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Month: October 2019

Trolling crankbaits an easy, effective way to fish in Minnesota

Trolling crankbaits an easy, effective way to fish in Minnesota

One of the things I enjoy while visiting my cabin in northern Minnesota is watching anglers troll crankbaits past my dock. They seem at peace. They seem at peace because they aren’t constantly casting, reeling, tossing anchors, hoisting anchors, deploying drift socks or otherwise messing […]

How to Get Rid of Fish Smell on Your Boat

How to Get Rid of Fish Smell on Your Boat

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP Sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter with interesting blogs about fishing and boating. Get fishing tips and tricks and read personal stories from anglers who live and breathe fishing and boating. Learn new fishing skills, boating resources, fishing etiquette, conservation and more. Please […]

How to Choose a Fishing Boat for Inshore Saltwater Trips

How to Choose a Fishing Boat for Inshore Saltwater Trips

Learning how to choose a fishing boat for inshore saltwater trips doesn’t have to be a complicated process. While there are many models and brands to choose from, buying a fishing boat really just involves a bit of thought and research.

Maybe you already know how to boat, but are thinking about making a transition from freshwater boating to saltwater boating. If this is the case, you should learn how to choose a boat built from specialized materials that will withstand a marine environment. You may also want to check a boat buying guide to learn about hull designs that have minimal draft for navigation over shallow water.

If you want to know how to choose a saltwater fishing boat for inshore use, consider the three main types of inshore boats:

  • Skiffs are small saltwater fishing boats. Generally speaking, most skiffs are less than 18 feet in length. These inshore boats are simplistically constructed and easy to trailer. They offer distinct advantages for fishing, including the fact that they can reach plenty of remote areas due to super shallow draft hulls in the 5 to 8-inch range and smaller outboard engines.
  • Flats boats are trailerable inshore boats that are typically in the 14 to 21-foot range with very shallow drafts (7 to 10-inches) and open casting decks. As the name implies, these are generally some of the best boats for fishing on the backcountry flats or in shallow bays. When a stealthy approach in skinny water is necessary, you can even maneuver these boats by poling from a platform on the stern.
  • Center console boats are designed with a helm in the middle of the boat, and an open deck all around. When learning how to choose a fishing boat that is the best size for inshore fishing, keep in mind that small center consoles in the 17 to 22-foot range are suited for use in protected bays. Most center consoles have slightly deeper drafts than a flats boat or skiff (usually around 11 or 12-inches), but often offer a slightly drier ride while still being easy to trailer.

Figuring out how to choose a boat for the inshore spots you want to fish doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. There is a boat for every budget, and shopping for the right one is part of the fun!

5 Fall Boating Adventures by State

5 Fall Boating Adventures by State

Fall boating is a combination of my two favorite things—cooler weather and adventure activities! Many people think of going to the woods or mountains this time of year, but getting out on the water might be just the thrill you need for your family outing […]

5 Places to Learn Hands-On Safe Boating for Beginners

5 Places to Learn Hands-On Safe Boating for Beginners

Are you ready to buy your first boat and start living the nautical lifestyle? If so, think about taking a hands-on safe boating for beginners training course. When learning the boating rules of the road or safe boating basics, it’s important to spend time on […]

Minnesota Muskie Lure Shopping Made Easy

Minnesota Muskie Lure Shopping Made Easy

Modern sports stores feature aisle after aisle of fishing lures and the abundance can be intimidating.

This is particularly true for those getting into muskellunge fishing. Muskellunge lures come in many different sizes, styles and colors, and the most popular lures often cost more than $25. As a result, it is easy to spend $100 and have but three or four lures to show for it.

So, what lures should you buy if you want to start muskellunge fishing?

My suggestion is to keep it simple. Do this by selecting a single lure from each of four popular lure categories. This is an economical way to fill your tackle box with a variety of lures. As you add to your collection make sure to have both medium and large lures and bright and natural colors. Don’t miss our ‘should know’ on Muskie fishing in Minnesota.

Spinnerbait

A large spinnerbait is a great lure because it creates flash and vibration that attract prey-seeking muskellunge. A spinnerbait features shiny metal blades that spin like a propeller when the lure is reeled through the water. Spinnerbaits come in two main types: “in-line” and “safety pin,” the former because of its linear look and the latter due to its safety pin shape. A spinnerbait is easy to cast and can be trolled too. A safety pin spinnerbait with a single up-turned hook is ideal for casting over and into weedbeds because it is almost weedless. Many muskellunge anglers still fish with the classic bucktail spinner while others prefer those with marabou or tinsel skirting.

