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Monthly Archives: February 2018

TIPS for Walleye Fishing

No matter what your preferred fishing technique is;  jigging spoons or trolling baits you’re bound to find a bit of knowledge here that will help up your walleye fishing skills for the upcoming season.

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TROLL DIRTY
Vertical jigging is probably the most productive technique for walleye fishing, but high winds or rains that dirty the water can put the fish off the jig bite. When water conditions change for the worse, try trolling near bottom. Use a three-way swivel and tie a sinker on a 6- to 12-inch dropper, or use a bottom-bouncing rig and trail a floating/diving minnow. Troll upstream and cross-current.

Three WayDOUBLE DOWN
Three-way swivels allow you to double your trolling offerings. Attach a deep-diving crankbait to a 2-to 3-foot leader tied to the bottom of the swivel. Then add to the top of the swivel a leader twice as long as the other and a floating/diving minnow-style bait or a light, thin spoon. When putting the baits out, drop the deep-diver in the water first and let it start diving before letting go of the second leader. This will keep them from tangling and ensure a proper presentation of both baits.

SINK SPOONS
Trolling spoons is an effective way to catch walleye, but getting them deep enough can be a challenge. Use the same techniques that big-water salmon anglers employ to attain appropriate depth—downriggers, snap weights, in-line sinkers, diving planers or lead-core line. Walleye are often gear shy, so increase the length of the leader off a lead-core line or the distance behind the cannonball on a downrigger. Fluorocarbon leaders will help, but be careful, as they have no stretch.

DOWNSIZE THE BAIT
One of the toughest times to catch walleye is during a significant mayfly hatch. To increase your odds, use what guides call a mayfly rig—a small spinner with a portion of a night crawler on a small hook. Cast the rig out and count it down, then retrieve it slowly, experimenting with depth until you find the strike zone; walleyes often hit mayflies as they’re on their way to the surface to emerge. Keep the rig small; mayfly larvae are rarely longer than an inch.

BE VERSATILE
The rule of thumb for jigging is to use minnows in cold water and night crawlers, leeches or soft-plastics as the water warms.   BUT you’re making a mistake if you don’t take all types of live bait with you. Although leeches and crawlers may be hard to find in the fall, they’ll sometimes out produce minnows in cold water, especially if it’s dirty. Other times, even in the heat of the summer, fish want minnows more than other offerings.

HIT THE WHOLE COLUMN
Walleye fishermen usually concentrate on the bottom, but often the most active fish are suspended in the water column. When trolling, vary the depth of your offerings by changing your diving bait or adding weight to your lines if trolling with spinner rigs. Sometimes the ‘eyes are out on the prowl, foraging on minnows or shad that are schooled somewhere between the top and bottom. Watch your depth finder for clues to their whereabouts and fish accordingly.

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JIG A PLUG
Spice up your jigging offering by substituting a chatter bait—such as a Rat-L-Trap—for a spoon. Cast it out, let it drop to the bottom, then yo-yo it back to the boat. Don’t snap it up as high as you would a spoon, as the hooks can foul on the line. Rattling baits fall more slowly than spoons, but you can fix that by adding a slip sinker to your line before you tie on the bait. The extra weight tightens the plug’s wobble on the fall.

WORK THE SHALLOWS
Most walleye anglers concentrate on moderate to deep water, but there are fish in shallow water that are generally ignored. This is especially true during periods of high water when the predators move shallow to forage. Jigs tipped with live bait produce in the weeds, often in water not much deeper than a walleye’s back. Jig spoons near cover. Night crawlers on harnesses with spinners work when cast around the edges and in cuts, but they’re tough to fish in thick stands of vegetation.

HEAD DEEP
One of the toughest bites walleye anglers face is immediately after a weather front passes. With a high, clear sky, the fish often sulk in the depths. The key is to concentrate on deep water structure and fish with live bait, either slowly trolling or drifting around humps and break lines, usually right where the bottom begins to flatten out.

