Week of October 29, 2012
|Hunting & Shooting Products/Issues|
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Hunting & Shooting Products/Issues
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This past month the lower Great Lakes have experienced above normal precipitation while the Lake Superior basin has received about average precipitation. Through the weekend, the best chance of significant precipitation is likely to occur within the Lake Erie basin, leaving the upper Great Lakes mostly dry. A cold front is expected to move through the area causing temperatures to drop well below their seasonal averages and remain there into the following week.
LAKE LEVEL CONDITIONS
The water level of Lake Superior is 4 inches lower than its level of one year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron is 14 inches lower than its level from last year. Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 18, 19, and 14 inches, respectively, lower than their levels of a year ago. Over the next month, Lake Superior is forecasted to drop 2 inches from its current level, while Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to fall 3 inches. The water levels of Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are forecasted to fall 3, 3, and 0 inches, respectively, over the next thirty days.
FORECASTED MONTHLY OUTFLOWS/CHANNEL CONDITIONS
Lake Superior's outflow through the St. Marys River is projected to be below average for the month of October. Lake Huron's outflow into the St. Clair River and the outflow from Lake St. Clair into the Detroit River are also expected to be below average throughout the month of October.
Lake Erie's outflow through the Niagara River and the outflow of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River are predicted to be below average in October.
Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are below chart datum. Users of the Great Lakes, connecting channels and St. Lawrence River should keep informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels. Mariners should utilize navigation charts and refer to current water level readings.
By Daniel Quade
Lindy rigging walleyes along deep, steep breaklines is a killer fall pattern on many lakes, but such structure isn’t the only place this time-honored tactic holds water. In many systems, weedlines hold the key to incredible late-season catches.
“After the fall turnover, many anglers focus on deep structure,” said veteran walleye guide Mike Christensen. “And in the right lakes, it’s hard to beat rigging a large redtail chub or sucker minnow out deep. But in a lot of situations, the weed bite is better.”
Such is the case on Christensen’s home waters of mighty Mille Lacs Lake, where he runs ice and open-water walleye adventures out of Hunter Winfield’s Resort. Though the central Minnesota walleye factory offers plenty of structure options offshore, the perimeters of its fertile weedbeds are often overlooked. The same scenario arises in many natural lakes with an abundance of shoreline vegetation. Not only are the weedbeds full of walleye, but with most anglers mining off-shore areas, you can have them to yourself.
The reason behind walleyes’ fondness for fall greenery is simple: it holds food. Along with a variety of minnow species, weeds often hold a veritable salad bar of young-of-the-year perch, sunfish and crappies -- offering hungry ’eyes an easy meal.
Not all weedbeds are created equal, however. Christensen says that live weeds that still hold some green are key, and broad-leafed pondweeds -- commonly called cabbage -- are the cream of the vegetative crop. A healthy stand of crisp, green cabbage attracts a smorgasbord of baitfish, as well as a trail of toothy predators. Along with walleyes, you often find northern pike and muskies patrolling this underwater buffet. In fact, Christensen said that at times so many muskies move into a particular weedbed and run off the walleyes.
Some of the very best weedbeds often lie close to deep water, and offer walleyes easy access to the abyss. These weedbeds are made even better if they exist in combination with structure such as a change in bottom composition or a rock pile. “When you find weeds on a point jutting out into deeper water, you’re really in business,” Christiansen says. “Key depths for prime vegetation commonly range from 5 to 12 feet.”
It’s possible to pluck plump walleyes from pockets in the weeds, but Christensen prefers the deadly efficiency of Lindy rigging the edges.
“Both the inside and outside edges of the weedline can hold fish,” he said. “I often start deep. If the fish are really biting and all of a sudden disappear, I’ll move to the inside edge. Often, active fish move shallower, so you have to move with them to stay on the bite.”
Christensen’s go-to rig includes Lindy’s 72-inch Minnow Snell, which he says helps avoid spooking skittish walleyes. “You’re fishing close to the boat in relatively shallow depths,” he explains. “So the added snell length can be a big plus, especially in clear water.” When the water is off-color to flat out murky, he will opt for the 42-inch Lindy Rig X-Treme or the 36-inch Minnow Snell.
weedline success because they allow the fish to take line without feeling the weight of the sinker. Christensen matches sinker weight to water depth and other factors, such as wind and waves.
“Always go as light as possible to maintain bottom contact with your line at a 45-degree angle to the water,” he says. “You also don’t want the minnow to be able to lift the sinker off bottom and swim away from walleyes that are checking it out.”
