Helpful Hints Page

Helpful Hints from past years

Helpful hints from Marc, 2006 and 2007

Feb. 22, 2007- Ice Out & Pre Spawn fishing and areas
Ice out fishing is my most anticipated time of year. After 1-3 months of looking at long range forecasts, leafing through fishing catalogs and maybe a trip ice fishing if it's available, I am more than pumped to fire up the Rude and go after the heaviest fish of the year.

Travis gave some excellent tips on his hints page and I will add my (Slightly different) ice out routine for this hit or miss action.

I generally start out in the Marblehead to Cedar Point area immediately after some open water appears and a ramp is open and it's usually in this area first. If there is a lot of ice still floating around you should be OK with any southerly winds but any change in wind direction can trap you out there so you need to be aware of weather conditions. You'll make the news if you get trapped out there and that's at least embarrassing even if someone can get you back to shore minus your boat..

The Sandusky River spawners school up in the deeper waters near shore at Lakeside and out in the open waters all the way to Cedar Point and even to Huron just as they do before it ices up. One of the best days I ever had on Lake Erie was about 5 miles north of Cedar Point with not another boat in sight during mid March, but I've also gotten them a stones throw from the lighthouse at Marblehead and it is usually right where the water drops off into the 30 foot range. My first fish over 10 pounds that was actually 12.5 came during this period quite a few years ago.

This is about the only time of year that I will start out with jigs and Heavy Metal spoons. I use the same tactics that we use in ice fishing by looking for bottom fish in a tight school and then anchoring over them. I don't give these fish much time to react and if I haven't had a hit or caught one in half an hour I pull the anchor and find another school. The newer depth finders (not flashers) will tell you if they are big fish or not with some experience but it won't make them bite and if the fish you find won't bite they aren't worth wasting time on.

My favorite lures for these fish are Swedish Pimples, Rattle Snakie spoons, or Krocadiles and Little Cleos. and a plain old twister tail or Fuzzy Grub with a minnow or 2. Blade baits like Cicada's and Vibe's work also, so give them all a try or one of your favorite jigging spoons. I don't normally put any minnows on my blade baits because it kills the action, however I will use a minnow on the Cicada's.  With their curved sides they will still make some nice movements and the added bait can help at times. You can also use a scent on your minnow less spoons and blades. I like Bait Butter because it sticks and lasts for most of your day but any of them may make a difference with neutral or inactive fish. I save the Hair jigs for the males that turn on a week or 2 later in the reef area.

I also troll this area if I can't get the fish going with jigs or spoons. I troll slow (1MPH or so) but make a lot of turns to mix up the speeds and then adjust the speeds  as indicated by strikes. You will probably lose a few fish with slow speeds but there are a couple things you can try if you are missing more than you are catching. One is to release your bail and hopefully the fish will hold on longer if it doesn't feel the resistance and the other is to give your kicker or electric a burst of speed to help with hook sets. You have to be quick with either method. I use mostly braid but always run at least one mono rod.

Lures are pretty much what Travis had in his report and most of my lines are set high but I like to have something deep until proven that they won't go.  Ripsticks, Husky Jerks or other shallow divers back 50 or 60 feet have pulled a lot of fish for me but the real bruisers seem to come at about  15-20 feet down and that takes a deep diver or weight assistance on the stick baits. This is the time of year that I also like to run a board about 10-15 feet from the boat, as I think as the fish swim out from under the boat that this close lure will intercept those high fish.

If you can get a program going on these fish it can be memorable "and" repeatable until they decide to go up the Sandusky river to spawn and then it is like a light switch turned off and they are out of there almost overnight. Then it's time to head over by the reefs, Islands or near Catawba and look for trophies and to put away the jigs unless you are after the horny males. This is also when I'll start experimenting with Crawler rigs but typically the crawlers don't do much for me until the water temps are in the upper 40's or better.

It won't be long until the ice is broken up and blown to Canada or east and personally I can't wait. It hasn't really been a long winter with that terrific December and early January we had but I'm ready for it to be over so I can shed some of this weight that mysteriously got added to my waistline. I wish you all a terrific Spring season and that all the fishing forecasts are true. It should be another incredible year on Erie and it's just about to start.

