hardwater tips part 2
Baitfishing: I tend to lean more toward the baits. My favorite bait is a small piece of raw shrimp although I have friends that
swear by the boiled cocktail shrimp. Second on the list is a small chunk of roe or single eggs. Iíve also had good luck using
nightcrawlers through the ice.
My standard rig for baitfishing is 4 to 6 pound clear mono attached to a snelled gamakatsu octopus style hook in size 6 or 8. I
usually balance a small float with spilt shot. I NEVER use those clumsy round red and white bobbers. They have too much
resistance. I use the pencil style floats and balance them with split shot so they offer almost no resistance once the fish takes the
bait. Then with a foot or two of slack line, the fish can run with the bait for several feet before feeling the resistance of the rod.
By then the fish has the bait well enough that by using sharp hooks, the fish set the hook by itself even if you are not closely
attending the rod. If a fish swallows the hook and you want to release it, clip the leader and the fish will usually spit the hook out
in a day or so.
Hereís a good tip when fishing roe. Snell your hooks just like you would for salmon with the egg loop. Attach the roe using only
the egg loop and leave the hook completely exposed. The exposed hook doesnít seem to bother them (maybe because they eat
sticklebacks) and as soon as the bobber goes down you can set the hook.Lure fishing: Whenever we keep rainbows, we check the stomachs to see what they are eating. The larger rainbows seem to
prefer a diet of sticklebacks. Therefore we tend to use jigging spoons like the krockadile, Swedish pimple, kastmaters, and similar
spoons in the 1 to 2 inch range. My friends have good success when they tip the lures with shrimp or single eggs. I like the more
natural colors like chrome and silver. But my friends seem to have extraordinary good luck on some days using the fire tiger or
Where and how to fish: Rainbows are much more sensitive to the oxygen content of the lake. So areas near open flowing water,
springs, and still green weed beds seem to be the best areas. Rainbows tend to be found in shallower water. I fish normally from
5 to 15 feet of water. When you fish in clear water under 10 feet take a piece of carpet with you. Lay it on the ice and you can
peer down your hole and see everything. You will learn a lot of things about their behavior. For example, youíll notice small fish
swarming around your bait, then all of the sudden they will scatter and disappear. Get ready, a big one is in the area! So if you are
watching your bobber get tapped by a bunch of small fish, then all of the sudden it stops bobbing around, get ready for the big
takedown! Thatís why I like raw shrimp for bait. The little ones have a much harder time pecking it off, unlike roe.
You can also see HUGE fish come in, clamp down on your bait, and just sit there. If you were not looking down the hole, you
would never know you had a fish on. It happens much more often than you might think. Also I would say that only half of the
large fish that you can see will take your bait. they will come and check it out but for whatever reason they donít take the bait. I
guess thatís probably why they get big. Thatís why itís so important to use good pencil floats. When properly weighted so the
bobber is half immersed, you can see what we call "lift" bites. The bobber actually moves up because the fish gently are hitting
the bait from below and floating up a bit. While big Dollies tend to smash a bait, you never really know with Rainbows.
Sometimes they will hit and never stop running. Other times you jiggle your bait to get rid of the pesky sticklebacks and the next
thing you know you have a four pounder on! Itís not the best way but when its cold out and I am not looking through the hole.
At the slightest movement of my float, I will often slowly lift up on the bobber. A small fish will spit the bait out when it feels
resistance, if you feel heavy weight then quickly set the hook. If it was a big fish and its not on the bait anymore, slowly moving
the bait often triggers a savage strike. that different size fish target different size prey.
Last year I experimented with an automatic jigging machine. Okay okay I Ďm lazy, but you try sitting out and fishing in 30 below
weather for 6 hours straight. The jigger didnít work as well as I thought because the machine couldnít set the hook. So I have to
fix that. Probably better to keep bait working and dispensing scent. This year I think I will use the "jigging machine" which jigs
two rods at once will be used to jig attractors. I probably will use a huge dodger and lake trolls on two rods with no hooks. That
way it can sit there and attract fish but I donít have to worry about it catching fish. As silly as it sounds I bet it improves our
There are a couple of things that I think helps us catch a few more fish than the average Joe on Big Lake. First of all, I think the
other folks are typically using 25 to 30 pound line. Big Lake is way to clear to be using such heavy line. I feel like 12pound line is
too much. Secondly, when I see the other folks jigging, they are working the spoon much too aggressively. While we like to make
long sweeping and aggressive strokes every now and then to attract the fish, Most of our hits comes when the lure is barely
moving. One of my buddies favorite tactics is to lay a spoon on the bottom, pounding the bottom hard a time or two, then just
flutter the spoon an inch maybe two inches of the bottom and let it settle. The big char will scoop it right off the bottom. I bet
about a third of my hits are when I am not moving the line at all. If you look into your hole, even when you stop jigging, the
spoon is active as the line untwists or the current flutters it a bit. Almost all the rest of the hits come when the lure is falling. Very
rare is that a Dolly hits on the upstroke.
You want to imitate a dying or wounded baitfish, not one that just got a refill of Viagra and is crazy active. When the water is cold
and the fish are lethargic, it is my belief that fish will try to gain as much calories while expending as little possible. Thatís why
later in the year, I tend to increase lure size since the smaller rainbows arenít hitting anyway.
Location: Well I canít give away all my secrets! Still itís pretty simple. For the Big Lake Char, the best depth seems to be in the
20 to 40 foot range. The shallower water tends to better for quantity and the deeper water seems to be better for size of fish. We
fish off of all the Islands and just about every point available on Big Lake. Fish right on the bottom though often time you will see
fish right under the ice. But a majority of the fish will be on the bottom of the lake. A good indicator is when you set up in the
proper depth, if you consistently see the smaller fish, you set up in the right place. If baitfish are present (anything less than 6
inches long), you have a good chance.
Timing: Despite the ice cover and short length of observations, I think I can safely say that the best fishing even with ice cover
comes on cloudy days when it is snowing. The low pressure over the area seems to trigger a bite. The sunny, high pressure days
always seem colder and slower! Also, for whatever reason, we never seem to do that well on Big Lake early or late in the day.
Our hot time of day seems to be from 10am to about 2pm. Of course we catch fish outside of that period, but I bet we catch
90% of our fish during that period . But there always seems to be a fish or two as the sun goes down but the bite is usually short
lived. I have yet to catch a Dolly or trout in Big Lake while dark. More experimenting to follow on this one.
Thanks for all the info, lots of good stuff to use for next season. Again, thanks a bunch.
great contributions...outstanding share