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Category Archives: Crank Baits

Tempting BIG Fall Walleye

31" walleye - Mark HechtAs the leaves begin to drop and the temperature starts to cool, the walleye begins a migration to typical areas in search of food to fatten-up for the upcoming winter. Fall time is synonymous with trophy time as these fish display size, strength and a willingness to bite. Locating and tempting these lunker fish can be a rewarding experience by trying the following tactics and techniques for hot action on those cool days of autumn.

Finding the Fish
Cooler water temperatures signal an impulse in the walleye to “migrate” to areas that they typically frequented during the spring months. River mouths and inlets, shallow water weedlines and island breaks are just three locations that the walleye will call home for the fall months. One key aspect to keep in mind is that most fish will be found in water predominantly shallower than they occupy during the summer months. One reason for this shift is due to water temperature, mainly, a more comfortable level. Another reason is in part to the influx of baitfish that are calling the shallows home at this time of year. The walleye are gorging right now, leaving the shallows the best bet to appease their appetite.

Mud flats are another interesting option to seek out fall walleye you will have tremendous success fishing these “structure less” areas, as they seem to group up and hold large pods of feeding fish.

Nighttime is Right Time
If you are looking for an eventful time on the water with the possibility of some trophy ‘eyes, then book yourself a night shift at your the lake. Due to their light-sensitive eyes, the walleye will feed actively during this period of darkness and will head right up shallow to fill their bellies full. Search out an area that consists of mud, sand and green weeds and has close access to deeper water. Water depths can vary, but a rule of thumb is to start shallow (2 to 3 feet) and progressively move deeper until you connect with fish. Shallow running cranks are your best bet, especially thin minnow-style baits. BIG baits are the norm at this time of year, with 6-inches being a common length to throw. Remember, the fish you will catch are generally larger and are gorging on baitfish – this is no time for small 2 or 3-inch crankbaits.

Choosing baits that have rattles can be a definite plus as it will help the walleye hone in on your bait during the darkness. Bagley’s, Rebel and Wally Divers have all proven their merit while out on the water with an action and frequency that walleye jump all over.

Casting or trolling are two techniques that are both productive for nighttime walleye. If the area is a confined spot with a small feeding shelf or flat, casting is your best route to take. If the stretch is long and even with a prominent weedline along the edge, a trolling style will be best suited. Test the water at night this fall and see what’s lurking under the surface.

Live Bait Applications
Live bait can be a deadly application during the fall months due to the fact that it represents what the walleye are feeding on to the truest sense. Leeches and minnows are your two tops bets for connecting with fish at this time of year, and they will also last longest on the hook in the colder water.

Although there are many different types and styles of live bait rigs available to the angler, sticking to bottom bouncers and jigs will keep things simple and productive. Bottom bouncing shoals, breaklines and mud flats with a leech can be deadly at this time of year, and will also help in locating fish quickly and efficiently. Choose a rig with large, flashy spinners and add a jumbo leech for maximum effect. Drift or back troll this offering along any breaks or flats that might hold fish, paying close attention to your electronics for signs of schools of baitfish or walleye.

 

Jigging can be a tough tactic to beat during the fall as it presents your offering to the fish where most will be found – on or near the bottom. Pay attention to the word “most” – some will suspend in which case trolling or casting are the preferred method of attack. Larger size jigs in ¼ to ½ oz. sizes will cover most situations and keep your offering on the bottom. (Larger jig heads can also help during the blustery wind conditions that are often encountered during the fall months…) Tipping your jig with a minnow is your best bet, and choosing the largest and liveliest a definite plus when it comes to fall walleye. I often choose minnows between 4 and 6-inches long, most times erring on the larger size. Walleyes are feeding on perch, smelt, shad or a number of other “large” baitfish at this time, so it makes sense to give them something to really eat. Stinger hooks are a necessity during the fall due to the large bait and short bites. Adding a stinger will help your catch ratio increase in leaps and bounds.

Experimentation is the key to jigging techniques. Some days the fish may prefer a jig dragging on the bottom, while other days it may be a two-foot lift and pause. Generally a slow jigging motion is the preferred method due to the cooler water and decrease in metabolism in the fish. Trying different applications, as well as jig colours, will lead you on the path to success.

Test the waters this fall for wonderful walleye. If you’re looking for a trophy or two, this is the time of year that can surely cough them up.

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MORE PIKE – Three Spoon Techniques

Getting out-fished by someone in your boat is a humbling experience, but when that someone is your spouse or child, a jaw can get awful tight. At least you’re not alone, as many experience the same lack of luck catching watching someone else catch 3-4 pike to your one.   Sometimes it’s hard to figure it out. You can be fishing in all the right spots such as; wide, flat, shallow bays and fish with all the right lures but what can give one person an edge over another?   What are they doing that we weren’t?   Obviously something was going on under the surface that you might not be paying attention to.