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PLANE OUT
Planer boards that carry lures or bait away from the boat are especially important in ultra clear water. Anglers who troll many lines usually use large boards that are tethered to the boat, and they clip their lines to the tether line. Anglers in small boats can easily fish up to three lines per side with small in-line planers. The key is to set the far-running lines first and position those rods closest to the bow; set near-running lines last and toward the stern. Allow more line out before you attach the outside boards, so the baits trail farther behind the boat. That will let you reel in fish on an outside line without getting tangled.

LOWER A LEECH
Leeches are a terrific bait for walleyes, especially when presented on slip bobbers or jigs. To make them easier to grip, carry a rag or rub them against your pant leg to remove some of the slime. When hooking them, insert the point of the hook into their suction cup—this will let them swim freely instead of balling up on the hook. Keep the leeches in some sort of container in the live well to acclimate them to the lake temperature before you bait up.

LURK, DON’T JERK
Floating/diving minnow lures are known as “jerk baits” because they’re fished with a dramatic, erratic action. A quieter retrieve is often more productive for walleye, which tend to trail baits rather than simply lunging and striking. Neutrally buoyant baits are especially suited to walleye, as they sit still or rise ever so slowly when you stop working the bait. Walleyes take these lures during a pause in the action, so stop your retrieve often.

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GIVE ‘EM OPTIONS
When it comes to trolling with artificial lures, increase your odds by adding soft-plastic trailers to your crank baits. Use small twister-tail grubs or short plastic worms. Attach a 2- to 3-foot length of monofilament to the back hook of the crank baits, tie on a hook and attach the grub. Make sure the hook is exposed, and if you’re using a worm, run the hook through at least three quarters of the soft-plastic; that way you won’t miss short-striking fish. Don’t add any weight to the leader or you’ll interfere with the crank bait’s action. And use opposite colors when trailing crank baits—dark grubs with light-colored plugs and vice versa.

TRY A NO-SLIDE BAIT
When jigging with live bait, try adding a piece of plastic to the hook shank. A body from a grub or a section of plastic worm helps keep the bait on the aft end of the jig and prevents it from sliding up the hook shank. That way, when a walleye grabs the bait, it’ll also get ahold of the hook.

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Pike – Rods, Lures & Baits

Baitcaster_ComboCasting for northern pike should be done with a bait casting rod in the seven to eight foot range and fifty or sixty five pound test braided lines, like Power Pro or Tuf Line.  Carry spinning tackle in the same actions too. Seven strand wire and fluorocarbon leaders are obviously mandatory no matter what technique you’re using. In the spring you’ll be dealing with a lot of fish most days, and there’s almost always big ones to be had. A good leader that will hold up to a lot of abuse is very important. Use knotted Sea guar fluorocarbon in forty to sixty pound test. This stuff is durable, you can tie with it, and the average leader will outlast a wire one. Year in and year out, floating and suspending minnow baits are the go-to lure. Between about five and eight inches seems to be the best size range. In bad winds, larger, heavier, suspending baits like H12 Husky Jerk or Suspending Storm Thunder stick are easier to cast and control. When you’re working lures of this size in bad wind, braided line helps you control and feel the bait when it’s far from the boat and a big bow develops in your line. Plus, even little bumps or pops of your rod tip get transmitted right to the nose of the bait.

Floating minnow baits kind of fell out of vogue after everyone started making suspenders, but, baits that run high in the water and rise when you stop moving them can be magic at times. They’re tougher to cast in bad winds, but well worth the effort! Three of the best are:

  • Cordell’s Ripplin Redfin
  • Bomber Long A’s …… and the good old
  • #18 Original Floating Rapala.

Six to nine inch Suicks are great too, and like the #18 Rapala, they cast very well. You can use floaters and suspenders slowly, with lots of pauses, or fish them faster with more snapping and reeling.

rapala-husky-jerk
Jigging and trolling are two options that consistently produce early in the year also. If you’re not doing well casting, try weaving along spots with a baited spinner rig behind a bottom bouncer, like a Northland Rock Runner.