Oct. 30, 2006- Cold Weather Fishing & boating
Cold weather fishing! To me there is no more enjoyable time of year for fishing as when the water temps drop to below 50°. The rewards are big fish, small packs of boats and a solitude you don't really get any other time of year in the West Basin. Along with those perks there comes hazards and I'll pass on what I've found to help over the years.

1. Dress warm. It's not fun if you get cold. Gore Tex/Thinsulate combinations are great. I use Cabelas guide wear. There are other good ones out there and they all have the same features that I know of. Even better would be the Mustang or Stern Insulated Floatation suits that are similar to what the Coast Guard wears. If I was buying now that is what I would go for. Stay away from the cotton work clothes, they just won't get the job done unless you are moving around a lot. Gore Tex and Thinsulate come into play with Boots and gloves also. When the temps are over 25° I just wear insulated boots but when it gets colder I wear the Sorel type insulated to 100 below rubber boots. These things will keep your feet warm no matter how cold it gets. Gore Tex is important with boots and gloves as well as clothes because if you get too warm the moisture will wick out from them. Wet equals cold! I've tried the electric suits from Gerbing and found the one we used to be a real power hog and clumsy with the heavy cord you need to plug into. We've retired it!

Those little chemical heat packets are great for keeping your hands warm. Stick one in some oversized gloves or just put them in your pockets and keep your hands warm that way. My girlfriend even puts one in each boot. There are some chemical heaters with adhesive that you can attach just below the nape of your neck. It helps warm blood going to your hands and head and makes a big difference in feeling in our hands and ears. The same thing can be done at your lower back to warm the blood going to your legs and feet. Also carry more of the chemical heater packs than you need because I've found an inordinate amount of them either don't last long or don't work at all right out of the package.

2. Boat tips:
    a. Make sure your boat is in good working order. Radio working, outboard drained on previous trip, battery's charged and an auxiliary motor is especially recommended because chances are you'll be alone out there.
    b. After years of fishing in an open boat I finally broke down and put a cover on my boat this year. Man, Why did I wait so long! This is a fully enclosed cover that encloses the driver and passenger seats with the back of the boat open for fishing. If the sun is shining that is all the heat you need. I've got a disposable propane heater from Coleman to use this winter but haven't used it so far. I've had warnings to not use it and they are probably right but the temptation of warm air is too hard to resist.

    c. Keep your boat neat and tidy. I use nothing but crankbaits at night and 99 percent cranks during daylight hours. There's no need to have a bunch of tackle and gear lying around. Nobody is as nimble or coordinated when it 35° as when it's 75°. Keep your trip hazards to a minimum. When you take off a lure either have a handy place to get it out of the way or put it back in the tackle box right away.

    d. Launching: If you are the first to use a ramp it will probably be dry but as boats use the ramp the water that drains off them could turn to ice. Carry a bucket of road salt or small stones to help with traction. You may also have a boat that is frozen to the trailer bunks. I dunk it in the water, wait a few minutes while the engine is warming up and then use the outboard to assist in getting it loose. If you have some buddies around, rocking the boat helps too. I make sure both engines are working before leaving the dock. 4 stroke kickers are notoriously hard starting in cold weather and I'd rather fire it up at the comfort of the ramp rather than on the lake with a chop going on.

    e. Ice at the ramp: Ice will bust taillights and tear off license plates. Thin ice can be broken easily but if it's a 1/2" or so you will need a spud bar or something to break it up as you back in the water. I like to have somebody at the back of the boat breaking ice as I slowly back the trailer in. Something that works even better is to follow the duck hunters out. Those steel and heavy aluminum boats work out great as icebreakers.

    f. Retrieval: Before picking up your boat check for ice on the ramp and salt or throw some stones on it if needed. When you pull out make sure no ice is trapped between the bunks and bottom of the boat. If it is back the boat back in and get it out of there. It puts pressure spots on your hull and can cause warping or worse yet, holes. After pulling out, I pull the kill switches and crank both engines (while vertical) for a few seconds to make sure all water is drained from the engine and pumps and also make sure all live wells are empty and live well pumps are run dry for a couple of seconds. Also make sure to pull your hull drain plug.