Give the “pause concept” a try.  Many pike will follow lures, then turn off as they near the boat.  This is a common occurrence with post-spawn pike that hadn’t really started to feed yet    Whenever you stop reeling for a short while the lure it then flutters down, but more importantly, the tapered spoons would backup toward the pike. Most pike were lazily following in a straight retrieved spoon, and would spook to the side as the lure neared the boat. But when the retrieve was halted, (and as we further discovered) the rod tip dropped back towards the spoon, the lure would flutter backwards from 18-inches to 4-feet, right back into a following pikes face. And if there is a best way to trigger a following pike cruising behind a lure into striking, the in their face approach is tops.

The distance a lure will flutter backwards is determined by the style of the spoon, depth of the water, and how the falling, flat spoon planes as it sinks. Try this next to the boat. Have 5-6 feet of line between the lure and rod tip. Move the spoon through the water parallel to the boat’s side, then stop and drop the rod tip back towards the lure. This gives the lure some line so it can back up the maximum distance. Clear shallow water will give you the best view of how the drop-back works. The best drop-back spoons I’ve used are the size 6 Lindy Gator Spoon, Eppinger TrollDevle, and the 1-ounce standard Dardevle.

                        

The Drop-Back technique is a great way to trigger following pike.

Summary: Whenever casting spoons for pike, especially if conditions are tough, try dropping the lure back several times on each retrieve. This is a good technique to practice whenever casting a spoon.  

Jig-Trolling Spoons P2

When normally confronted by a big weed bed with lots of potentially good-looking water, trolling usually allows for quickly checking it over.   Run bucktails, big spinnerbaits, or shallow-running jerkbaits over the top, and deeper-diving jerkbaits and crankbaits along the edge. Fifteen minutes of trying some of those techniques can quickly show if they are a waste of time or not.   Here is what a potential problem could be. Weed growth is very inconsistent, sometimes it comes to the surface, other times it could be 3-4 feet below. Lures that ran at a specific, near-surface depth level would constantly foul up in the erratic growth. Another option would be is to run a spinnerbait or buzz-bait across the surface. But what can tossed this plan for a loop, is the hundreds of dark, shadowy weed pockets that exist throughout the vegetation. And due to the bright sky conditions, light winds and fairly clear water, you can sense that pike are holding in those weedy lairs. But there has to be a way of rooting them out. If the weed bed is smaller, you could jig fish it with plastic-bodied lizards, reapers, big double twister tails, Sassy Shads, or other types of soft-bodied “creatures.” At least these presentations will penetrate down into the weeds, and the single hook on the jig would allow to snap and rip through any clinging vegetation.

An excellent lure is a Johnson Silver Minnow, but instead of casting with it – troll with varying speeds in a lazy S pattern. This prevents the lure from following the boat’s path. When turning toward the lure it would sink into the weeds, but as the boat swung the other way the lure would be on the outside of the turn, going faster and swimming out of the weeds. This method works like a charm, as the spoon was actually being jigged down into the weeds, then pulled out, while the boat was constantly moving over new waters in the search for pike. Many have had excellent success with this technique, rooting many pike out of weedy cover that would not come up for a high-running, more horizontal presentation. But there are certain things that must be done for maximum success.

The plated hook on a Silver Minnow is dull and must be sharpened along the sides and tip with a fine grain file. South Bend makes a great one. Adjust the weed guard so it lines up with the hooks tip and extends out a little past it. If the hook point and weed guard aren’t in a straight line, you’ll grab a lot more weeds. Don’t adjust the wire weed guard too far out from the point or it will be too hard to set. Adjust the setting according to the density of the vegetation.

Trolling silver minnows gives you a great way to cover massive weed beds
and to get down into the vegetation.

Most hook-ups on larger fish occurred after quickly gunning the motor to pick up line as the hook is being set. As the technique evolved , here’s what works best.:

  • Use no-stretch super line such as Berkley WhipLash or FireLine.
  • Don’t use a shorter rod or one that doesn’t have backbone.
  • A Heavy “bucktail rod” that’s at least 6 foot 9 inches, or a sturdy flippin’ stick are recommended for maximum hook-setting power.
  • Longer rods give you a long, sweeping hook-set that picks up slack line, they also keep the lure a little farther from the boat, plus they aid in controlling and playing pike.

Dress the Silver Minnow with pork or plastic. A dressing’s length and bulk will alter how fast or slow the spoon will wiggle or sink. Be careful not to use a soft plastic dressing that slides up on the hooks shank every time a sharp forward rip is executed to clear weeds. Gluing some plastics to several spoons with a “Krazy” glue can solve this problem. The standard silver-colored “Silver Minnow” is a must, but gold, perch and fire tiger can also be hot, especially when the water has some color, or darker skies exist.

Summary: When faced with lots of weeds, trolling can help to quickly find the pike. But be careful not to go too fast in a straight line. A soft zigzag pattern allows the lures to constantly sink down and be pulled out of the weed clumps. It’s this “jigging action” that roots out the big ones!

Flutter Spoons

When game fish are aggressive, fishing fast and horizontal is often the best way to cover water and catch the maximum amount of fish. But as the action starts to decrease, slower speeds and lures that fall, flutter or pause usually become more productive. A slower falling lure may also be more effective on suspended fish, or those holding tight to cover, as it gives them a little more time to zero in on the presentation.

 P4
Wafer-thin “flutter spoons” like those used for trolling salmon and trout are
slow falling with a lot of flash that trigger non-aggressive pike.

