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Walleye Lures and Baits

To get a fish to bite, you need to know how, where, whe­n, and what it eats.

1 Dave

 

Walleye are most active in morning and evening. They feed on small yellow perch, small northern pike, lake herring, other small bait fish and you can often find them around schools of these smaller fish. They eat a lot, they’re aggressive, and they’re not picky, which is good news for you. Because walleye eat by sucking in water around their prey, you’ll probably want to try smaller bait.

Look for walleye around submerged rocks, weedy flats, bars or other underwater barriers in the lakes.  Wawang Lake is known for all these types of great structure.

Many predators like such obstructio­ns, which help them ambush their food. Walleye locate their prey by sight, which means you’re not likely to find them in sunny waters; they retreat coyly to the shadows or the darker depths, often in groups. walleye’s strong vision also means you’ll have better luck with brightly colored lures, and you might even want to experiment with different colors.

­In the case of walleye, to seek out their location, you’ll also need to consider the time of year. Walleye like water between 55 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and they move to follow it. In spring and fall, you’ll find them in the shallows of lakes. In summer, they’ll be a bit deeper — though you’re not likely to find them in very deep waters (more than 50 feet).

Now that you know those basics, let’s find out how you can choose the right baits and lures.

Types of Walleye Fishing Lures

Nature-Jigs-1-WhiteLures are designed to mimic a fish’s natural prey, so think about­ walleye’s eating patterns and food. Lures that move quickly will attract these aggressive hunters. Additionally, lures should be similar in size to the smaller prey fish.

If you’re fishing with a jig head, choose the jig head based on water depth — the deeper the water, the heavier the head. For deeper walleye fishing, you’ll want a jig head of about ½ ounce. In shallower waters, you can go as light as a 1/8-ounce jig head. If conditions are rough or windy, a heavier jig can help.

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Depending on the time of year, you may want something that sticks close to the bottom, like a small but heavy jig (with a lead head) or a crank bait.   If you go with a crank bait, again, choose one that mimics walleye’s natural prey — narrow, and between three and five inches long.

In various fishing conditions, you might want to try:

  • High-action lures:  designed to go deep (especially in warmer months)
  • Crank baits:  such as shad raps, jointed shad raps, or glass shad raps (with built-in rattles)
  • A balsa lure: such as a rapala
  • Live bait jigs: (for casting or trolling at the beginning of the fall season)
  • A #3 or #4 spinner
  • Trolling crank baits with more subtle action (better for the colder months

Finally, you can key your color choice to the sort of water you’ll be fishing. Use brighter colors for weedy or muddy waters.

Obviously, your bait depends on your choice of lure, as well as the fishing conditions. Read on.

Types of Walleye Fishing Baits

182Remember that walleye’s behavior and location chan­ges seasonally — so, the b­ait that worked so well at the beginning of September might not be the best one for May. Come prepared to try a few different kinds of baits, and remember that every angler works by trial and error.

When the weather is cold, you may find the best results with live bait. In cold water, walleye are sluggish. The movement of live bait will likely be most effective at stimulating them to bite. Walleye are more aggressive in warmer weather, and that can sometimes let you get away with plastic bait, especially plastic worms.   But many anglers swear by minnows year-round.

If you’re using a live bait jig, try minnows, worms, leeches or red tail chub. With a spinner, try a piece of worm.

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One approach you may want to explore is coordinating your bait fish to whatever is schooling in the water. If you see a school of perch, for example, walleye are probably feeding close by, so use a perch colored lure tipped with live bait. Then let your jig drop a few feet at a time, the better to imitate the movement of the bait fish.   Obviously, this requires a bit more observation, flexibility and patience on your part. But isn’t that why you go fishing in the first place?

WEATHER TIP
Try to time your walleye fishing expedition so that it’s not coming right after a particularly cold snap. You can often have good luck during the turnover — the time when the weather is getting colder — because walleye follow their food into shallower waters, and often into less protected areas. But a particularly cold snap changes a lake’s temperature patterns so dramatically that it tends to put walleye into hiding until they’ve adjusted. Gradual changes are likely to offer better fishing

How To Cook Walleye
Now that you know how walleye eat, it’s time to learn how you can eat walleye. Walleye makes for a delicious meal, and depending on the preparation, it can be quite healthful as well. Try grilling walleye with fruit chutney, horseradish or pesto for a low-fat entrée. You can also bake, broil, fry, smoke or blacken walleye. Walleye is flavorful on its own, so you don’t need to do anything elaborate or complicated. 

