Josh Hagemeister

Capt. Josh Hagemeister, who runs Minnesota Fishing Guide Service, has been a successful multi-species fishing guide throughout Minnesota for 20 years.

Posts about Equipment

River Crappies--Go with the flow!

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: November 19, 2009 - 10:47 AM
So Im walking around the yard the other day after another couple of days of deer hunting and Im looking at the boats that are crying to get on the water a few more times, I look at my watch, take a breath of 50 degree air and decide to go fishing.  What does a guy do on November 17th when its 50 degrees and the suns out?  I decided to head to the Mississippi and try some crappie fishing.  After a five minute trip down to the bait shop in St. Cloud to grab a couple of scoops of fatheads, I found myself  cruising down stream to fish crappies behind some pilings and ice breakers-usually decent spots for mid-river slabs--especially in the fall.
So i grab a 1/8 oz chartreuse/orange jig and tip it with a healthy sized fathead minnow and begin my search for a school of slabs.  After a few run- throughs with the sonar I spotted some on the bottom at 23 ft behind an old ice breaker.  The cool thing was that the fish were 35 yds back from the actual "visible" current break.  That told me that the fish had probably not been bothered by other anglers because of the fact that most river anglers that I have observed will fish directly behind/next to an object that breaks the current--not 30-40 yards down stream of the object.  The fact is that there is usually an underwater
"eddie" quite a distance back from most objects on or near the bottom of the river.  In the deeper water, there isusually not any visible  surface evidence that the bottom "eddie" exists.  The bottom "eddie" will create a pocket of "dead" water on the bottom.  These elusive pockets of water usually are full of fish that never see a bait.  So now what?
I started by "slipping" down stream with the trolling motor vertically jigging the bait and dragging it along the bottom.  At times I "hover" the boat when a bunch of fish are "marked".  When I exhaust that display of bait dragging out I switch to holding the boat steady and chunking the bait cross current through the school of fish--this will entice the fish that were not triggered by the simple "drag the bait dowstream" appproach.  After slipping the bait cross current from one direction I change  the boats location over to the other side of the school of fish and give them the old cross current trick form the other angle.  The more angles/directions you can deliver the bait to the same school of fish--the better.  This idea also applies directly to any open water fishing situation that is encountered throughout the summer--lake or river.
One more option to try before I go.  Just when the action starts to dwindle and I'm ready to find a new school of fish, I tip a jigging spoon (like a swedish pimple) with a minnow head and flutter it through the fish a few times.  Usually I can score a couple of bonus fish before I head out.  Speaking of heading out, If I leave now I can be catching more crappies in about 45 minutes, See ya and good luck.   Capt. Josh

Are Red Tails An Over Rated Fall Bait?...Yes!

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: September 22, 2009 - 2:56 PM

Im putting my head on the chopping block--that is if you're into fishing the almighty Redtail minnow.  It is amazing to me how many anglers rely and depend on Redtails as a staple bait to catch walleye--summer or fall. Even many fishing guides I know are addicted to the redtail curse.  The curse is the $12 per dozen minnows.  I did a little math the other day and if my boat used just one redtail per walleye all summer and fall my bait bill would easily run into the $6,000 range--ouch!!.  That doesn't even include the minnows that die, fall prey to other fish, or missed hook sets by numerous clients.  So what do I do?--I utilize the almighty night crawler.  
I depend on thousands of devoted night crawlers to catch walleye from May through October with water temps as low as 39 degrees.  They are cheap, durable and catch everything--they are my best employees.  Crawlers work in 3 ft of water or 60ft of water, clear or murky, sunny or cloudy --and they are also much easier to transport from lake to lake--especially now that live wells must be empty when on the road.  Who wants to dump $30 worth of minnows in the grass every day--not me!   The crawlers simply go back into the fridge after each day--not wasted.  If I do decide to bring a few minnows for a boat ride I will use the Rainbow Chub or a good mix of river run bait.  They are just as lively (and almost as big) as the redtails--and 1/2 the price.  It should be a simple decision to rely on crawlers more than redtails, but boy do I get into some heated conversations with the redtail society  (anglers that swear by them) about fishing with crawlers vs. redtails.  Its almost like Green Bay vs. Minnesota.   I dont think I will ever win the 20 yr old sales pitch about redtails and walleyes.  When your buddies are not looking, try a crawler, you will be amazed, besides--whats in your wallet?   Good Luck, Capt. Josh

September Fishing Is King!

