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Tag Archives: Walleye

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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The Key in Finding Those Summer Fish!

It’s what we’ve been waiting for those hot, lazy, crazy days of August and then someone says it’s too “hot” to catch any walleye! The excuses start: too hot, too calm, too much humidity, too many fish (walleye) and not enough days to fish them!

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If your looking for a time of the year when the temperatures are hot and the fish are biting, it’s those so-called “dog-days” of August. There’s always some non-believers but let me tell you that these warm days are definitely hot fishing days. Let’s concentrate on the methods used to capitalize on some excellent walleye catches.

Where to Start?
When it comes to locating mid summer walleye in order to be successful an angler must think of several important factors: cover, food and a comfort zone. It’s easy to understanding how to fish these fish if you take these three things into consideration.

Wawang NEW MapThe starting point is doing map work of the waters you intend to fish.  Hot spots listed on our map are without a question the first place to start with not only their detailed descriptions of the waters but also the complete documentary telling you about the entire “waterworld” you are about to fish.  Challenging as it may seem map preparation will simplify your fishing and put you into fairly good spots and allow you to fine tune presentations as your fishing continues.  At Wawang Lake Resort we have a good idea of where walleye will be at any given time throughout the fishing season through years of collecting data, and therefore we provide a detailed map to our guests upon arrival.  We also outline specific areas where the walleye have been active and pass on information such as:  depth, baits, lures, colors and presentation.  It’s important to us for our guests to successfully catch fish and therefore as we collect this information all season along we pass it onto them.

Weedbeds inhabit the bays and surprisingly large, healthy populations of weeds are present. Cabbage, milfoil and coontail weeds are three of the most prevalent weeds found here and all have the capabilities of giving the weed diagramnecessary ingredients in finding good groups of walleye. Understanding weeds, especially that the greenest plants give off extreme amounts of oxygen that attract the plankton, baitfish and consequently the gamefish of the system. Locating these weedbeds are a simple matter as many of these beds are shoreline orientated making it possible for a very easy fishing approach. Giving you places to look for could include;  fishing the ranges of depth from several feet of water right into 12 to 15 feet of water;  and  reefs hold some excellent weedbeds.

Wawang Lake abounds when it comes to weeds and it’s good growth of cabbage has walleye written all through it.   Look for structure of reefs have a combination of gravel, rocks, shale, sand and weeds that make up the basis of the reef systems. Amazingly here too will be a certain population of walleye that inhabit these reefs throughout the entire year.

The Basin or “Deep Water” fish probably are the most commonly fished areas of water of any system during the so-called “Dog-Day’s of August”. No doubt about it deep basin fish do exist and locating these fish in summer takes mobility and electronics viewing of the lake content. The key to these basin fish is finding two groups of walleye; either the bottom dwelling fish or the suspended fish. Deepest waters to check out is relatively easy to find and quite recognizable on our map.

Electronic knowledge is important in spotting schooling fish. Combining schooling baitfish and marking fish you should be able to pattern basin fish in this water area.

The Selected Methods to Catching these Summer Walleye
One method of fishing walleye is jig fishing. Jig fishing is fun, easy to learn and one productive method for these summer fish. A weed fishing presentation and jigs can be deadly in getting hot, summer bite walleye.  Sizes to start with are 1/8 and 1/16 ounce Fireball and Lip Stick jigs of high Vis colors tied to 6 or 8 pound XL line. The wi0703_DeadWalleynew Fire Line with it’s low stretch and small diameter makes its a great jig fishing line.

Fishing presentations consist of 6 foot medium action spinning rods like Berkley’s Gary Roach’s model and matched with a the new Cardinal Center Drag Spinning Reel with superb drag and casting qualities and its time to present the bait. The two methods most used are a livebait attached to the jig head; minnows are a favorite producer and nightcrawlers complete the bill. Using a plastic tail like a Power Grub has outstanding results many times while fishing the weeds. A hot bait for trying this year should be the Northland Buck Shot Rattle jig with the added noise factor and fishing heavy weeds you’ll many times alert fish into seeking out your baits.