In general, sinkers in the ¼- to 3/8-ounce range see most of the action in the depths Christensen targets. While offshore riggers typically lean on larger baitfish to trip walleyes’ triggers, Christensen chooses smaller fare, namely rainbow chubs in the 3-inch range. “They’re tough little minnows that remain lively a long time -- much longer than shiners,” he says. “Leeches are another decent option, but they’re hard to find in fall. Nightcrawlers are better earlier in the year, when there are more bug hatches going on.”
Standard rigging wisdom calls for nose-hooking the bait, though at times reverse rigging with the minnow lightly impaled near the dorsal fin can be better.
Christensen slow-trolls the rig along likely weedlines with his trolling motor only. He said that sometimes he can spot fish with his sonar, or his minnow gets nervous and starts swimming around a little more, letting him know a walleye is moving in for a closer look. In either case, he slows down to give the fish more time to take the bait, or he turns around for another pass at the prime area.
Even once you put the right bait in strike zone, bite detection and - skills remain critical to rigging success. It can be challenging to detect the strike and get a good hook-set when the sinker is ticking along a soft, weedy bottom and occasionally hanging up on weed clumps and stalks. To tip the odds in his favor, he fishes with a light-tipped rod, which loads up nicely when faced with resistance and gives him a chance to determine whether the extra weight is a light-biting walleye or simply vegetation.
“Let the rod load up to be sure it’s a fish,” he says. “Sometimes you’ll also feel a twitch or thunk when a walleye grabs the minnow, but not always.”
Knowing a fish has the bait is half the battle. Sticking the hook in its jaw is the other. After detecting a bite, Christensen feeds the fish slack line, then typically gives it a little time to get the minnow in its maw before driving the hook home. Most often, it’s an amazingly calm 10-count, though fish activity level may dictate longer or shorter counts. He says that he knows anglers who wait a minute or more to set the hook, but that can lead to deeply hooked fish.
“I release most of my fish, so I don’t wait that long,” he notes.
When it’s time to set the hook, don’t just snap the rod back and hope for the best. Such blind ambition often results in a short set, what Christensen calls “setting the hook on the sinker.” Instead, gently reel up any slack in the line until the rod loads up and you feel the weight of the fish, then execute a nice, strong, sweeping hook-set and you’ll be well on your way to reaping the fall weedline harvest.
Membership in Shooting Ranges Increases
Top reasons for joining a range or sporting clays club included:
STURGEON BAY, Wis. – It started slow but ended fast.
Until Monday, one of the drought’s impacts in Wisconsin was the low number of chinook salmon making their fall spawning runs and returning to the rivers where they had been stocked years before. That was a concern for state fish managers charged with collecting chinook eggs to produce the next generation of kings at state fish hatcheries to challenge anglers.
The lack of rain particularly made for some challenges at Strawberry Creek egg collection facility just south of Sturgeon Bay. Normally, thousands of fish stream in from Lake Michigan to spawn in the creek. Most of them were released into Strawberry Creek as fingerlings three to four years ago. This year, the chinook didn’t initially come up the stream like they have in years past.
“These are probably the worst water levels we have seen at Strawberry Creek since we started the chinook stocking program in the late 1960s,” said Steve Hogler, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist.
When the water levels dropped in 2000, DNR staff installed a pump to
help supplement the flow of water into the creek. Despite turning that pump on this year to help bring fish up to the egg collection facility,
Strawberry Creek was down to nearly a trickle as the water spread out at the mouth of the creek where the low lake level caused a blockage. To fix that, a section of the creek was dredged to further aid the fish.
The numbers of chinook coming into the facility was still not where it had been previously so staff turned to the backup plan and harvested chinook from the C.D. Buzz Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility in Kewaunee, said Mike Baumgartner, property manager at Besadny, late last week. “This year we had no choice but to spend a day harvesting eggs just in case we can’t catch a break at Strawberry Creek.”
Then, the rains came, and the fish followed. More than 1,200 fish crowded into the Strawberry Creek facility in the last week and state fish crews collected hundreds of thousands of eggs, putting them over the goal for eggs collected.
DNR fisheries crews have a goal of raising a total of 724,000 chinook salmon from the eggs collected at both facilities. They will be raised at the Kettle Moraine Springs Fish Hatchery and the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery.
Other Breaking News Items
(Click on title or URL to read full article)
Fish boats coming to the Flats: Thousands of
pounds of freshly-caught fish delivered dockside
At long last: Indiana Harbor, Ship Canal work
expected to begin
Kewaunee nuclear plant to close next year
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