I like to fish for a variety of reasons and frankly for me fishing has turned more into a sickness or disease. If I dont fish for even 3 or 4 days for some reason, I simply start to get grouchy. Is there a prescription for that? I've tried to question myself and wonder why I get that way, and Im not sure why. I wonder what a shrink would say? For $100 he/she would probably say go fishing and call me in the morning. After intense (not really) contemplation, I have actually narrowed the reasons I like to fish down to three. Take a deep breath--here they are.
The anticipation. You know that feeling you get the night before the fishing opener, deer hunting opener, duck opener, your drivers test, or whatever it may be?--Thats how I feel before every trip. It drives me crazy, even though I may have multiple patterns nailed to the wall, been on the water every day for weeks, and the fish are coming in easy, there is still the anticipation of what may actually happen. Enough said. Another reason?--yep.
The Challenge. Just like in any sport (actually I think fishing has more invisible factors) there are uncontrollable/invisible factors that create a challenging environment. The challenge of the game. The challenge of not knowing and trying to figure out a non-human opponent. The challenge of trying to figure out the under water the angler cannot see. The challenge of beating the clock. The challenge (when guiding) of helping others succeed. The challenges are endless. Especially in walleye fishing where everything is usally a non-visual event, --deep water fishing type of stuff. Thats where the electronics come in. Sorry bass anglers, but most of your factors are visible in my opinion making it much easiers MOST of the time. Exception--suspended bass, deep weed edge bass, island hoppers, and even "pit" bass, oh yeh--reef bass. Alright I guess there are more non-visuals than I forst thought--forget that. Really, fishing is like a chess match, brain power, ambition, and a time clock. The challenge also comes when simply picking a playing field (lake/river), the right equipment (rods/bait/etc) , the game plan (options and plan of attack), adjusting what you really need/want to do to fit the others abilities in the boat--and still catch fish, wow--it's endless. Simply, I like all of the challanges involved. Reason number three.
The reward(s). Thats the obvious factor in my boat (no pun intended). The big fish, the numbers, the feel of the fight, the smile and thrill seeing others catch their big fish or first fish. The thrill of the reward is the same for me as it was when I was 4 yrs old. Even after all of that I still need more! I am thinking on naming the boat "reel addiction" , --although I believe that belongs to a boat out of Baileys Harbor, WI. Maybe I will simply call it "My 3 reasons", So have fun, good luck fishing, and feel free to post any info and hot fishing tips on my Minnesota Fishing Guide Service Facebook page www.facebook.com, I would supply a direct link, (a basic facebook search works) but Im not that good on these things, If this was a Lorance or Hummingbird
"lap top" I could..LOL, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com
It happened again this week, I had to turn down another fishing trip because I was already booked the first week in August. How does an angler avoid that situation? What's the best way to plan a guided fishing trip? There are alot of factors, but the number one factor is to plan early so you dont miss the boat!
Calling to book a fishing trip with a fishing guide should be done as soon as you have decided that you are going to need a guide or want to try one. Never take for granted that the guide will be available. A good guide will be booked months and in some cases a year in advance for certain weeks during the summer. As a rule of thumb, June July, August and September always get booked first. And of those months,-- believe it or not, Saturday can be the slowest day of the week due to resorts using that day as "turn-over" day. I would say the most requested days for fishing trips are are actually week days because of the lodging schedules most resorts carry. If I had to narrow it down further, monday and tuesday are highly requested days because anglers want to learn some "tips" they can use the rest of the week on their own time--it's a smart move if your new to a lake or resort! So my advice is if you want to fish on a tuesday, call ahead sooner than you think! How soon is soon?
I always recommend 2-3 months in advance --especially if your window of fishing time is narrow. A good example is you are sent on a business trip somewhere and you have the afternoon off and you think you might want to go fishing for a half day. Another reason is that you are having a family reunion at a resort and you want to hire the boat for the entire day so everyone can get for a little bit. On the other hand, if you have a larger window of opportunity (a week long family vacation at a resort) its probably a little less crucial. But again, if you want to hire a guide to get you on fish the first day of your stay--so you can have a good week of fishing in your own boat, then I would say call 2-3 months in advance. I knew last November I was going to Key West on a trip in Early March, so the minute I booked the flight, the next most important thing I did was book a chartered fishing trip. Loding was last on my list, LOL.