3. Fishing: Daytime trips usually are deeper open water trips anywhere from a mile off shore to several miles off shore. This goes for pre and post ice trips as the fish are staging for the spawn. I typically only run 4-5 lines even if allowed more by law due to lack of dexterity if you get busy and cold. 2 inline boards off each side and maybe a flatline with a Ripstick or other shallow diver off the back run way way back (200 feet or more). I start with an 800 Reefrunner 80 back on an outside line on one side of the boat and 100 feet on the other no matter the water depth. I rarely fish deeper than that but if you feel the need to I would run a snap weight or something on an inside line and try to keep the lead short. Inside lines will be significantly shorter leads anywhere from 10 feet behind the board to 50 feet and they will generally be deep divers as well but Husky Jerks, Rogues, DJ's,  and other smaller bodied less radical lures are started with inside. I change these 2 lures around constantly as the day goes on because they are the easiest to tweak. Like Travis I like to do a lot of turning. This gives a lot of speed variations and it's a good indicator of what the fish want in speed without having to adjust you throttle all the time. In cold water I like speeds under 1.3 MPH and sometimes get into the .7 and .8 range. If you are S-turning even at these slow speeds you will have outside lines going much faster. If these lures are taking more fish then it's time to speed up.

4. Night fishing: Night fishing is almost always done on some type of structure although there are those rare trips that an offshore bite will be better. I like to look for areas with nice developed bait balls but not an overwhelming amount of them. You typically don't mark many fish in shallow water on structure but if there is bait there there will be walleyes. Blue silver Husky Jerks (size 12 and 14) and Mooneye or Gold clown ripsticks run 30-80 feet back have caught more night eyes for me than any other colors but I feel that the night eyes are more into tune with color than the daytime walleyes are so be prepared to change colors often if you are on a slow bite.

     I also have a night time rule of thumb that I use for speed. 1 MPH I like rogues, 1.5 I like Husky Jerks and speeds around 2 MPH I like ripsticks. Deep divers can be used but you will need to use extremely short leads on them and I've found that real slow is better so that they have a rolling action rather than a tight wobble. For extremely shallow (3' or less and shoreline bumping) I have a couple ripsticks that I cut the bill off of so they don't hardly dive at all. Rogues are also good for very shallow water.

On a quiet night listen for shad breaking the surface, trying to get away from predators. That's the best sign that I know of that fish are feeding. Don't try to drive your boat right through the feeders but extend your boards out and try to get your lures through the fish without spooking them with your boat.. 100-200 feet  away should be sufficient. Occasionally you may come up on some shore anglers that you did not know were there. Be polite and get out of their fishing zone as quietly and quickly as possible. Don't get in an argument with them. They deserve some space since they aren't mobile like you are.

I've used all kinds of lights on my boards at night and the Thill Bobber light sticks work wonderfully because they are so light and so far they've been pretty reliable and if mounted on top of the board can be seen easily by other boaters. I drilled an 1/8" hole in the top of my boards and the reamed it to make tight fit for them. some people use a diffuser for them but I think they work fine without a diffuser. The chemical light sticks work well when it's warmer out but in really cold weather they don't generate a lot of light. Recently I've started using the 8 inch battery operated light sticks in a blue color and I'm liking them more all the time, they are really visible but easy on the eyes. I rubber band them right to the top of the board and the board doesn't get top heavy at all and they are cheaper and last longer then the thills and I believe you can change the battery's in them but haven't had to yet.

For a headlight the Ray-O-Vac type adjustable headlamps work really well but after wearing them for a few hours I get a headache. I found a really small LED light at Lowe's that clips onto you hat visor that puts out great light and because it's so small you forget it's there til you need it. It's not adjustable though so you have to tip your head more with this lite.

It is especially important at night to have things put away and orderly with a good place to keep your net handy. It's also advisable to keep light to minimum when you don't need it but to never turn off your navigation lights. Some guys have super spot lights on the back of there boats. It may not always hurt the fishing but it sure plays havoc on the other boaters night vision.

Most importantly keep a look out for other boaters and other obstructions on the water. If you have a chance to get out before dark it wouldn't hurt to take a quick trip through the area you plan on fishing to check things out beforehand. One of the biggest surprises I ever had was trying to troll through some nets at night.

Be safe and have fun!