During many of our springs we see our guests get the biggest pike trolling, and usually within five or six feet of the surface. We’ve seen poor days turned around simply by putting down the casting rods and putting the boat in gear. Using a depth finder + GPS combo will revolutionize the way you fish. Your speed control will improve and so will you knowledge of spots and how thoroughly you work them. Add in a digital map chip and it’s almost unfair!  A popular brand to use is the Lowrance electronics with Navionics map chips.

If you really want to slow down and pick apart good spots, jigging through waypoints, icons and trails is also effective. In or near moving water especially, pike will hang out with the walleye and suckers around deep holes, little slack spots or behind humps and other structures. Locking these spots down on your plotter and working them with a plastic or hair jig is time-consuming, but it works.  Spots near current really stack up fish of all kinds. Once you mark up a few, you can return again and again and find fish.  As the spring runs of walleye and pike tapered off, jigging the humps and seams just outside the rivers can be really productive on bigger fish. Having a good sonar really helps eliminate any downtime spent looking for my spots.

Along with jigging, fishing live or dead baitfish can be the only thing that produces sometimes.  Many have had the best luck doing this in the worst weather, when pike aren’t moving around much and inactive in general.   Fishing ‘meat’ also requires extra attention to your rigging and technique to make sure fish aren’t deeply hooked and injured.

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Don’t Overlook the Pike’s Reflexive Response

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Northern Pike are impulsive and will often at times strike through reflexive responses even when they’re not hungry or actively feeding. They are susceptible to being provoked into striking a fast moving lure that crosses their field of vision.

A favorite blue and silver Rapala Husky is a great lure to cast as far as you can with the wind, then proceed to retrieve the bait with a rapid crank, crank, crank, …pause, rip (and repeat) motion back to the boat. Soon by the second cast you’ll begin to see the fruits of your efforts.

rapala-husky-jerk

Within an hour you’re sure to experience rewards with this frenzied cast and retrieve method of fishing. It is something many know and witness before but for whatever reason some anglers avoid this technique never fully understanding how powerful this approach really is . It’s only natural to fish more carefully when things turn slow and you may have to remind yourself to break out and try something loud, large and fast to get the fish to strike again. Take advantage of a fishes’ evolutionary response to strike reflexively the next time things get slow on the water. It’s sure to reawaken their feeding response and put more fish in the boat.

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Crispy Grilled Pike Sandwiches

Grilled-Pike-620x338

This fish sandwich recipe works well with pike, as it suits the smaller fillets that result from removal of the Y-bone. It has the crunch of frying without the oil. Ingredients

• 1 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for brushing
• 1 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
• 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
• ¼ cup fromage blanc (found where ricotta or mascarpone cheese are sold). May substitute with Greek yogurt
• 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
• ½ tsp. hot sauce
• 3 tbsp. chopped cornichon (small gherkin pickle)
• 1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
• 2 tsp. tarragon, finely chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 4 kaiser rolls, split
• 1 6-ounce skinless pike fillet per sandwich
• Lettuce and tomato (topping)

Instructions

In a small skillet, heat canola oil, add Panko crumbs, and cook over low heat — stirring until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in Old Bay and transfer crumbs to a plate. In a small bowl, whisk the fromage blanc, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, cornichons, parsley, and tarragon. Season the remoulade with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill and oil the grates.

Grill the rolls, cut-side down until lightly toasted.

Transfer to plates and spread with the remoulade. Brush the fish with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until fish is cooked through. Transfer the fish to a plate. Press each fillet into the Panko on both sides and place on toasted roll. Top with lettuce and tomato.

ENJOY!!