 

Anyone with basic pike fishing experience knows that spoons are tops for these toothy predators, and we’ve already discussed two deadly tactics. But the ultimate “tease” technique, the tactic that temps even the most tight-jawed pike into hitting a spoon, is the one that gives us the slowest, falling, most tantalizing action. This involves casting with super-light weight flutter spoons, those wafer thin spoons that are usually trolled in deeper water for trout or salmon while using weights or planer devices to get them down. Before going out and trying to cast these spoons on baitcasting gear spooled with heavy line, three words of advice-don’t try it:

  • They are best fished with long-handle spinning rods that are at least 6 1/2 to 7 feet long, and a reel full of soft 10-14 lb. test mono such as Trilene XL, or better still 14-20 lb. test FireLine.
  • Two handed “snap casts” are recommended, where a right-handed caster pulls the butt section of the rod sharply towards his body with the left hand, while the right hand fires out the cast. This tactic increases rod speed to give extra casting distance.P5
  • Look at a South Bend System 9 IM6 graphite spinning rod I designed (P-246) to get an idea of the type rod to use. A ball-bearing, wide-spool spinning reel with a tapered spool works best.

Flutter spoons have a lot of flash and movement with a minimal amount of forward or drop speed. You can slow the frantic fluttering action down a bit by adding a plastic or pork trailer, but I rarely do. These spoons won’t let you cover a lot of territory, but they are deadly under certain situations. One of them is when sight fishing for pike. Although this may sound easy it’s not. In stained waters only slight shadows or dark spots on the bottom may be noted. In clear water the fish can more easily be seen, but a cast made too close will usually send them bolting away. Always cast at least 10-15 feet past the pike, and not directly over it. If the fish is moving, cast well in front. Even if you lead the pike too far, let the spoon sit on the bottom until the fish is within 5-8 feet. The lift up and allow the spoon to flutter downward.

Sometimes the pike may just watch the lure sink, and nose up to within inches of the lure. Short little jiggles or soft “pops” will usually provoke a strike. A flutter spoon can also be rigged on a follow-up rod. When a pike follows in a faster-moving, more horizontal presentation then turns off, a flutter spoon can be blind cast in the direction the fish headed. Let it sink 5-6 seconds pull it upward, then repeat. This slow-falling, crippled action is often different enough to trigger a response. Flutter spoons also work well when allowed to sink into larger holes in a weed bed, or into the shaded areas between higher clumps. Let the light lureP5 slowly flutter down into the pocket a few feet, or down between the clumps, then left the rod to pull it back out. These thin spoons sink much slower than a conventional spoon, and have a wilder, flashing action. This attracts pike and gives them plenty of time to react to the slow falling lure.

When fishing flutter spoons around weeds, use one with a large single hook, and put the hook on so the point faces the inside or cupped side of the spoon. This rigging will give you the minimum amount of weed snags and make releasing pike easy. With a little practice this single hook spoon can be cast over thick vegetation and skittered across the top, periodically stopping the retrieve so the lure flutters down into holes or along edges. The trick to avoid hanging weeds is to halt the lures flight just before it hits the water by engaging the reel and lifting the rod tip.

Wire leaders should be used with all the spoon techniques discussed. Always use a quality ball-bearing snap-swivel to the lure. A size 4 Berkley Cross-Loc snap swivel is ideal. When casting a spoon, either with the drop-back technique or with a flutter spoon, a 12-inch leader is perfect. When trolling with the Silver Minnow, where a lot of pulling and ripping of weeds is going on, a 3-foot leader is better as it will slice through the vegetation and won’t weaken. Put these 3 techniques in your pike-fishing bag of tricks and watch your catches soar!

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Fall PIKE Fishing

31The Ontario archery hunting season will be open mid-September and it’s a tortuous time of year, because the urge to hunt is so strong after a long off-season. Yet, while the bush beckons the hunters, Wawang Lake is still here – promising what is arguably the best fishing of the whole year!

That’s because the cool autumn months before winter are prime days to catch fish, and BIG fish, in generous quantities. Why? Because fish feed more voraciously during the fall than any other time of year. They instinctively know that winter’s coming, marking a cold-water period of low activity. So, predator fish bulk up for winter by packing in as much eating as they can. This time also coincides with the fall spawn of baitfish.

Basically, the baitfish school-up to move into the spawning grounds and the predator fish follow them.

One such predator in the mix of the fall bite is the magnificent Northern Pike.  As anyone who knows Wawang Lake – it’s stuffed with these jaw, snapping monsters! Our pike hunters love the way they look, strike and fight. They have the attitude of a pitbull on steroids! Even a 3-4 pounder can give any angler a thrill. Add twenty pounds and you have a serious freshwater battle on your hands.

One of the best ways to catch a bunch of pike in the fall is by trolling and covering a lot of water. Before hitting the water, have a game plan. Study the Wawang Lake map of the lake and identify the steep breaks where shallow water drops off into deep structure. These are potential hotspots.

