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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Trophy Walleye

All dedicated walleye anglers seek to catch a walleye over 10 lbs, considered by many as a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. To accomplish this challenge one must recognize the selection of waters that produce big walleye, using the proper fishing presentations and fishing the best times of the year which increase your chances of landing a trophy walleye.

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The walleye range from reservoirs in the South to abundant lakes and rivers in the North. In the South walleye may reach 2-3 lbs in 3-4 years versus in northern waters where growth is slower and may take over 5 years to reach 2lbs. Walleyes in the North tend to have a much longer life span even though their growth rates are not as high as in the South, but the North still produces many more walleyes of 10lb plus.

Large walleye are exceedingly cautious and wary, if they hear or feel anything unusual they stop feeding and head for deeper water. This why only 2 of 1000 walleyes reach this magic 10 pound size. Pro fishing guides know this and use big fish strategies that result in catching many huge walleye annually.

       Diane Rohl – Buffalo, MN & Brenda Rundahl – Coon Valley, IA show just how it’s done.

Big Water Big Walleye:

When considering trophy walleye waters big is best, a large body of water (5000 acres+) is more likely to support big walleye populations than smaller lakes (500-1000 acres). Competition for food, living space and angling pressure reduces the possibility on smaller waters for walleyes to achieve trophy status.

No Other Resorts, Homes or Cottages on our 5,000 acre lake.

Wawang Lake is a metropolis for HUGE Trophy sized walleye and swim freely in the 5,000+ acre giant.

Large lakes and flowages provide an abundance of usable forage (minnows, ciscoes & shad), open space and due to large size angling pressure is reduced.

Best Times to Catch Trophy Walleye:
There are four major periods during the year when the odds increase to catch a trophy walleye:

SPRING
Pre Spawn: During the pre-spawn period, large numbers of big females stage into a relatively small area. Although they are not feeding aggressively, you may be able to catch a fish or two due to the sheer numbers present. The pre spawn bite is good until spawning begins.

Post Spawn: A few weeks after spawning the big females recover from and start to bite again but finding them is difficult as they are scattered. You may catch an occasional large walleye, but seldom more than one. Your chances of finding a concentration of big walleyes are much better after they have settled into their typical deeper water summer locations. The best fishing begins about five to six weeks after spawning and generally lasts two to three weeks.

Catching massive walleyes in the spring is exhilarating with that cold water and extra fight.  The best  results over the years have been from two methods.  The first is crank baits – think rapallas and rattle traps. both casting and trolling often where the shallow water meets the deep. When you have some good action in a spot try a few casts with a rapallla towards deeper water.  The second method is to go big and go deep –  try 1/2oz to 1 oz jigs with large baits in 25 to 30 feet of water throw on big double tails of the largest rubber worms you got. Jig it and troll it 25-100 feet (make sure the depth is not more than about 35 feet) from where the break to deeper water is.

32.5 walleye

Jason Reber from Central Iowa caught this beautiful 32.5 walleye in late July on Wawang.

SUMMER
July and August walleye fishing when most trophy walleyes are caught. The transition happens sometime in early to mid July and depends on temperatures and weather patterns. In July the fish move to deeper waters 12-18 feet. Reefs and structure off shore and islands offer the best results. The walleyes are still in large schools at this time and may “come up to feed ” into shallower water at dusk. If its a windy day the fish may be pushed into shore on the windy side of a bay or deep on the calm side. Pink and white as well as gold and orange and chartreuse are the best colors. Jigging in the morning and evening and back trolling with spinners during the day. A depth finder can be helpful to stay on top of a school and to find the breaks and structure. We have depth finders available at the camp. On bright days on the main lake you can spot the walleye schools, so polarized sunglasses are a must. The biggest trophy walleye come off of big water on sharp cuts, sunken islands are best fished “on the cut” where the depth suddenly drops off. With the average depth of Sydney Lake being 65 feet there is lots of Walleye action at deeper levels too. Fishing humps that are 50 feet deep can often be filled with walleyes as well as Lake Trout. The best times of day to fish are mornings until about 1:00pm and evenings after 5:00pm. A good strategy is to fish mornings and evenings and relax or go swimming during the afternoon. It gets dark about 11:00 in early July and about 10:00 in late August.

FALL
Late-fall: Fishing is unpredictable, the toughest part is to locate the walleyes, but if you do find them a high percentage will be big. The majority of large walleyes caught in late fall are females. Their feeding for the development of eggs for the spring spawn, females must consume more food than males, up to six times more according to feeding studies.