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How to HOOK a MINNOW

Many of you have probably fished for walleye using live minnows and found that they didn’t stay on the hook for long or died fairly quickly. Let’s see if we can fix these problems.

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SHARP HOOKS……
First of all you want to make sure the hooks that you are using are not too large for the minnow, and secondly, that they are sharp. A small hone or sometimes a good nail file will touch up the points on hooks enough to penetrate a minnow or a walleyes mouth without a problem. Placing the hook against the top of a fingernail will tell you if it is sharp. If it seems to stick to the nail under its own weight, then the hook is sharp. Hook sizes 2/0 3/0 and 4/0 are preferred choices.

SPINNER RIG, single hook……
182Spinner rigs can be used for live minnow presentation if you hook the minnow in the mouth, out through the gill and then turn the hook back around through the top of the minnows back just in front of the dorsal fin, but, be sure not to break the backbone of the minnow. This allows the minnow to look natural in the water and still get oxygen through the gills. When trolled or retrieved it will not be as apt to pull off the hook. Being in a natural position in the water the walleye have a better chance of taking it as part of its feed. Some make their own rigs for this type of fishing, use only one hook on the rig and experiment with different colored beads. A #5 blade is my choice to start with and if it works well, leave it, otherwise go to a bit larger blade. Use a different color bead at the hook, usually yellow or green.

castingThis seems to entice the walleye a little more and usually results in a good hook set. If the area you are fishing supports a good concentration of walleye, then try using a simple rig consisting of a small bell sinker on bottom ¼ or 3/8 oz. and two hooks set about eight inches apart on the line. Place the first hook within two inches of bottom and the second about eight inches above the first. Tip both with a medium size live minnow as suggested as above. Keep a snug line or use a float, but keep in mind that walleye will usually bite softly. A small amount of movement on the float or rod tip is your cue to set the hook. Do this by dropping the rod tip slightly and waiting for one more little tug on the line, then set the hook. This method works well from a boat while sitting over a hole inhabited by walleye. Also, you can practice a slow retrieve to cover just a bit more water.

Another productive method is to use only one hook and a live minnow, with a small sinker about one foot above the hook, allowing the minnow to float up, just off bottom. This is a favorite for just plain lazy cast and retrieve. Dont try to get too much distance on the cast as you will tear the minnow off the hook with the fast flicking motion of the rod. A slow retrieve works best and the minnow brings a lot of curious walleye to the bait.

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Slow down and enjoy……
Not everybody enjoys the hectic pace of covering an entire lake or at fast speed looking for constant action and throwing hooks at the rate of lightning flashes. So on your next trip out on the lake, slow down, relax and thoroughly enjoy the fishing time. That’s what it’s all about!

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The Traditional CANADIAN FISHING Shore Lunch

Do you dream of…

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The sizzle of fresh fish over an open fire at a shore lunch spot?  Or, the heart pounding excitement as the waters of a calm bay explodes with the first fish of the day?

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One of the highlights of your trip will be the traditional shore lunch served in the great Canadian Wilderness!   On many occasions throughout your trip your group will meet up with other party members for lunch. You will gather at a picturesque sight outcropping on one of the most famous lakes in Ontario –  Wawang Lake.

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The anticipation of a delectable lunch of fresh caught fish will having your mouth watering far in advance of the prepared food upon your plate.  Sit back, relax with a beverage, and enjoy the sights as you and the group prepare the most mouthwatering fresh food EVER!

Sometimes preparation of the shore lunch is interrupted by the excitement of a member of your party hooking into a lunker while casting from a boat anchored nearby .   Party members scramble for nets and plenty of advice is offered as the drama plays out!

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The traditional  shore lunch consists of potatoes, baked beans or corn, bread, and maybe even dessert, if there’s any room left in those bellies. The fish is normally fried in lard or liquid shortening; however, for the health conscience, you can use your own favorite oil.

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Don’t be afraid to streamline the batter or coating with some of your favorite spices. All in all it will be a outdoor dining experience that you aren’t likely to soon forget and eaten in the outdoors with a view to remember doesn’t get any better!

So is it any wonder that folks comment that the shore lunch was the best part of the trip they talk about most when they get home?  Good food and good friends in the most spectacular setting at Wawang Lake will implant a memory that will last forever!

