Tip of the Week
Find the bait – find the fish.
Bait are easily seen on your graph as a floating balls off of the bottom. Trust your graph and note where the bait is exactly located.
The bait on the river is shad. They will be near the bottom and structure then leave and roam the open water. They come and go, and pull the gamefish with them like a master leading a dog on a leash.
Keeping bait fresh is important in catching fish. In the heat of summer. I double cooler my bait.
So If I am using leeches and crawlers I have two separate coolers for both. Then I put both coolers into one large cooler. Naturally in the smaller coolers you need a coolant – like refreezable ice packs.
Then while fishing I take out about eight baits at a time and keep them in a smaller “ready to go” cooler to access fast in order to rebait. Having a ”ready to go” cooler keeps me out of opening the main (doubled packed) cooler every time I need bait. In the “ready to go” you can have ice, ice water, or a cooler pack. I like ice water.
That’s the way i do it.
Two things when it comes to landing larger fish. One is keep the net OUT of the water until you can net the fish then when your pray is in reach – accurately stab with a scooping motion the fish into the net – head first. This is a quick, strong, and accurate maneuver.
Also keep the fish in the water to be netted, never bring it up so fast that it is up on the top flopping (the netter needs some time to the net). Along the same lines never pull the fish out of the water – like you would a sunfish. This is mainly true for walleye fishing when you have six pound test line or less.
July 6th 2015
Smallmouth bass fight and fight especially when the water is mid 70′s. My tip this week is to stop reeling when you see the fish close to the boat or shore and fight the fish with the rod tip. If you bring the fish too close to the rod tip by reeling in too much line, chances are it will get caught on a motor or the edge of the boat.
Also Suffix elite 6 is great bass line for smallies on the St. Croix.
June 22, 2015
Trolling crankbaits is highly effective at catching marble eyes. However if your lure is not tuned and does not run straight, you will not catch many fish.
The very best crankbaits run dead true straight. If cranks veer left or right when trolled you must adjust the line tie the opposite way the lure is running to bring it back into alignment. The adjustments to the line tie with a needle nose pliers must be very minute or you will over tune the lure and it will run too far the other way now.
if the lure runs right – then ever so lightly – adjust the line tie to the left.
if the lure runs left – then ever so lightly – adjust the line tie to the right.
June 8, 2015
Smallmouth bass absolutely love soft plastic baits. However they are very touchy on the colors they will hit. A walleye could be considered wide open in regards to what colors they would hit when compared to a smallmouth bass.
Natural browns, greens, and blacks are always great choices. This also is true when using jigs and picking jig head color!
Then lure profiles matter a lot. Straight worms, fat worms, tubes, jerk baits, spiders, they will also hit poppers, stickbaits, buzz baits, and spinnerbaits. They also love minnows, crawlers, and leeches.
Half the fun is finding what they want! I have seen all the above lures catch fish.
May 26, 2015
Leeches are a top bait there is no doubt, however sometimes the leeches will revolt! They will roll and twist and turn then wrap themselves around the line and the hook and become a slimly balled up mess. As fast as you can get that off the hook and there is no way to do it without tearing it in half. Start over and get another one.
If you are catching fish at a good clip and then you have no bite – it is because the leech likely revolted! So check your bait often.
May 20, 2015
Stay on top of the river height and be prepared for the fluctuating river levels. This website works well:
sorry if you tried this link- it doesn’t work – the site does though – Its time for the webmaster…
May 11, 2015
You can legally fish two lines per angler on the St. Croix River. This applies to Minnesota residents as well and fishing on either side of the river. Take advantage of the second line to increase your catch.
May 5, 2015
There is no doubt we all fish memories… we go to places where we caught them last time or last year on the same day.
It is a mistake to fish the calendar and not fish the conditions. River fishing teaches you this. The simplest example of all is water temperature. it is clear that on May 1 of one year and May 1 another year can have much different water temperatures.
So fish the current conditions and not a date on a calendar. If you have questions you can send me an email.
April 28, 2015
Plastic worms are an awesome cold water walleye “bait”.
To use them best as “bait” – they must be threaded straight on the hook.
True they can be used all year around as a cast and jig retrieve bait ( When you are making the jig and plastic come to life by hopping it and swimming it) - here the threading of the plastic is not so important.
In terms of a “cold water” bait, I am talking about when you simply rig it on a jig as a livebait substitute.
Thread then on straight.
April 21, 2015
Sharp hooks catch more fish. News flash no, but keeping up on the maintenance of having your hooks sharp is the real tip. While fishing you need to regularly check to make sure your hook is sharp – and especially not bent.
A sharp hook will easily scratch the top of your finger nail and feel “sticky”.
April 13, 2015
Color matters so much for walleye and sauger fishing when using plastic baits, and never more so than when the water is cold.
Guessing why, I say because of the slow speed the lures are presented allows the walleyes ample opportunity to give the lure the once over, and likely a twice over prior to when they hit it. I would also guess that a slightly different color in a sea of similar colors maybe more appealing. Whatever the reason color matters.
I confess I get stuck in my ways when I find a color they are hitting one. my tip is to keep switching colors until you find a color that is strongly preferred.
April 6th, 2015
You would think when fishing a body of water with heavy angling pressure that all the good spots have a boat sitting on top of them, and if a boat is not working a spot it is not a “good” spot. You would think that but it is not true. I admit the best spots are being fished, but you can catch fish away from the crowds.
Look for factors such as (and some of these depend on current flow):
Points with flow
Rock with flow
Noticeable break lines.
