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Tag Archives: Bait

Which is Best – Live Bait or Lure?

It’s one of fishing’s most common questions – what’s the best choice: real bait or artificial lures? In reality, there’s NO one-size-fits-all answer to this timeless dilemma. Each approach to catching fish has its particular strengths and weaknesses, and each one is better suited to different conditions, environments, target species, and levels of angler competence. Let’s look at the pros and cons of real bait versus counterfeit offerings!

Learning the Ropes Having said that, there’s no question that the very best, most consistently successful anglers are almost always those who cut their fishing teeth using natural baits. Bait fishing teaches us the absolute basics of the sport, including what food items fish prefer to eat, where fish expect to find those food items, and how and when fish prey upon them. Whether you remain a dedicated bait fisher for life or go on to try lures or even fly fishing, understanding these fundamental basics of the sport will stand you in great stead.

Better still, finding, gathering, or catching your own bait rather than buying it from a shop magnifies all these important lessons. Bait collecting teaches an angler a great deal about where the food items fish prey upon live, how they behave, and what they look like. If you ever move on to try lure, these lessons will prove to be invaluable…and even if you don’t, catching your own bait will definitely save you lots of money!

Hunting Versus Trapping  In many ways, fishing with lures is akin to hunting, while bait fishing is more like trapping. In other words, the bait fisher sets out his or her “traps” (baited hooks) and waits for the prey to stumble upon them. In contrast, a lure fisher can cover more water in less time. Like a hunter using a rifle or bow, the lure caster or troller actively seeks out the prey, and his or her lures are effectively bullets and arrows.

Clearly, these two subtly different approaches will have varying levels of appeal for different anglers and comparative strengths and weaknesses under changing conditions. There’s no overall “best” method, simply better choices on the day.

When Using Bait is Best:

  • At night
  • When instructing new chums or kids
  • When the water is muddy or discolored
  • When it’s very cold (especially while ice fishing!)
  • When targeting vegetarian and omnivorous species
  • When catching a meal is absolutely paramount!

When Using Lures is Best

  • In most catch-and-release fisheries
  • Where undersized and non-target “nuisance fish” are abundant
  • In clearer water
  • In warmer weather
  • For aggressive, predatory fish
  • On waters designated “artificial only” or “fly and lure only”

The Best Features of Bait

  • Bait is extremely effective at fooling most fish.
  • Bait is usually cheap (free if you catch your own!).
  • You can cast out a bait, set your rod down, and wait for the fish to come to you!
  • Leftover bait can be returned to its natural environment or taken home and frozen for future use.
  • Many fish hook themselves when they eat bait; thus, knowing exactly when to strike is less critical.
  • Bait appeals to an extraordinary range of fish species in most aquatic environments, and you will nearly always catch something on bait!

The Downfalls of Using Bait

  • Most bait needs refrigeration or a water-circulating live well to maintain freshness.
  • Finding and catching bait can be a dirty, difficult, and even potentially hazardous task.
  • Most bait smells! Your hands, clothes, and gear will also become smelly when you go bait fishing.
  • Bait is non-discriminatory; it often attracts under-sized fish and non-target species.
  • Bait fishing is less spontaneous, and it usually requires at least some planning.
  • Using bait often results in deeply hooked fish that can’t be easily released with a high chance of survival.

The Best Features of Lures

  • Lures are simply fun to use! Catching a fish on a lure always seems especially satisfying.
  • Lure fishing is an active, engaging pursuit, and you can cover a lot more water with a lure.
  • Lures tend to catch slightly larger fish on average and attract less unwanted by-catch.
  • Lures nearly always hook fish in the jaws, lips, or mouth, facilitating easier, safer catch and release.
  • Lure collecting can become at least as addictive (and pleasurable) as lure fishing!

The Downfalls of Using Lures

  • Most good lures are expensive, and some are very expensive!
  • Many lures are easily snagged on obstacles such as rocks, trees, or strands of water weed.
  • Lure fishing demands constant motion, such casting and retrieving or trolling from a moving boat.
  • Many species of fish are much less responsive to lures than they are to bait.
  • Lure fishing generally demands better-quality tackle and a higher degree of skill than bait fishing.
  • Lure collecting can become at least as addictive (and expensive) as lure fishing!

And the Winner Is…
In the final analysis, there can be no overall winner in the bait-versus-lures contest. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, and each will dominate under certain conditions or on a particular day. Smart (and successful) anglers will strive to be adept at both forms of fishing!

