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Drop-Shotting the Niagara River, Lakes Erie & Ontario
[Or anywhere else as a matter of fact]

Exclusive on OutdoorsNiagara.com  /  by Mark Daul

  Be sure to watch video on tying a Palomar Knot on this page below   and  See diagram below
 


Rainbow Trout

Click to enlarge pictures


Largemouth Bass


Glenvale Lake Walleye

Drop-shot fishing the Niagara River is fairly new to many local fishermen. It is used mostly on the smallmouth bass population and is a very effective way of going after these critters. Of course live bait fishing largemouth this way is a huge benefit!

Perch are also vulnerable to this kind of fishing. Drop-shotting ought to be very effective for perch and bass fishing from shore like the Lewiston Docks for an example. Of course it could be used on walleye/trout/salmon fishing [Oops, see the pictures on the left] but this writer has no experience doing that.

This is deadly fishing weed lines for bass, perch, walleyes or crappies anywhere - try it!

 

ED NOTE: Drop shotting works everywhere. I have used it extensively wherever I fished this past Summer and Fall for perch, crappies, bass, northerns, walleye and rainbows have been personally boated by me using this method. Samples in pics on the left.

 

Another recent note: Bob Izumi won his first U.S.A. Bass Tournament [July 2011] Drop-Shotting. He says: “One of the keys is to not move the bait when you’re drop-shotting,” Izumi said. “I know a lot of largemouth guys like to doodle the rod a little bit, but you will catch much fewer smallmouth doing that. It’s very important when you’re drop-shotting to not move the bait. The less movement, the more fish you’ll catch.”

 

Traditionally a Yellow Sally, a worm harness, minnow rigs, and some popular lures have been the hot producers for Niagara River fish, but what do you do on days when fishing is real tough and the fish don't want to cooperate? Go drop-shotting, sluggish bass can’t resist and you will be able to feel any bump the bass, perch or walleye gives this rig.

Fishing with a drop shot rig is fairly simple but presentation is important. You can fish directly over the side of the boat in a vertical presentation or cast it out and fish in the traditional fashion and drift if you wish. But if you locate fish under the boat, [or dock] by all means, vertical fish no matter how deep the water is. If casting out, do basically the same as vertical fishing. Let your sinker touch bottom and work your bait by raising your line slowly until you feel the resistance from the sinker. Do it again. Then do it again until you “feel” that first bite. You will know immediately that it is a fish and not a bottom snag.

Rigging: Rigging is fairly simple. First, let’s start with your rod & reel. Sure you can use whatever you have but preferably use a good 6’3” to 6’6” [even 7 foot] graphite rod, preferably a fast action quick tip graphite, and a reel you can trust. The reel size should be light, maybe a 2500 series reel or smaller for more fun. Equip the reel with any of the new super braid lines, any color, preferably the light 8 # test. There are many brands on the market ….. and fluorocarbon leader tied with proper knot to the super braid line. These super braid lines offer superior strength and sensitivity plus they are a little more costly than plain monofilaments but there is no need to replace it every fishing season either. Learning about these new lines can be an education in itself if you have never used them before, ask you dealer as many questions as you may have. Big Box stores can not offer you this advice. Always support your independent dealer; they are becoming a rare breed.

You may also buy pre-assembled rigs from your tackle dealer such as Gamakatsu provides. Generally three in a pack and in sizes 4, 2, and 1 or 1/0.  These rigs are pretty neat. You can change the setup in a flash. Check with your independent dealer, he probably has them in stock.

Fluorocarbon has some drawbacks like tying the proper knots but the benefits are the lower-visibility, strength that has a smaller diameter than mono, and no stretch properties. No stretch is important when feeling your fish and when setting the hook. You can feel everything especially when coupled with that graphite rod and good reel.

Tie a 1/0 straight shank or turned out eye light wire hook to the line with a Palomar knot but leave about 18 - 20 inch long tag on the end. Or use the drop-shot designed hook as pictured below. At the tag end tie a preferably, for the Niagara River , a pencil sinker. Weight varies but 1 ounce is a good place to start. [see picture]  You can always shorten the sinker if it seems too heavy for what condition your are fishing.


Click photo for a large picture of rig with a crawfish attached ready for fishing.

