Author Archives: Packerland

Froggit for Panfish

IMG_2655The froggit is a lethal lure for panfish. I like to set the froggit up on a bobber. I tip the lure with twister tails or froggit tails. I am always keeping the lure moving to keep the tails twisting.

The froggit has been getting more fish in my boat this spring/summer! The froggit quality is out standing, Snyder’s use the best products to make this outstanding lure!

Myles Longfellow

Hunting for big Spring Crappie

Hunting for big Spring Crappie
By Brian Koshenina

BrianIf you’re like me you can’t wait for opener. This is just simply “the best time of year”, But what to do in the mean time? There’s open water, the suns out, the lakes are slowly warming and you are all ready to go? Personally, I like catching big Crappie and here’s how I do it…..

First of all, not every lake in your area has a healthy population of Crappie let alone big Crappie. I suggest you do your homework first before you head out. I have a lake that is fairly close to me that has been producing larger size Crappie year after year and you will often find me there come spring. If you are not as fortunate as I, the first place I would head is your local bait shop. They hear where Crappie are biting every day and they often over hear stories of big Crappie caught. You can always stop in or give them a call, they’re always glad to help. If you want even more information, your state wildlife agency should have information that can be useful. I use the Minnesota DNR “Lake finder”. You can get information on just about any lake in your state. From lake maps, fish populations, lake access to gill net numbers, it’s on the site.  They have recently come out with a mobile app for your phone that allows you to get the same information from the site, anywhere, as long as you have a good signal. This comes in very handy.

Once you have picked out the lake it’s time to be efficient. You need to eliminate the areas of the lake you know won’t hold fish this time of year. Crappies seek warm water in the spring to spawn, so look for the section of the lake that gets the most sun. Bays, shallow humps, shallow flats with structure and anywhere you find shallow water next to drop offs. This will eliminate about half of the lake. Watch for temperature changes on your electronics and also pay attention to structure variations in shallow water. A couple of seasons ago I was having a hard time finding a good spot that held Crappie. I was watching my Humminbird and noticed a depression from 4 feet to 6 feet back to 4ft, surrounded by cabage on a big shallow flat. I marked this spot and waited a few minutes, just encase they were spooky. On my first cast I landed a 17” and after several cast had a limit of Crappie in no time. What this taught me was that, any variation on the bottom, any standing structure, or areas between weeds were spots to target in shallow water.

Boat control is critical in the spring. Most Crappie will be schooled up in small areas so you need to be as stealthy as possible. I usually set my trolling motor no further than 2 on the foot control. I literally “Creep” up to my marked spots often circling them as I cast. I recommend that you stay at least twenty feet away and make long cast to your spot. Keeping your distance will allow them to stay in a school rather than have them scatter and become less likely to bite.

 

 

I go against the rule of using long, light weight rods when I fish for Crappies. I use a medium 7 foot rod with a fast tip. I know it gets intense when you catch a large Crappie on a light weight rod but in the spring but larger fish bite also. When I am slow trolling, searching for Crappies, I will often catch very large Bass and I do not need to snap a light weight rod fighting a 6 pound Large Mouth. I also go against the grain and use 6 pound mono. I know about the sensitivity factor, light weight rod and line equals more sensitivity and more fish caught but I’m not after the small ones. When I catch large Crappie, I often find that they hit the presentation with authority and not with a light pull. This is when you need to count on your rod and line and there is no room for a chance of losing a potential trophy to a rod snap or a line break.

My lure selection is simple. I use a Snyder’s Lures “Crappie Spinner” or a “Froggit” usually works best tipped with either a Berkley Gulp 3” Black shad or a 1.5” Mister Twister. I use the Gulp when they are “Up Biting” and a Mister twister when they are chasing the lure. Throwing a small split shot on your line helps get the bait to them faster and makes it less likely that a Blue Gill will bite it first. The presentation I use is what I call “Aggressive” bobber fishing. It sounds “Old Fashioned” but it works! I cast out to the desired spot where I know the Crappie’s are holding. If I do not get a bite within 5-7 seconds I reel in and cast out again. Most of the time you are casting into shallow water(Less than 10 feet) so the action can be fast and furious. Using plastics saves time when you fish this way. There is no time to waste losing bait off your hook. You can catch multiple fish on one plastic which keeps you casting when you’re on a hot bite.

 

Take advantage of the time you have before the fishing opener and use these tips. It can make your spring Crappie fishing more successful and the spring much more enjoyable.

One day in a little bait shop

One day in a little bait shop, I found a jar full of little baits I’d never seen before (doesn’t happen often). I ended up purchasing a few, and they turned out to be Snyder’s crappie spinners. Little did I know they would become my go to lure for fishing with minnows for crappies, perch, and walleyes. Whether it’s summer or winter, under a bobber or tipdown, these have produced fish. I’m not sponsored or pro staff or endorsed. I’m just a fisherman that likes to catch fish! My buddies ask what my secret is, and I show them, next trip, they have some of their own. Keep up the great work Snyder’s Lures!