Boat and bait presentations should be off these weedbed edges to be able to place casts into the weeds letting the jig combination settle slowly pop the jig keeping the rod tip at a high point retreive position, if your getting hung in the weeds pop the jig free and let it again settle. Many times strikes will occur when the jig is free falling to the lake floor. Remember fishing fairly fast through areas will let you find aggressive biting fish and once found you can slow down and concentrate on schooling fish.

Number two method of fishing these summer walleye and another fun bite is using and casting crankbaits. Two choices and a straight minnow bait with its erratic motions along with deep diving baits like Berkley’s Frenzy’s deep Diver to work closer to the bottom you are fishing.

Before leaving the weedbeds this is where the cranking methods can pull some additional fish. Equipment check list should include the preferred  baitcasting rod/reel combination. Again Abu Garcia’s line of bait casters like the C-3 spooled with 10 pound XT or Fire Line worked with a medium action 6 to 7 foot Touring rod will give you those long casts and still have the needed backbone for good hook sets. Cast, retrieve, pause and retrieve across weeds and the results will be there. Deeper diving baits work well when sliding off the breakline just reaching the weeds and covering the bottom structure where walleye’s so often are.

WOW, the gang of six just isn't quitting at all and has pushed their walleye trophy total to 30! Way to go guys!

Crankbaits and the reefs should be worked and a prime time is when prevailing winds are pushing against structure areas. The shallow north end reefs of Wawang Lake excel in results on days of high wind and don’t overlook the EARS potential when it comes to casting crankbaits.

The third method of finding summer time “eye’s” in hot August is a finesse method of live bait fishing. The Roach Rig, a favorite rig that let’s you fish all three areas that hold walleye in the summer with probably the most subtle method of catching sometimes lock jawed fish. A sliding sinker that has an adjustable snell length of which you generally can start short and increase to longer lengths of which at the end is a bait hook.

Tackle choices here would be a medium action spinning rod like a Roach’s Livebait rod with a Cardinal reel and 6 pound ultra-clear XL line should give you a very natural presentation and yet able to fight and land large fish. Livebait – use either a minnow that you can lip hook when looking for fish and tail hook when you’ve spotted fish.  We also have our own method of hooking a minnow that’s very popular with local fishermen in the area.  We provide this information to our guests and show them just how it’s done!

Nightcrawlers seem to be the favorite diet of these walleye and nose hooking a healthy crawler and placing a tiny bubble of air in it’s collar should keep it right off the bottom and in the face of Mr. Walleye! These rigs can be fished effectively in all water areas and should be used when other methods fail. This makes a successful day sometimes out of a slow day. Edges of weedbeds, reef drop-offs, and deep basin waters should be watched for and seeing walleye positioning above them and working these rigs should net results.

The “Trolling Method” by no means boring if done right is a very effective method during the summer doldrums. The importance of locating active schools of walleye and remembering the factors of cover, food and the comfort zone and trolling is an optional method of catching a consist amount of walleye.

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The three methods of trolling presentations are using a single spinner, a spinner nightcrawler rig and crankbaits. The areas west of the lodge offer good trolling for walleye at this time and generally you’ll want to work these methods either all the same presentation or mix it with spinners and cranks. These Basin fish or “deep water” fish can sometimes be more consistent in biting and here’s the approach. Floatn’Spin’s with a nickel blade and healthy fat crawler worked off the bottom with a Rock-Runner Bottom Bouncer will cover those bottom hugging fish.

Speed of trolling these spinners should be slow! Keeping the blades revolving is key and using a thumping or larger blade while fishing these deep waters of the basin will attract and get some real aggressive hits. Running  Off-Shores In Line Planer boards do a great job from a boat. Simply pinch on and then off makes their application a simple one and it’s easy to fish three and even four people from the boat.

Crankbait trolling bangs some good hot, summer “eye’s” and structuring down to find them is fairly easy. Again choosing rattling cranking baits gets the job done, picking the natural colors most common in the lake and shad colors, perch and blues are a good start. Finding correct depths and Off-Shore’s Snap-On Weights are great and easy. After one or two trips using these tools and you’ll become efficient in trolling too.