Topwater Bait

A topwater bait is a surface lure. It attracts fish by creating a commotion on the surface. Some lures have propellers. Some have tail sections that rotate and splash. Some are designed to replicate a dying or injured fish when jerked or popped through the water. The three main types of topwater lures are walk-the-dog baits, prop baits, and creeper baits. Topwater lures are fun to fish, in part, because strikes at the surface are a blast to behold. They are particularly fun to fish in calm shallow water.

Crankbait

Crankbaits are another go-to choice for muskellunge anglers because they mimic large baitfish. Crankbaits come in many shapes and sizes but are basically a hard-bodied lure – with or without a diving lip – that wobbles in a natural-looking way when retrieved. Crankbaits are good choice for fishing over rocky structure or along weed edges. Crankbaits can be trolled, too, making them a good option when you want to cover a lot of water in a short time.

Rubberbait

Rubber baits and soft plastic baits are increasingly popular for fishing deep water. These sinking lures, some of which weigh up to three-quarters of a pound, often feature long serpentine tails. Rubberbaits can be fished in a variety of ways. Some anglers prefer a straight retrieve. Some reel-in with a pull-pause-pull technique, which mimics a dying baitfish as it rises and falls. Others like to vertical jig these big lures. As with other lures, experiment with your retrieves and determine what works for you and the fish.

These days many muskellunge anglers have dozens upon dozens of lures. Still, you can do well with far fewer. If you own one or two of each of these types of baits you are likely in good shape for most muskellunge waters. They are prefect companions to a stout rod with a bait-casting reel, heavy braided line of 50-pound test or more and a foot-long steel or fluorocarbon leader between your line and your lure. You will need a leader because muskellunge have razor sharp teeth that can easily slice through your line.


C.B. Bylander

C.B. Bylander

C.B. Bylander is a long-time Minnesota angler who has extensive fishing experience throughout the state. He is a former outdoor magazine field editor, daily newspaper outdoor editor and Department of Natural Resources fisheries communication specialist.

3 Ways How to Make Fishing Lures

3 Ways How to Make Fishing Lures

If you fish long enough, eventually you may be curious how to make fishing lures. Some anglers jump into this as an attempt at cost saving, hoping to make cheap fishing lures. Others like yours truly, enjoy experimenting because they believe in the discovery of […]

10 of the Best Reasons to Go Fishing

10 of the Best Reasons to Go Fishing

Spending time in beautiful outdoor places, the calming sound of the waves lapping against a shoreline, the feelings of accomplishment when you reel in personal best catch — there are probably more reasons to go fishing than you ever realized. Fishing newcomers and experienced anglers […]

A Spooky Halloween Tale

A Spooky Halloween Tale

It’s pitch black outside, almost as if there was no moon at all. No twinkling of stars or street lights to cast out what waits in the shadows. You’re all alone, wandering in the darkness, when something odd catches your eye. You pause to take a harder look; in the distance, a soft glow permeates the black nothingness. You move closer, intrigued, but a little spooked quite frankly. The soft light begins to get brighter.

You cautiously scan the perimeter, but proceed anyways for reasons unbeknownst to your conscious logic. The glow is within reach, nearly blinding, it’s so bright. You get the strange feeling that you’re not alone… but it’s too late. You enter the light and realize there are others just like you. They’re hardly moving, just lingering there with a zombie-like stare.

All of a sudden, a disturbance overhead. Everyone looks up to see a dark object, but before you can process the situation, they rush towards it and attack! One of the guys seizes the unidentified object with his mouth, wrangling it like a coyote taking down its prey. Suddenly, an unseen force from overhead pulls him up into the darkness.

Poof! And just like that—he’s gone.

Your mind reels in astonishment, What the heck just happened?! Why did I come here?? Is this some sort of zombie black magic? But before you can formulate any answers, he comes gliding back into the glow with a look of satisfaction on his face.

You’re shocked at what you just witnessed, so you swim up to the guy to demand an explanation. He looks at you and chuckles, “Hey fish, calm down, dude. I remember my first time at the dock light. A free snack, a short ride; it’s an out-of-water experience, but totally worth it.”

Happy Halloween, ghouls and gals!

Your Guide to Finding and Taking a Boat License Test

Your Guide to Finding and Taking a Boat License Test

In many states boaters are required to complete a boating safety course in order to operate a motorized vessel. At the end of the course you take and pass an exam, get a certificate (a/k/a “license”), and have proof that you’re qualified to operate a […]