The busiest month for a good guide is all of them, many clients are surprised that they cant get a trip booked on a tuesday in October, a monday in May, or a thursday afternoon in July because the guide is already booked from the previous year. Here's a way to look at it. I take out 600 anglers fishing one summer and they all have fun. And suppose 80% are able to go again next year and book when they get home or at the dock when the trip is done, that doesn't leave many openings for new clients--atleast for my personal boat.
Well thats my short story on calling ahead to get a fishing trip arranged. Sorry for the abrupt ending (again like a bad movie) but I m going ice fishing for the last time today. I think I hear the trumpets in the back ground. Today is definetly a bitter sweet day, the last day of the 2009/10 ice fishig seaon but the beginning of the 2010/2011 season--and the boats are ready! Good luck and have fun--rule #1--have fun! www.minnesotaguideservice.com
The rule for panfish this winter--atleast for me and my clients, has been to fish shallower than "normal". Meaning those deep holes ( 30-40 ft) that usually produce nice quantities of nice panfish did not produce on most of my "go to" lakes. However, the shallow bite (5-15ft) never really died off like it tends to towards mid winter.
Ultra green weeds might have had something to do with it. Along with a delay in the cold fall weather I think postponed many panfish movements up to 45 days. And because our winter is so short (yes, I said short) I dont think the "normal" patterns that most anglers rely on to catch fish through the ice really kicked into full gear this season resulting in poor fishing reports. I personally think catching deep panfish is more fun for some reason (longer fight?) verses the shallow bite (set the hook and the fish flies out the hole) . Regardless of what I like, I definetely found more active 'gills in the shallows all winter long. I kept wondering if it would ever end, and here we are--it didn't end-- as a matter of fact, the fish are now expected to be found where I have been catching them all winter long. Hmmmm. that's fishing for ya. I didn't really change tactics either.
My standard "searching" approach includes the smallest "Genz bug" tied horizontally in either glow white or chartreuse, tipped with a waxie or two or three "spikes" of different colors. Remember, keep the bait small--even a big 'gill has a mouth the size of a Cherrio. The bait is tied to 3 lb test clear ice line and presented with a nice long sensitive rod so I can feel and see the bites at the tip without using a bobber or a spring bobber. Why 3 lb test? -- I like to compromise between 2 lb. and 4 lb. Armed with some sonar, find a good area --maybe the top edge of a big weed flat near deep water, drill 10-15 holes based on what is found shooting the sonar through the ice (do not drill holes first) and work the bait however the fish like it. Could be fast twitching, slow dragging, simply fluttering the bait from the surface down to the bottom, or maybe from the bottom to the surface (just under the ice). The sonar will show you how the fish react and cause you to react accordingly. What I'm trying to say is--do not simply drill a hole by a bunch of other anglers or fish houses, drop down a hook and bobber and expect to catch fish--doesn't usually work. A few more weeks will change that!
In about 2-3 more weeks--when the fish are getting schooled up just outside potential open water feeding/spawning areas, ( remember where you caught them last spring in the boat?--yeh, just outside those areas) it is possible to walk out to a bunch of anglers, find a hole that is not frozen at any time of the day, drop down just about anything and catch a pail of fish. Average depths for this kind of activety is the 4-10 ft. range where there is new weed growth combined with some old dead weeds. When the water is running down the holes because of inproved sun light and warm air temps--thats the time frame Im talking about. Dont forget to try just below the surface of the ice, they are there as well. The other thing--be carefull, dark ice is not safe--actually no ice is ever 100% safe, but its gets a little interesting the closer to April we get. So have fun and be careful! Good Luck, Capt. Josh. www.minnesotaguideservice.com
Coast Guard licensing or state licensing, any fishing guide in Minnesota should be licensed and insured. Even if its not a Coast Guard licensing requirement in the district a guide works in, I feel the state of Minnesota should require any fishing guide for hire to meet basic requirements--requirements that would help maintain safety of everyone. Some basics should atleast include a yearly health/drug test, pass a basic water craft safety training course, maintain C.P.R certification, hold adequate commercial insurance (not your basic boat insurance), and atleast file as an active guide each year and pay a filing fee (which could be used to maintain lakes/rivers).