In waters that stratify, after the fall turnover is completed. The depths are warmer than the shallows. Big walleyes may swim into shallow water for short feeding sprees in the evening, but during the day they may be found as deep as 50 feet. Although difficult to find, they form tight schools, so you may be able to catch several from the same area.

September Walleye Fishing is nearly the same as August with the fish Deep at 15-30+ feet and flats and narrows heat up. the chute through the islands to the south side is a great example. This is a narrows between 8 and 25 feet deep with deeper water on the south side. The walleyes sit on the flats on on the cut waiting for a meal. During the last week of September the Fall fishing is a blast with spots like this you can catch walleye, and you don’t even need to move 10 feet to catch them.

Mike Turner - Davenport, IA with a HUGH Walleye beauty caught in September on Wawang.

Mike Turner – Davenport, IA with a HUGH Walleye beauty caught in September on Wawang.

Fall fishing is a little different, follow these guidelines for maximum results. First get deep and on the bottom. the best average depth range is 18-25 feet. Drift slow or back troll slow. Slow moving targets are best. Pink and white 1/4-1/2 oz jigs and a good sensitivity rod. Lift your rod slowly when you feel a bite and give it a good tug to set the hook when you feel the weight of the fish is there. A depth finder can be helpful to spot areas with lots of fish – but don’t be fooled walleye often sit right on the bottom and might not register on your depth finder.

Winter
There is no winter pressure on Wawang Lake whatsoever.  This contributes to our fisheries management success and allows for our fish to rest & grow during the cold months providing a great fishing experience to our guests.  IMPORTANT:  The absence of winter pressure is important to any lake the holds an abundance of HUGE species in order to retain them.

Early Ice: First ice accounts for a major share of big walleyes caught. The best times are during the evening or early morning, just after the ice is safe enough for fishing.

Big walleyes will move shallow during this period hunting the baitfish populations that remain from summer time predation. This action occurs for only few weeks as the walleyes use the thin ice and shallow water to herd their prey. As the ice becomes thicker big walleyes will retreat to deeper water and become dormant as winter progresses.

Trophy Walleye Presentations:
Locating big walleyes is half the equation and other half is the proper fishing presentation. Here are a few tips to help you land big walleyes.

The first and most common mistake made by anglers is noise, whether it be dropping the anchor on top of the fish, running the outboard over the spot you wish to fish, dropping anything in the boat while fishing or drilling holes on the ice. For position fishing, idle or use an electric trolling motor past the spot you’re fishing and set your anchor at a distance, let the wind drift you over the spot. For trolling use inline planer boards that spread the fishing lines off to the side of your boat. Ice fishing, drill the holes an hour beforehand and let the spot rest. Remember large walleyes are exceedingly cautious and wary, if they hear or feel anything unusual they stop feeding and move.

imagesCAAALRUVMost often large female walleyes will relate to a piece of structure similar to the smaller males, but will hang 10 to 15 feet deeper this is attributed to a walleye’s increasing sensitivity to light as it grows older. In addition, bigger walleyes prefer cooler water, and they can usually find it by moving deeper.

Increase your chances for big walleyes by fishing in the shallows during low-light periods, especially in spring and fall. If the water is very clear, or if there is a great deal of boat traffic, big walleyes will feed almost exclusively at night. During the daytime they prefer relatively deep water, deeper than the areas where you typically find smaller walleye.

In deep northern lakes, the shallow water temperature stays cool enough for big walleyes through the summer. If the walleyes can find boulders or other shallow-water cover to provide shade from the sun they may spend the summer at depths of 10 feet or less. In these lakes, most anglers fish too deep.

Increase the size your live bait or lures, they maybe too small to interest a trophy walleye. Many times large walleyes are caught on musky/pike baits in the 6″ – 8″ range. Larger baits will draw far fewer strikes than small ones, and most anglers are not willing to fish all day for one or two opportunities. But if you are intent on catching a trophy that is the price you must pay.

Big walleyes are extremely cautious, especially in clear water. You don’t need to over-rig your set-up. They’re more likely to take a bait using a size 6 hook using 6-8lb test line than 12-17lb test with a 1/0 or bigger hook. A small hook will allow the walleye to swallow the bait without feeling anything unusual and will not pull-out or break. Most large walleyes are caught away from snags and take your time to bring the fish in allowing the rod, reel and drag to do it’s job.

