EXPERIMENTING – by Dick Pearson

Hi folks. I write this just after returning from the Canadian opener. Only spent two days but had a great time and boated some very nice fish. One of the many things I enjoy about the opener is I get to test the many ‘experiments’ I’ve invested time and money in over the winter. Occasionally they work, most often they don’t. With respect to homemade or home modified lures, the experiments have a chance if I can get my wife to do the actual work involved. She’s definitely a ‘hands on’ farm girl as opposed to me, the ‘hands off’ city slicker. Heck, I have to admit that occasionally its her idea-and work-that works. For instance starting in the 70’s she was the first I knew to drill holes in Suick tails and attach small spinner blades that flutter which each jerk, and her weighted Bobbie baits are still sought after by many old timers in the know. I digress but anyway, with respect to lures, this year was no exception and I had a number to try.

Some failed so miserably I won’t even mention them. Some showed promise and likely will work. For instance:

1. Taking older, well used 10 inch Believers® (one of the best big fish baits ever), removing the rear treble, attaching a large rubber duckie type worm over the hook shank, then reattaching the hook, gives me a huge profile with three trebles and will undoubtedly help put some big fish in my boat-especially if fished slowly through the weeds

2. Attaching bucktail tails to various crankbaits produced ‘drag’ and some ripping and weed popping surprises that will produce fish I’m sure.

3. I think we may have produced a Suick type bait on steroids by taking a gigantic, soft bodied, salt water,‘Squid’ type hookless bait, running a muskie leader through it and then attaching a big Eagle beak size 5 hook to the leaders end so it hangs right at the bottom of the pulsating tentacles. When jeked and twitched it made me twitch. Didn’t get hit this past weekend but it will.

4. Playing around with blade configurations and adding plastic bodies to my Grinder spinnerbaits put three nice fish in the boat.

5. I hate weeds, especially those on my baits, so am always looking for weedless innovation. Frankly my ideas along those lines flopped this year, as did about 4-5 new baits I acquired over the winter which had been advertised as ‘weedless’. Bah, humbug.

I did try a friends hard surface bait that has promise with its design but, as of now, it’s just not there and didn’t beat existing baits in the ‘weedless’ category. Someday? The world still waits in this category as far as I’m concerned.

OK, enough on lures but I hope you see that anyone can try things, have fun and maybe even come up with something that works.

Experimentation possibilities are endless in musky fishing. Lure storage for me has always been a hassle.This year I’m experimenting with the stowaway see through boxes. I label each by category, lake type, etc and so far it seems to be working. If I now jump into a buddies boat for an hour, or a day, grabbing a few needed lures is much simpler. Nothing revolutionary but yet something that may help in terms of efficiency and peace of mind.

Some ‘experiments’ however, aren’t quite as simple, or cheap. These often need to be ‘scientifically’ justified to the boss.(of course only if you know you can’t keep them a secret.)Seems that nearly every year lately these necessities arise. This year its an underwater camera. ’A what’ you say? Wasn’t I the guy who just a few years ago stated they had little application to muskie fishing? Well, uh, yes-and trust me, the boss brought that up right away. But they do, and I was wrong.(admitting that helped immensely with the boss of course)

What application? Well there’s some obvious and fun uses.Things like not only recording your hooked fish from that underwater perspective but how about the sheer joy of capturing your figure 8 success’s? Or seeing follows and strikes while trolling-particularly if you utilize down riggers. To the boss though, these things aren’t ‘science’ and are really unnecessary in her view even when I argued it would enable me to visually see the fishs’ reaction to certain lure types, see if manual rod pumping makes a difference when trolling, see how lures are in fact attacked so as to perhaps enhance hook placement and on and on. Nope I needed ‘science’ to persuade her there’s real value in the camera. So what worked? What might help you carry the day when cost becomes involved and you also have a boss? Well, here’s an abbreviated version of what worked for me.

1. We both are mystified about prop wash trolling and where the fish are coming from and I told her a friend and I felt we could solve these riddles with this camera.(I know, turbulence might be a problem but we believe not an insoluable one. Note that many of these ‘reasons’ may in fact be wishful thinking and unattainable but,hey,someone has to try.)

2. Over the years we’ve both been mystified by why certain sections of ‘walls’ consistently hold fish and others don’t. The camera may, pun intended, shed some light on this. Actually it will allow the viewing of really any kind of hard structure-from a fish’s perspective, not yours.

3. Whether casting or trolling, don’t you often wonder just what the ‘bait’ you’re seeing on your graph is? Well now one should be able to find out. Maybe even see muskies themselves-whether on hard structure or not.

4. But folks, what follows clinched the deal for me .I’ll try be brief but for the past 8-10 years we’ve been convinced we wasted years fishing(particularly trolling)too deep. We are convinced for many reasons(as many of you have heard me speak about or read in my articles)that most muskies, most of the time, are much shallower than we think. That there is absolutely no reason for muskies ever to be below the photosynthesis zone-the zone within which meaningful life is created and exists. We also believe their temperature comfort zone dictates this conclusion as well. The issue is can the underwater camera help determine this zone? Verify what we believe? I believe it can and I’m sure gonna try.

Based on discussions with guys that have used the cameras a lot, I think a lot of  knowledge on this subject is attainable, knowledge that will give insight to presentation issues such as key depths in the actual water being fished. How? First by temperature because some units have built in temp gauges that give you that key info readily-info that is often key for prey and predator alike.
Of course its visually that these will help the most. Visually by helping one determine the ‘light’ at various depths. Is there a murky ‘twi light’ zone,a zone used as an ambush point by predators? If you’ve seen the cameras working, you know you see lots of ‘life’ in the water-plankton etc. Well, at some depth does that cease? Wouldn’t knowing that depth tell you a lot?

I’m told I may be able locate current by viewing this ‘life’ move. With current being a form of structure‘ out there’, structure that I believe prey and predator alike relate to, wouldn’t that tell you something valuable?

I could go on about other possibilities, and I admit that’s what they are as of now, but the bottom line is that I believe this camera gives me the possibility of acquiring all this info, which in turn, may well give me solid presentation info that is lake specific and that will work.The boss agreed. Stay tuned.

Folks experimenting is fun,eye opening and can make your fishing more enjoyable and successful. Give it a shot, try something new.

Good fishing!
Remember: thinking is just being thoughtful.
 See you next issue.

Dick

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