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Tricks for Landing those Winter Walleye

By Mark Romanack

A couple walleye any angler would be
happy to land during a day on the ice.
Anyone who has ice fished for walleye or other larger fish species knows that the moment of truth comes when the fish is at the bottom of the ice hole. Getting that fish’s nose into the hole may seem simple, but it’s amazing how often fish get off at this precise moment.

What makes this situation even more frustrating is the fish comes unbuckled right before your eyes! A number of years ago I got so frustrated at losing hard fought fish at the hole, I started rigging my ice fishing rods with what I call a landing leader.

Are You Ready for Open Water?

By Mark Romanack
With winter hanging on and spring nowhere in
sight, now is a good time to get your open
water fishing gear in order. A little time spent
organizing gear  will pay off in more time on the
 water once the ice finally melts!

A quick look outside confirms that spring isn’t exactly springing into action! While we wait for open water time well spent is time dedicated to getting spring fishing gear in order.

Early spring jigging for walleye in rivers is a jig and minnow gig. Any time the water is cold, stinger hooks should be a part of an angler’s mind set. Most commercially tied stinger hooks are fashioned from monofilament that is too stiff, detracting from the natural action of the minnow. For years I’ve tied my own stinger hooks using 10 pound test Maxima Ultra Green fishing line and No. 10 round bend treble hooks. 

Maxima Ultra Green is well known in the industry for being amazingly abrasion resistant making it ideal for tying not only stinger hooks, but also for tying crawler harnesses and leaders for diving planers. I start with a 10 to 12 inch length of line and a No. 10 round bend treble hook. Hold the treble hook with the shank pointing

Mark's Mailbag - Fluorocarbon Line

Mark's Mailbag are occasional posts to the blog in response to questions people submit on the Fishing 411 website.  Mark personally responds to the question and when relevant, we repost his answer here.  If you have a question you would like to ask Mark, please visit us at

A nice mixed mess of crappie and bluegill.
On January 28, 2015, Kent writes:  For ice fishing, is there one particular brand of fluorocarbon line that is not as stiff as the others under those very cold conditions? I generally use 2 or 3 lb line for panfish.                             

Mark replies:  Many manufacturers are producing two grades of fluorocarbon. One being softer and more suitable for main line use and a second stiffer and more suited to leader material. The softer fluorocarbon lines are widely used by bass fishermen who like the reduced stretch of fluorocarbon compared to monofilament. Unfortunately in ice fishing conditions even these softer fluorocarbons become stiff and unmanageable.

It’s not Spring until after the Ultimate Sport Show

By Mark Romanack

The Fishing 411 booth is huge and full of product displays and support 
staff. Stop in to visit with Mark, Jake and the whole Fishing 411 crew 
March 19-22, 2015 at the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.
As spring nears and the winter boat, sport and fishing shows wind down, the Fishing 411 crew is focusing their attention on Michigan’s largest and best known outdoor event. Called the Ultimate Sport Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this show comes by it’s name naturally. Not only is the Ultimate Sport Show, Michigan’s largest outdoor event, the USS is also 70 years young, making it Michigan’s longest continuous running sport show. 

Countless outdoor retailers, outfitters, marine dealers and lure manufacturers come together under one roof to create the “mother of all outdoor shows”.

Two Old Classics

By Mark Romanack with JP Bushey

Classic lures come and seemingly they eventually go. Time marches on,
but the author is reluctant to give up on baits that have produced countless
fish for him over the years, regardless of what “new fangled baits”
may be hitting the market.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Perhaps, but sometimes those “old school” tricks are
all an angler needs to enjoy fishing success any angler would be envious of.

Ontario based Off Shore Tackle pro staffer JP Bushey and his father Larry Bushey have developed a lake trout trolling system that’s simple to master and deadly effective. This father/son fishing team target lake trout on the many rocky shoals of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, but their trolling methods will produce trout anywhere these fish are found hugging the bottom. 

The foundation of this “Bushey Fishing Success Story” focuses on two classic fishing products that have helped generations of anglers be more successful on the water. Together the Bushey family uses these products to catch literally hundreds of trout every year!

Lift, Pause, Drop

By Mark Romanack

The best vertical jig fishermen are more interested
in where the jig is in relationship to bottom than
the movement or jigging motion.
Jig fishing for river walleye is simple. The key to success boils down to an understanding that river
fishing is less about jigging and more about controlling the jig. The typical angler is overly concerned with the need to keep the jig moving and pays little attention to where the jig is in relationship to bottom.

Lift, pause, drop is how I describe the art of vertical jigging to visitors at my seminars or viewers of the Fishing 411 television series. These simple steps are how I concentrate on keeping the jig close to bottom, as motionless as possible and on a tight line that telegraphs strikes readily.

Allow me to explain. To most anglers jigging means moving the jig up and down in a constant motion. While this approach will trigger some bites, in the spring when the water is cold and often murky, too much movement on the jig generally has the reverse impact!