Using all the Optional Tools for better fishing!

Live bait is one of the most importance tools on any fishing trip, Frabill’s minnow bucket and worm containers are a must for the liveliest bait not to mentioning having a quality fishing net and the Power Catch is the best walleye net used.

imagesCADDLEMNWhen fishing our lake you should always watch weather conditions and being safe always as winds can make for choppy conditions. Boat control for fishing all these conditions and a MinnKota trolling motor will  get you into the most fishy’ spots and power that lasts all day.

Tackle picks and choices in selecting the best equipment you can, and, one thing for sure is using fresh fishing line, this in itself will help you in catching more fish.

Hot, summer, sultry day’s of August by no means are fishless days and  Wawang Lake without any question can prove just this. When looking for walleye don’t let the summer months discourage you remembering you’ve got many good alternate locations for finding fish; weeds, reefs and the deep water basins should be able to point you in the right direction.

Versatility is so key in becoming a more successful fisherman and when we go fishing
we always want to catch fish on the days we go fishing!

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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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Weight Centered Jigs – WC

These jigs are commonly referred to as swimmer heads or slow fall jigs, have come of age as the preferred jig when used for casting, drifting or long lining over bottom. We recognize this family of jigs as having its weight distributed evenly along the length of the hook. The characteristics we are looking for in W.C. jigs, is their ability to both SWIM and FALL with the hook in a horizontal position. To gain a better perspective, view the illustration of the Slo-Poke Jig shown in this article. There are several distinct advantages to be gained with the use of weight centered jigs in horizontal presentations.

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One major advantage of the W.C. jig is its inherent slow fall characteristics. Unlike W.F. jigs, like a ball head, that plunge rapidly head first, W.C. jigs fall more slowly. This phenomena occurs because the W.C. jig falls in a horizontal position, acting like a parachute, as it displaces more water on the fall. This all-important feature allows the bait to stay in the strike zone longer, making it easier for fish to target, pursue and inhale the bait. Actual tests comparing a 1/8 oz Slo-Poke Jig and a 1/8 oz ball head jig, identically rigged, showed the W.C. Slo-Poke falling 30% slower. This slow fall characteristic pays big dividends in shallow water or when working over weeds, wood or rock structure.

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Another major advantage of W.C. jigs is that they provide positive hook sets. Because W.C. jigs swim and fall with the hook in a horizontal position, hook sets are almost always found in the roof of the mouth. This sweet spot is the best possible place to hook and hold a fish. Positive hook sets are of utmost importance to tournament anglers or anyone who wants to hook and hold big fish. I prefer the Slo-Poke Jig because it excels in its hook setting ability. The Slo-Poke’s perfect balance and inline eye puts 100% of the hook setting force directly at the point of the hook where it’s most needed.

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Weight centered jigs also provide an edge over W.F. jigs when used for long lining over bottom. This deadly big fish technique, calls for swimming, or dragging a jig over bottom a good distance behind the boat. While this technique can be accomplished with W.F. jigs the price to be paid is a significant loss of hardware and valuable fishing time spent tying on replacement jigs. Weight Centered jigs, like the improved flat bottomed Slo-Pokes, glide and drag horizontally along the bottom when long lined and are relatively snag resistant in the process. Slo-Poke jigs tend to walk up over bottom as opposed to W.F. jigs that wedge themselves into structure. This is a perfect example of the importance of understanding how weight distribution affects the performance of a jig. A simple way to evaluate how jigs perform is to observe what they do when you drag a jig in shallow water.

This is the long and short of the basic knowledge required in making the right choice when it comes to jig selection. Whether you’re a Pro or an aspiring amateur, having the right tool for the right job will make you a better fisherman.

