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Willard Halloweenie

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Willard Halloweenie
Been a long time since I did any "real" trick or treating. I can't go out on the streets when little kids are out there. Even without a spooky costume I scare the heck out of the younguns...and some older ones too.

So, I figgered I would do some trick or treating all by my ownself. Put on my float tube fisherman costume and headed for Willard...north marina. And boy was I all by my ownself. Only car in the lot when I launched at 8 and still the only car there at noon departure. I guess I gotta change deodorant or something.

Air temp a chilly 32 and water just over 51. Warmed to about 52 for both air and water by noon. Yee haww. Heat wave.

Clear and calm. But you woulda thunk it was raining. The surface of the water...inside and outside the harbor...was covered with rings and splashes of shadlets. And the terns and gulls were dining royally...above water. I suppose all the fishies were dining well below water too. Wherever I went today my sonar screen was full of shad.

Game plan for the day was to downsize baits and lures and fish low and slow...or vertical. My fishing logs over the years show that this is the best approach once the fall temps take a dive. So only one of my five rigs was a medium rod. The others were all medium light or light. I hoped to find a crappie, perch, walleye or wiper...but my lack of pride left it open for catfish to play if they wanted.

My medium stick was rigged with a flig. (Rhymes, huh?) Dragged around a fligged minnow on that rod while going through a procession of small plastics and baitbug jigs. Also had a slip bobber rig.

Eagle beach bay was overrun with gulls...swimming, flying and chasing the numerous surface showing shad. Should call it seagull beach instead of Eagle Beach. And my sonar showed over half the 11-12 foot water column thick with shad almost everywhere. It began to look like there were not likely to be many hungry fish.

No hits for about an hour...either on jigs or fligs. Finally, after the sun peeked over the mountain my flig and minnow setup went bendo and I brought in my first Halloween cookie from Willard. That was it for a while. But I did get a couple of non-catlike whacks on plastics...no hookups. And later I had a nice crappie on a slip bobber rig...but it gave me back my jig while still well out of landing net range.

I was enjoying the solitude. No boats at all on the lake. Just little old me and my trick or treat tube. Then I downsized my flig to one of the new mini models I just made. Bingo. Game on. For the rest of the morning I had pretty steady action. The little flig was the same fire tiger color as the larger one but the kitties seemed to like it better. That was okay by me.

I had little difficulty collecting a limit of nice Halloween cookies by about 10 am. Some were chunky cookies...up to 24". I kept fishing different areas and different depths...hoping to find something without whiskers. No treats. Just tricks. I released another half dozen or so nice sized kitties before kicking back in about noon.

Couldn't believe it. Still no other vehicles in the parking lot. As I pulled my tube up on the ramp and detached my fish basket I noticed there were about a dozen "upchucked" shadlets floating around inside. Apparently the kitties ate too much of their "Halloween candy" and got sick. Serves 'em right. Couldn't help notice that the barfed shad were about the same size as the small minnows with which I was tipping my fligs. Hmmmm?

Lovely day. And once again the everlovin' kitties came to play. They filled my trick or treat bag with some lovely treats.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Same left hand, same dirty gray glove, same watch band and same catfish.

Good to know your Halloween costume worked out. Had the fish known it was you they would have probably looked the other way. Glad you got your treat.

RJ
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Re: [r2u2] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
r2u2 wrote:
Same left hand, same dirty gray glove, same watch band and same catfish.


RJ

No kidding, I think maybe you just post the same pics over and over. Smile

That's an interesting post. I didn't realize the lake got that chock full of shadlets. That's promising. And you got some kitties to actually choose your bait over millions of others they could have had. Good thing there are some dumb ones out there. Sounds like you had a fun day after all.


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Many a problem will solve itself if you'll forget it and go fishing.



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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Wow, a 24 incher, nice, sounds like a great Halloweenie and a great haul. Would you say those new mini models are about half the size of your normal Fligs?


