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Thread: Bigger Sized Rainbow's Matsu Help

  1. #1
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    Default Bigger Sized Rainbow's Matsu Help

    Hello all I have been living up here in Alaska for the past 3 years, and have finally started to ice fish again. Growing up in Minnesota I have ice fished all my life, and have just a few basic questions in regards to Rainbows here in Alaska. I fished all weekend long at three different lakes in the valley, and caught well over 100 rainbows. All these fish ranged from 8-12inches in length, and 1 of them was 15inches. What I am looking for is some advice in targeting the bigger rainbows. With a freezer stocked of the summers catch ice fishing is more for the experience than rather filling the freezer. I fished the sunrise, sunset, shallow depths 1-2 feet off bottom, deep depths 1-2feet off bottom & tried multiple depths in deeper water. These areas all produced the same size fish. Are the rainbows that are majority caught ranging from this size 8-15inches? Rainbow's are sort of a mystery to me since the only fishing I did for them back in Minnesota was on Long Lake during the summer months. We would fish deep water with slip bobbers, and adjust our depth until we got the correct depth. Given my knowledge of rainbows back in Minnesota the fish preferred colder waters, and swam in somewhat of a timed circle around the lake. I would have to assume the same would be for the rainbows here in Alaska? Correct? Then with that information the rainbows would move to shallower water during the winter months as food resources would be closer to the shore line. Do the bigger rainbows prey on the smaller sized fish? Would you recommend depths between 5-15ft with a few feet off the bottom, or try fishing deeper water suspended in between the bottom of ice & lake floor?

    Just looking for some advice in narrowing down my fishing time, and avoiding the smaller fish.

    Thanks
    Ryan

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    Member alaska_pike's Avatar
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    i usually fish in about 6 feet of water but i have caught lots of fish in deeper water. i prefer this depth because i can usually see the bottom and what the fish are doing. there are quite a few lakes in the valley here where you will primarily catch only small ones. i would try fishing lots of different lakes till you find some big ones. in my experience i have caught most of my big 18 to 23 inch bows in smaller lakes not sure why

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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    Try upsizing your tackle too. If you fish for little fish you will catch little fish. Bigger lures produce bigger fish. You won't catch as many, but one 20+ rainbow is worth 20 small ones in my book. Please release the big ones, and keep the trophy fisheries alive.
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    I have already started planning this weekends fishing trip. I am going to be hitting up a new lake or two each weekend until the spring sun starts the return of the salmon. Half the fun in fishing is finding that secret little honey hole that hardly gets fished. We use to hop lake from lake growing up catching every species of fish that Minnesota had to offer. Have you found that natural lakes produce bigger fish than stocked lakes? I have already upsized my lures, and have a few spinners that I tied up today that I will give a whirl this weekend. I always release the big fish like I said this is for the experience not the freezer.

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    Member AKnook's Avatar
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    I usually catch the bigger rainbows in depths of 10 feet or less. I drop lima beans down the hole to give you a white backdrop in wich to see the fish in murkey water. In my experience deeper isn't necessarily the best for catching the larger bows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    Try upsizing your tackle too. If you fish for little fish you will catch little fish. Bigger lures produce bigger fish. You won't catch as many, but one 20+ rainbow is worth 20 small ones in my book. Please release the big ones, and keep the trophy fisheries alive.
    I agree. Bigger tackle usually produced bigger fish. When I am ice fishing with big tackle, the little fish will nibble at the bait on the hook, but if the hook is large enough they generally stay off of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by AKnook View Post
    I usually catch the bigger rainbows in depths of 10 feet or less. I drop lima beans down the hole to give you a white backdrop in wich to see the fish in murkey water. In my experience deeper isn't necessarily the best for catching the larger bows.
    I totally agree. I think about 6-8 feet of water is about perfect for rainbows. Especially off weedbeds, points and dropoffs. More food and oxygen for them in the shallower water. In the winter time the shallows are colder and have more oxygen then the deep spots. Plus there is much more food to forage near the weed beds. scuds, sticklebacks and snails are on the menu.

    The other thing to think about is make sure you know the difference between rainbows and landlocked salmon. Lots of lakes in the valley, like Finger lake, and the Kepler Bradley Lakes all have both rainbows and landlocked salmon in them. They can actually be kind of hard to tell apart when they are the same size. One sure method I have found is landlocked always have a forked tail. The rainbows do not have the fork in them. My guess is when you say you are catching hundreds of rainbows that are 8-12 inches, is that you are probably catching landlocked salmon and you thought you were catching small rainbows. Usually when I am ice fishing if I catch a rainbow it is rarely less than 12 inches. Most are probably between 12-21 inches. I would say the average is about 16 inches. If you are specifically targeting large rainbows, I would suggest doing a little bit of research on the fish and game website. There is a lake stocking info page that tells you what species are stocked in which lakes. Some lakes have only rainbows in them and nothing else. Some of those lakes have some really large ones in them too. There is a clue for you. I'll let you figure out the rest on your own. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrocksbum View Post
    I have already started planning this weekends fishing trip. I am going to be hitting up a new lake or two each weekend until the spring sun starts the return of the salmon. Half the fun in fishing is finding that secret little honey hole that hardly gets fished. We use to hop lake from lake growing up catching every species of fish that Minnesota had to offer. Have you found that natural lakes produce bigger fish than stocked lakes? I have already upsized my lures, and have a few spinners that I tied up today that I will give a whirl this weekend. I always release the big fish like I said this is for the experience not the freezer.
    If you haven't already I would check out ADF&G website. Check the stocking reports and concentrate on lakes that have been stocked with triploids. They grow at a much faster rate than native fish. The beginning of winter rainbows seem to feed much more aggressively but as winter wears on I've had better luck using smaller size lures/jigs. One of my favorites is a 1/16 oz. pink jig head and a white grub body tipped w/a tiny piece of cocktail shrimp. Chartreuse or a less bright shade of yellow have also worked well for me. I also do well with tiny marabou jigs in those same colors. I will say this: rainbow fishing usually gets much slower in jan/feb. and may want to try deeper depths. There are some lakes in the meadow lakes area that produce some very large rainbows up to 30" range. In late winter I've had some good days catching 'bows in 25 ft. of water jigging right off the bottom. Also try the smallest size krocodile spoons in chrome w/blue stripe.

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    Some of the fish I did catch were landlocked salmon as I generalized the fish being caught. I have talked with multiple fish & game officers trying to get some information on lakes around the valley. With the information I received from them, and a few other friends meadow lakes is exactly were I am heading this weekend. There are also a couple lakes off of Pittman road that they mentioned to try. I do have future fishing planned for Long Lake.

    I first started off using a bare hook with split shots, shrimp/corn. Just catching fish all day that first day was fun. It kept my wife occupied for the majority of the day, and a smile on her face. It reminded me alot of the times spent fishing for panfish in Minnesota.

    As January nears an end I will be switching my efforts to large pike. We use to head to up to lake of the woods during february/march to fish for large pike that we pickled. I heard Nancy, and Big Lake are nice for northerns. Is this true? Any other lakes you would recommend for large pike?

    Thank you very much everyone as I will put alot of this information into practice today.

    Ryan

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    Member kwackkillncrew's Avatar
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    you cant pm yet so email me i might be able to help you out a little bit. jzych@alaska.edu
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