Ice Bluegills Deep

Ice Bluegills Deep
By: Dave Duwe

Deep blue gills 2After first ice, the bluegills will migrate from the shallow water of early season ice and suspend over the main lake basin. The best time to catch deepwater bluegills is usually late January through February.

I consider deepwater any water depth over 15 feet of water. Deep water bluegills are roaming and don’t concentrate in any area for a long period of time. When they move they are usually in small schools of 5 or 6 fish. I will always catch the upper fish in the school first not to spook the fish that are lower in the water column. I find that the upper fish in the water column seem to bite better the fish that remain tight to the bottom. The greatest asset to the deepwater gill bite is a fish locator; my choice is a Vexilar FL-12.

The equipment needed is a medium action jigging rod with ultra-light spinning reel spooled the 1 or 2lb test monofilament line. The most important part of the rod and reel combo is a sensitive spring bobber. Frabill’s tungsten spring bobber is a great choice. The better the spring bobber the easier the angler can detect the shy biters.

I will use two approaches for the deepwater bluegills. My favorite is a double jig dropper rig and for the real shy biters a small ice jig without a sinker using light line. The double jig dropper rig is a simple rig; it’s putting two jigs on one line. I tie a flying gold ant approximately 10 inches to a foot above a waxie rig made by Synders Lure’s. To attach the ant I will tie it on the line using a Palomar knot leaving the tag end about a foot long to tie on the waxie rig. The ant works best if it hangs horizontal, also making it easy to detect on the Vexilar. By using the two jig rig, it allows the angler to add extra weight to the line getting the lures into the strike zone faster. The two jigs allow you two opportunities to get bit. Using a sinker also works; however, it doesn’t give you two chances for a bluegill. I will always use two different baits on the double jig rig. The flying ant will get a waxworm or wiggler, the waxie rig gets one or two spikes. This gives you a subtle presentation. Getting a small jig down to 20-30 feet of water can take some time but some days that is the only way to get bit. Patience and fresh line is the only way that it can work. I bait the jig with two spikes which can help you pick the jig up on the fish locator.

This year I have been catching most of my bluegills on Turtle Lake and Pleasant Lake in Walworth County and Little Cedar in Washington County all lakes are in Southern Wisconsin.

Deep blue gills

The lake determines the depth I will start fishing. I usually start deep 30 to 32 feet of water searching for fish. If I can’t locate them I will move shallower, I will seldom go any shallower then 20 feet of water. A lot of times you will need to fish an area before ruling out that there are no fish. Sometimes the fish are so tight to the bottom you can’t pick them up on the locator. A lot of time you send a jig down the hole and the fish will fly off the bottom coming up 10 or 15 feet to inhale the falling jig. The deep water bluegills bite will last through February and this year most likely into March. The deepwater bluegills have a tendency to be a larger size then there shallow water counter parts. Ice depths can vary and ice heaves can create a dangerous situation, so be careful venturing out in the main lake basin.

Take a Kid Fishing, Ice Fishing that Is

Take a Kid Fishing, Ice Fishing that Is
By: David Duwe

Kids FishingWith the internet it has been almost impossible to get any kids to play outside or enjoy the outdoors. Most kids are always “plugged in” to their phones or computers. This is a big factor in the decline of the fishing industry as a whole. Given that fact I take every opportunity to introduce someone to the sport I love and make my livelihood at, teaching people how to fish is my small way to pay it forward. Taking first timer’s ice fishing is a little trickier: weather, deep snow and quite frankly the fish don’t usually bite as well as they do in the summer months. With all that you need to really plan for the trip out on the ice. Safety is paramount so safe ice is the number one requirement after that, factor in the best way to stay warm and comfortable.

040Recently my son Nate and I had the opportunity to tag along with Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Diane as they took several of their grandkids out ice fishing for the first time. The day we chose was carefully selected and the temperature was in the upper 30’s, I believe anything below 30 degrees means a very short trip. Nothing worse than getting all set-up and having someone want to go home.

We chose a couple of lakes (ponds) with a close proximity to the access point and home just in case. The small lakes had an ample supply of small bluegills and largemouth bass. It takes a little extra time but if you can it is always good to pre-fish the area before the children arrive. When taking first timers out ice fishing, I like working water depths of less than ten feet.

With the location chosen it was time for the hole drilling. A lot of holes!! After the holes were opened it was like an Easter egg hunt seeing who could skim out the most holes. This was not Grandpas first go around there were ice skimmers for all the children. Not only were they used to skim ice, they were used as hockey sticks, snowball launchers, and a hat. Before we even caught a fish all the kids were having the times of their lives. Keeping kids busy always makes time on the ice enjoyable.