If the shallows in these spots are weedy, look for weedlines that are still green. Weeds that have already laid down and are beginning to decay do not hold fish like they did in the summertime. Fish like GREEN weeds, for the leafy cover they provide, and dying weeds don’t offer the same concealment. On a particular weedline, the top fish-holding locations are points and inside turns. These are key ambush areas at any time of year, including fall.

If the lake has no green living weeds, then other types of cover are your next best bet. Rocks are ALWAYS dynamite areas to target big pike, particularly if they’re out on a nice point. Add wind ripping into or over that point, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for big gators laying in wait. The wind creates current that pushes bait into the point, where opportunistic feeders are always hanging around After determining which weedlines, rocks, points, etc. that you intend to target, the next decision to make is lure selection. During the fall, northern pike like to eat big meals. So opt for baits that have a large profile.
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Lure suggestions to start with: ·

  • a big jerkbait like a 9-inch Suick in Firetiger, Perch or Red/White – always clipped to a steel leader. ·
  • 10″ Swimming Joe (Bucher) baits in firetiger, perch, or walleye – a proven overall best
  • Other proven performers are big spoons, paddle-tailed swim baits and bucktails. ·
  • If picking up stray weeds is a problem, troll a jumbo spinnerbait or weedless spoon like a Johnson Silver Minnow.   ·
  • Add a large twist-tail grub body to the shank hook on spinnerbaits and Silver Minnows, to increase the size of the bait’s profile, enhance vibration and for a splash of color.

Once you get on a weedline depth (typically 10-15 feet), watch your sonar and stay on that contour. Pike aren’t afraid to hit a fast-moving bait, so I usually begin with a troll speed of about 2.5 miles per hour. If that doesn’t get results, try slower or faster speeds – even up to around 5 miles per hour even.

Leave your rod holders at home when trolling for pike, because you’ll get a lot more bites if you continually work the lure with quick, hard jerks; steady pull-and-drop movements; and erratic twitching. Pike will routinely follow behind a bait, and the instant it “pauses” it often triggers an aggressive strike!

41

Fast trolling regularly results in an immediate hook-up, especially if you’re using no-stretch braided line instead of monofilament. However, we prefer braid for trollling, because the line transmits the wobble of the lure to your hand and lets you know if the bait is running properly or whether you’ve picked up a stray weed.

The fall trolling pattern for northern pike can provide you with some of the most action-packed fishing of the year. Handle the fish with care and release them healthy so they go into the winter months stress-free. And don’t be afraid to keep a couple of 3-4 pounders for the dinner table. Pike is an amazing fish to eat, especially if you de-bone it to remove those nuisance “Y” bones. Or, leave the bones in and opt for pickling instead. The pickling process turns the bones to mush, and there’s a better than pickled northern pike!

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Dealing With the “HATCH”

IMayfly want to talk about the “Mayfly hatch,” and how to successfully fish for Walleyes during this time. It can be more difficult  to catch numbers of walleyes and to make consistent catches during this time, but not impossible. There are hatches so thick that every fish in the lake gets their fill, and many times people use this as an excuse why they didn’t Mayflycatch anything, but even then walleyes can be caught. The most important aspect at this time is location.

First one must realize what “mayflies” are and where they live. I’m not going to get technical or scientific but rather offer some simple information to better understand how to deal with this situation when you encounter it. When I talk about mayflies, I am referring to all the aquatic bugs living in the water. The mayflies are actually a small part of the equation. There are stone flies, caddis flies, dragon flies and more flies than you can shake a stick at. The one thing they have in common is that they all live as larvae on the soft mud bottom and muck areas out in the basin. Another thing they have in common is that all fish love’em. They are fish candy.

To survive, the larvae must be able to bury themselves in the soft bottom to escape being eaten. They also crawl under sticks, stones, rocks and anything else that offers cover. When you haul up a snag, look it over and you’ll see lots of bugs of all shapes and sizes crawling on it; these are the larvae so be sure to put the stick back so those larvae can   live to the next stage in their life cycle.

walleye teethThere are millions of different types of bugs living in the water and millions of each kind of bug. The next stage of their life cycle is determined by water temperature. As the water temperatures rise, it triggers a morphing stage where the larvae morph into a flying bug. This morphing stage is commonly referred to as a ‘hatch’. When this occurs, the larvae come out of their hiding areas in the soft bottom after dark and rise to the surface. It is this period that the bugs are the most vulnerable. All fish instinctively know this and cash in on it. It’s like opening the doors to the candy store. In the case of the walleyes, they not only eat the larvae, but most of the smaller fish eating the larvae. So it is a double bonus for them.

Downsize and use lures that look similar to a Mayfly for better success at catching walleye.

Downsize and use lures that look similar to a Mayfly for better success at catching walleye.

The many different types of bugs will continue to “hatch” as their preferred water temperature is achieved for most   of the summer. While I’ve seen different types of bugs “hatching” as late as October, most of the bug “hatches” will occur during the summer months. After the bugs reach the surface of the water, they fly off to shore and stay in trees and bushes and anything else that offers protection.   Then the next day they fly back to the water’s surface and land to lay their   eggs. The eggs drift down to the bottom and as the next generation of larvae hatch, they must bury themselves into the soft bottom to prevent being fish food. If the larvae hatch out on a hard bottom, they instinctively crawl   until they reach soft bottom and bury themselves. That is why the transition areas between soft and hard bottoms are overloaded with larvae. That is also why the transition areas are good places to fish. Perch actually root out the larvae and the walleyes cash in by eating the perch as well as the larvae.