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LATE SPRING-EARLY SUMMER WALLEYE

imagesCASP58SMOne of the biggest keys to finding late spring/early summer walleye on major lake is the presence of perch & Wawang Lake holds plenty of perch; especially smaller young-of-the-year ones. Walleye will key strongly on this perch forage throughout most of the season. Newly emerging weeds are amongst the strongest locations to find schools of small 3 to 4 inch perch. Find new weed beds on top of bars or in bays or even along flats and you’re bound to find both perch and walleye.

You’re bound to find the best weed growth initially along northern sections of any given body of water simply because they get more sunlight. Bays and cuts, protected from wind and wave action, which allows the water temps inside these spots to crank up far above that of the main lake, are apt to be the first spots to hold good weed growth and perch concentrations. In fact, the combination of warmer water and weeds is a sure winner in the early season.

Eventually, adjacent points outside warm bays with shallow tops will be the next hotspot, and seem to peak about the time that bays peter out. Mid lake spots with a shallow top and the right bottom content should be next in line to produce fresh new weed growth and attract a school of bite-sized perch. Sometimes, these mid lake spots will produce all summer long. And finally, southern locations that support weeds will sprout growth much later on.

The best way to find these weeds initially is to simply idle along a potential spot with a keen eye on your depth finder, as well as a periodic look over the side of the boat. If you spot short weed growth on your depth finder, or better yet, see weeds by peering into the water, throw out a marker buoy for a reference point. Then, let the area settle down for a few minutes while you set up to fish it. Of course, polarized sunglasses will further aid you in visual detection of the best weed clumps.

The best way to check weeds for walleyes initially is with a jig. use a simple jig baited with a plastic grub, but sometimes you might have to bait that jig with a minnow or leech in order to trigger finicky fish. Keep the jig light weight so it lands on top the weeds and doesn’t plummet into them. A 1/8 ounce version is most commonly used, although some like a 1/16 ouncer even better in real shallow weeds of 6 feet of water or less. Also, unless the walleye are running larger, above 20 inches, the smaller two inch grub tail is a better producer than the more commonly used three inch version.

IMG_2259_slip_bobber2Once you find and catch a walleye or two, the next approach is to pinpoint their precise location, and still fish the spot with slip bobber rigs. The advantage of slip bobber fishing at this point is it tends to disturb the area a lot less; resulting in a more prolonged bite – more fish caught before they spook. In other words, you’re apt to spook the fish after jigging a spot for a while since you’re going to tear up weeds. Also, the jig presentation is a more horizontal style that moves a bait in and out of the walleye’s lair quicker. That works on the hot fish, but not the spooky, less aggressive ones.

Once you notice a drop off in your action, stop jigging the spot, and “break out the bobs”; the slip bobs that is. Set your offering to hover inches above the weed tops, or alongside weed walls. Bait it up with a leech (or minnow) and pitch it into a likely spot. Check various spots along that weed patch until you score. Also, try experimenting with a variety of depth settings on your “slip bob” rigs until you find the magic depth number. Duplicate that, and you should be able to take a lot more fish from that weed patch before they quit all together.

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Northern Pike Handling, Filleting & Take the ‘Y’ Bones Out

When it comes to caring for Pike that you plan to use at home, the first and probably most important step in assuring a quality meal is to keep the fish fresh prior to cleaning.   Compared to other popular game fish, the flesh of Northern Pike is among the most likely to deteriorate if care is not taken to keep the fish fresh right up to the cleaning table.   When you plan to save some for the table, one great approach is to wait until later in your fishing trip before you start saving fish to take home.

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After filleting it’s best to freeze your filets properly for transportation back home from the lodge.  All your hard work out on the lake could be confiscated by a game warden for the following reasons:

  • frozen in one big blob is considered ‘unidentifiable’
  • failure to keep one square inch patch of skin on the filet
  • packaged improperly (the correct procedure is one fish per package, layed out flat – side by side)

Keeping fish frozen during your stay allows for easy transportation all the way home.  Frozen fish takes the place of ice, however, midway you may want to check the cooler to inspect your filets and add fish accordingly as this could  make a difference at the dinner table.

