Mark Romanack

            At Fishing 411 TV boats come and boats go. Every year our team rigs new boats which are in turn displayed at the winter boat/sport/fishing shows. Those same boats are then the focal point of our spring, summer and fall filming efforts. Come winter, those boats are put on the market and new ones are rigged to start the process all over again.

The 1866 Sportsman is a versatile boat. This particular model can be rigged with either a prop drive or jet drive outboard making it ideal for a wealth of fishing situations.


            In my long-standing career as a media guy I’ve owned nearly 40 different fishing boats. I’ve said many times over the years that I don’t get too emotionally attached to fishing boats. That’s only partly true, because some boats do get me excited.

            A few years back I took a shine to a utility boat known as the St...

            At Fishing 411, spring is my favorite season. In a typical year there are so many places to fish and so many species to target, we as a TV production crew can’t even scratch the surface.

            Case in point, to date this spring I’ve fished the Detroit River, Lake Erie, Milwaukee Harbor, Lake Ontario, Green Bay, the Niagara River, Benton Harbor and Grand Traverse Bay. For every place our TV crew has visited, there are two or three others we want to visit and just can’t find the time.

            In short, spring is a productive time of year for fishing because almost everything with fins is biting in April and May. The down side to Spring fishing is the unstable weather that often spoils the fun. The spring of 2019 will go down as one of the worst when it comes to bad weather and bad fishing conditions.

Usually in April the...

Back when I started fishing professionally over 30 years ago, walleye fishing was a little different. Yes, there were walleye way back then and no they did not swim with dinosaurs!

            One of the presentations that routinely produced fish in those days was a technique known as “tipping” a wobbling plug. Tipping is the process of adding one or two inches of nightcrawler to either the belly or tail treble hook on a wobbling plug. Tipping presents a scent stream in the water and a little different action or look to the bait.

Talk about ole school, this Spring Frog FlatFish is not only an ole school bait it’s an ole school color choice as well. Mark, pictured here with this dandy walleye, on the other hand is just old!


            Back in the day, tipping was hugely popular and yet today I can’t remember the last time I witnessed anyone else doing it. Strange how times and fi...

The lipless crankbait is hardly the new kid on the block, but for walleye anglers these lures are just starting to make a splash. Classic lipless crankbaits like the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap or Cotton Cordell Super Spot have been catching bass for decades. Most often used for fishing among submerged wood or aquatic weeds, the lipless design of these crankbaits allows them to fish through cover with amazing efficiency.

Lipless crankbaits are making a big splash among walleye anglers these days. Once thought of as a “bass lure” lipless baits do a great job of triggering strikes from walleye like this.


            Not only do lipless crankbaits fish well in cover, they produce a lot of vibration and rattling noise in the water. Bass fishermen reach for these baits not only when fishing in cover, but when faced with stained and off color water.

            Walleye fishermen are arguably late to the party when i...

Anyone can fish walleye in a river system, but only a select group of anglers are routinely successful in flowing water. Rivers comes with a complete set of fishing issues. Namely, maintaining boat control in moving water comes with some challenges.

Jake Romanack of Fishing 411 TV holds a typical river walleye caught vertical jigging

in the upper St. Clair River.


             In part, boat control when fishing is rivers is challenging because the variables are constantly changing. In the early morning typically the winds are light and keeping a boat working in synch with the anglers aboard is fairly straight forward. As the sun comes up, so does the wind and suddenly a boat that was easy to control is now cascading downstream like a runaway kite.

            Because the wind can come from any direction, boat control becomes a constantly changing chore. Boat control is complicated by how the wind drif...

At Fishing 411 we believe that little things make a big difference in fishing success. It’s the refinements associated with fishing that often separate the average fisherman from those who are consistently successful.

The author believes firmly in tackle matching his rods and reels to enjoy the best balance and function from his gear.

            Tackle matching is one of those refinements I have been preaching for decades. When trolling and even for jigging and casting applications, I strongly feel that anglers who equip themselves with balanced and matching rods and reels are going to be consistently more successful. This is precisely why many manufacturers of rods and reels create tackle series that are designed to make it easier for anglers to match up the right rods and reels for specific fishing presentations.


            A good place to start this discussion is with line counter style trolling reels. Most angl...

The times, they are a changing. When I first started taking a serious look at developing my trolling skills, there wasn’t much in the way of trolling reels on the market to pick from. Most of the reels we did have to choose from were sloppy handled bushing reels. The silky smooth continuous anti-reverse and ball bearing reels we have today were only pipe dreams in those days.

The times have certainly changed since the author purchased his first Daiwa trolling reels more than 40 years ago. These days trolling reels come in a much wider assortment of models, sizes and features including both traditional round frame reels and the new low profile designs.


            The retrieve ratio on those reels were also painfully slow. Landing a fish back in those days required lots of cranking. Also, there were no such thing as power handles, left hand retrieve reels, self engaging clutches or high capacity reels.


For those anglers who spend a lot of time chasing walleye in the winter months, it’s the jigging spoon that does the heavy lifting. Ironically, during the rest of the year the jigging spoon gets little love from walleye enthusiasts. Thankfully, in the winter months this oversight is more than made up for.

For winter walleye jigging, it’s the jigging spoon that does the heavy lifting.


             The jigging spoon is so effective on winter walleye, nearly every tackle manufacturer has a walleye spoon or two in their catalogs. Having a wide variety of spoons to choose from is a good thing, but based on my results ice fishing for walleye across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Ontario the baits that work day in and day out represent a rather short list.

            This is one example when being on the “short list” is a good thing because these are the baits that produce in a wide...

            A growing number of anglers who fish in-line planer boards are asking questions about how best to release the board when a fish is hooked or just for switching out unproductive lures. Perhaps the first question we should attack is why is it important to rig in-line board so it can be tripped?

Once the line is released from the tow arm, the Off Shore Tackle Side Planer simply spins around in the water and stops planing to the side. The board remains fixed to the line thanks to the OR16 Snap Weight Clip mounted to the back of the board. The board and fish are reeled in together and the board removed from the line when it gets close enough to the boat the angler can reach it.


            Back in the day when in-line planer boards were just starting to show up on the trolling scene, a lot of anglers where making the transition from using a planer board mast system to using in-line boards. At the t...

Based on the number of e-mails and other communications I’m getting about the DeTour Passage Atlantic Salmon show that aired recently, it appears guys are more than a little interested in this fishery. The good news is that the DeTour Passage fishery is largely overlooked and has great potential. The bad news is that collectively the number of Atlantic salmon that are raised and released into Lake Huron and the St. Mary’s River is modest enough that these impressive fish are not likely to become the next big thing in Great Lakes fishing. 

Brightly colored spoons like this Orange Chilly Willy by Wolverine Tackle proved to be the most productive color patterns for targeting Atlantic salmon at DeTour Passage.

            Currently the stocking efforts for Atlantic salmon include about 30,000 to 35,000 fish from the Lake Superior State University Aquatic Research Lab that are stocked in the St. Mary’s River.  Another 100,000 Atlantic salmon raised by the Michigan DNR that are stocked “Johnny...

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