Fishing the Midwest

August 24, 2015 by  

Fishing season started early this year. The ice went out sooner than it had in several years, so we were able to get the boat on the water much earlier than in the past. Early season fishing always brings excitement and expectations. I’m always anxious to try new locations, new baits, and new presentations. This year I had several new places to go fishing and several new pieces of fishing gear to try. Following is a report on some of the new fishing stuff that I tried this year.

I took a trip to Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin early this year and had a few of a fairly new bait called a Paddle Shad. Northland Fishing Tackle makes them. The Paddle Shad is a minnow-appearing bait that is a member of the Impulse family of plastic baits. It looks good and it really caught smallmouth and walleye on Sturgeon Bay when the bite was tough. You can swim this bait or hop it quickly along the bottom. Keep in mind that almost always, plastic baits are best worked quickly.

RigRaps provide the most convenient storage for any rig that incorporates line.

RigRaps provide the most convenient storage for any rig that incorporates line.

Although plastic baits have become more and more popular, when the fish are reluctant to eat, live bait will work when nothing else will. However, live bait rigs and spinner rigs are a hassle to store. RigRaps eliminate that hassle. RigRaps are plastic containers that were designed to store any rig made from a length of line such as spinner rigs, live bait rigs, Drop-Shot or Carolina rigs, and they do an outstanding job of that. You can pre-tie an assortment of rigs and wrap them on a RigRap. When you break a rig off or want a different color or style of rig, you just unwrap the desired rig, tie it on, and resume fishing. For anyone who fishes rigs of any type, RigRaps are a must-have.

Look at the detail on this sonar unit. Those three marks in the middle of the screen are walleyes holding below a school of baitfish.

Look at the detail on this sonar unit. Those three marks in the middle of the screen are walleyes holding below a school of baitfish.

A friend convinced me to try a Raymarine sonar unit on my boat late last year. I knew that Raymarine was the go-to unit for deep water fishing in the ocean and such, and figured if they were good in those elements, they should be good for the deep water fishing we do in the Midwest. I was wrong: They weren’t good: They are outstanding. The detail is incredible. It is so good that I truly believe that you can see individual minnows in a school of bait when you get the unit tuned in properly, and tuning in isn’t difficult. Sonar has come so far in the past few years: Modern units reveal so much detail and are really quite easy to use once you become familiar with them. For a person like me, who resisted computers and digital cameras, and who still refuses dependency on a smartphone, for me to be able to embrace all that sonar units offer says something.

Mike Gottheardt with a Paddle Shad walleye from Sturgeon Bay.

Mike Gottheardt with a Paddle Shad walleye from Sturgeon Bay.

Last thing: Just like resisting computers, I resisted switching line types. I always liked monofilament and still do for some applications. However, I have realized that sometimes a braid works better than mono, and sometimes fluorocarbon works better. I’ve been using Sunline fluorocarbon a lot this year. It gets more bites I think, and it certainly is more sensitive than mono. There’s a new fluorocarbon out called Assassin that seems to be really good, but until I try it more, I’m reserving judgement.

It’s true with many things including fishing: The more we know, the more we learn. Make the commitment to yourself to try new things when you go fishing, and you’ll probably be more successful, and you’ll for sure know more about fishing and fishing stuff.

To see all the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, visit fishingthemidwest.com. If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.


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