March 30, 2015
In terms of a hair jig bite, you can also get fish on Fuzzy Grubs (by Lindy) if you are out of hair jigs or can not find hair. This is for vertical jig fishing. Fuzzy grubs are not bucktail hair but a jig with a small plastic body with a marabou tail.
When the bite is slow downsize your hooks. So if you are using a #4 go to a #6 plain hook. If you are using a number 1/0 hook on your jig look for a #1 or #2 jig hook.
When fishing in a crowd, the main thing to watch is your own line. It is easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing and you end up losing some of your focus.
— Charlie “Turk” Gierke
My best tip: Trust Jesus!
March 24, 2015
Hair jigs are deadly on walleye and saugers. They are not always better than a plain jig, but some times they are.
March 13, 2015
The angle of the line in which you present your bait absolutely matters. Sometimes way way back is needed, and sometimes vertical is the way to go. We tighten up our presentation today and went vertical. It was just the right trick to make the fish go from sniffers to biters. Lure color, speed, action, AND line angler matter. Good Luck.
March 10, 2015
The Mississippi River is real river.
The St. Croix is a river of course but the flow on the “Sippi” makes one know they are river fishing. One key that makes river fishing tough for lake anglers or anglers from the St. Croix is a depth change of only four feet says so much. It all comes back to where the bottom is shallow the river settles there, and where it is deep the river flows fast there. There are little troughs and sometimes veins (hot spots) in the river that hold fish. They are very hard to follow along with in a boat because these troughs don’t often follow the flow and you need to go cross current, then your line is off to the side. You don’t have to be perfect just do your best, so it is well worth the effort in trying especially when these hot spots can hold walleye.
February 3, 2015
As a rule when dragging jigs downstream use a lighter jig than you need to vertical jig with. Also when dragging jigs upstream use a heavier jig than you would use to vertical jig.
Hi-Vis lines are great for both ice fishing and open water fishing. You can watch your line for movement to indicate a fish strike. You may be skeptical about the fish being line shy because of the color and not hitting. Down on the river even the trophy fish don’t care about the line color. For ice fishing the Hi-Vis makes bite detection far easier for sight fisherman. If you need to you can splice in a clear leader.
December 18, 2014
When fishing braided or superline for walleye and sauger make sure it is not larger than six pound diameter. It is a fact you will catch more fish with a fine diameter line than a thicker on. Six pound test thickness is perfect. If you are a strictly vertical angler you can get away with even lighter four pound test.
When you are the captain or operator of the boat and the one maintaining speed and water depth for fishing it is extremely important to know the bow depth AND the stern depth.
November 25, 2014
As it is the ice fishing season, my tip today is for keeping your ice auger running smoothly.
I recommend always using a fuel system stabilizer in your gas can, and in your two cycle ice auger. A product such as Sta-Bil helps keep the two cycle engine running smoothly.
Thats’ the first tip. The second tip is to buy full synthetic oil for the oil to gas ratio mix for your two cycle ice auger. Both of these tips cost very little money extra but the performance is greatly improved.
November 5, 2014
Here are the three main jigging techniques you should know:
1. A fast aggressive snap and unassisted fall cadence.
2. A slow lift or jig up with an assisted drop cadence – where you walk or drop the jig back down slowly.
3. A non jigging technique where the bottom is steadily dragged.
They are all great choices to catch fish. one is not always better than the others.
October 17, 2014
This time of year the overcast comes and goes, there is some sun , then clouds. This changing sky cover reminds me of early spring fishing in March when the overcast gives way to sun and then is gone again to clouds.
The reason I bring up March fishing is, in March, I angle with soft plastics baits – mainly ringworms. Here the color when fishing plastics matters greatly in catching walleye and sauger. Color choice is a factor of mainly sky cover and water clarity. When the sky cover changes often due to topsy turvy weather patterns your lure colors need to change too.
Jay Leary with a trophy smallmouth bass Jason Hankes with a trophy walleye
October 1, 2014
Lindy rigging or “rigging”, to me is mainly a crawler technique and a leech technique. I will also “rig” with fathead minnows. Now normally fathead minnows become swallowed whole when a predator wants to eat them. Currently we are getting many pick ups and drops. My tip is when rigging fatheads that you feed some line to the biting fishing.
Milton Skoog had a shack for a cabin up on Burntside Lake, in the Ely, Minnesota area. It was a piece of heaven nestled in mature forests of white pine, birch, and poplar with boulder rock and lichen everywhere, bears, eagles… yep, it was postcard material for a up north setting if there ever was one. I do digress here, but that place was the best…Milton who was my friend Erik’s father, always said when asked about fishing:
” fishes favorite food is fish.”
Find the bait find the fish. Baitfish are seen as balls or clouds up off the bottom on your sonar.
As the water cools artificial lures become far more attractive to all game fish. Crankbaits, blade baits, jigs and plastics, jigging lures – such as jigging raps. These lures are great especially when you are confident walleye are near. I would like to stress that I will switch to these lures after I have established catches.
The exception is crankbaits this is go to for sure in the fall. Of course you can also very successfully use minnows. I also remember a few years ago in mid October crawlers were catching fish. This was though based on water temperature. My point is you have far more options and in the fall when the water cools artificial lures become a strong option.
August 23, 2014
Look for minnows breaking on the surface and other fish activity on top of the basin on the river. this time of year the white bass will push the shad to the surface to enable better predation on the minnows. Here cast spinners, grubs, crankbaits to these fish for good action. I have not witnessed the massive schools as in the past, but I am seeing some schools.