been nothing short of spectacular for northern fishing and it seems to be getting better each year. Spinner baits are again one of favorite lures used when the pike are on the bite. It is great watching your lure as "JAWS" cruises right behind it. If it takes you by surprize it will just about take the breath from you, so you have to stay on guard all the way to the boat when using them. Buzz baits can be loads of fun to use when the pike are taking top water. Rapala style floating 6-8" stick baits are another favorite lure. Twitching them or stop and go methods take the majority of fish using this method. For most of pike fishing, steel leaders are needed. The sizes most commonly used are 6-9" and are 30-50 lb. test strength. Bring a few because northerns hit with such ferocity that you"ll be changing them at least daily. Spoons are another great way to get in on the action. Favorites spoons are the yellow five of diamonds and silver ruby eye wigglers. Bill
Lewis Rattle Traps are another Hot item to bring with you. Often guests phone and ask Don before arriving what the fish are hitting on. We will suggest lures and reputable suppliers like Bass Pro Shops or Cabella's that have almost everything and are easily accessable to the fisherman. Some real dandy pike are caught using musky lures like a Mepps Musky Killers or Suick style jerk baits. You will have to match the bigger lures with heavier rods,reels and line. Every year 20 pounders are caught. The all time Shoal lake record is close to the provincial record.
CONSERVATION fishing licenses are sold at Half the Price of a full fishing license. With a conservation fishing license, you Can fish Musky and Lake Trout but you cannot keep them.
Our Musky season opens on the third Saturday in June and runs until November 30. Usually it takes until July before the real action starts but if you are here the last couple of weeks of June do not overlook casting the bays with Floating Rapalas and Thundersticks as this is where the musky spawn and they don't move far for a couple of weeks afterward.
Once recuperated after spawning the musky love big spinner baits, bucktails, jerk and glider style stick Baits, and 8-10" Believers/Swim Whizzes and Depth Raiders. These are the "Norm" for the "Woods" and so is heavy line and medium heavy 7' rods. Casting reefs, cabbage weed and points when Musky fishing throughout the summer gets most of the action. Top water musky fishing around the end of July and into August gives even the seasoned musky fishermen a thrill that is hard to describe. Musky fishing here is like hunting and we should consider any day we catch one a great day. Most musky that are caught are 25+pounds. Trolling gives us a break from tossing the big baits all the time and it has put many a trophy in our boat too. Late season trolling is renown to pickup the big fish. With a 54" minimum size, I would not want to see anyone of my guests take home anymore than one Musky. By releasing that size of fish we keep the unique gene pool of the Lake of the Woods musky. There is a world record to be caught here.
Lake Trout Methods:
The West side of the Lake of the Wood is designated a Trophy Trout fishery and if you fish here you could easily see why. Forty pound trout are real and 25 pound trout are caught regularly on single barbless hooks with no fish or fish parts being used to catch them. On my area of the lake you need a Trout tag in order to keep even One.
Only 100 trout tags are given out by lottery each year on the west side of the lake. No wonder that this part of the lake supports the largest trout when there is such little harvest.
High Tech Electronics is the way we catch them consistently. Spotting suspended trout on our graphs in 40-60 feet over the 120 foot water area is the absolute best way that I can think of catching trout. Your jig does not even touch the water until the trout are spotted and you vertically drop your jig right on top of them. By watching the graph an experienced trout guide will tell the guest a couple of seconds BEFORE they get a bite that they are going to get a bite.
Trolling with a three way swivel, weight and Sutton Silver Spoons or Williams Woblers is a great way to catch trout especially if the wind is up making it hard to vertically catch trout.