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