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Weight Forward Jigs: WF

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Weight Forward Jigs, most commonly referred to as lead heads or ball jigs have been with us for decades.  These classic W.F. jigs are by far the most used and abused jig in the industry. A common error that anglers make is casting ball style jigs into weed, wood and rock structure, losing one jig after the other as if there were no better alternative. REMEMBER THIS:  Ball jigs are not designed for casting.  All W.F. jigs, including ball heads, power heads and the alike were designed to do one thing well and that’s vertical jigging. Granted, you can pound a nail with a screw driver, but using a ball jig for anything other than up and down is to severely limit your effectiveness as a jigger.

A personal favorite Weight Forward Jig is the Odd’Ball Jig from Bait Rigs Tackle Co. This performance W.F. jig has a counter balanced head that produces a unique teeter totter action when vertically jigged. Additionally, this head design will standup on bottom.  Some prefer a one, two punch of vertical jigging and a standup presentation over bottom.
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Regardless of your choice of W.F. jig, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses inherent to this design. It is important to note that the major strength of W.F. jigs is that they hang in a horizontal position at rest. To gain a better picture in your mind see the illustration of the Odd’Ball Jig.  Note that the long portion of the hook shank will come to rest in a horizontal position. This places the hook point in the ideal position for bait inhalation and hook setting. Conversely the W.F. jigs biggest weakness is that it plunges head first on the fall, placing the hook point in a vertical position. This is a very poor position for hook setting. What happen here is you feel the fish, he feels you, but you don’t have a good point of contact with the hook. The end result is you roll the jig in the fishes mouth and if your lucky, rip some lips on the way out. Unfortunately, as we all know, fish love to hit jigs on the fall and this is another major reason why W.F. jigs should be avoided for cast and retrieve presentations.moddballart

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TROLLING TACTICS FOR WALLEYE FISHING

Scenario: Warm, misty overcast evening in August. Mid lake rock humps topping out in the 16 to 22 foot range.

hump1Usually, by late August many walleyes in deep clear lakes begin to leave their summer home ranges,suspended over deep open water, and migrate onto nearby rock and gravel humps. More often than not, the best humps top off at a range near the lake’s thermocline. For example, if a lake typically thermoclines at 22 feet, humps in the 18 to 22 foot range are most apt to hold fish, while shallower cropping structures will be less productive.

When these mid lake humps are small, one can usually do quite well jig fishing them, but more so these humps tend to be large. This is when board trolling a spread of crawler harnessed spinner rigs anchored to bottom bouncing weights off planer boards is the key way to catch them. This is precisely the situation Joe is faced with in this segment. The mid lake rock/gravel structure is very large with a number of smaller “spines” topping out in the 14 to 18 foot range; however, most of the rock/gravel structure is much deeper at 22 to 26 feet.

The small spines are holding the fish, but they are somewhat difficult to stay on top of and pinpoint precisely in open water. This problem is easily solved by repeated trolling passes using this board/bottom bouncer/crawler harness system. Trolling ever so slowly, once any bottom contact is made, you can literally drag an armada of tempting tidbits across these spots and find these small groups of walleyes that are utilizing these spines.

imagesCAMIT1B6The rigging trick here is to set out just enough line below the planer board so it will catch, or better termed “tick”, the top of these spines, yet not get hung up. The best way to accomplish this is by staying as vertical as possible with your set up. Using a larger weight, in the 2 ounce class, in order to stay as vertical as possible, let out just a tad more line than the spine depth tops. For example, measuring out around 20 feet of line between board and the bottom bouncer (Rock Runner) weight is nearly a perfect setting for 16 to 18 foot humps. It might require a bit more line length in strong winds and big waves, but not in soft winds and slow trolls.

ff-graph1Troll very slowly across these humps; just fast enough to activate the spinner and keep the spinner/crawler harness suspended off the bottom. Watch the board closely and you will notice when the Rock Runner weight is touching bottom. It will make the board bounce back. This is a key time to watch for a strike. Strikes, by the way, will respond on the board by the board jerking back in a tug-like fashion. Within a few seconds, the weight of the fish will then start to drag the board out of its original position destroying its side ways angle, and placing it more directly behind the boat. Then, it’s simply a matter of crankin’ the fish in and re rigging.

imagesCAV15KW1Throwing a floating marker off a reef after a fish is caught is a good idea for reference, as is punching in the coordinates on your GPS system. As soon as you get a strike, before pulling the rod from the rod holder, immediately reach for a floating marker and pitch it over the side. Also, heave the marker just past the outside of the planer board that’s showing the strike. This places you as close to the exact location of the strike as possible. All return trolling passes can then be made precisely close by the actual spot where the strike occurred.