Now the importance of location becomes clear. Not all, but   many of the walleyes will be partaking in this fabulous forage feast. But where to fish? A good place to start is out in the soft bottom basin areas.   Drifting spinner and floating rigs across the soft bottom basin areas is a good place to start. If allowed, 5045378679_2afff95b5dtrolling is also an excellent option. When   trolling, not only is it effective to troll floating and spinner rigs, but also crankbaits.

Any sunken wood such as logs and stumps and the many cribs out in the soft bottom areas are also good places to find walleyes. Anchoring upwind of these cover areas and jigging and slip bobber fishing are real effective. The transition areas between the hard and soft bottom will be over loaded with larvae so walleyes will be close by.

Hard bottom can consist of rocks, so deep rock bars can be good areas. Anchoring upwind of the deep rock bars and using the jigging and slip bobber methods are again very effective. If fishing shallower rock bars, use your trolling motor for quiet maneuvering; it is easier and much faster to cast crank baits or spinners over and along side of them. Let the crank bait bump into the rocks now and again. Believe it or not, that can be like ringing the dinner bell for the wi0703_DeadWalleywalleyes.

Weeds are also an option when found near soft bottom drop offs. There are some species of larvae that cling to aquatic weeds, but most   of the larvae are found in deeper soft bottom areas. Jigging and slip bobber fishing are again the methods of choice.

When fishing in the summer, the bait that many have found to be most effective for walleyes is a small leech. Minnows are always a good and most preferred bait of all, but nightcrawlers are a good choice.yet be sure to cut into small pieces are the key here is small baits and lures.

I hope this information will help put you on Mr. Walleye.   Good luck fishing everyone.

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SPRING SECRETS – Spawning Walleye

28 (5)There’s a great reason to look forward to the spring with ice melting and rivers running. About 80 to 90 percent of the walleye across the country move from main lakes into the rivers to spawn. Unlike during the summer when trolling for big fish can be hit or miss, big walleye become more catchable when they migrate upstream with the masses.

These fish can often be monsters, which is exciting. You’ve got a better shot at the ten pounders as well as numbers of fish during the spring pre-spawn run.

Rain and melting snow will fill rivers at various times and produced strong current. Fast-moving water draws walleye upstream to spawning areas like a magnet.

The smaller part of the lake can also be a blessing because hills protect you from the cold winds that may continue to blow hard in late April and May when the spawn takes place.

As good as all that sounds, high water and spring fishing present their own problems. But, attention to detail and modifying presentations to meet conditions can overcome the obstacles.

Locating Fish

Finding walleye during the spawning run isn’t always easy. It may seem simple to look at a map and predict where walleye will spawn – on hard-bottom areas of gravel and sand as far upstream as they can go until it stops.

After laying their eggs, females start back to the main lake while males wait near spawning areas for late-arriving females. When convinced the spawning run is over, males head to normal areas too.  As a result, walleye are constantly on the move in the small part of the lake. Anglers must be, too, if they want a chance to connect with one of these monster walleye. Still, you’ll often see boats hovering at spots that produce for a while long after the bulk of the fish have passed by.

You really have to be mobile when it comes to fishing spring fish as they won’t hold in one area. That’s the problem. Many anglers get too hung up on one spot.  Do not overlook the seams of slower water where current from feeder creeks or inlets. Water can be clearer there, which is an important detail when high water can dirty the main section of the lake.

Run and gun until walleye are located. Spring fishing can often result in “pack fishing”, where several boats crowd onto the same spot. But, walleye will eventually respond to fishing pressure by moving away or shutting down their activity. Don’t be afraid to go your own way. Being a loner can pay big dividends.

LINDY MAX GAP JIGSpring Tactics

Anglers can often “over-think” their approach to fishing. Big catches can be had by using a keep-it-simple philosophy while paying attention to details that others overlook. A jig and minnow combination can accomplish the task of catching multiple fish while having a chance at the trophy we all like to brag about.

Vertical jigging while slipping with the current is an extremely productive and enjoyable technique. Instead of waiting for fish to come to you, you can go to them. You never know what’s in store for you.

While most people might stick with monofilament, try using 10 pound test (2 pound dia.) Power Pro braided line. This switch to braided line can transform your jig into an extra “eye” beneath the water. Its sensitivity telegraphs the type of bottom content that lies below, whether gravel, sand or mud. Its sensitivity also helps detect light bites common in cold water, an edge that can be critical when water is high. Power Pro’s thinner diameter cuts through the water and permits use of lighter jigs.

With fast-moving current, it can be important to fine-tune your presentation by adding a small number 12 barrel swivel in line to prevent line twist. If you don’t use a swivel, you’re likely to feel a “thump” and set the hook, only to miss the walleye. In that case, it’s likely the jig was spinning and the hook was pointed away at the crucial moment when the fish attacked the bait. A Lindy Max Gap jig, with its custom, super sharp hook, can also help you catch more fish.

