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 Fishing Techniques

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

Hot weather, Hot fishing

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: June 28, 2009 - 9:59 PM
Wow, after a never ending string of below normal temperatures, summer has finally arrived with a punch.   Water surface  temperatures on many of the lakes I fish throughout the state have warmed to near mid-summer surface temps in a matter of days--and the fish activety has followed suit.  
This last week I found myself on 6 different bodies of water ( and the Mississippi) ranging from Central Minnesota up to the Canadian border and one thing was for sure--the water has warmed up nicely.  Summer fishing patterns are taking hold and making the constistent fishing patterns I rely on more apparent and lethal.  Largemouth Bass activety on the mid-range flats, lily pads, deep weed edges, bull rushes and the ultra shallow slop and cattails is in full swing-on just about any bait, but to keep it simple stick to a jig-worm on the edge, spinner baits on the flats, and scum frogs in the slop.  If all else fails, a jig and a minnow or leech is always a bass catcher.  Walleye fishing is also on cruise control.
Fish catching patterns such as utilizing mid-day shallows (7-11 ft deep) seem to be more solid than a few weeks ago.  Deeper mid-lake humps (some down to 49 ft) are also kicking out fish.  And dont forget the obvious weedline fish.  For the most part I have officially put the minnows away until Mid September and will concentrate on the basic night crawler no matter where I am.  How about Northerns?  Hmmm.
Yep-- the Northern Pike action has really been good,  Wow, what an under rated fish for catching and eating!  Any new cabbage bed near deep water will have hungry gators roaming around ready to take the bait.  The bait of choice-- a fire tail jig worm for the less agressive fish, rattle baits or spinner baits for the basic aggressive fish, and  who can resist a Husky jerk being twitched back to the boat half way down in 9 feet of water?  Plus a bonus bass as well.  The bigger the cabbage flat--the more fish there will be!    Now what--anyone have a salmon report from The Green Bay area?   I've got the yearly itch to run over to Door County and catch Kings and Smallmouth.  That's it for now, my week starts at 5:15 am on Monday, See Ya!!    

Fish outside the box--put more fish in the box.

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: June 8, 2009 - 4:38 PM
Wow, what an interesting  week last week turned out to be.  Seven days, 14 trips, 3 shore lunches,  8 different lakes and about 60 different anglers with as many different skill levels involved about sums it up.  Throw in the fact that the weather hasn't really been "fish friendly" lately because of the cold temps, high winds, cooler then warmer water temps, multiple there anything that didnt happen last week?  Well yes,  there was one thing that didnt happen--not one client was dissapointed with their catch!
As a fishing guide promising anything short of miracles creates stressful situations almost every day there isn't a solid fishing pattern established.  Thats what makes this time of the year the most challenging in my book.  Im not sure who started the whole "June is the best time to fish"  phrase-- but I think it should be deleted.  I will take July or August any day over June.  Oh well, it is what it is. One way to stay "in the black" is to constantly re-think the game plan throughout the fishing trip to avoid getting stuck in a non-productive rut which many anglers unknowingly do.  In other words, think of plan B and C while plan A is being used.  
    My goal when fishing so many different environments is to establish a pattern for each body of water in one hour or less (over a 4 hour trip) and then capitalize on my findings for the other 3 hours.  Some "tweeking" of the pattern will also take place during that time frame.  At times, finding a pattern  may take a little more time because of a few "false leads" that may happen during the search process, but generally a pattern will emerge.  I like to start my search for information by ignoring most of the information that is available or in other words ignore most of the fishing reports available. Figuring out the puzzle (on your own) from scratch is must easier than wrestling that constant echo of a fishing report in your head.  I hate to say it,  but the only good fishing report is your own.  The reason is because the majority of  fishing reports contain information that is outdated.  If it was published by someone at 10:30  p.m. and it happened yesterday, I would take it with a grain of salt. The report is old news.  So I disagree with the  great fishing in June theory  and Im advising anglers to basically ignore fishing reports--ouch. about not using GPS coordinates on maps to find good fishing spots?  I'm not even sure I know how to enter a map marked coordinate to "go to" a "spot".  Of the hundreds of coordinates I have, I found them all myself.  By the way,  my GPS is for sale for $50,000--just kidding, its worth more than that.  It's funny to sit on a lake for a day and watch the boats funnel through the map marked GPS spots and community holes.  Little does anyone know that before they arrived at their chosen fishing spot, 6 boats have already pounded it to death --kinda like Muskie fishing?--sorry guys.  Something to think about.  Personally, I like the marked spots because it keeps anglers busy and away from my "honey holes".  
Ok, heres the abrupt ending --like in a cheap movie, I've gotta go prep for another 7 days, 14 trips, 3 shore lunches, 8 lakes, and about 60 anglers, --Good luck, Capt. Josh