007Being a fishing guide for over twenty years I know that keeping it simple adds for more success and less aggravation for everyone, ice fishing is no exception. For panfishing, I like to use quality non-expensive jig poles. Being in shallow water a reel is not needed. As a rule when I am jig fishing I will use 2lb line or smaller, however when novice anglers are involved I will go a bit larger diameter to 4lb test. The jigs I prefer are from Snyder Lures (snydercompany@citlink.net); I really love the Ladybug Button in a dark color. It’s slightly larger hook is easier for small hands to deal with. The tip-ups we used were the Arctic Fisherman- Beaver Dam, the sturdy construction and smooth spindle can take the abuse an inexperienced fisherman can give them. The baits of choice were medium golden shiners and waxworms. Smaller shiners can catch any sized fish that swims in the lake we were fishing. A good rule of thumb is placing your baits about a foot off bottom.

If available a good fish locator will bring the children back to the technology age. I had my Vexilar FL-12 along, which added some extra entertainment. It also gives you a better indication of where the fish are in the water column. The day we were fishing the bite was on!! As many two to three inch bluegills as you wanted. It didn’t matter; some of the kids had never caught a fish through the ice. Remember they still had the ice skimmers to play with so there were plenty of laughs.

As mentioned earlier safety has to be the top priority followed by snacks and drinks. When my son was little it was not uncommon for me to have five pair of extra gloves, socks and more warm clothes. When you are cold you will not have fun. That is a fact for any outdoor activity.

At the end of the day, everyone caught fish and no one had frost bite. And fun was had by all!!

Take a Kid Ice Fishing you won’t regret it and pay it forward to the future of the sport.

ALWAYS THINKING AHEAD

ALWAYS THINKING AHEAD
BY TOM GRUENWALD

The excitement was mounting.

A good friend called several times last summer, acknowledging the fishery on Devils Lake, North Dakota was not only booming, but the fish were biting, too.

“You need to get out here this winter,” he insisted. “You don’t want to miss this!”

Enough said. Plans were quickly set for January—only problem was, once January arrived, things took a turn for the worst. Reports were mid-winter activity had slowed. It was even suggested I cancel and visit another time.

However, the primary reason for this trip was to film an episode of TGO, Tom Gruenwald Outdoors with Devils Lake guide Bob Kinkaid. Working out of Ackermann Acres Resort on East Bay, Bob had rigged one of the resort’s Sno-Bears with an underwater camera system, ingeniously positioned the lens to cover his guest’s holes, and wired it up so the captured image would project not only on his personal monitor, but two 22” flat screens mounted to the wall in front of his guests. I wanted to show this innovative system to our viewers and demonstrate the value of underwater camera systems, and what better way than during a tough North Dakota bite?

Game on!

SIDEBAR: UNDERWATER CAMERA SYSTEMS

Underwater camera systems have become increasingly popular over the past decade or so—and for good reason. They’re not complicated, plus provide an invaluable entertainment dimension by essentially offering a high powered, exciting sight fishing experience.

Systems are comprised of a waterproof lens lowered into the water on a cable, with the resulting image projected on a monitor where anglers can view their lures, watching how they respond to various movements. Even more importantly, anglers can see and identify incoming fish, observe the types of cover they’re relating to and how fish react to various presentations, then make adjustments accordingly to increase success.

There are limitations, of course, based on water clarity and light conditions that must be considered. But when the situation is favorable, underwater camera systems offer a fun, significant advantage you might want to explore!

It didn’t take long to learn we’d have to work for our fish. Bob put us on them, but generating responses to our presentations was an entirely different matter. As with any challenging situation, we needed to be open-minded, versatile and creative. Fortunately, the underwater camera allowed ample opportunity to see exactly how our lures were responding to each imparted movement, then observe how fish reacted to even the slightest motion, enabling us to refine our presentations down to specific ones attracting–and more importantly, triggering–them into striking. Plus, by watching fish as they took the bait, we were able to better time our hook sets, too.

Since we were primarily targeting perch and walleye, we tried a number of traditional go-to ice lures for these species: Smaller sized Jigging Rapalas, Lindy Flyers, Hot Bite’s First Strike Minnows, Jig-A-Whopper Hawger Spoons, JB’s Jig Eyes and Weasels, HT Marmooska Jigs…tipping each with everything from small minnows and minnow heads to wax worms, spikes, plastics—you name it. We caught fish, but it became readily apparent we needed to try something different if we wanted consistency, so then the real experimentation began.