From the barrel swivel, try adding a two-foot Gamma fluorocarbon leader to the lightest jig that will reach the bottom and allow you to stay vertical as the boat moves downstream with the current. If your bait isn’t on the bottom, you aren’t in the walleye’s strike zone. The angler in the back of the boat usually must step up a jig size or stay as close to the front of the boat as possible to stay on the bottom.

Color of your jig can always be a key factor. Think about how many times you’ve been in a pack of boats and everyone seems to be netting walleye. Then, suddenly, the action stops. The fish quit taking the Chartreuse or orange jigs that everyone is using. Most anglers will assume conditions changed and the bite is off. Or, the fish moved away. These anglers will stick with the same jig, stay in the same place and hope for the best. Make the assumption that the active fish have been caught. More walleye probably lurk below, but they are the more inactive ones. Rather than trying to trigger a feeding strike, try changing colors, change your jigging motion, and go for a reaction bite. Even try something off of your normal color chart.

It can be amazing that the simple things you can do that will make a difference. You might only get one or two more, but by the end of the day that can work out to a lot of fish.

Anglers often have one mind-set. If they aren’t catching fish on chartreuse, they often believe that the fish aren’t biting. But, change is big. Try using blue, pinks, purples’ just something different. Techni-Glo colors can be hot as well. Try adding a plastic body like a Munchies Thumpin’ Grub tail.

In addition, try switching your live bait choice from the standard minnow to a leech or half a night-crawler. This typically happens a little later in the spring and when temperatures warm up.

Anglers also overlook the importance of scent, a factor that can be important when the water is cold. Jigs with hair, like Fuzz-E-Grubs, hold scent longer than jigs without it. There are a ton of commercial scent products to add to your jig.

Still not working? Fishermen also have the option of taking off the jig, adding a clip and snapping on a blade bait, like a Heddon Sonar. The vibration can help hungry fish locate it or trigger a reaction bite from inactive fish. Rip it hard three times and follow it down each time, then rip it half way and let it drop until it’s just off the bottom, then hold it there.

Anchors Away

High water can sometimes create boat control problems and springtime cold fronts can sometimes turn action sour. Anchoring can help.

3 WAYHave you gone back to the spot where slipping with jigs was producing for you the day before and you get stymied first thing in the morning? Did they move overnight or are they still there and just less interested than they were the day before? One way to find out is to anchor upstream from the spot and cast or work a Wolf River rig slowly on the bottom. Use a 3-way swivel with a short dropper and a sinker heavy enough to stay on bottom, a 3-foot leader to a simple hook, orange bead and a minnow. This can be a deadly technique during cold fronts on the river.

Instead of a 3-way, you can also use a jig as well, but use enough weight so the jig returns to the same exact spot every time you pump, pump, pump it so fast you wonder how a fish could hit it. The goal is to entice reaction bites. Follow the jig back down each time you snap it. Put your 3-way rig on the bottom and put the rod in a rod holder. Jig a jig on other rig ready to go. However, you are only permitted to have one rod fishing in Ontario.

The same tactic works if walleye simply moved closer to the bank on sharp turns to escape strong current. Some fish will go right into the trees, so position your boat right next to them and anchor.

After the walleye have spawned, food becomes more important as they begin moving back downstream to the main lake. As a result, walleye can be caught first thing in the morning by trolling crank baits on shallow flats. Don’t waste time. If they are there, you’ll catch them right away.

Capitalize on the action as long as it lasts. Boat traffic and sunlight will push them deeper soon.

Got cabin fever? Fishing is the cure.

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SPRING SECRETS – Spawning Walleye

28 (5)There’s a great reason to look forward to the spring with ice melting and rivers running. About 80 to 90 percent of the walleye across the country move from main lakes into the rivers to spawn. Unlike during the summer when trolling for big fish can be hit or miss, big walleye become more catchable when they migrate upstream with the masses.

These fish can often be monsters, which is exciting. You’ve got a better shot at the ten pounders as well as numbers of fish during the spring pre-spawn run.

Rain and melting snow will fill rivers at various times and produced strong current. Fast-moving water draws walleye upstream to spawning areas like a magnet.

The smaller part of the lake can also be a blessing because hills protect you from the cold winds that may continue to blow hard in late April and May when the spawn takes place.

As good as all that sounds, high water and spring fishing present their own problems. But, attention to detail and modifying presentations to meet conditions can overcome the obstacles.

Locating Fish

Finding walleye during the spawning run isn’t always easy. It may seem simple to look at a map and predict where walleye will spawn – on hard-bottom areas of gravel and sand as far upstream as they can go until it stops.

After laying their eggs, females start back to the main lake while males wait near spawning areas for late-arriving females. When convinced the spawning run is over, males head to normal areas too.  As a result, walleye are constantly on the move in the small part of the lake. Anglers must be, too, if they want a chance to connect with one of these monster walleye. Still, you’ll often see boats hovering at spots that produce for a while long after the bulk of the fish have passed by.

