by Trevor Sumption
Unless you’ve been hiding in your fish cooler for the last couple years, you’ve probably heard reports about awesome catches of big kings taken on meat rigs. Many anglers, myself included, have used meat as a last ditch effort to get bites on tough days, but most haven’t really learned how to maximize their effectiveness – so I called Netminder Captain George Peplinski and asked him to share his top meat rig fishing tips with us.
Captain George knows a thing or two about fishing meat. Fishing out of Onekama, MI the Netminder averaged 40-bites per day on meat during the 2011 fishing season. George is a member of the Erie Dearie pro-staff and helped Dreamweaver design their new meat rigs.
Top 4 Meat Rig Tips:
Speed control – Capt. George says speed control is absolutely critical when fishing meat rigs. He keeps his probe speed at 2.0 MPH to get the bait to do one roll per second.
Leader length – In cold water Capt. George uses a 32” leader, which gives the rig a snappier action. He switches to a 40” leader in warm water to produce a lazier action.
Big attractors – Capt. George relies exclusively on 10” Spin Doctors on his divers, leadcore, and copper, while an 11” Paddle will always be on the deep chute rigger.
Color – Once Capt. George feels he has found the fish’s color preference, he’ll color coordinate every rig in the water. For example, if blue is the color, he’ll rig a blue bait head, blue teasers, blue flasher, and even a blue diver. Blue, green, and glow are consistently good color choices, and a glow bait head coordinates well with most rigs.
A typical summertime charter set for Capt. George consists of 11 rods featuring: spoons or plugs on the two boom riggers; an 11” Paddle with a meat rig off the deep chute rigger; two wire divers per side – each with a Spin Doctor and meat rig; one leadcore per side off an in-line board – each with a Spin Doctor and meat rig; and one copper line per side off an in-line board – also with a Spin Doctors and meat rigs. In tournaments with a 9-rod limit, he pulls the two boom rigger rods and uses 100% meat. Capt. George will put his Fish Hawk probe on one of those boom riggers without a fishing line on it. This allows him to easily monitor speed throughout the water column and keeps the probe in the water 100% of the time.
A little about the meat itself – most anglers have been using commonly available herring strips, but ballyhoo strips are becoming available now too. Capt. George has not seen a preference from the fish, but does believe that ballyhoo is a little tougher, holding up to 2 fish, and it has brighter silver scales and more flash. Pre-packaged bait strips are available at most tackle shops in popular Great Lakes ports. Or soon you’ll be able to go to eriedearie.com and have bait shipped directly to your house packed in dry ice in a reusable cooler.
If you have questions about meat rig fishing, or are interested in booking a trip to learn the details firsthand, Capt. George encourages you to email him at email@example.com.