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Crispy Baked Walleye

baked walleyeCrispy breaded fish without frying! Those that only likes deep-fried fish will definitely this recipe.   Feel free to use your favorite seasonings.   You can also use tilapia or other white fish fillets

Ingredients   – 4 servings

2 eggs

1 tablespoon water

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Beat the eggs and water together in a bowl until smooth; set aside.
    Combine the bread crumbs, potato flakes, and Parmesan cheese in a separate
    bowl with the seasoned salt until evenly mixed. Dip the walleye fillets into the
    beaten egg, then press into the bread crumb mixture.
  3. Place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until the fish is opaque in the center and flakes
    easily with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.

ENJOY!

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Deep-Water Tactics for Monster Pike pt 2

40%20inch%20pike%2009Deep-water pike sometimes turn off, and start ignoring fast-moving artificial lures.   Smart anglers take the hint and switch to real baitfish. Fished slowly, live or dead bait is a tantalizing, easy-to-catch meal for stubborn northern pike.

During   the summer months, live bait usually out-performs dead fare for pike. Fish   the live bait around those rock piles or bars in 35 feet to 40 feet of water.   Start by plotting the structure with your depth finder, marking the edges and shallowest point with marker buoys. Then, search every nook and cranny around the edges, and don’t forget the top.

The old theory of big bait catches big fish is very true. Sucker minnows 10 inches to 12 inches long are just right. If the cover isn’t too heavy, the best hooking system going is a quick-set rig. This twin-hook system, with one stationary hook and one that can slide along the leader, allows you to set the hook the instant a fish takes the bait. Hooking ratios climb, while the number   of deep-hooked fish falls. Quick-set rigs almost ensure that the fish will be hooked in the mouth, making it possible to release the fish unharmed. As soon as a strike occurs, it becomes a matter of tightening the line and setting the hooks.sucker

Live bait in numerous ways can be presented with a quick-set rig. One is to put enough weight ahead of the leader to sink the bait to the bottom. While watching the depth finder and following the preset marker buoys, use your electric trolling motor to slowly troll the bait along the bottom. Stop here and there, allowing the bait to rest each spot for a short time. Start by working the bait across the top of the structure, then along the edges and finally into the surrounding deeper water.

Every few feet, slowly lift the rod tip about 3 feet, then allow the bait to fall back to the bottom where it remains motionless for about 30 seconds before moving on. When a fish strikes, point the rod tip at the fish and set the hooks hard when the line tightens.

Suspending live bait over deep-water structure with a slip bobber is another productive method. A live sucker minnow suspended a couple of feet above the bottom, over a deep-water rock pile, can be extremely effective at taking big muskies or pike, especially when the predators are not actively feeding. Once again, offer this presentation with a quick-set rig. With a slip bobber, you can set the quick-set rig at any depth. The large, European-style slip bobbers, made of balsa wood, are perfect for this kind of use. They can easily support up to a pound of weight.

Deep-Water   Jigging

Vertical jigging has proved to be a solid and sound fishing method for walleyes, but knowledgeable pike hunters also know that this method works on their favorite fish. The techniques are basically identical, except for the size of the bait presented. All you need is some heavyweight jig heads, in the 2-ounce to 6-ounce range, with large, verticalstout hooks. Six inches of uncoated wire, at least 30-pound test, should be used to attach a stinger hook to the jig. Use a No. 2 treble for the stinger. Either live or dead bait works well on the jig-and-stinger combination.

The most productive jigging spots are rock bars, humps, rock piles or the ends of deep-water points. Experienced anglers, using a depth finder or graph, can even locate and catch suspended deep-water pike. Simply lower the jig (you can see it on a flasher screen) to the fish. Remember, however, that most fish like to swim up to a target from below.

When jigging, rely on the lift and fall to attract the fish, but be ready for a   strike on the fall. Lift the jig 3 feet or 4 feet and let it drop. Twitch the rod tip a few times, then let it rest about a minute. Follow with a shorter   lift, about a foot; let it fall, twitch and rest again. Repeat the process   until you connect with your trophy.

The strike, when it comes, can be vicious, but more often it is very subtle. Even huge pike can take a bait without the angler feeling a thing. Stay alert and keep a sharp eye on the line. If it twitches or if the lure seems to stop falling, set the hook.

Fishing the deep water for big pike is unfamiliar to a lot of anglers, but the trophy fish are there if you just take the time to look and learn.