'Up North crappies' are ready

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: May 25, 2009 - 10:52 PM

Here's a cabin story for everyone.  After a couple of guide trips on Saturday (walleye/crappie trips) I joined the thousands of Memorial Day vacationers on the treck to "the cabin".  I was looking forward to seeing how things had progressed througout the last week as far as the crappie fishing in the Walker area where the cabin is located.  Why not walleye fishing on Leech or somewhere like that?  We'll,  trust me, I fish enough walleye during the week, so a good crappie bite is "good game" for me. At any rate, the hunt for shallow crappies would start Sunday around 10:30 am ( I like to sleep).
With the boat in the water and 56 degree water temps--(quite the improvement over the last trip which indicated 47 degree temps) the search was on.  No problem, I had a plan--look for big dead bull rush beds from last summer.  So I put on the Maui Jims  and started  "looking" at potential spots aroud the lake while cruising along with the bow mount trolling motor.  Within minutes crappies, nice bass,  and some bluegills were spotted soaking up the rays in 2-4 ft of clear cool water. I'll tell ya, it had to be last years bull rush beds on a small or large flat with a slow taper.  A narrow band of rushes plunging into 20 or 30 ft of water--no good.   Some of the best spots were within wading distance of shore.  Now that I had found them, what next?

Since the dead bull rushes were thick and the fish were dead smack in the middle of them (not even in the pockets) --casting anything was not an option--snag city.  It was time for good old  fashioned "dabbling".  In this case I used a 10' fly rod with a small spinning reel attached to it.  On the end of the 6 lb line was a 1/16 oz. white jig and a struggling crappie minnow.  I elected for the 1/16th vs. a 1/32 oz jig after having problems with the minnow swiming the jig into the weeds.  The areas were so tight that I had one chance to land the bait on the head of the fish or they would spook and swim away.  This was not kid friendly fishing--so I hooked the fish and the kids pulled them in!  Another factor was that the boat had to keep moving beacuse they minute I stopped to work a pod of fish they would scatter--probably because of the high sun and the shadows.  It was definetly a run and gun dabbling event.  
I am anticipating that in one week they will be less confined (they will) and be on the outer edges and not so "spooky".  If the journals I've kept over the years tell the story, than that will be the case.  Frankly, I'm waiting for 59-62 degree temps, than the crappies get really easy to catch--kid friendly in other words.  Of course if I would have been more prepared, I wouldn't have left the 20' "dabbling" pole in the garage--ouch!  Oh well, I made the fly rod work--I just had to reach a bit more. 

Good luck, Capt. Josh 

No glory!

Posted by: Josh Hagenmeister Updated: May 14, 2009 - 11:52 PM
I remember when I was younger-- scooping up as much fishing information as I could.  It was plentiful then--1984.  Videos, outdoor papers, cassette tapes, VHS, T.V. shows --it was an avalanche of information at the time.  The probelem was I soon realized that most of what I consumed did not apply to my fishing excursions.
Its true.. 80% of the fishing information that is gathered,  happens 20% of the time.  Why?--why not!  Walleyes in 4 ft of water on a hot July day?  Walleyes hitting hard over sunny skies?  Walleyes living under docks with bass?   Happens all the time.  That what helps make catching walleyes easy--there is a ton of room for error.   
Understanding that there is nothing to understand is the key to success.  Understanding that the fish are as predictable as your 13 year old is how it works.  There are no rules in fishing, if you can think of it--it will probably work sooner or later.  Why write this?  ?Hmm,   my advice is to think outside the box to put fish in the box..good luck, Capt. Josh


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