August 6th, 2013
A Solid Debut In Open Water For Williams HQ Spoonsby JP Bushey May 6, 2013
Well as most of you know, anything Lunkerhunt is myMarch 30, 2013
Late last month, I had a chance to test out the new Williams HQs through the ice, for lake trout. Though not really designed as a vertical lure, their action, colour selection and hooking ability got my attention pretty fast. I’ve used Williams spoons for lake trout my entire life. Once I got the boat in, it was full steam ahead. Spoons factor heavily in my early season trolling program, and the fishing this time of year ranges from ‘very good’ to ‘hard to believe.’ I was excited to run these baits and they didn’t disappoint.
Having the option for single, Siwash-style hooks probably seems insignificant, but it’s a responsible choice Williams continues to offer. I do 100% of my lake trout fishing in open water with single hooks. Releases are cleaner and faster. And the HQs run beautifully rigged this way. Cold water periods usually mean lots of action and some very large trout, as well. Responsibly hooking and handling these wild, slow-growing predators is vital.
Calm winds and lots of sun in the days leading up to our trip last week had allowed any water trapped behind islands and in bays to cook pretty steadily. Launching in a sandy bay, I was surprised to see surface temperatures near fifty degrees. In more open areas, forty degrees was more prevalent, and a lot more typical for this time of year. Lake trout are right at home across this range, and we found action in a bunch of spots and temperatures. The days and weeks after ice-out can be fabulous if you’re a big-water trout fan. There’s fish of all sizes everywhere. It really is that simple. I’m normally targeting fish at all depth levels, from shoreline shallows to rock structure and suspended zones from twenty to forty feet deep.
Candied Ice was the winning colour, taking nearly all of the biggest fish. Pink has always been one of my sleeper colours for lakers, particularly in shallow water. This pattern mixes chrome and blue (maybe the best lake trout pattern of all time) with a hot pink accent. Fish have loved it, so far. To tell the truth, pink’s also one of my most consistent colours for muskie and walleye, too. Orange Monkey was really hot, especially in the big, 4 ¼” 60 Size, also. With trout inshore, offshore and spread top to bottom, it’s really common to have success using several different techniques.
Up along shallow structure, like points, inflows and sand/rock beaches, simply running the smaller, 3 ¼” 35 Size with a few splitshot behind Off Shore planer boards was perfect. We were lucky enough to find Georgian Bay in a good mood, with calm seas both days. There’s nothing like watching a good lake trout pile drive your ‘board in glassy water. I had my good friend Dane Saliba along this trip, and he released a gorgeous fish that nailed his bait in less than ten feet of water.
Rigging spoons to run without line twist is important. For years, I’ve used a double swivel rig without issue. All that’s involved are two high-quality, ball bearing swivels. Use one to attach your mainline to about eight feet of fluorocarbon leader material (I use twenty pound Maxima) and run the other directly off the spoon’s split-ring.
For checking deeper, the HQ60 is a big target with extra thump. Behind a Dipsey Diver or leadcore, spoons with these qualities are natural choices for lake trout. We spent a few hours on our last afternoon simply running a thirty foot ledge that broke into over two hundred feet of water. It was hard to get both lines in at times. If you haven’t tried leadcore, give it a shot. It’s got very low stretch and really adds to the fight, with fish like lakers. You’ll feel every hard run or head shake in your toes. Trout were jumping all over the big Orange Monkey almost every pass. The trip was capped off with a fish in the 34 inch class that dusted my spoon as it whipped through an outside turn, over deep water.
Speaking of speed, the HQs proved effective over a range of trolling speeds, from 1.6 to over 3mph. Like most good spoons, they generate strikes on both inside and outside turns. That tells me they’ve got great built-in action. Salmon guys will love this bait. It’s stable enough to handle lots of speed, and runs equally well if you need to back off the throttle a bit. Williams has definitely brought a winning colour pallet to the Great Lakes crowd. Black Sheep, Green Monkey, Northern Lights and Watermelon should all prove deadly. Back in March, I used a Bad Apple HQ35 and the fish were all over it. The HQ Series has made quite the debut for me, so far. I’m looking forward to fishing with them a lot more.
I recently started a Facebook Page called The Bushey Angle to go along with my website, www.thebusheyangle.com. I try to keep the information and photos updated regularly. If you like multi-season fishing for a bunch of different species, stop by and check it out. The Bushey Angle You Tube Channel is another new project. When the ice came off, I posted a video looking at the rigging specifics for spring trout. If you’re getting started, it should get you headed in the right direction in terms of rods, reels and the methods that work best this time of year. There’s some great fishing to be had in the months ahead, and I hope everyone gets out to enjoy it.
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JP Bushey is a multi-species, multi-season fisherman living in Barrie, Ontario. North-Central Ontario’s ‘big water’ is where he spends most of his time, from his home waters of Georgian Bay to The Great Lakes, Lake Nipissing and The French River. JP’s been a freelance fishing contributor for over fifteen years, and enjoys helping people to improve their fishing through his articles, speaking engagements and on-the-water instruction.More by JP Bushey