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Top Five Walleye Fishing Tips

jig mouth1. Jig and Live Bait Combination
What can I say? More walleyes have likely been caught on a jig and live bait presentation than all other lures and baits combined. Jigs are that deadly. The reason, of course, is that a jig is unobtrusive, yet by changing its weight – from 1/16-ounce for shallow water all the way up to 3/4-ounce for deep water or heavy current – you can cover all the various options. Plus, when the walleye are color conscious, you can select a hue to turn them on. As for live bait options, the cardinal rule is to use minnows in the spring and fall when the water is cold. Leeches often become better when water temperatures warm into the 60s and 70s, while nightcrawlers reign supreme in the warmest water. Still, you carry all three bait options and let the fish decide what they want to eat on the end of a jig on any given day

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bottombouncer_275x1842. Bottom Bouncer and Spinner Combination
Walleyes eat spinner rigs or crawler harnesses, call them what you will, with a vengeance. Single hook harnesses are ideal for leeches and minnows, while two and three hook harnesses team up best with nightcrawlers. Just be sure to experiment with blade shapes, sizes and colors. Willowleaf blades spin the fastest, emitting plenty of flash, but they are also the most silent. Colorado blades, on the other hand, spin much more slowly but they thump aggressively. Indiana blades are somewhere in between, making them ideal choice for starting the day. Large blades are ideal in dark and dingy water, when you need to call out to the walleyes to let them know that dinner is ready. Large blades are best, too, when the fish tend to be on the bigger size. Don’t discount smaller blades, however, when the water is clear and the fish are in a funk. Finally, nothing allows you to present a spinner rig better than a bottom bouncer. Just don’t drag the bouncer. Let out line until you can feel it just ticking the bottom every so often. This means you’re trolling your harness in front of the fish.

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untitled23. Slow Death
Slow Death fishing for walleyes is sweeping the country because it is so deadly. In times past, walleye anglers were fanatical about attaching their baits perfectly straight so they didn’t spin. How times have changed. Slow Death involves using a hook (Mustad makes the most popular Slow Death hook, although many anglers prefer a #2 Aberdeen Tru-Turn style) with a distinct bend to it. Then, you thread on your nightcrawler (a live crawler works well but a Gulp! or Trigger X worm is often better) so that the head covers the hook eye and the body takes on the shape of the hook. Then you snip off the crawler so that only an inch or so is hanging behind the bend of the hook. It is best to use a three to four foot long, 10-pound test leader behind a bottom bouncer and troll at about 1-mile an hour. The finger-size crawler chunk spins like a corkscrew that the walleyes can’t resist. As for depth control, the standard rule of thumb is to use a 1-ounce bottom bouncer when you’re fishing in 10-feet or less of water, a 2-ounce bouncer in 20-feet of water and a 3-ounce bouncer in 30-feet. But these are only starting points, so don’t hesitate to experiment.

untitled34. Swimbaits 
Fishermen have caught more walleyes over ten pounds the last 7 or 8 years on swimbaits than all of the other walleye options combined. And you won’t believe how they’re rigging them. They’re using 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce saltwater style bullet shaped jig heads. Five and six inch swimbaits (X-Zone Swammers, Berkley Hollow Belly and Split Belly Swimbaits) work best. You also need to use a 7-foot long, medium heavy action spinning rod spooled with a quality 14-pound test braided line (Sufix, Fireline or PowerPro). Then use back-to-back uni-knots to attach a two to three foot long 15-pound test fluorocarbon leader. Because of the weight of your terminal tackle you can cast this set up a mile and it sinks quickly. After it hits the bottom, lift up your rod tip and start swimming the lure back to the boat. You want to keep it within a foot of the bottom at all times, ticking it occasionally, as you drop your rod tip to pick up line. That slight pause is also when 90-percent of the walleyes will eat your bait. It is quite simply the deadliest big walleye pattern known to man

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5. Casting Crankbaits onto Shallow, Windy, Rock Structures
In the summertime, when the living is easy, one of the most predictable walleye patterns – for numbers as well as trophy size fish – is to search out shallow, rocky structures like underwater points, reefs and rock piles. The best are often the “sea gull rocks” that just barely break the surface of the water. And they come into their own when the wind is blowing onto them. Under the waves, the walleyes will sneak up shallow, even in the middle of the day, and feed aggressively. So there is no need to tippy-toe around with this presentation. Select a crankbait that will run slightly deeper than the water you’re fishing. That way you will attract and trigger walleyes as you bang bottom and ricochet it off the rocks all the way back to the boat. It is that simple. Cast your crankbait up shallow and start your retrieve, stopping for a second or two, every time you feel your crankbait hit a rock. Walleyes typically devour it as it rises up and over the obstruction. The key, of course, is using a crankbait (a favorite is the time proven Rapala Shad Rap) that is buoyant enough to float up and over the rocks when you pause the retrieve

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Walleye Lures – Use and Tips

Here is a good variety of some excellent and proven lures for catching walleye.

