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CHASING THE ‘EYES’

22 Mar

 

31" walleye - Mark HechtMore people want to know how to catch walleye than any other game fish.  Also known as pickerel, they are often difficult to locate and land. The challenge they present makes fishing them successfully an angling accomplishment.  Yet, for the novice angler finding a lake that has a fisheries management program will without a doubt help you get on those walleye quicker.  So Wawang Lake is where you’ll want to begin.

So it doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks up your sleeve when you head out on the water this season. Early season walleye are best located in shallow waters as they are not long out of spawning and are looking to stock up on feed to replace what was lost as they were preoccupied during the spawn. Shoals with gravel are excellent places to start looking, especially near the drop off to deeper water.

walleye schoolQuite often you will be able to visually spot them in these areas as the water is generally clearer and the walleye will stand out against the gravel bottom. In the water you are fishing, look for the edges of weed beds with a change in depth. This can be in a narrows were the deeper part of the water slopes up toward the bank, or on a bend off a point on the inside of the turn near a sand bar, walleye will be on the edge of these areas. The current is slower here and is a good place for harboring bait and acts like a snack table for feeding fish.

Sunken islands in the lake work well as do old break lines, humps and reefs. If you search the water that you will be fishing in, you should not have too much trouble locating these types of spots.  At Wawang Lake we provide a detailed, contour map of the lake that gets our guests started in the right direction almost immediately.  Supper isn’t too far behind.

Several types of baits work well for walleye. Favorites are crank-baits. Rapalas (straight or jointed) (floating or sinking) (suspending or rattle types). Next are the walleye divers, which imitate baitfish so accurately that walleye can’t resist them if presented properly.

illustration
Start using these baits with a stop motion, jerking the bait through the water instead of steady retrieves. Suspending lures are fished in the same manner, letting them sink to the bottom and then start jerking softly about a foot or so at a time. This allows the bait to sink slowly again to a predetermined depth before being tugged forward and up again. This motion represents smaller food chain species chasing and feeding which will attract larger fish and cause them to feed on the smaller fish.
Vertical jigging - 1
If fishing is more what you are after rather than angling try using minnows or leeches. Keep the leech stretched out as long as you can without ripping it.  Use a pickerel rig and hook a second hook to each. Do this by placing the second hook over the barb on the first hook and letting it trail.

Now you can hook the leech on the first hook and pull the tail down over the second hook. A bigger leech is more inviting than a small rounded one. Be sure not to have more than four hooks in total on your rig!

For trolling spinners or jigs with a larger hook use minnows and choose a medium to large minnow. Hook through the mouth, then out the gill, turn the hook then hook through the top of the head just infront of the doral fin.   This allows the minnow to swim freely and walleye often will mouth the bait, turning it and playing with it before swallowing it. Watch closely for light taps on your rod or float, and be prepared to set the hook at this point.

3 WAY

If trolling or cast retrieving is your preference then try using a three-way swivel on your line with the bait trailing, and the center swivel used to attach the weight. Do this by tying on about one foot of lighter line to the bottom eye of the swivel. The lighter line will break off easier in the event of a snag, saving the rest of the line. I use about four feet of line from the swivel to the bait, giving the bait lots of freedom to move side to side or up and down when retrieving the cast or trolling.

walleye_catch

 

The foregoing methods are pretty much fail safe, but it remains that walleye are as challenging to fish as they are good to eat. So the best advice is to get out there and try it for yourself. Enjoy the day and the fishing will fall into place!

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