First, I switched to a thinner, less visible line, and tying on a tiny barrel swivel, added an even lighter leader. I downsized and tinkered with different colors within my repertoire of favorite lures. Still, it was using different models–preferably ones the fish hadn’t likely seen before—that turned out to consistently trump all other variables. Also critical was that the lure be heavy enough to maintain continuous control, yet provide a desirable blend of subtle fish attracting qualities that could be summoned with minimal motion. Anything too fast or flashy was simply spooking most of the fish we encountered.

After significant experimentation, particularly good results came courtesy of three lures meeting these criteria: HT’s Marmooska Dancer, a very controllable, non-twist, low-profile, bullet shaped tungsten design with a distinctly minute dancing action; Lindy’s 360 jig, essentially a larger, more colorful version of HT’s Dancer; and Snyder Lures’ size 10 Big Shaker Spoon, a versatile little bait featuring two nested, hammered blades of contrasting colors combined with two pairs of tiny flippers attached via split rings at the top and bottom. These relatively small-profile baits were all heavy enough to drop down efficiently, and with just a hint of movement, provided an outstanding balance of subtle fish-attracting motion, flash and vibration.

HT’s Marmooska Tungsten Dancer, being of small stature, was great for perch, and the 360 teased its share of fish, too–but the Snyder Big Shaker spoon proved the most effective multi-species bait: I caught perch, walleye and pike with equal efficiency.
Why? Versatility!

I found the Big Shaker could be dropped quickly and worked relatively aggressively, causing the blades and flippers to project significant flash and throw erratic vibrations, creating a ruckus drawing vicious strikes from pike–yet at the same time, when targeting fussier perch and walleyes, I could drop quickly to the upper edge of the strike zone, then flash it teasingly to generate some attention before working it S-L-O-W-L-Y down to the desired level.

Better yet, whenever inquisitive fish appeared, I could make the lure sit nearly still. The slightest breath of movement made the flipper blades twinkle with a hint of captivating, subtle sparkle. I found continuing this movement while almost imperceptibly lowering the lure downward would capture the fish’s attention just enough to cause even the fussiest ones to follow.

Then, the best discovery of all: I learned the decisive key to this system was working the bottom, using it as a triggering point–and for this, the Shaker Spoon performed flawlessly! A semi-active jigging motion brought fish in, the gradual, twitching fall engaged them, and my ability to slowly lower the bait to bottom while gently twitching its tiny fins often held the fish’s attention just enough so they’d turn and follow.

Most importantly, I could create enough commotion after the lure struck bottom to tempt them into committing, and ultimately, coax them into taking the bait.

Needless to say, I was impressed with the Big Shaker’s versatility, to the point where I was able to build an entire strategy around it, so asked Gary Snyder, the face behind the design, how he came up with the concept.

“I thought you’d be intrigued,” he laughed. “I guess I’m always thinking, trying to take an abstract thought and develop it into something special. That’s what happened with the Big Shaker, really. I was tinkering with the idea of designing a lure that would offer subtle fluttering movements and flash within the bait itself. The double sets of flicker fins accomplished that. Yet at the same time, I wanted this lure to offer the capability of generating substantial noise to draw fish in—all while retaining the ability to slow down and shift into a decisively subdued action, without changing baits.”

The solution was Gary’s development of a separated, double-bladed body with a hammered finish that captures light, glares brilliantly and clacks loudly when worked aggressively—while a gentle, light shaking action activates the flicker fins only, causing them to glisten softly and rattle delicately.

“In the end, the combination of hammered, nested blades tipped with tiny flicker fin sets provided just the right balance of qualities I was searching for,” Gary revealed.

He produced and assembled all the parts, then ran the concept past a few close friends. “Seeing prototypes for the first time, they teasingly called it the parts lure,” Snyder joked.

But for me, this development is no laughing matter. I’ve found the Big Shaker offers enough weight to provide a solid sense of feel, yet remains exceptionally well-balanced and provides just the right combination of potential movements to tempt fish in varying moods.
I shared this thought with Gary.

“True enough,” he responded. “This bait was designed for go, not show, and dressed for catching fish, not fishermen. In short, I wanted to produce a versatile lure that incorporated the ability to be pounded actively for aggressive fish, yet easily worked gingerly for passive ones, too…and the Big Shaker, uniquely, fully accomplished that mission! To the best of my knowledge, there isn’t anything else out there quite like it.”

I’d have to agree, there isn’t. Plus, the new size and color additions Gary has planned for next year will only add to this versatility, making it possible to cover an even wider variety of potential applications—and in turn, catch more fish, regardless of how tough the bite may be.

Yet none of this surprises me. After all, it’s stemming from an entrepreneurial fishing lure purist whose masterful conceptions have heavily influenced my thinking, productivity and versatility—a powerful combination that throughout the years has heightened my ability to explore new approaches and pioneer some highly innovative strategies.

And all thanks to Gary Snyder, who without a doubt, is always thinking ahead!