Have you ever hired a guide and wondered atleast about the insurance the guide probably does not have? If there is an accident can the guide even perform CPR? Does the guide even have life jackets (the right sizes?) aboard and show you where they are at and show you how to use them? Does the guide brief the clients how to drive the boat or how to operate the marine radio incase something happens to the guide? I know for a fact the majority of the guides throughout the state do not do any of these safety procedures before leaving shore. These are just a couple of the reasons why I feel it's important to require any guide to be licensed either by the state or Coast Guard. There are absolutely no standards or regulations on this growing industry and that spells trouble every time.
Why does everyone get upset when the Coast Guard is finally enforcing the law, or even making new rules? What does a guy say? Hey, if you want to be a professional fishig guide for hire--then suck it up and get your Coast Guard license whether its needed or not. Not sure if its required--get it anyway--for the safety of your passengers and fellow boaters. The process is very educational and will make any guide a better guide/captain. Don't like tests?-- no guts, no glory,--then quit. You wanna be a pilot, drive a cab, spray lawn chemicals, drive a bus--get licensed. You wanna be a fishing guide for hire and be responsible for the lives of 6 anglers for a day--get licensed. Just my 2 cents. Im going fishing, Captain Josh, www.minnesotaguideservice.com
I must say, I still think the fierce fighting Northern Pike is a greatly under-rated sport fish...and extremely tasty on the table too! Catching these brutes through the ice by using a good old fshioned tip-up rig is a sure way to get the kids (and adults) excited about ice fishing. "Its like cathing a shark through the ice" says an excited 7 year old after watching his 5 year old brother perfectly hook and land "hand over hand" style the 3 lb northern on a tip-up rig. Plus it's fun and simple..and thats the recipe for success.
Location! (always the most important factor in fishing) ..find a good shoreline weed flat (20 acres or bigger, full of cabbage/coontail weed and 5-10 ft deep), a nice medium break down to deep water (30 ft or more) , locate the main weed edge (somewhere around 12-20 ft deep) and your in business. Set the line 2-3 ft off the bottom, hook a good strong medium sized Shiner minnow IN FRONT of the dorsal fine and keep the split shot a good 12 inches from the bait. This allows the minnow to swim like crazy and attract the fish for you! Also stay away from weighted hooks--they tire the minnow quickly--ever try to swim with 10 lbs around your waist? A good hook is a number 2 size in either chartreuse or bright orange--both colors replicate perch/ bluegill patterns. Bait?--Try 2-3 dozen medium sized (easier for fish to swallow quickly) Shiners. Yes I said Shiners--they will out fish sucker minnows three to one on most days. How 'bout the tip-up?
Stick to the HT plasctic style for under $10 is a sure bet. Never did like the wood "beaver damn" style. The HT's are bullet proof and have a more sensitive flag tripping system than the older wood style. Even the attack a walleye uses when inhaling the bait can't fool these new tip-ups. Load the spool with 30-40 lb test dacron or braided line. Black line is easy to see on the ice and handles well. I personally like to use Trilene 17lb XT line for the leader (which is 3 ft long. I feel the minnow can swim much longer and more naturally than being attached to a steel leader. Yes a fish or two may bite the line off, but the number of fish caught in general will be more than using a steel leader--so it's a fair trade off. /Quick strike rigs work (that's a whole different story), but a a single hook will the job--and it's much easier to unhook the fish when you are in a hurry. Speaking off unhooking fish, a "mouth spreader" and a good "forcepts" should be in your pocket to unhook the fish, many times the hook is not within reach and the fish will bite down on your forcepts when it can.
Seeing the flag fly is part of the fun--and so is the anticipation of finding what's on the line when you arrive at the hole. Although running to the flag is tempting--I suggest walking quietly. To much noise from above can cause the fish to drop the bait. When you arrive at the hole, gently lift the tip-up and set it on the ice, grab the line and pull slowly until tension (the fish) is felt and set the hook with a good long steady pull. Hold one hand over the center of the hole and pull the line through your fingers and drop the line onto the ice as the fish nears the surface. Ease the head of the fish into the hole and grab the fish by the back of the head and squeeze a bit to calm the fish. Done, unhook and rebait and catch another.
That's all there is to it. The pike are still active this time of year and obviously the Vikings are not! So there are no excuses, get out there and catch some tip-up northern pike! Good Luck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com