Summer trolling reefs with bottom bouncers, spinner harnesses and a crawler rigged off planer boards is a super hot tactic. It is especially good over large mid lake reef structures that may be more difficult to fish by casting and jig fishing. At the very least, this system enables you to cover a great deal of water very efficiently, and quickly eliminates the dead sections of a large reef. You can then refish the spot more slowly with finesse jig fishing presentations if you wish. 

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TROLLING TOOLS FOR FISHING

28.5" walleye - Rick Lahrman

For many anglers trolling has always been one the most effective fishing techniques by presenting lures to numbers of game fish at a precise depth or spread out over a large area. There are two key fundamentals for a good catch, trolling at the proper speed, and depth of the appropriate lure choice. With the modern innovations of trolling gear and tackle today anglers no longer have to guess how deep or how fast their lure is running.

Trolling Tools

Downriggers
Used specifically for constant trolling depth. The downrigger is a winch-type mechanism that feeds cable off a rotating reel through a guide system along an extension arm. A weight is attached to the end of the cable and the line release is attached to the weight. The fishing line from an independent rod and reel is attached to the release mechanism on the downrigger cable. By lowering the weight (ball), you can drop the line down to the desired depth. A footage counter is connected to the reel unit to indicate the specific amount of cable that has been released. At the desired depth the reel is locked into place.

Downrigger Fishing Tip

Downrigger Fishing Method

Trolling is the most effective way to catch many species of fish. A moving bait or lure in the water trolled at the depth where fish are present is the best way to ensure a hookup. The use of modern downrigger technology further improves trolling results. A downrigger is a spool of wire/cable mounted on your boat. A heavy weight is hung on the end of the braided downrigger wire. A downrigger release is hooked to the wire and your fishing line is hooked into the release. The downrigger can then be lowered to precisely the fish depth. When a fish hits, your line is released and you fight the fish on your rod and reel free of heavy lines  and weights.

Better downriggers are equipped with line depth counters so you know exactly how deep you are fishing. A fish finder and a downrigger are a deadly combination. The fish finder shows you what depth the fish are and the downrigger allows you to fish exactly in front of them.

Downrigger models range form portable clamp on styles, permanent mounts, some with electronic motor retrieval systems capable of lifting downrigger weights of up to 10lbs 100 feet down by a simple push of a button. Other new features on downriggers are networked with electronics, a speed sensor can be attached to the cable indicating how fast the lure is moving at that depth. Bottom tracking sonar systems using a transducer on the transom sends a programmed signal to the downrigger that will raise and lower automatically the weight off the bottom, or jig the weight up and down giving action to the lure with a auto setting. Multiple downriggers can be operated off of the same sonar signal working simultaneousl

wi1405_ArchBoardsATrolling Boards
For increasing the spread of the trolling pattern as fish move to the side when the boat passes over them trollers have two options. Trolling boards that plane to the side on a separate cord which is held onboard by a planer mast. Fishing line (s) are imagesCAO4XJBJattached to the cord using manufactured line releases or wire loops and rubber bands, as the boat moves forward the release slides down the desired point, upon a fish strike trips the release to fight the fish on a free line.

Online Side Planers
They are attached to the fishing line by the use of a line release ( clip on / tension clip). As the boat moves forward they plane to the side upon a fish strike the board will release and slides down the line until it hit’s a stop (swivel/bead) several feet from the lure.

Both trolling board and side planers allows the angler to run multiple fishing lines behind the boat covering a vast area.