BFT administrator and moderator

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Looks like you got your candy basket filled. 24" kitties out of Willard are pretty nice fish. I thought you might find some hungry walleye this time of year but sounds like the shad are keeping them well fed.
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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Pat that's incredible that you can keep those kitties biting this late into the year... Nice job, wish I wouldn't have used so much leave lately so I could take off and go fishing and join ya... But then I probably wouldn't have been able to figure out the code this time of year... So what size hooks do you use in your mini fligs? Thanks for a great report again... Later J
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Re: [r2u2] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
r2u2 wrote:
Same left hand, same dirty gray glove, same watch band and same catfish. RJ

I ain't superstitious...just resistant to changing something that works. And too cheap to buy new stuff. Although I am shopping for a new pair of fleece gloves. Those have served me well but are getting a bit worn. I DO wash them once a year, whether they need it or not.



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Re: [MisterCompletely] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
  "I didn't realize the lake got that chock full of shadlets. That's promising. And you got some kitties to actually choose your bait over millions of others they could have had. Good thing there are some dumb ones out there. Sounds like you had a fun day after all."

This is an above average year...both for water levels and for shad production. DWR actually planted fewer wipers the last couple of years because of the poor shad numbers. There was a great spawn and recruitment this year for shad and reduced numbers of predators.

Actually, I usually do fairly well on catfish this time of year because they are accustomed to dining on late-hatched shad (still very small) that get caught by colder water and insufficient food (zooplankton) before they can convert their mouth parts and diet to be able to subsist on other food. There is a massive dieoff and the dead ones drift down to waiting jaws. My small chub minnows are usually a good menu substitute.

This year there are more larger shad and they are being munched by all the surviving predators. But I did not see any boils. When water is cold and feeding is easy the wipers just swim around with their mouths open when they get hungry.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
It,s kinda like, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

One could say the same for most of us. Seems the most thing I change is bait and the way it has been going that isn't very often.

RJ
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Re: [wiperhunter2] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
I kept a 24 and a 23 incher...and released a few more in the same size range after I had my limit. It has been great seeing some bigger sizes on the cats this year. I think the reduction in wipers and the higher water both play a part. More food (crawdads) and more cover for feeding and spawning for the cats.

The new fligs are on smaller size 2 hooks...and with only 1/3 cut of smaller 1/4" foam tube. The larger ones are made with 3/8" foam and are on size 1/0 to 3/0 hooks. Here is a pic. They present a smaller profile but still float a small minnow or a half crawler.




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Re: [fish_fear_me2] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Yeah, a 24 incher is a "cookie cutter" on Utah Lake, but is in the top end at Willard. But those Willard kitties are always top end eating.

Most years I do well on walleyes this time of year on Willard. But this year the walleye numbers are way down. Nobody is getting any. And wipers are fewer too. Combine that with a surplus of food and it is no wonder the fishing has been off...except for kitties.

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Re: [SkunkedAgain] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
"So what size hooks do you use in your mini fligs?"

Size 2...but I could use 4 or 1. I can make them any special size to suit the type of bait I plan to use. I also plan to try them with Gulp Minnows for the whities at Bear Lake.

See the pic in my reply to WH2.

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Re: [r2u2] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
r2u2 wrote:
It,s kinda like, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
RJ

Perzackly! Most of the lures, baits and techniques I use have been the end result of a lot of experimentation. I am always trying new stuff. But when something proves itself I don't quit using it until I find a better replacement.

It's like the old fisherman's adage: "Don't leave fish to find fish."

But I do gotta plead guilty to sometimes putting aside the tried and true to experiment with something new. If it does not work as well, I find that out quickly. If it works better...I know I have a winner. If it works the same...I know that it needs some more double-blind trials. Nothing ever makes it into my "basic food groups" category until it has survived multiple side by side comparisons.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
I wonder if your small fligs would work for ice fishing?
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Re: [1sthound] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
I suspect that when perch or other species are hanging a specific distance above the bottom it could be helpful to present your bait/lure at a prescribed depth. I already fish that way "dropshot" style, by using a weight on the end of the line and tying in my jig at the height I want. That works well in most cases but having a floating jig that insures it won't sink into the weeds, rocks or mud might provide something extra.

I gave up ice fishing last year, but I can still make small ice fishing size fligs...with glow if needed.