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: September 4, 2009 - 12:17 PM
Wow, its been a while since I had time to blog anything--but that's a good thing because that means I've been fishing.  The summer has been a great summer of fishing all over the state--many good catches and big fish too!   With Labor Day about under the bridge, Septemeber fishing is here!.  
I just finished a booking a trip with a client from Missouri and we were talking about how over the years September has become just as busy for guided fishing trips as June, July, and August.  She was surprised to hear that.  I began to explain that the weather is about perfect and predictable (unlike May or June), its not overly hot and humid (unlike July or August) and the fish are well into the Fall pattern "feeding mode" which actually begins (in my opinion) in mid to late August.  Not ot mention, the fish are already on the feed bag for winter--maybe not so much the real big fish (October is for the big fish), but the numbers of fun to catch eater size that ultimately anglers pay to catch are hungry.  Oh yeh, did I mention no boat traffic ( and less fishing pressure) giving added tranquility to entire experince of a guided fishing trip? -- I just did.  How about lodging advantages?  That's another good reason for a September fishing trip.
   Reduced lodging rates and time requirements also help make September a good time of year to plan a last minute fishing trip.  Short term lodging can be much easier arrange than it is in July.  After Labor day, many resorts will no longer require a full week commitment in order for you to stay in a cabin or room. That translates into many of the resorts loosening the rules a bit and allowing  the one or two night group --which makes it easier for anglers to plan a last minute fishing trip.  What's also nice is the fact that most resorts will consider lodging "off peak" after Labor Day thus charging lower rates per night.  That equals for extra cash for fun stuff like new tackle or steak on the grill instead of a burger.  And what about the fishing?  
I almost forgot the obvious--the great fishing.  The fish are already in "Fall" mode making it generally easier to catch.  Bass, Walleye, Northern--all of them are starting to fatten up for winter--abd this year it is obvious.  Just yesterday I commented on how "fat" the fish were for their length--already.  Whatever the reason, the fish are eager to feed making for some real memorable fishing trips.  So dont delay, --Go Fish!  See ya one the water and have a good weekend.  Capt. Josh

Gulp!...Swallow This.