Use any live bait you want or soft plastics. The new Berkley GULP 3” minnow baits, Leeches or drop-shot gobies make fine baits that in some cases are as good as live bait. The Berkley GULP minnow comes in three colors, Black Shad, Pearl Silver and Pearl . 3” size is best for river fishing, it simulates a resident emerald shiner. Rigging is done through the nose, same as with a minnow. Hook a leech the same way or a crab like pictured. I stated GULP baits “in some cases are as good as live bait”. My way of looking at them is first, they are not cheap when you first buy them, but neither are minnows anymore. The initial purchase is tough but in many instances more than one fish can be caught using the same bait. If your bait dealer hasn’t got them ask him to order for you. Split the cost with someone and give them a try.

DROP SHOT TIPS

This rig fishes perfectly well
at the Niagara Bar, at the Coast Guard Drift and any other drift in the upper or lower river. Lake fishing with it can be just as productive because of its sensitivity. Deadly on smaller lakes & ponds too!

The whole idea of drop shotting is you have no leaders to tangle and twist and the feel comes directly up the line to you and your graphite rod and good reel.

Tie your sinker with a simple double overhand knot in the unlikely event you get snagged, you can pull the sinker off the line and you are not sitting there rigging a whole new setup wasting valuable fishing time.

Nose hook your minnows, leeches, worms etc. Crabs hook through the tail in conventional manner. [see picture]
Try using plastic gobies, it is known the bass love 'em.

If fishing Lake Erie or in any other deeper waters you may want to use a longer 7 foot or more rod so you can effectively get a better hook set. Remember: A fast tip is best feel and hook set power.

Make rigs beforehand.  Even though you don’t lose many of these rigs because they are pretty much snag-free, you can tie a snap swivel on the end of your superline or mono and have your fluorocarbon leaders tied up complete with sinker for quick changing in the event you lose a rig or want a change. Put the spares in a plastic sandwich Zip-Loc bag or wrap them around a chunk of Styrofoam for storage. I find that foam insulating pipe wrap you find in hardware stores to work perfectly.

Kids: If you take the kids fishing with you, you will find they will have less snags, freeing you up with more time to fish yourself!

 

[See more below] 


    In the Stand Out hook diagram below make sure you tie the hook at the top eye. The bottom eye just holds the hook out. [Thus, Stand Out] Use Palomar Knot. See diagram and video below on this page HERE


NIAGARA RIVER / LAKE ERIE/ANYWHERE DROP SHOT PROGRAM


 

A NOTE ABOUT HOOKS

Even though many will recommend Gamakatsu hooks, you can use similar hooks of that type.
Gamakatsu make a premium extra sharp hook and color is not meaningful for this type of fishing but it is your preference. Just make sure your hook is tied with the Palomar knot to prevent the hook from sliding down the line from the weight of the fish.

The turned out eye is important because you want to keep the hook sticking away from the line. I have always called this hook the "octopus" hook.

The rainbow in the picture above was landed on 6 pound monofilament line and minnow using the Palomar knot.

 

How to tie a Palomar Knot on video
This is a must watch for beginners or if you need a brush-up
A Palomar knot will prevent your hook from sliding down the line

 

Video thanks to Chris Donovan Dept. Virginia Game & Fisheries


Smallmouth Bass


An interesting Tid-bit from Buffalo News Outdoor Writer Will Elliot's column:
[Faircloth and Iconelli are both Pro-Bass Fisherman and are quoted here by Will Elliot
while fishing the Empire Chase Bassmaster Lake Erie Tournament]

You fish a drop-shot — a small plastic worm or minnow on a hook tied 12 inches or so above the sinker, with a swivel to prevent line twist — directly under the boat. You can actually see the swivel, worm and sinker on the graph as they descend — and then watch the bass come and take the bait.

“I’m pretty much seeing [on the graph] all the fish I’m catching this week,” Faircloth said during the tournament.

The other thing to look for are the gobies, the tiny invaders that are welcomed by bass and the anglers who chase them.

The bass feed on the gobies, said Iaconelli, who fished his drop-shots with tungsten weights because “tungsten is super hard, so you can feel everything on the bottom.”

Feel for the spot when the sinker starts hitting rubble instead of smooth bottom, and feel for the tap, tap, tap of the gobies.

The key on Lake Erie? That’s simple, according to Iaconelli: Find the rubble and the gobies in the same spot.

“You know you’re going to get bit when that happens,” he said.


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