BOB­BING FOR FUN

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - OUTDOORS -

Pike at­tack If most peo­ple knew how many large pike were swim­ming around their dock, they might not go in the wa­ter. Un­for­tu­nately, few of these fish are caught or seen, which is too bad since there is noth­ing like the ex­cite­ment of fight­ing and han­dling a big, old an­gry pike. Few big pike are typ­i­cally caught be­cause pike tend not to chase or bite on small jigs and lures in­tended for wall­eye. For kids of all ages, it’s an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence to see one up close. For some great fun, try hang­ing a whole her­ring un­der a big bob­ber. Spring is the best time be­cause the big pike are shal­low when the wa­ter is cold, but this pat­tern will work through June and be­yond. While the kids are cast­ing for bass, try fir­ing out a frozen her­ring, or even toss this rig out off your dock. May long weekend of­ten finds our fam­ily fish­ing in On­tario. My son and neph­ews love shore cast­ing for small­mouth bass so we do a lot that. I of­ten rig up my rod with a her­ring un­der a bob­ber for a pike and then let the kids pull them in. This past May long, I was run­ning the boat so the boys could cast for bass when my nephew saw that the big bob­ber was down. He was first to the rod and the fight was on. It was a big fish and fought like a de­mon. Pan­de­mo­nium en­sued as kids scram­bled for our big net with rods and lines tan­gling. It was a beau­ti­ful mess that ended in the land­ing of a huge, gor­geous pike. That fish made our day and wouldn’t have hap­pened if we hadn’t put a her­ring and bob­ber in the wa­ter. For this setup, you will want to sus­pend the her­ring on a two-tre­ble-hook, quick-strike rig which you can pick up at any good tackle store. The her­ring can be found in the frozen seafood sec­tion at most gro­cery stores (they are super cheap). This works so well, you need to be pre­pared to land a big pike with a large net and pli­ers to re­move the hooks. Han­dle these big pow­er­ful fish with care — you don’t want them to hurt you and we don’t want to harm these big, re­pro­duc­tive fe­males. Small­mouth mad­ness Pound for pound, the small­mouth bass has got to be the tough­est fight­ing fish that swims. They pull so hard and jump so much they have be­come a favourite for any­one who has caught them in places such as the Winnipeg River sys­tem and Lake of the Woods. The clas­sic tech­niques, such as cast­ing tube jigs or crankbaits, work wonders on small­ies. But hang a live leech on a small hook, weighted with a bit of split­shot, two feet un­der a small clip-on bob­ber, and get ready to catch more bass than you thought lived in your lake. This pat­tern shines in June when the bass are on their spawn­ing beds. Mo­tor down the shore­line, cast the bob­ber out in likely spots and let it sit. A fish should be on it al­most im­me­di­ately, so if there’s no bite, mo­tor along a bit and try again. The best shore­lines are those with stones and boul­ders near deeper wa­ter. Mix in some dead trees and look out. This is a key pat­tern when you have a bunch of young­sters or new­bies strug­gling to pre­cisely cast lures or work fi­nesse baits such as tube jigs. When the bob­ber goes down, there is no doubt they have one. It makes catch­ing fish easy and hooks new­bies on fish­ing im­me­di­ately. Gold­eyes (not the base­ball team) Half a nightcrawler 18 inches un­der a small bob­ber with some split­shot is the time­less way thou­sands of Man­i­to­bans use to catch our minifresh­wa­ter tar­pon, the gold­eye (and it’s cousin, the moon­eye). Gold­eye and moon­eye are com­mon in the Red, Assini­boine and Winnipeg rivers. Back ed­dies in these rivers, and down­stream from ob­struc­tions such as dams are good places to fish. Evenings are nor­mally best in the sum­mer, es­pe­cially when there is a bug hatch go­ing on. You will some­times see fish ris­ing and splash­ing in these rivers in the sum­mer and that is your clue to get your bob­bers go­ing. I doubt you could have more fun fish­ing than get­ting on an evening gold­eye feed­ing frenzy with a bob­ber. These sil­ver rock­ets jump and pull very hard. Smoked gold­eye is my fam­ily’s fa­vorite fish treat, but the catch­ing is the best part. Rough­ing it The ba­sic worm-bob­ber rig you’d use for gold­eyes will catch rough fish such as carp and suck­ers in most shal­low parts of lakes or creeks in and around Winnipeg. Most fish love worms and will eat them when noth­ing else is work­ing. Drop a big, fat worm un­der a bob­ber in some shal­low wa­ter and it’s like ring­ing a din­ner bell. My son and I use this method in Stur­geon Creek all the time and catch lots of fun fish on any sum­mer evening. If you fish down­stream from the bridge in Wood­haven Park with a bob­ber and worm, you will wear out your arms pulling in hard fight­ing suck­ers and carp. These aren’t great ta­ble fare, but are a great way to get kids hooked on fish­ing. You will also catch pike, saugers and some huge rock bass in the creek on bob­bers and worms, too. Rob Ol­son is the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Man­i­toba Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion.

ROB OL­SON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ben Ol­son with a sucker caught on a bob­ber in Stur­geon Creek.

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