You really have to be mobile when it comes to fishing spring fish as they won’t hold in one area. That’s the problem. Many anglers get too hung up on one spot.  Do not overlook the seams of slower water where current from feeder creeks or inlets. Water can be clearer there, which is an important detail when high water can dirty the main section of the lake.

Run and gun until walleye are located. Spring fishing can often result in “pack fishing”, where several boats crowd onto the same spot. But, walleye will eventually respond to fishing pressure by moving away or shutting down their activity. Don’t be afraid to go your own way. Being a loner can pay big dividends.

LINDY MAX GAP JIGSpring Tactics

Anglers can often “over-think” their approach to fishing. Big catches can be had by using a keep-it-simple philosophy while paying attention to details that others overlook. A jig and minnow combination can accomplish the task of catching multiple fish while having a chance at the trophy we all like to brag about.

Vertical jigging while slipping with the current is an extremely productive and enjoyable technique. Instead of waiting for fish to come to you, you can go to them. You never know what’s in store for you.

While most people might stick with monofilament, try using 10 pound test (2 pound dia.) Power Pro braided line. This switch to braided line can transform your jig into an extra “eye” beneath the water. Its sensitivity telegraphs the type of bottom content that lies below, whether gravel, sand or mud. Its sensitivity also helps detect light bites common in cold water, an edge that can be critical when water is high. Power Pro’s thinner diameter cuts through the water and permits use of lighter jigs.

With fast-moving current, it can be important to fine-tune your presentation by adding a small number 12 barrel swivel in line to prevent line twist. If you don’t use a swivel, you’re likely to feel a “thump” and set the hook, only to miss the walleye. In that case, it’s likely the jig was spinning and the hook was pointed away at the crucial moment when the fish attacked the bait. A Lindy Max Gap jig, with its custom, super sharp hook, can also help you catch more fish.

From the barrel swivel, try adding a two-foot Gamma fluorocarbon leader to the lightest jig that will reach the bottom and allow you to stay vertical as the boat moves downstream with the current. If your bait isn’t on the bottom, you aren’t in the walleye’s strike zone. The angler in the back of the boat usually must step up a jig size or stay as close to the front of the boat as possible to stay on the bottom.

Color of your jig can always be a key factor. Think about how many times you’ve been in a pack of boats and everyone seems to be netting walleye. Then, suddenly, the action stops. The fish quit taking the Chartreuse or orange jigs that everyone is using. Most anglers will assume conditions changed and the bite is off. Or, the fish moved away. These anglers will stick with the same jig, stay in the same place and hope for the best. Make the assumption that the active fish have been caught. More walleye probably lurk below, but they are the more inactive ones. Rather than trying to trigger a feeding strike, try changing colors, change your jigging motion, and go for a reaction bite. Even try something off of your normal color chart.

It can be amazing that the simple things you can do that will make a difference. You might only get one or two more, but by the end of the day that can work out to a lot of fish.

Anglers often have one mind-set. If they aren’t catching fish on chartreuse, they often believe that the fish aren’t biting. But, change is big. Try using blue, pinks, purples’ just something different. Techni-Glo colors can be hot as well. Try adding a plastic body like a Munchies Thumpin’ Grub tail.

In addition, try switching your live bait choice from the standard minnow to a leech or half a night-crawler. This typically happens a little later in the spring and when temperatures warm up.

Anglers also overlook the importance of scent, a factor that can be important when the water is cold. Jigs with hair, like Fuzz-E-Grubs, hold scent longer than jigs without it. There are a ton of commercial scent products to add to your jig.

Still not working? Fishermen also have the option of taking off the jig, adding a clip and snapping on a blade bait, like a Heddon Sonar. The vibration can help hungry fish locate it or trigger a reaction bite from inactive fish. Rip it hard three times and follow it down each time, then rip it half way and let it drop until it’s just off the bottom, then hold it there.

Anchors Away

High water can sometimes create boat control problems and springtime cold fronts can sometimes turn action sour. Anchoring can help.

3 WAYHave you gone back to the spot where slipping with jigs was producing for you the day before and you get stymied first thing in the morning? Did they move overnight or are they still there and just less interested than they were the day before? One way to find out is to anchor upstream from the spot and cast or work a Wolf River rig slowly on the bottom. Use a 3-way swivel with a short dropper and a sinker heavy enough to stay on bottom, a 3-foot leader to a simple hook, orange bead and a minnow. This can be a deadly technique during cold fronts on the river.

Instead of a 3-way, you can also use a jig as well, but use enough weight so the jig returns to the same exact spot every time you pump, pump, pump it so fast you wonder how a fish could hit it. The goal is to entice reaction bites. Follow the jig back down each time you snap it. Put your 3-way rig on the bottom and put the rod in a rod holder. Jig a jig on other rig ready to go. However, you are only permitted to have one rod fishing in Ontario.

The same tactic works if walleye simply moved closer to the bank on sharp turns to escape strong current. Some fish will go right into the trees, so position your boat right next to them and anchor.

After the walleye have spawned, food becomes more important as they begin moving back downstream to the main lake. As a result, walleye can be caught first thing in the morning by trolling crank baits on shallow flats. Don’t waste time. If they are there, you’ll catch them right away.

