Santa has us figured out. His yearly call for fishing details was still a surprise last year but has started to become predictable. He knows that we attend The ICAST fishing trade show in July, the NWT tournaments throughout the year, while also travelling across the continent visiting bait shops and local guides across the continent to film our Next Bite TV shows. We seem to receive a call from the North Pole about the first cold front in October.
Santa started as usual, “Hey Gary and Keith, what new gear do you have for us this year?” and no surprise, we had a long list of equipment to help fill stockings. The next question threw us off, “What do you have to help control my boat in the summer to catch more walleyes?”
“Santa, We thought that you made toys and managed elves all summer to keep up with demand?” we replied just before the secret slipped.
“The elves eventually get a bit worn down with my jokes so, by mid-summer they send me to Fort Peck, Montana to catch walleyes,” Santa replied, “No one notices me up there but the trolling bite seemed to slip a bit this year in the wind.”
Trolling control starts with an electronically an adjustable electric bow mount like the Motor Guide Xi5. Set this motor to the speed needed for the conditions (often 2.0 mph during mid-summer) and it will automatically compensate for wave slap, wind changes, and currents. To augment the electric, a gas kicker keeps the system running all day.
Fine tuning our Mercury 9.9 hp Pro Kicker, starts with the Powrtran Tailfin kicker control system. This gives us remote control steering of the kicker from anywhere in the boat.
“I appreciate the detailed focus on each piece of gear in your boat for walleye fishing, those ideas will help me catch more next summer,” Santa added.
The trolling conversation continued with the new Berkley crankbaits released this year. The Shallow Flicker Shads have their own unique action, similar to the deeper diving Flicker Shads, but with less depth. These work great trolling shallow water because they ride further behind planer boards without digging bottom.
The new Jointed Flicker Shads provide a high-action rolling-vibration motion to the Flicker lineup and work great all summer. The Jointed Flicker Shads and the Flicker Minnows also have some new Firetail paint schemes where the back of the bait is painted a highly contrasting color, and that combo has been deadly thoughout the year.
Santa said, “Flicker Minnows have been a slam dunk for over a decade, thanks for giving me a fresh set of lures to fill the stockings.”
“Santa, when at Fort Peck do you ever jig for the lake trout?” we wondered (hoping for some information for a potential TV show next year). Santa Replied, “Yes, and those size #3 Moonshine Shiver Minnows seal the deal.”
“Great,” we answered, “Maybe we can get you some of the colors like KK Shad, Glow Topper, and Glow Tuna before they are released to the public. Otherwise, look for them in 2020.” “Plus, if you are really into different colors, check out the Renegade Outdoor Innovations site for custom painted hard lures and soft plastics from many of the top lure companies in the country.” we added.
Living at the North Pole brings plenty of ice fishing opportunities. The top items that Santa liked from our list included:
In fact, the ice fishing conversation went on a long time with many new details that we learned in our TV outings.
“Santa, your big day is coming up. How do you survive 24 hours in a sleigh?” we asked.
Santa replied, “Those Airwave pedestal seats made a huge difference last year. I was able to ride faster through those Minnesota storms and finish my route an hour early.” Then Santa added, “I also ran the HDS Live mapping feature on my Lowrance sonar to map all of the houses I visited last year. I hope this will save even more time this year.”
Always looking for new details Santa asked one last question, “If a walleye fisherman has everything, what should I drop in their stocking?”
“That is an easy answer,” we replied, “Berkley Fireline Ultra-8 in 10-lb test and a handful of Fusion19 Snap jigs.” The line is a stronger, more durable Fireline combined with the slick coating similar to Nanofil for long casting. Anglers expecting a small upgrade come back surprised by the casting distance increase. Because of the increased action, Snap Jigs have replaced the standard ball head jig in much of our early season casting applications. “You might as well add some Berkley Powerbait Champ Minnows because that is our go-to trailer for the Snap Jigs.”
With that, Santa’s phone had the telltale click of someone on the other line. “Elves are having trouble with the toy trains so I need to get back to work. Thanks Keith and Gary for all of the information and ideas, I hope my elves save one of each for me.”
Working with Santa sure has its ups and downs. At least we know that he is testing the product on the water before giving them out. Like all good anglers, Santa knows where to find the right gear for The Next Bite.