July 19, 2006-Introduction
Hi everyone, I am Marc Hudson and am known as Ezmarc on the water. I am a Lake Erie guide and hold an 6 pack Captains License, avid tournament fisherman and the founder and President of the Western Basin Sportfishing Association. I'm a retired Water Treatment Superintendent of the Clyde, Ohio Water System and love what I'm doing now! I specialize in traveling charters with 2-3 people, night fishing and trophy hunting are what I like to do best. I approached Dean on behalf of the club in 2005 about taking over his website when I heard he was going out on the road and decided he could no longer keep up the Denied site. We were very gratified that he trusted us enough to let us do just that. We think we are finally getting the hang of it and with all the positive emails we have been getting the last few months we are very encouraged that it's coming together pretty well.

Dean and Travis have given some outstanding reports on the way their boats are equipped and how they use that equipment. My boat is equipped more like Travis's boat than Deans was but the main reason for that is size and the way the layout of the boats are than any personal preference for brands of equipment. I am a troller and I trailer my boat all over the country to fish for walleyes. I started out like a lot of you thinking that trolling was boring and not really fishing. That changed when I fished as an Amateur in a PWT at Put-In-Bay in 1992 or 3 with Dick Stille, Kevin Oldfield and a name long forgotten. Since that time I have equated trolling as controlled drifting and now rarely drift fish except for vertical presentation with jigs or metal or an occasional weight forward trip. Thus these tips will be mostly trolling oriented.

I "will" add to this as time goes by just as Travis does his hints page. I will try not to contradict what he or Dean have said in the past but remember that we all have our own unique style of fishing and that will probably show up on these pages. Remember there is no wrong or right way to set up your boat or to present a lure. I've found that there is always a disclaimer involved in anything fishing related. Nothing is written in stone and there are days when the craziest things come into play. Generally speaking the tried and true methods are always the best way to start but when those methods don't work it's time to experiment and I've done a lot of that.

Don't do it my way or the way somebody on another message board or magazine tells you to, because it may not fit your style of fishing. Use what you read here or elsewhere as a guide and then as time goes by tweak them to your personality and preferred method of fishing. Only you will know what that method is. We are here to take your questions if you have any. If we don't know the answers we'll strive to find out for you.

Thanks and I hope someone gains at least a little information out of these pages.

Marc Hudson
WBSA President

Aug. 16, 2006- Planer Boards
I use Offshore inline planer boards. There are several on the market that will work but day in and day out these have worked out best for me. However there is a disclaimer here. The standard clips on the Offshore boards will not hold up to the waves and big fish of Lake Erie unless you learn to wrap the line around the clips. Even then they lack trustworthiness. I have converted all of my boards to the Offshore snapper release on the front clip and placed a church clip at the back of the board. Even that is not failsafe with the extreme line I use(15# PowerPro). They will still somehow come off occasionally when under the stress of diving or big fish. There are 2 ways to rig the clips and I use the front clip and rear of the board. Travis uses both clips off the front tow arm. The clips the way Travis runs them are probably a little more indicative of strikes than the way I run them. Try them both to see which way you like the best. I tried the tattle tale flags and only used them for a short time before removing the springs and other hardware. I know some people who use them religiously though and they swear by them. I think that once you have used boards for a long time and learned to read them that tattle flags probably are no longer necessary. Until you've become adept at reading boards though you will probably benefit from there use.

Right out of the box the Church boards are a better bargain and the rear clip keeps then from coming off your line. I think they work well under most conditions but feel they lack something when pulling deep diving lures and hard pulling stuff like mini disks, jets and lead. I have just recently purchased one of Church's new TX22 boards to try out. The jury is still out but it appears they pull as well as the Offshore do.