Capitalize on the action as long as it lasts. Boat traffic and sunlight will push them deeper soon.

Got cabin fever? Fishing is the cure.

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

WEB   RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

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Essential Cranks for Walleye Fishing

If you need help with what to buy for trolling or casting cranks for walleye, this should help.   Crank baits are to walleye fisherman what shoes are to women. We may not need as many as we have, but we have to have them just the same. While the latest fancy finish or popular color can steal our attention, serious walleye anglers know that having a selection of cranks in various diving depths, floaters, suspenders and profiles is more important as you fish in different parts of the country or as conditions change throughout the season on your favorite lake or river.

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Here is a selection of go-to cranks for walleye recommended by professionals and guides that you should have in your walleye tackle regardless of where you fish.


Reef Runner 800
When the first Reef Runner hit the shelves in the mid-90s, it was an instant hit. The hump design that helps move more water over its back and provide a hunting action made it an instant and lasting favorite of walleye trollers. The hundreds of wacky named color options probably didn’t hurt its appeal either. The addition of the “Bare Naked” series a few years ago has caused yet another trend with transparent bodies and a copper colored prism insert.
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The 800’s ability to be trolled nearly 30 feet unassisted and effective trolling speeds of .8 to 3.5mph make it a bait that can be used nearly year around. The aggressive hunting nature and design of the bait does require it to be tuned more frequently than other baits, so check it frequently.

The Deep Little Ripper is a smaller version of the 800 that excels when a smaller presentation or less diving depth is required.


Berkley Flicker Shad
A plastic shad body crank, the Berkley Flicker Shad excels when cast or trolled. A weight-transfer system makes it possible to cast this bait easily on spinning tackle. It has seen a lot of time on the tournament trail being cast at wing dams, trolled unassisted, or on leadcore lines.
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Many serious anglers believe the unique pitch of the rattle is why it seems to out fish many similar type lures. As the popularity has grown, so have the sizes and colors available, currently 5 sizes and more than 20 colors.


Smithwick Roque
A unique bait that has a roll unlike any other stick bait. Most pros will tell you it’s not a bait they carry year around, but when they are working you want one on every rod. Offered in several sizes as well as floating and suspending versions, this bait is a go-to for walleye anglers in cold water. The much louder than normal rattles have also made it a go to choice in off-colored to dirty water where walleyes can more easily locate the bait.
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A conservative offering of colors, anglers are custom painting them more and more each year. But be warned, much like a Reef Runner, the Rogue can be temperamental with tuning and too much extra paint or clear coat can permanently affect their action.


Rapala Husky Jerk
A very versatile bait that just seems to run well right out of the box, all models of the Husky Jerk are suspending models, which isn’t unique. What makes it special is they truly suspend and do not just rise more slowly than a floater like most baits that claim to suspend.
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Available in five sizes of shallow divers that see plenty of action from walleye anglers, but it’s actually the two deep diving models that can be found in the boxes of all tournament walleye pros. Like most of the baits in a “go-to” list, we include it because of it’s versatility. A very effective lure in cold water with its suspending qualities, it also excels when trolled at speeds in excess of 2mph during the summer months.


Rapala Shad Rap
So popular when they were first released, that you literally couldn’t buy them. You could only rent them from tackle shops. The original model is made from balsa and has no rattles and until recently was only available in a relatively small sampling of colors.
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Much like the Flicker Shad, the popularity of the Shad Rap is due to it seemingly working on almost any waterway and effectiveness both casted and trolled. The balsa bait’s lightweight can however make it more challenging to cast in windy conditions. When this becomes the case look at some of its newer cousins constructed from plastic.


Rapala Original Floater
One of the oldest and simplest lures on the market, it still catches fish. Walleye Pro’s use them behind bottom bouncers, 3-way rigs, leadcore line and easily the most used hand-lining lure of all time. Much like the original Shad Rap, it is constructed of balsa and features no rattles.
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The smaller No. 3 to No. 11 sizes excel in the aforementioned applications, whereas the larger No. 13 and No. 18 are go to lures for flat line or split shot trolling at night.

Originally only available in just a few simple colors, the assortment has broadened. Much like the Roque be careful when custom painting that you don’t add to much weight to throw off the subtle wobble the balsa creates.


Reef Runner Ripstick
The same body as the 800 series Reef Runner, this stick bait version features three hook hangers and smaller No. 6 trebles. The unique banana style body gives off a hunting style action, but with a much more subtle action due to the V shaped lip.
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This very unique shaped lip also allows this bait to get down nearly 12 feet when trolled on mono, much deeper than any other stick bait on the market. This puts the Ripstick in its own category. Having a stickbait that can get down where only deep divers could previously with a subtle action can be a huge advantage when walleyes are in a neutral to negative mood.

The Little Ripper is a smaller version that works well behind diving discs, jet divers or where a smaller and shallower diving presentation is needed.

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We don’t suggest that these are the ONLY baits that will work, they are versatile and effective enough that carrying a good assortment of sizes and colors will allow you to catch fish more days than not. At some point you realize you can only carry so many lures with you and these are the ones that spend the most time in professional anglers and guides boats.

Follow our HUNTING BLOG

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