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Deep-Water Tactics for Monster Pike – pt 1

pike_tPike head out for deep-water areas for various reasons.

  • Weather conditions
  • water temperatures
  • food availability
  • fishing pressure.

All of these can all play roles separately or in combination as to why they leave the shallows. Successful anglers that troll, have ways of dredging up those deep-water fish, however, they run a variety of lures into the strike zone.

Crank Baits And Wire Line Trolling over, around and through schools of suspended baitfish is also effective when it comes to locating deep-water pike.

Once again, the angler should use a fish finder with depth to find schools of suspended forage fish, and to determine how deep to run the lures.

Deep-diving crank baits are excellent for working depths of 15 feet to 35 feet. If you use wire or lead-core line, you can work at even greater depths. There is no doubt that deep-diving lures work. The drawback to these giant deep-divers is that you need arms like an Olympic weightlifter if you plan on trolling for more than a few hours. A set of high-quality rod holders can be invaluable in this situation.

They make deep-water trolling more comfortable and fun, extending the hours you’re willing to devote to trolling. In most cases, the boat’s forward movement will even set the hooks. Of course the hooks must be honed to perfect sharpness so the barbs will penetrate the pike’s bony mouth. Wire line is the choice when the fish are holding deeper than the trolling lures will reach.

pike2Deep-water weed beds or the deep edges of shallow weed beds are perfect examples of this type of situation. Using a depth finder, you can maintain trolling position along the edge, and allow the wire to take the lure to the proper depth. Another advantage wire line has over monofilament is that it will slice through vegetation. If you’re line is caught in vegetation, you need only give a good jerk or two on the rod. You don’t have to reel it in. This saves time and energy. If wire-lining doesn’t suit you, a simple three-way swivel, rigged with a heavy sinker at the end of a 6-inch drop line, will sometimes suffice. The three-way rig works much like a downrigger, except that you’ll have to fight the sinker’s weight, as well as the fish. Normally, you’ll fish a three-way rig in the 20-foot or 30-foot depths. The 4 ounces to 8 ounces required to sink a small lure to the desired trolling depth is not enough to hinder an angler who is using heavy tackle.

RapLate fall is prime time for using a three-way rig to take trophy northern. Weather transitions and falling water temperatures push pike into deeper water. The fish will be feeding, but you’ll have to reduce trolling speed and run the bait right over them. Baits such a: • Fat Raps • Rat-L-Traps • Rattlin’ Raps • No.13 Floating Rapalas -often work best. Colors varydtfatsuch as chartreuse, fluorescent orange, bright yellow or combinations of these colors really turn on late-fall pike.

 

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Fishing Walleye in the Weeds Pt 2 – with Video

walleye weedsNow that you know why weeds attract walleye, whether it’s cabbage, milfoil, or your local variety of pondweed, how do you catch them?

Three Tips for How to Catch Walleye in Weeds

Obviously fishing walleye in the weeds presents its own set of problems. Some people get annoyed by continually stopping to remove vegetation from their bait. If that’s you, this might not be your best technique for how to catch walleye. But if you’re willing to put up with this little inconvenience in exchange for a nice batch of walleye, then read on.

1.  Fish walleye vertically. This might mean sneaking up on an opening in an otherwise congested weedbed to drop a jig into the hole as vertically as possible. In fact, that’s the way I catch more walleye from weeds than any other technique. Drop the jig to the bottom, bounce it up and down a few times, and then move on to the next spot and drop the jig again. Usually, if the spot holds a fish, it will hit the jig in the first 15 seconds. They tend to hit it on the drop, so keep a tight line as you drop the jig down.

2.  Target the cruisers. Walleye in weed beds tend to be loosely schooled and cruising through the area, looking for a pod of bait fish. When you find one fish, work the area over well – others are sure to be there. This is where you can often taken a limit, or enough for a shore lunch, in an area the size of the hood of a pickup.

reefrunner3.  Aim for ambushers. Another great spot to catch walleye is along the deep edges of weedlines on a steep drop-off. The steeper the drop, the more distinct the weedline will be. You can search the area with a deep-diving crank bait, then spin around and drop your jig down when you contact a fish. In this case, walleye tend to be ambush feeding rather than cruising. They find a good-looking spot and back themselves into the edge, facing out. When something that looks like an easy meal comes by, they slide out and grab it. Again, catch one and a half-dozen more walleye are likely to be there.