 

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Walleye Lures and Baits

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

1 Dave

 

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

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

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

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

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

Types of Walleye Fishing Lures

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

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

26.5

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

In various fishing conditions, you might want to try:

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

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

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

Types of Walleye Fishing Baits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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MORE BOTTOM BOUNCING TIPS

Bouncing – A Little Trick
RR-Slip-Bouncer-CardAs the water temperatures rise to (some of the highest levels of the year) the fish’s metabolism is really mounting and they will chase baits to a much greater degree than any other time. At this time you can really slam some nice fish and do it quickly. Add two 2 ounce bouncers and run a willow leaf blade. Here we are not going to worry too much about following contour but more relevantly described as being in a depth range. The reason fish are occupying more of the water column is because the temperature is more equally distributed. Some will be deep, some shallow and some in between.  Run this method in about ten feet of water. You are probably wondering about why so much weight, because you’re going to crank up the speed.   Remember that speed and weight determine line angle. We want to be able to feel the bottom and we don’t want to get hung up by having too much line angle. The fish will really hit on this type of presentation and you can nail some real beauties too.  Speed or the lack of it can provoke strikes.   In the summer, fast is better as a rule. The key here is speed, being relatively shallow (especially in stained water), and not worrying about the exact depth. You will be amazed on the amount of territory you can cover working your bouncer like this.

Bouncing – Another Trick
Target the fish that have laterally suspended off a hump. A fish has two choices when moving off a hump, move down or move out.   Most move out, rather than down. However most fisherman move down that could prove unproductive. This is regarding the deep water humps, something in the 20′ range for example. Anyway, when you are bouncing a hump or a shoreline and you come to the end or the drop off to deep water, just hold your bouncer at the same level you did when bouncing the hump and tool around out over deep water. You will be amazed at the fish you will catch suspended, they usually run fairly good size and hit like a ton of bricks. So just run right off the edge and hold the bouncer at the same level as the hump. Make a figure eight type of maneuver with your boat, and then go back on the hump and repeat. It is good to mark the edge of the drop off with a marker.


Bouncing – In the Spring
northland-fishing-a-bottom-bouncerSpringtime is a time of change from hard water to cold water to warmer water. At first when the water is very cold, just after ice out, the fish are deep because it is warmer and more consistent. However, as water warms as opener arrives, the eyes have moved shallow to eat, spawn, rest, and eat again.   Now in the early morning as the water has been cooling, they may be a little deeper, but as the sun warms it up they will be shallower.   What is shallow, this would be around ten feet to as little as six inches. Using bottom bouncers in the spring, it was the best way to find constantly moving fish.

Fish will hold to a spot as long as there is food. However, once that diminishes, they are on the move again. The best way to find them quickly is to pull a bouncer. Use Colorado’s (medium to small) for this. For weight, something in the 1 oz range works nice. Fish the flats and points and hit the bays, the shorelines between bays and key on fish holding spots. The main shorelines are the ticket as the off shore humps are not going yet. That happens a little later on. Once fish are found, you can crank them or jig them or just keep bouncing. This works so much better than randomly checking areas with a jig which is way just slow.   Use live bait the rest of the season as well. However, live bait is a personal preference and we don’t discount the successes of artificial baits. They all can work well. Leeches can be iffy in the early spring because they have a tendency to curl and a little trick is to step on them to make them run straight in the cold water. Minnows are great, use one hook snell’s with a stinger (if needed).

Late spring in Canada is June, which is summer in the lower 48 states. However, it still can be brisk up Ontario. Fish start along the shorelines and move to the center of the lake as the water warms up. So the first humps to get action are the ones closest to the main shorelines. Check these as the shoreline action begins to tail off. The water should be in the mid sixty degree range and the walleye will really be turned on.

Bouncing In the Summer
As the water warms up even more, and the water temp becomes more equal from surface down into the depths, the fish have more options for food and comfort, and safety of course. It is this time of year that the fish have moved to their summer haunts. The majority have now moved from the main lake shorelines and utilizing the off shore humps, flats and island shorelines. However, a few will still be along the main lake shorelines and bays.  Find the 20+ depths to be quite important at this time of year. Not to say that some won’t be shallower, but the bulk of the population will be deeper most of the time. However, it depends on the forage base. Walleye will be feeding on whatever is easiest, so if they are keying on shallow bait fish, then they will be 222Page2_GregHargraves_pitch-361x430shallow.  However, this is more of an exception then a rule.  Some years, a shallow bite will be stronger than other years, and some years it seems that they are all shallow. You can actually site fish them with cranks or light jigs. But once again, this is the exception. Work the main lake shorelines and off shore islands. Especially the ones with round rock about basketball size as opposed to hard granite shorelines. These round rock shorelines give the forage places to hide and the eyes are there –  looking for them. With a bouncer, you can quickly cover ground and locate the active fish. Then work that area. Speed can be increased as the fish are now willing to chase a bait, and it will trigger inactive fish in many cases. Speed will be more productive than going slow. Slow is for early season and late fall.