Aug.15, 2006- Weather
Geez! What can we say about weather on Lake Erie. Erie is such a big lake that it can generate it's own weather (in "my" opinion). I used to just get livid when I'd read forecasts of less than 2's and then drive to the Lake and find gale force winds and 6 foot waves crashing into the harbor or vice versa the report would be for gales and then they never showed up and I didn't go to check it out myself. Both scenarios make for a wasted day. With the computer web pages available today it is a lot easier than it was even just a few years ago. There are many weather pages out there but I find myself almost ignoring the NOAA wind and wave forecasts and using Intellicast Accuweather and the Vermilion weather buoy to see what it is doing in the last hour and if it's building or laying down. This is good information generally about what is happening right now and once you get used to reading and interpolating them yourself you can really be more accurate than Dick Goddard at least. I wonder sometimes if he doesn't have a vendetta against Marina and Bait store owners. Anyway there is hardly anything more frustrating than trying to make sense of weather predictions on Lake Erie. Your best up to the minute forecasters are the tackle shops in the area you want to fish (See July 19th's tips). Be safe watch the sky and don't take chances are the tips of the day! Lake Erie can be very brutal at times and then Oh so rewarding the next.
July 19, 2006- Before you go to the ramp or marina
The best way to start any trip (after a complete safety check) is to visit a local tackle store, be courteous and friendly and "BUY" something. As time goes by these owners will remember you and will open up with good information that is available no where else. Don't expect them to welcome you into there inner circle the first time they meet you because they've been burnt by customers so many times that there is a natural defense mechanism built into them after being in business for so many years. You will likely come to have a favorite store but keep your options open by visiting several and if someone gives you good information go back to the store and thank them. It is a rare big box store that can give you the kind of service that these locally owned stores can.
July 19, 2006- We'll start with rods
I use 7 foot GLI Erie Series rods for dipsy's and board pulling except for 2 8 foot ST Croix rods that I use for my outside board rods and for flat lining cranks although the 7 footers would work for that as well. I've had a few minor issues with the GLI's but I really like the action of them and the 7' length works out well on my smaller boat. For lead core and wire I use any old rod that I have laying around. For jigging & casting I just use a cheap graphite rod from Wal-Mart with small diameter fireline and I use these for perch too. I have my dipsy rods rigged with 30# Fireline and PowerPro, my board rods and flatline rods are rigged with 15# power pro so I can get as much depth out of a lure without assistance as possible (This throws off dive curves from Precision Trolling but it was an acceptable trade off to me) and I keep some mono lines around because there are times that mono will get more hookups. I don't have a clue why that is but it does happen.
July 19, 2006- Rodholders
Dean used metal Bert's rod holders and they worked out well for him and many other Erie anglers. In my opinion they are better suited for for bigger boats that have more freeboard. In smaller fishing boats like my Triton, I prefer to have rodholders that allow you to remove the rods from the holders without leaning out of the boat. In the past I have used Roberts and RAM holders. I prefer the RAMS in most instances but I still use a couple older Roberts holders when I am running vertical presentations and doing a lot of turning. The RAMS will slip the rod from the holder in those cases and while I've never lost a rod it is always a heart stopping moment when it happens.

I have been using RAMS since 2000 and before that I used Roberts for about 10 years with no failures even while pulling dipsy's. That said, I have heard of failures with plastic holders and would hate to steer you into trouble. If you use plastic holders then you must check your drags every time you pull hard pulling equipment or expect to catch hard hitting fish like Steelhead. Like Dean I have 12 mounts available so I can place them according to circumstance. Don't let my preferences sway you away from the metal tube type holders. If I didn't have a constant stream of inexperienced anglers on my boat I would probably buy and use the Cisco rodholders. They have what I consider the best holder on the market today with infinite adjustments although they are pricey. For a more moderately priced tube rod holder I would use the LPG Systems equipment but would still keep a few plastics around for versatility.
July 19, 2006- Reels
Unlike Dean's understandable preference for Daiwa 27's, I use Okuma Convectors in the 15 and 20 series. There were some issues with Okuma a couple years ago but I believe they've been corrected and even if not I prefer the action of them for when I have women or children on the boat. Their line counters don't always reset the way I'd like them to but I've learned to deal with it. I would stay away from the Okuma Magda 20's. All the ones I have tried have failed me pretty quickly. For lead core I started out using my old workhorse Daiwa 47 line counters and Penn 209's and have about 15 reels rigged up with different segments. I am phasing out the Daiwas however and replacing them with Okuma Magda 40's because of the easier action of them (I don't think the Daiwa's will ever wear out cause I've been using them for maybe 12-13 years and not one failure yet). For jigging and perch I again just use a cheapo reel from Wal-Mart or local bait store.

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