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: July 19, 2009 - 11:47 AM
I believe in giving everything a fair chance--especially when it involves fishing strategy.  I've been around long enough to sample and test various scented baits or spray applications throughout the years with varying success.  Fish Formula, Chummin' Rub, Berkely Strike and of course Power Bait to name a few.  Now there is Gulp!.  I've messed with it for 2-3 yrs and I am (as of now)  I am not convinced that is it as good as live bait--false advertising?  
I have done six controlled "in the field" tests using Gulp! vs. live bait this season and it has failed to produce fish to an alarming degree.  I am not saying it may not work for you, it's obvious it works at certain times, but I thought I would share my experiences with Gulp! so you can make your own decisions.  Here is a summary of what I found:
1.  April 2009, surface temperature  57-62 degrees,  slightly over cast, stable conditions, catching crappies like crazy on minnows under a bobber and retrieving the bait.  After an hour or so of catching all sizes of crappies using a variety of techniques it was a perfect time to test some Gulp!.  I put a Gulp! minnow on a jig and tried various retrieves and depths--not a bite in 10 minutes.  Then I tried it under a bobber and twitched it towards the boat (looked good to me) not a bite in another 10 minutes.  This all being done while the others continued to catch fish on live bait.
2.  May 2009, s.t. 66-69 degrees, sunny day, stable conditions, catching bluegill in the shallows on wax worms and cut up leeches.  The fish were very agressive-- to the point where catching a limit of fish took just minutes for 2 anglers.  Great, I figured another chance to test Gulp!.  Sunfish this aggressive should eat anything--wrong, not Gulp!.   I again was the volunteer to put some Gulp!  on my hook.  I tried the same size pieces so that it would match the live bait that I was using.  I even matched the color of the chunks. When the fish approached the bait, they would simply look at it for a second then swim away--just like stubborn fish under the ice.  Wow, what a shock, These sunfish even were caught using basic Power Bait grubs and generic tube jigs.  I am starting to doubt the "out fishes live bait" advertisment at this point.
3.  Early June 2009, s.t. 66 degrees, sunny stable day, catching 14"-17" walleye in 42-49 ft of water, a big school of fish.  Three of us had been catching walleye on live bait rigs and jigs tipped with minnows, leeches, or 1/2 of a night crawler.  All three presentations had the fish reacting the same--decent bite and easy to catch.  So once again I figured why wouldn't a school of aggressive walleye that deep pass up a Gulp! bait that looked the same as the live bait we were using?  Should be a slam dunk--wrong again.  We all tried the Gulp! on a jig, live bait rig, and a bottom boucer to be safe, after 20 minutes--not one bite!  The second the live bait was put back on the hooks--fish in the box.  
4.  Mid June 2009, s.t. 70 degrees, cloudy day, catching largemouth bass in the shallow bull rushes  (2-4 ft) using artificials.  The bait of choice was a 7" black Power Bait worm rigged Texas stlye.  Tube jigs were also working well.  Three of us had been catching fish at a rate of one every 3-4 minutes for about an hour.  This is my Gulp! vs. artificial test.  So once again I put on a Gulp! worm.  After 15-20 minutes not one fish.  I was last in line in the casting order so I gave the bait the angler fishing first water.  15 minutes later, not one fish, heck not even a bite!  
5.  Late June 2009 s.t. 72 degrees, partly cloudy, stable conditions.  Catching walleye, largemouth, northern, crappie, perch, rockbass,--( basically everything) trolling 3/4 ounce bottom bouncers and spinners tipped with crawlers over 7-9 ft cabbage flats.  Between four anglers a fish of some kind was caught every 2-3 minutes for hours--it was a hot bite!  So once again I put on the appropriate Gulp! bait.  I was fishing first water (back trolling) for 15 minutes.  Thats all I could take.  I did even get a bite from a rock bass or perch and in the mean time my clients are bring in all kinds of fish hand over fist.  Are you convinced yet?
6.  July 18, 2009 s.t. 68 degrees (was 72 but cooled a bite), frontal conditions, cloudy, breezy, decent bite over all.  Walleye fishig in 22-38 ft of water using bottom boucers and crawlers.  Fish have been going nuts all week with limits of nice walleye in 2 -3 hours for groups of 3-5 guests.  Slowed a little yesterday but still had limits within 2 1/2 hours for 4 anglers.  Take a guess--I tried the Gulp! on various schools of fish at different depths, speeds, colors, --all the basics and not a bite!  I have Gulp! for sale at 1/2 price if you want it, LOL.  Good Luck this summer, Capt. Josh

I just realized I'm just about out of prep time for the 2009 Minnesota fishing opener

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: April 29, 2009 - 1:01 PM
Once again --no matter how much I try,  I am running out of the time needed to prepare all of the gear needed for another season of guiding anglers to successful fishing trips.  Why? That's easy--  if I have the choice, I 'm going crappie catching and delay the walleye tackle prep time for tomorrow  or the next day or the next day....I'm guilty.  Although the panfish gear has been set up for nearly a month,  now it's time to concentrate on the dozens of rods and reels that are used by myself and my guests throughout the open water season. 
First it's the 10,000 yards of new fishing line that will be removed from the reels by my 12 year old son and put back on by me.  Then I suppose some of the reels will need some TLC or retired after 2-3 years of loyal service.  I also will be sifting through  the rods and checking each and every line guide for damage that could ruin your line.  Line, reels, rods, oh yeh-- the boat checklist is next.
My boat checklist has about 50 items on it ranging from electrical suplies to a current fire extinguisher.  Obvious items like life jackets, extra rope, flares, and a medical kit are also on the list.  Lets put it this way--Hardware Hank calls me for parts.  Included also is basic check -up of all boat's components wether the boat is new or not.  These may include fuses, wiring, motor fluids, linkage, battery and a look at the trailer as well,  Trailer hubs need to be greased, winch strapes need to be replaced, tires inspected for damage, maybe a roller or two is geting worn out--who knows, it all has to be looked at.  Treat your checklist like a pre-flight checklist.  Hmm, now what?  Perhaps the most overlooked by anglers --the tow vehicle!
Thats right, it doesn't matter how prepared the boat is or if the other gear is ready to go  if it cannot be pulled to the lake.  New tires, brakes, a tune -up, and a complete fluid change are needed to have a trouble free and safe summer of trailering the boat all over the state to anxiously awaiting clients.  All this just to go fishing?  Yes, that's just a small part of the hidden benefit of hiring a fishing guide.  Dont wait--get the gear ready now!  Good luck, Capt. Josh


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