There are a myriad of applications for the use of a floating jig head. I posted my writeup a few days ago on another thread. Here it is again for anyone who might want it.

application/pdf FISHING FLIGS.pdf (4.36 MB)
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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Hey Pat,
Thanks for reposting that, I didn't finish reading it and couldn't remember which post I seen it in... Great read so far, just wanted to see the end of the story... Thanks J
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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Great entertaining post as always, and glad to see you're making the best of the fall fishing season. Been trying to finish up all my fall chores so I can get out a time or two before stuff freezes over.
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Re: [high_n_dry] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Thanks Glenn. Thought you were going to come over to melt some lead. Ready when you are.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
PM sent
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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
TD have you witnessed the Shad start to die off if so what water temp usually triggers that ?

Thanks
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Re: [Bassin_Blitz] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
I have observed the dieoff several years...usually around the first part of November. But the ones that die off are usually little more than an inch or so in length. Haven't seen that last year or this year, with the higher water. The smallest I saw yesterday were the 2 inchers barfed up by the cats. A lot of the ones popping the surface were at least 3-4 inches long...or bigger. There was an extended spawn this year beginning in late April and going through May into June. That results in multiple size classes and more food available to predators over a longer period of time. Those gizzard shad can be over 7 inches by the end of their first season.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Pat how big of shad are still considered feed stock for the average fish in Willard? I assume the big cats, eyes and Wiper may take them up to a foot long or so, but I'll bet the average fish probably have a tough time with the 7"ers don't they? I guess if they're hungry they eat what they have to. Seen a couple 20" Mac attack a 12" brookie and tear it to pieces in front of me. It was right after ice off and the brookie was stunned from just being caught by me. But it surprised me to see fish not a lot bigger eat one near their size. That was a good trip, the fish were hungry and would take about anything. Probably not at all like Willard is now. Later J
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Re: [SkunkedAgain] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
The average wiper, walleye or cat actively pursues and munches gizzard shad up to about five inches. That is based upon what I have gotten from DWR biologists and what I have observed from filleting a lot of fish from Willard. As long as there are smaller shad in the system the predators eat well. But after the small ones grow too big...or die off in cold water...the predators have to rely on other food resources until about June of the next year.

Walleyes do not get as large in Willard as they used to...when there were no shad and the main forage species was crappies. In those days the "average" walleye taken through most of the year was at least 24 inches...and they regularly ate crappies up to 8-10". Bigger walleyes ate even bigger crappies. And some overdid it. After a big west wind blow during the night it was common to find large walleye with big crappies stuck in their throats...dead or dying...washed up in the rocks north of the entrance to the south marina.

Not many macks in Willard. But if there were I am sure they would eat larger shad. Not many brookies in Willard either.

I am attaching a couple of walleye pics from the early 1980s. The limit was 6...but only 2 over 22". It was rare to catch small walleye from Willard in those days so most limits were two fish averaging about 5 pounds. It has been a long time since I caught any walleye that big from Willard.

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Re: [TubeDude] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
Nice pics Pat, seems like everything was better in the 80's must have been the music and mullets?...Too bad I didn't have a clue how to catch anything besides trout at the time... Thanks for the intel on the munchen minnow size... Later J
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Re: [SkunkedAgain] Willard Halloweenie In reply to
SkunkedAgain wrote:
Nice pics Pat, seems like everything was better in the 80's J

Yes, things were different then...but not always better. Utah is a desert state and the vicissitudes of weather play a major role in the health and fishing productivity of our waters. Thankfully, for us, DWR has been very active and proactive in trying to provide better fishing experiences for us...through introductions of species better suited for some waters that only produced mediocre fishing with trout or other "old-school" species.

The walleye were more plentiful...and bigger...in those days. Ditto for catfish. And the crappies were so thick they were pests. But few people fished for catfish and not many more for crappies. There were a few walleye fans but not many. So Willard was really not utilized as much as it is today. Since the introduction of shad and wipers there are a lot more angler-hours on Willard...for all species. And most years the anglers are reasonably well-rewarded for their efforts.

Better then? Some might think so. But a lot more of today's anglers are happy with the current mix.

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