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Game fish can be provoked to bite

By Gary Korsgaden / For the Enterprise

Game fish, like all living creatures, have a highly developed instinct for survival and the older these fish are, the more developed this instinct has become. Not that they are especially smart, instead their instinct for survival is highly developed.

Wonder why a fish may not take your bait? Could be that the lake is full of free natural food, alive and appealing to fish without hooks, snaps or swivels.

Anglers can provoke fish into biting trolling (bait) or retrieving a high speed lure or tempt them with live bait, naturally in a fashion walleyes can’t resist. The best two illustrations of provoking a strike and tempting a bite are: First, step on a dog’s tail, he will be provoked into lunging or biting you. Second, after stuffing ourselves with mom’s home cooking, the temptation of having a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie was one we could not resist.

Get the idea here? Even if that walleye is not in the biting mood, putting a bait that is irresistible will tempt him to open his mouth. It is for this reason a fat juicy night crawler or big black leech must be better than his regular diet of abundant natural food.

(As long as that leech, night crawler or minnow is free swimming, alive and natural.) Now add a bulky hook, a swivel or snap, a heavy leader and sinker on course, stiff line, the bait is no longer natural. Ideally we should have an invisible hook tied on to a line with the consistency of a spider web. We are trying to present our live bait, in as a natural fashion as possible.

My recommendations, light wire hooks Aberdeen style with a ring eye. Characteristics of these hooks include strength, lever action for hook set and a needle sharp to hold the fish.

Hooks are available from two manufacturers, Mustad, #3261, or Eagle Claw #214. Buy your hooks in four sizes: #4 for larger minnows, #6 for regular minnows, #8 for night crawlers and leeches and #10 for ultra-natural presentations.

Line, 6# test clear monofilament is your “go to” line unless you’re fishing weeds or cover, then 8#. For spooky walleyes, in clear water lakes under clear skies use 4# dropping to 2# test at times.

I prefer split shot, pinch-on sinkers in the following three sizes: #7 for the heaviest, #3/0 for moderately heavy, BB-size for very light, and for the very lightest, patience and no sinker at all.  No snaps or swivels. Tie your hook directly to the terminal end of line. Attach the weight 18 to 24 inches ahead of the hook.

To fish naturally there is only one way to hook your bait ­- night crawlers through the tip of the nose, leeches lightly hooked centered on the wide end, minnows through the bottom lip.

Cast or “slowly” drift or troll, while moving bait won’t stay on the bottom or getting line twist, slow down instead of increasing the size of the weight or adding a swivel.