Flats – the Walleye Secret Structure
One of the most common areas that are almost completely overlooked by anglers are flats. One of the best spots can be a long flat surrounded by deep water. Sometimes they appear to be featureless, yet from the beginning of summer until fall, these spot hold an abundance of walleye. As an example check for islands that hold a lot of gulls.

Anyway spots like that can be very productive. There is almost always fish on them. Flats are never totally devoid of structure, they just look that way. But there are little depressions, troughs, a boulder here and there, maybe a clump of weeds. Usually soft bottom, they also hold all kinds of bugs and worms which the eyes will root out. Flats are easy to find, they are the areas on the map where the break lines are spread quite a bit a part as compared to the sharp breaks where the break lines are close together. Ideally fish flats in the 15-20 foot range. Once you find one of these flats, it is almost certain that you will have it all to yourself.

Now, how is a jig guy going to cover a flat?  He’s not. You might think that some anglers over doing the bottom bouncer presentation.   You are right, it’s the best search tool for walleye.  However, jigs, spinner rigs, and cranks all play apart in obtaining the best success. There is a time for each and fisherman who only fishes on way is only playing with half the cards and will be consistently out fished by a versatile angler who uses all methods.

 

Bouncing – When doesn’t it Work
Bottom bouncing will not work well when you are fishing very shallow or need a horizontal presentation. You are better off fishing with jigs or crank baits in those circumstances. Jigging can work better when the fish are tightly grouped on a piece of structure, like an inside turn for example. Of course, the bouncer is probably what found them for you to begin with. Bouncing is not the way to go on very small humps, however very small humps don’t hold many fish anyhow.

 
One might say that bouncing is about as exciting as watching ice melt. However, catching fish is very exciting and bouncing allows for catching.   It was very rewarding and makes a remarkable difference to any fishing trip.  Remember to be versatile, keep it simple, and have fun!

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Finding Walleye

If you’re looking for walleye – find the weed beds in June and you’ll find the walleye. As soon as all that vegetation that’s been dormant under the ice starts emerging, the walleyes start using it.

“After recuperating from spawning, walleye are more interested in feeding than anything else. Cabbage and other vegetation is ripe with life, concentrating baitfish and prey fish alike, providing cover and offering everything predator like a walleye would want.”

Baitfish using the early season weed beds—and attracting walleye—include everything from shiners to shad, as well as yellow perch.

The shiners move into the shallow weeds to spawn in late June in my local waters, and the walleye follow, feeding right in there among the shiners and the vegetation.

And in waters here they are available, walleye eat more yellow perch that most anglers realize. Anyone who fishes for yellow perch knows that young perch hang out in the weeds, this time of year or any other. If more walleye anglers used perch or perch-patterns, they’d be surprised at how many more—and bigger—walleyes they’d catch, starting in the spring right through the fall

Rock piles and drop-offs, offer edges where baitfish congregate and walleye can hide. They provide ambush points to attack from. If you can locate a rocky hump topped by weeds this time of year, you have the best of all worlds.”

BREAKS
Walleye will hang around the periphery of a rock hump during the day, and stay to the outside of the weeds up top if they are especially shallow, but walleye will absolutely be on top after dark.

Whether comprised of vegetation, rock or both, steep breaks are very important, because schooling baitfish will hold off the edge, while the walleye cruise and hide in the protection of the structure. Breaks make great contact points for walleye, which are seeking the larger, fatter baitfish they want.

Bigger walleye don’t want to feed often, they want to eat in one full sweep, on a big baitfish like a perch or shad or a fat shiner, when they can. If that size baitfish isn’t available, they’ll stick around and feed on lots of smaller ones.

WIND
Wind also affects where you can find active walleye in June.

You can start getting summer weather patterns in June, especially late in the month, but before everything really gets wild weather-wise, this time of year you can get winds that create an excellent bite. A good, steady wind will stack fish up and you can find walleye feeding in the weeds or along rock edges.

 

When the wind is strong and steady, fish the windward sides of everything. Baitfish like shiners are weak swimmers; they’ll often get forced along or blown up against a break AND walleye are opportunistic feeders that like big, sluggish baitfish and know that’s where to find them.

STRUCTURE like bars
To catch these big walleye bellying-up to the salad bar in search of a mouthful,  offering them precisely what the hungry predators came for: LIVE, BIG BAITS.

You can go with minnows up to 8 inches long, or big shiners, under a float or on a jig like a Fireball.

Crankbaits can work on the spring fish too, but are usually most effective when the walleye are being the most aggressive, early and late in the day, Bigger crankbaits that mimic injured baitfish can be really effective.

Fish around the weed beds or humps deeper during the day and move shallow as light fades. Use your fish finder to learn where and at what depths and the baitfish schools are holding to know what depth you want to make your presentation. As long as you are near weeds or rocks that offer breaks, this time of year the walleye shouldn’t be hard to find—cause if you offer them something they want to eat, they’ll find you

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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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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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