2008 Goal: postponed...
Currently: ? species
The uni knot is versatile, easy to tie, and strong. Use it to tie on hooks or join two lines together with the double uni knot. Works great for tying dissimilar lines together or a leader to braid. For tying a braid backing to heavier mono or even a leader to braid the Red Phillips knot is faster and smaller.
Jigging for Lake Trout: Technique: Dealing with Wind
The wind influences your day on the water in several ways. A stiff breeze will blow you along at a good clip, and this can make it hard to keep your jig on the bottom, where it belongs. The choppy lake surface can also make it hard to detect some strikes- those that occur on the drop and a light tap can be hard to feel if you and your rod are bouncing around. A little drift is good, though, as you will cover a swath of water, effectively trolling along at a very slow rate as you bang your jig on the bottom, kicking up mud, flailing like a dying sawbelly, and in general causing a disturbance that attracts lakers. There are several ways of dealing with the wind that will get you an effective drift yet keep your lure in the zone- right on the bottom. The ideal is a perfectly vertical presentation when jigging with a slow drift in between drops. In practice, being vertical enough that you can feel your jig on the bottom while slowly drifting is generally good enough.
Trolling Motors are nearly a necessity. Or an awfully long anchor cable, preferrably one with a winch! (Just kidding- it's usually not practical but in shallower water anchoring may be the answer if boat control is impossible. I choose not to fish if it's very windy.) A trolling motor with a foot pedal is best, as you have both hands to fish with. I've never had the luxury of using one of these. These do come at a significant price increase over hand-models but if you can afford the outlay or your boat is already equipped it's a big help.
With hand control models stand nearby as you will be constantly adjusting the boat position. Anywhere from once every few minutes to several times a minute you will want to adjust the speed or direction of the trolling motor to stay vertical. Left a foot, into the wind ten feet, slip sideways a little- when I'm jigging the motor is on a very high percentage of the time. A good, strong trolling motor that can move your boat around in 10-15 mph winds is going to help your jigging experience immensely. Jigging in stronger winds is possible but not much fun. This does depend somewhat on your boat. If you don't have access to one, there are ways to slow your drift and still be successful, but it is very helpful.
To summarize, you want, no, need, to be as vertical as possible. There are exceptions to this but they are few and far between. A slight angle is okay as long as you can feel your jig. If you aren't vertical, your lure is NOT on the bottom and in the zone. You may catch a few fish here and there, but you also lose a lot of sensitivity when the line moves off of the vertical. If you start drifting sideways, your line moves too- but your jig wants to stay where it is. As you slide off to the side, a bow develops in your line that adds a lot of water resistance, which in turn adds perceived weight to your rod tip, and your sensitivity and ability to detect strikes is drastically reduced. Your jig will pull off the bottom and catching fish becomes difficult.
One trick I've learned to free up both hands is as follows. Drop the jig overboard. Starting with this step greatly increases your chances of catching lakers. (Actually, your chances increase a thousandfold if you remember to tie the jig to the line first! I've lost a few jigs by forgetting this important step.) Keep track of it on the way down- either on the fishfinder or simply by counting down to your last depth. While the jig is dropping, stay directly on top of it, and as it approaches the lake bottom, give yourself a little forward (into the wind) boost on the trolling motor for a few seconds. Turn off the motor, and start jigging- depending on the wind you can maintain contact with the bottom for 5-30 seconds. If you lose it, jog forward again, in front of your jig location, and repeat this process. By a combination of jigging and jogging you can stay in one spot or slowly drift as conditions dictate. I'll often stat vertical until the jig is down and I've jigged it for a few seconds, then as I'm retrieving it allow the boat to drift a little- this allows you to cover some ground rather than staying in exactly the same place.
With more than one person in the boat staying vertical can be hard. While the person running the trolling motor maybe in good shape, if the boat turns at all it means the person at the other end will experience a big movement that will pull their line off the vertical. In this case try to maintain a straight drift by using a drift sock or by using the trolling motor to pull you into the wind. With my boat and trolling motor I find the lowest setting is often enough to pull me slowly upwind in a 5-8 mph breeze. If I just let the boat drift freely it goes too fast.
Heavier Jigs are a simple way to combat the wind. They fall faster and get to the bottom in much less time. I'll go up to two ounces in deep water and high winds. I haven't founds a two ounce jighead, but the spoons (Hopkins Shorty for example) are great producers under these conditions. A one ounce head in 50 fow isn't out of the question. This also give you the option of dragging your jig across bottom, which can result in violent strikes!
I've had success in high wind by dropping the lure, drifting until it hits bottom, dragging until it lifts off of the bottom, dropping it again, and repeating... this can run a lot of line off of your reel in a hurry in a stiff breeze. Still, it can be effective. Your final "reel in" then pulls your jig at a low angle back to the boat. This is a good technique to try if you find the wind is blowing you quickly down the lake, but there are also times the Lake Trout will prefer this presentation. It's not vertical or horizantal like trolling but somewhere in between. If you're marking a lot of fish but are unable to raise them far off bottom, this is a good option- it provides swimming movement to the lure without immediately lifting it out of the strike zone.
Casting Ahead of your boat is another good way to keep up with the wind and is an excellent technique when there are several fishermen on board. Either let the boat drift freely or use the trolling motor to slow it down but you want to drift in a straight line. Instead of dropping the jig directly into the water, cast in the direction you are drifting. With a little practice you can time it so the jig hits lake bottom just as you drift over it. How far you cast ahead depends on drift speed, water depth, and falling rate of your jig. This can be a good searching pattern, too- cast, drift, jig until you lose bottom, reel, repeat.
If all else fails and boat control is tough, a straight drop to the bottom and retrieve without any jigging will produce some lakers. These techniques may work in adverse conditions, or if you don't have a trolling motor, but keep in mind the "vertical ideal" as it really makes a huge difference in catching lake trout.