Reelin’ ’em in

Once you catch a walleye in thick weeds, you might have a challenge getting it out – especially if it’s a big one. Using a stiff fishing rod with ljig mouthots of backbone and a fast tip has its advantages. Spool it with 10- to 20-pound super line so it won’t stretch. (Care must be taken when using this technique since damage to the walleye or other fish species is certain.)  Crank your drag down pretty tight and when you hook a fish, quickly wrestle it to the top. The key is to lift it as straight up as possible to avoid getting wrapped around the stems of weeds.

The best time of the year to catch walleye in the weeds is late June and through July and August. If you are looking for a meal of tasty walleye fillets, go snooping around a bed of cabbage this summer.

Catching Walleye in the Weeds – Video

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Fishing Walleye in the Weeds Pt 1

Walleye are known as the fish of deep water, edges, humps, rock piles, and  if you read books about how to fish walleye and watch DVDs you won’t notice more than a passing mention of walleye in relation to submerged vegetation. Yet walleye, like all fish, go where the food goes. And sometimes, the food is in the weeds.cover

Most fish spawn in the shallows in the spring. They’re looking for warm water and cover in the form of vegetation that will give their young a fighting chance at survival. By early summer, young-of-the-year prey fish move out a little deeper and that’s when the deeper weeds hold the most fish. Predatory walleyes follow in large numbers. They’re actively feeding and relatively easy for fishermen to catch.

1. Find Weeds That Hold Walleye

Two primary types of weeds attract fish, Pondweed and Milfoil. Other types of vegetation will hold some fish at times, but these two types are the most consistent, and pondweed tops them all. Most anglers refer to pondweed as “Cabbage.” not known where that name came from because it looks nothing like a head of cabbage, but the name sticks so that’s what it’s referred to.

weed diagramDon’t assume all cabbage varieties are the same. Of the several varieties, the wider the leaf the better; wider leaves create more shade and cover. Curly-leaf pondweed comes up quickly in the spring, but begins to die off in midsummer.

Milfoil can be good at times, particularly if you find it in a lake with little or no cabbage. Northern Watermilfoil is called Coontail in many places. This is not to be confused with Eurasian Milfoil, an invasive species which has a bad reputation among fisheries managers and water skiers, though not so bad among fish.

2. Use Search Techniques in the Weeds

If the food is in the weeds, and the walleyes are in the weeds, how do we go about finding them and getting them out? There are literally dozens of instances where anglers have discovered a walleye hanging off a spinnerbait hook, a bass jig or a crankbait while fishing for other fish species.

So the best place to start learning how to fish walleye in the weeds is to use a search technique – using a bait that moves fairly fast. Then when you contact a walleye, slow down and work the area over thoroughly with a jig. You can tip your jig with a minnow, a Powerbait, or just a twister tail. When you get the bait in front of a fish, they will bite it.

28.5" walleye

28.5″ walleye

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Fishing, Jig Fishing, Walleye Fishing

 

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Walleye Cakes

Here is a delectable walleye recipe that’s sure to have your mouth watering and also be a hit at the family dinner table, or with friends that you’re entertaining.  Easy to prepare and packed with flavor too!

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Makes 8 to 10 cakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 pound walleye, cooked
  • 1 1⁄2 c. mayonnaise
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. cooked wild rice
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
    • (or ­substitute your favorite cheese)
  • 4 green onions, chopped, or
    • 1/4 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder, or 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 1 package saltine crackers
  • 2 tsp. seasonings (salt, pepper, herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil or butter

PREP FISH:  Cook the walleye in simmering water until flesh is firm, about five minutes, then cool.

In a large bowl combine the walleye (flaked), mayonnaise, rice, chopped onion, garlic, and cheese. Add eggs and mix with a fork. Add seasoning. Crush saltines and fold into batter until mixture is firm enough to form into cakes.

Heat oil or butter in skillet over medium-high heat, form mix into small (2 to 4 oz.) cakes and cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with blue cheese or condiment of your choice.Cook the walleye in simmering water until flesh is firm, about five minutes, then cool. In a large bowl combine the walleye (flaked), mayonnaise, rice, chopped onion, garlic, and cheese. Add eggs and mix with a fork. Add seasoning. Crush saltines and fold into batter until mixture is firm enough to form into cakes.

Heat oil or butter in skillet over medium-high heat, form mix into small (2 to 4 oz.) cakes and cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with blue cheese

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