Rapala Flat Rap

rap flat rapBalsa wood construction

Flat-sided hard flashing action

Triangle lip enhances action

Slow-rising response on retrieve

VMC Black Nickel Hooks

At first glance you’ll see similarities between the Flat Rap and other members of Rapalas Rap lure family, but then you’ll notice the difference in the flat sides and triangle lip. Although the Flat Rap has a few different features from other Rap lures, its strike drawing power is right on par with the rest of the family. Made from balsa with a slow-rising response on retrieve pause, the Flat Rap swims with a hard-flashing modification of the classic Rapala “wounded-minnow” action. The Flat Raps triangle lip enhances action while letting it deflect of timber, rocks and other obstacles. Each Flat Rap is hand-tuned and tank-tested to ensure it embodies the fish-catching action Rapala is known for.

STORM ThunderStick with MadFlash
storm deep jointed

UV Bright or MadFlash finish

Original ThuderStick swimming actions and rattle

External scale pattern

3-D holographic eyes

The Original ThunderStick with the added appeal of STORMs brilliant MadFlash holographic or UV Bright finish and external scale patters for maximum flash. Just like the Original ThunderSticks, the ThunderStick with MadFlash delivers the same proven fish-catching action, integrated lip and high-volume rattles. Whether you cast, troll, twitch, rip or jerk the ThunderStick,it will produce the results youre after in most fishing situations. Complete Premium VMC hooks.

STORM Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash
storm deep jr

UV Bright or MadFlash finish

Original ThuderStick swimming actions and rattle

External scale pattern

3-D holographic eyes

STORMs Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash offers the same proven fish-catching action, integrated lip and high-volume rattles as their classic Original Deep Jr. ThunderStick stickbait, but with the addition of a stunning holographic MadFlash finish for maximum flash. Whether you cast, troll, twitch, rip or jerk the Deep Jr. ThunderStick with MadFlash, it will produce the results youre after in most fishing situations. Complete with premium VMC Barbarian hooks.

STORM Deep Jointed MinnowStick Model DJMS Minnow Lures

storm deep jointed

STORMs Deep Jointed MinnowStick Lures suspend, rattles and entices the strike with its hypnotic swimming action and lifelike external scale pattern with holographic body and eyes. When walleye are suspended deep, the Deep Jointed MinnowSticks attract like walleye magnets when cast or trolled. Red VMC Barbarian hooks. Dives 6-10.

Rapala Jointed Minnow
rap jointed minnow

Attention-getting, baitfish-in-distress action

Premium balsa wood construction

Articulated broken back design

Classic minnow profile

VMCBlack Nickel Hooks

Rapalas Jointed Minnows are the answer when fish are extra wary and water conditions are difficult. The Jointed Minnows unique body works to produce a livelier, attention-getting, baitfish-in-distress action that usually fits the bill when all other lures come up short. Well suited for super slow retrieves.


STORM WildEye Live Series Lures – Walleye

storm wildeyeNatural color patterns

Holographic WildEye

Rigged with a superior VMC needle-point hook and treble belly hook

Lifelike swimming action

Holographic swimmin flash foil

Strong soft body with internal lead head

STORMs WildEye Live Walleye is pre-rigged with a premium VMC needle-point hook and treble belly hook. The realistic walleye color pattern and body shape makes this lure irresistible and perfect for clear-water presentations.

So on your next fishing trip up to Wawang Lake drop a few of these lures in the tackle box.  You’re in for a BIG surprise!

