Following on from recent posts about my first trips to Finland, I thought I would give a rundown on the most productive lures from last year’s trip.
Whilst for the second year in a row I failed to get beyond the jacks (small pike), what they lacked in size they certainly made up for in number and on light tackle provided great sport on a variety of methods and baits. Several pike and perch fell to float-fished live and dead baits, but most were taken on artificial lures – from surface poppers and frogs, to deep diving plugs and big spoons.
The top performer was Rapala’s rattlin’ weedless minnow spoon in the 8cm / 12g version. In dull and rainy conditions on my 2016 trip, the natural ‘jungle perch’ colour was productive. Conversely, in generally bright and sunny conditions on my 2017 trip, the ‘firetiger’ pattern worked best.
I absolutely love this weedless spoon. It casts like a bullet, has a great wobbling action, reminiscent of the traditional Abu Garcia Toby spoon, and is fishable through the thickest of weedbeds. Seeing the bronze flashes of pike hitting this lure amongst the reeds and lillies is an abiding memory of my Finland trips to date.
On the troll, the 9cm Rapala Taildancer ‘clown’ pattern scored well due to its aggressive action, and pronounced flash and rattle. The smaller, but also deep diving, 7cm Rapala Shad Rap in ‘firetiger’ picked up numerous pike and perch too. I must admit to being a novice when it comes to trolling, but I find it a really enjoyable and very relaxing way to fish, despite being physically hard work without an outboard engine. Watching the nodding of the rod tips, knowing your lures are working well as you slowly patrol a reed line or drop-off is almost hypnotic. This year adding the Deeper fishfinder to the equation only served to heighten the suspense given that you knew when you had just passed over a school of bait fish and it was only a matter of moments before your lures, trailing 20 or 30 metres behind the boat, would do the same. Not a few times did everything work and the rod tip would be savagely yanked round as a hungry pike or perch took right on time.
Last, but certainly not least, I thought I would mention one old friend and one new find. Firstly, the old friend: In these days of hi-tech soft plastic baits and seemingly ever bigger and more gaudy (and expensive) jerk baits, the lowly spinner is often forgotten. Why? Whenever the going got tough I would turn to a traditional Mepps in a size 4 or 5 and be soon back into fish. These lures have been catching fish since the thirties, including the former British record pike, and they are made for catching the eyes of fish as opposed to anglers. For me, they are always near the top of my lure box.
Secondly, the new find: Prior to the trip I had been watching the Pike Fight series on youtube and had seen the Westin team take some good fish on a traditional looking spoon called a Ran Draget. The guys from team Westin explained it was a great spoon for exploring on the drift, and, whilst I waited until the last day to try it out, such it proved to be. My last sortie on Lake Puula was on a dull, rainy afternoon. After quickly picking up a jack close to the bank I manoeuvred the boat out into open water and a new area where an arm of the lake opened into the main lake.
The Deeper fishfinder revealed a steady sloping, weedy bottom dropping from four to nine metres with plenty of bait fish shoals and other bigger fish lying beneath them on the lake bed. A first pass over picked up a fish on the Taildancer, it felt good so I rowed back to the start of the drop off. A gentle breeze was blowing in the right direction, so I decided to drift back over it and cast the big, 32g, Ran Draget, which hoped would fish close to the bottom. I chose a black, bronze and orange pattern which could suggest a bream, of which there are many in the lake. It worked a treat with three fish in three drifts. Again, no biggies, but the plan had worked. On first impressions, this is a simple lure, but with a big flashy and fluttery action that I would put a lot of faith in. I have a few waters in mind back in the U.K. where I fancy its chances before this winter ends.