Another key factor in preparing gourmet meals using Northern Pike is to avoid saving Pike in the freezer for periods of time.  Pike flesh contains a particular Amino Acid that breaks down fairly quickly while fish are stored in the freezer too long. So even if you’ve taken great care to keep the fish fresh up to this point, you could be disappointed when you pull out a package of fish that you’ve been saving for that special occasion.  Because Pike are not well suited for long-term storage, at the simple rule of thumb is Pike are to be eaten within a couple of weeks. 

Removing the “Y” bones from Pike fillets is part of the mystery that has kept lots of otherwise willing anglers away from using these fish in recipes and removing these small bones is really easy! Even the smallest Pike can be easily de-boned by anyone who can fillet a Walleye or most any other fish. In fact, even the term “Y” bone is a misnomer because this so called “Y” bone really isn’t much different than the strip of bones that you’d remove from a Walleye or any other fish caught in our waters. It just happens to be sandwiched into the grain of the fillet where it is protected from “frying out”. 

This is one of those times when it would be easier to do the job than it is to describe how to do it, but look at the picture of the finished fillets and you’ll get a good idea of how to follow these instructions.

npBegin by filleting the fish and removing the rib bones as you would a Walleye or most other freshwater fish. Once you have taken the fillet, study it for a minute. Take a look at the centerline that divides the fillet horizontally and notice the row of light bones visible halfway between this centerline and the top (fishes back) of the fillet. You will be making one cut on each side of this row of bones. You’ll also see that the flesh has a “grain” much like the grain of a nice oak board. The “Y” bones run with this grain and you can use this grain as a directional guide when making your cuts.

COMPLETE DIAGRAM BELOW:

Cut 1:
Start by making a cut just above this row of bones that you can see (and feel). This first cut will be shallow (about ¼ inch) and it is perpendicular to the fillet. This simple, straight cut is used mostly as an access cut to get your knife into position for the next step. Using the tip of your fillet knife, you’ll be able to feel the edge of your knife contact the bones at the inside corner of this “L”  where the bones turn toward the top of the fillet. When you feel the knife contacting those bones, take care not to cut through them.

Cut 2:
Turn the edge of your knife toward the top of the fillet at about a 45-degree angle and follow this edge. You’ll be able to see the bones as you gently slip your knife-edge along this edge. Stop the cut before you reach the top edge of the fillet.

Cut 3:
This is the finishing touch. Start this cut below the row of bones on the side nearest the centerline and simply follow the same angle that you used to make cut 2. As the edge of your knife moves toward the top of the fillet, you’ll begin to feel this strip of bones peeling away from the rest of the fillet. Trim along these edges as needed to remove the strip and voila, you’re finished.

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So There you have it, all you need is a little faith in yourself, a fairly good fillet knife and a little practice. You will soon learn that there is really no trick at all and before long your family and friends will be standing in line at dinner time waiting to sample your newest Pike recipe.

ENJOY YOUR NEXT FEED OF PIKE!

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Early Season Walleye Jigging Tactics

Jigging for Walleye

Using jigs can be very productive but too many anglers aren’t fishing them correctly. Just starters, understand that you won’t always feel the thump of a walleye when it strikes a jig.

Guys expect that sure bite or hit. Many times you don’t feel it. So often you  drop the jig down and it stops. Maybe you’ll just feel some extra weight.

Concentrate on your rod, and don’t wait too long to set the hook.

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The right rod helps here. When jigging, use a 6-foot, 8-inch or 7-foot rod when jigging with a light-action and fast tip. This really helps increase the number of bites he detects, which translates into more fish.

Use a short shank jig for live bait and a long shank jig when combining that live bait with a dressing. The latter can be plastic, Gulp, or maribou. If you face a tougher bite, use less bulk and movement in the water. Don’t vibrate your offering as much. Listen to the fish to extrapolate their mood, then up size or downsize properly.

Under most conditions, avoid stinger hooks. If you’re missing strikes, however, and want to try a stinger, use it properly. Just let it free-fall behind the lure.4595-fireballs

You get fewer bites with a stinger, so if you’re missing fish, drop that rod tip first, and let them take it.

As for jigging actions, think beyond just lift-drop. That’s fine if it’s producing, but often just holding it at one depth, say 3 inches off bottom, is enough. Let that minnow work.

If you want to get creative, try quiver jigging (gyrating the rod ahead of the reel), snap-jigging, dragging, or just casting and retrieving jigs.

Also, use a heavy enough jig to contact bottom, but not so heavy that fish blow it out. Vertical jigging should offer just the right weight to tick the bottom.