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When Walleye Don’t Bite with Video

When They Just Won’t Bite

All of us have had tough days on the water – bad weather, equipment failure and fish that just refuse to bite. Walleye fishing is often a game of chance, and when these fish shut down, you’ll find yourself cursing all the way back to the lodge. There are a number of techniques and adaptations that anglers can use that can turn finicky fish into biters, and with practice and patience, you can turn that bad day into a good one, and fill that live well up to the limit in the process!

Weather Conditions
weather coming inWeather plays a very important role in walleye activity, and a lack of optimum conditions will usually result in a sub-par day. Due to their light-sensitive eyes, a walleye will be most active during overcast days. They will also be more likely to roam and feed while the wind is blowing, as this causes wave action that breaks up sun penetration.  Unfortunately for anglers, these variables are not always the most comfortable to fish in – they will, however, provide positive results.
If you happen to be out, and the sun is shining and the wind is still, what should you do to ensure that you get bit? If you happen to be fishing in the shallow section of the lake, then your best course of action is to search out the lushest, greenest weeds available and present a jig to the walleye that will be seeking shade and cover underneath. Slow, methodical lifts of a buck tail or twister tail will do the trick, and the addition of live bait may coax the inactive walleye to become more co-operative.
During very sunny days your best option is to fish deeper, while keying-in on productive structure areas. Searching out break lines and drop-offs and jigging the area thoroughly, or running a live-bait rig or bottom bouncer, will do the trick.   A key to remember is this – the more miserable the weather, the faster the retrieve.   Sunny, beautiful days call for a slower presentation and added searching to find those inactive fish.

Location
It is common knowledge that walleye are fish that relate to the bottom structure and will be found hugging the lower part of the water column the majority of the time. This is true in most cases, but there are times when walleye will suspend mid-way through the water column.  Walleye are feeding machines, and will follow baitfish when actively feeding. If the resident baitfish are ten feet from bottom, then the opportunistic walleye will be close at hand.

Experimentation is the key, and jigging a spoon (similar to ice fishing) at different depths, or trying different models of diving crank baits will connect you to fish quicker. Many of the better-quality fish finders will display baitfish schools on their screens. Some effective technique when   running the lake, is to throw out a marker buoy to mark the baitfish, then drift back over the area with the above mentioned lures. It is a different dimension to walleye angling that is worth trying when the fishing becomes fruitless.

BobberMan

Be Versatile
One of the biggest mistakes a walleye angler can make is to stick to a technique when it isn’t working. Changing things up are key to putting more fish in the boat, and essential in turning “sniffers” into “biters.”

When out on the water, make sure that you carry a large assortment of crank baits. Be sure to include different color combinations and in varying weights and sizes in order to test what the walleye wants that particular day. There have been days out on the water when the only color that the walleye would show any interest in was red, and if you had the misfortune of not owning any cranks in that particular color, then your day could prove to be a disaster.
If there is more than one person in the boat while trolling, it is best to run completely opposite crank baits. Troll with different color combinations, shapes and sizes, in order to see what the fish prefer. If one angler has a run of two or more fish in a row, then you have stumbled upon a pattern, and at this point it is best to change over to match their lure.

Relying on live bait is not always the best option. Although many may believe this statement is false, there are times when live bait will hinder your fishing.  An example of this occurred during one season opener on the lake was with two fishing buddies and one was slow trolling a crank bait and a worm rig. Attached to the spinner rig was a fat, juicy night crawler. Although it was hooking into numerous perch, the walleye were just not co-operating.   The other person, on the other hand, had two fish in on the stringer already that was caught on the crank.   So the guy fishing with live bait did the unthinkable (to him) and removed the live bait while replacing it with a plastic worm in a motor oil color. Two trolling passes later and he had two nice sized walleye on the stringer as well.  They soon figured out what the walleye were looking for that day. Experiment with different lures and techniques until you find that one that works best under the conditions that you are faced with.

Walleye fishing is a tough game to play at times, yet the resourceful and smart angler will always figure the puzzle out. Pay attention to details while out on the water and don’t be afraid to try something new – the results might just surprise you!

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