Rods and Reels
On Lake St. Joseph you will need to have equipment to fish either Walleye, Northern Pike or both. It is possible to fish these two species with the same rod and reel, however it is suggested that you have at least one rod and reel set up for each type of fish. This is important because Walleye and Northern provide very different challenges to the angler.
Walleye: In regards to Walleye the angler should be equipped with a rod and reel that are more sensitive, usually lighter and that provide the fisherman with flexibility so that you are able to target Walleye in a number of ways. There are several different rod and reel configurations that are acceptable for fishing Walleye, however the most widely used at Old Post Lodge is the Spinning Rod and Reel. Time of year should be taken into consideration when selecting a rod as in the Spring (May and June) you are more likely to fish shallow water with lighter tackle and later in the year (July, August, September) you may be fishing significantly deeper water with heavier tackle. The reason that this is important is that in shallow water you will want a longer, faster, lighter rod to allow for casting and flipping jigs. Look for fast action rods that are 6′ to 6’6″ in length and have lure weights of 1/8oz to 3/8oz. For deeper water fishing later in the season look for medium action rods that are 5’8″ to 6′ in length and have lure weights of 1\4oz to 3\4oz. Having two rods available at any time of year is a good idea as you never know under which conditions you will find Walleye on Lake St. Joe. If you decide to bring one rod try to choose one that fits somewhere in the middle (ex. 6′ medium heavy 1\4 to 3/8oz.) As for reels it is possible to outfit both a shallow water and deep water rig with the same model reel, however you may take into consideration that the heavier rod will have a higher test line which will mean that you will need a reel with a bigger spool and a rod set up for shallow water will require less line and therefore a smaller spool. Balance is also important so be sure to test the reel on the rod before buying it, remember it will be in your hand for ten hours a day so comfort is paramount. Some companies such as Shimano make several different sizes of reel per model ranging from 1000″ (smallest) to 4000″ (largest), in this case the 1000″ would be perfect for a shallow water rig and 2000″ would work fine as the deep water setup. Other companies use similar scales on their reels, ask your retailer for information concerning this before purchasing a reel.
Northern Pike: Although there are countless methods to fish for Northern on Lake St. Joe the most effective way is to cast and retrieve along the surface of the water. It will be necessary to have a rod and reel that are heavy enough to battle monster Pike. Lake St. Joe has a very healthy Pike fisheries and it is common to catch fish in the 18-23 lbs range and in some cases even larger. As was the case with Walleye, Northerns can be fished with a number of rod and reel combinations. If you are familiar with a Bait Casting reel you may want to invest in one of these for fishing Northern. Bait Casters offer a better drag system and are available in heavier models which are a good fit for fishing Northern. Bait casters come in a variety of sizes so make sure that before you make a purchase the reel is large enough to handle large fish. (Ex. Abu Garcia the 5500″ or 6500″) It is very important to keep in mind that if you have never used a Bait Casting reel it takes a lot of practice to become proficient with these reels. They have caused many fishermen to miss out on valuable fishing time while they dig out a backlash, in this case look into a spinning reel. Most companies make a Spinning Reel that is heavy enough to handle large Northern, these reels will be considerably larger than the Walleye rigs mentioned earlier. It is important to ask your retailer which model reel is the best for the type of fishing mentioned here. (Ex. Shimano 4000″) Your Northern Pike rod will be quite heavy as well, most retailers will point you in the right direction according to which reel you have selected. However, look for rods that are medium heavy action and have a lure weight in the 1/4 to 1oz range. The rod should have some whip to it which will allow for longer casts with less effort. Make sure that you choose the correct rod for the reel you have purchased. Bait Casting rods have smaller eyes along the rod and will have a finger grip under the handle shaped like a trigger. Be aware of rods made for closed faced reels which have short, shaped handles and a trigger grip underneath, these rods don’t provide any leverage as the handle is too short. (A big Pike will make your arm sore in a hurry) It is not as important to have two rods ready for Pike fishing, however these fish put up such a tremendous fight it is quite common to see rods get broken and reels have their gears stripped.
One Piece Rods vs. Two Piece Rods:
For all intensive purposes there is very little difference between a one piece and two piece rod in the way that they fish, other than one piece rods are slightly more sensitive. However, two piece rods present a couple of problems. One is that they can come apart at the break point and half the rod can be lost in the lake, this may sound unlikely but has happened on many occasions. The other is there seems to be some strength lost where the rod separates and I have seen them break at this point many times. This is merely an observation that I have made over the years and I suggest that if you have the space in your vehicle, look into a one piece rod.