And if you feel a bite, set the hook hard. Really swing that rod tip up.  Always tie your jigs directly to the line. Suspend it periodically out of the water and let it unravel to eliminate line twist and tangling.

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Fishing, Fishing TIPS, Walleye Fishing

 

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Understanding Your REEL

spincast2 Spin Cast Reel:  The spincasting reel is also known as a closed face reel because the spool and line are beneath the spool cover.  A simple press of the line release button and a flick of the wrist is pretty much all it takes to cast with this type of reel.  This is why spincast reel is probably the reel you started with as a kid.
Pros: This reel is a great teaching tool for anyone learning how to fish as it is by far the easiest reel to use.  As well the fact that it’s inexpensive gives you the flexibility of starting a kid out in fishing without breaking the bank on a hobby they may eventually cast aside.

Cons: Unfortunately because spincasting reels tend to be considered entry level reels they’re often not made for high intensity usage.  As a result many, not all, spincasting reels are not very durable as they are made of inferior materials.  As well this type of fishing reel is often not the best at long distance casting and suffers from a low hauling power which is needed for hauling big fish out of heavy cover like lilly pads and submerged vegetation.

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spinreel2Spinning Reel:  Spinning reels are probably the more widely used reels due to the relative ease of use as well as there moderate expense.  Spinning reels are also known as open faced reels because the spool and majority of the moving parts are located externally rather than behind a spool cover.  This makes the spinning reel ideal for surf fishing where there is a high likelihood of the reel getting wet with either fresh or saltwater.  The “open face” makes most parts of cleaning much easier than with other reel types.

Quick Tip: When picking spinning reels some tend to opt for reels with front drag systems rather than rear drags.  As the front drag has large washers that exert force on a flat surface which makes the front drag system smoother than the rear.  Where as the rear drag pushes against the drive shaft of the reel which has a smaller surface area.

Pros:  Overall the pros of using spinning reels are as follows.
1. You can get a decent spinning reel for a moderate price.
2.  Due to their open spool design spinning reels tend to hold more line that the other reel types.
3.  Spinning reels are relatively easy to use and are easy to learn to use.
4.  They are great for casting long distances and are very accurate with practice.
5.  Spinning reels are great reels when using light baits.
6.  Not prone to birds nest.

Cons:  The cons of spinning reels are as follows.
1.  Spinning reels are prone to line twist unlike baitcasters which are prone to birds nest.
2.  Spinning reels come in very limited gear ratios which limits your options for reel speeds.
3.  Unfortunately spinning reels are not powerhouses like their baitcasting cousins.  Because spinning reels actually wrap line on the stationary spool upon retrieval rather than the spool spinning hauling the line on like a wench, spinning reels are limited when it comes to hauling power.

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baitcast2Baitcasting Reel:
Baitcasting reels are quickly becoming just as widely used as spinning reels.  Where in the past you mostly saw more experienced and pro anglers using baitcasting reels now there isn’t a day that I’m out on my local pond harrassing the bass and there isn’t at least one other person out there using a baitcaster.

This is because more and more people are recognizing the benefits of using a baitcaster.

Pros: The pros and cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1.  Baitcasting reels are wenches, of the different types of reels baitcasters have the most hauling power.
2.  Baitcasters work very well with heavier baits.
3.  Baitcasting reels offer many more gear ratios (retrieval speeds) so choosing the gear ratio that’s more fitting for specific baits is far easier.
4.  Baitcasting reels also have very smooth drag systems.
5.  Baitcasting reels work great with heavier lines and super lines like braid.

Cons:  The cons of using baitcasting reels are as follows.
1.   Baitcasters are the most difficult reels to use easily getting birds nest on bad cast.
2.  Because of the steep learning curve with baitcasters it takes a bit more practice to be able to make longer cast.
3.  Baitcasters are not the best choice for lighter baits.
4.  As said before baitcasters are prone to getting birds nests in the line upon casting if not thumbed correctly
5.  Prices of bait casters can easily surpass a budget friendly place for the average person who doesn’t fish that often.

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Overall the different types of fishing reels are then to aid in different ways.  No one reel type is better than the other however they all just have different purposes.  As well with the technological progressions being made fishing reels are all being made with lighter and stronger materials as technology improves.  So choose wisely when choosing your next fishing reel and enjoy it for all it’s worth.

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