Diving Planes

This is a circular diving device commonly know as a Dipsey Diver. Depending on how the rudder is set it will track right, left, or straight. The fishing line is tied directly to the front eye and snapped on a release. The lure is attached to the rear eye using a leader. When a fish strike occurs the front eye releases flattening the diving plane in order to reel the fish in with out pulling against the dive setting of the plane.

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Fishing Lines and Weights   Lead Core (Weighted Trolling Line)
Lead Core line came on to the fishing scene during the 1970’s as weighted trolling line. This allowed Salmon, Lake Trout, Steelhead and Walleye anglers the ability to use light weight shallow running lures such as spoons, balsa and plastic minnow lures to reach depths were the fish are present. Lead Core is constructed of two components, the inner wire made of soft pliable lead and the outer sheath of nylon braid which is color coated every ten yards for metering purposes referred as the term colors. Recently a new environmentally safe non lead line was introduced using a metal alloy wire in lieu of lead. Weighted trolling lines are available in 100 – 200 yard spools ranging from 12lb to 45 lb test ratings.

SnapWeight-LeadCore-LongLine

imagesCA0L2XLXThe amount of weighted trolling line spooled on your reel is totally dependent on the species of fish you are targeting by the depth required, as a example Great Lakes walleye anglers may use 30 yards of weighted line or three colors were as a Salmon angler may spool the entire 200 yards or twenty colors. The approximate rule dependent on the lb test is every two yards of weighted line will sink one foot. The only reel type to be used for weighted trolling line is a conventional level wind trolling reel, the line capacity is based on the species ( smaller for walleyes larger for salmon). In spooling the reel a line backing should always be used this also helps to fill the reel to the proper line amount. The most popular line backing used today is the super braids which is tied to the weighted line using a Albright knot, after the weighted line is spooled a monofilament/fluorocarbon leader is tied using a Uni-knot.( Note: When tying backing or a leader to lead core remove the inner wire) This entire line set-up is referred as “segmented” which when properly used places the weighted line and lure at the feeding depth of fish. Trolling weighted (lead core) line is a technical presentation requiring a level of expertise and knowledge. If your considering using this trolling technique your success would be best served if you research the fishery and species before purchasing the proper equipment.

american_fishing_wire_surflon_micro_supremeWire Fishing Line
Wire is another trolling line option especially if your fishing presentation requires to go very deep. Wire lines come in a variety of choices, solid and stranded. Solid wire know as Monel is a metal nickel copper alloy which will go deeper than stranded based on the ultra thin line diameter and weight. Stranded offers many versions made of stainless steel or copper, in cable-laid wire, 49 strand, three and seven strand wire some of these come with vinyl coatings used mainly as leader material. One of most popular wire line for freshwater fishing is the seven stranded six wrapped or braided around one. Copper seven strand is utilized as a alternative to lead core were as the weight of copper is double than lead core this achieves the same depth of lead core with only half the amount of line. The advantages of using wire line are numerous when compared to other conventional lines such as braided or monofilament, wire line with the weight and the ultra low diameter cuts through the water easily getting deeper using less line, it also has very low line stretch thus telegraphing fish strikes as they happen. Getting set-up with a wire line outfit requires all special equipment, reels are trolling level wind with a metal or stainless steel spool to accommodate wire line, rods require hardened line guides that wire won’t cut along with a roller tip or all line guides using rollers. We highly recommend if your looking to use wire as a trolling outfit, go to a pro shop that specializes in wire line rods and reels. One of the most common problems in using wire starts with correctly spooling the backing and wire on the reel to the proper level. Fishing wire with the proper knowledge and set-up will add another dimension to your arsenal increasing your catch rate.

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Snap on Weights

Snap weights are a attached/removable weightsystem ideal in getting your bait down to suspended Walleyes, Salmon, Trout, Bass and Muskies when flat line trolling. The weight sizes are relatively heavy 1/2 to 8 that snaps on to the fishing line by a spring tension clamp, the weight is secured on a metal ring below. Upon a fish strike the line is retrieved to the snap weight and un clipped from the line to fight the fish. With the various sizes of

Inline trolling weights

Inline trolling weights

weights available offers a range of different depth settings with out having to re rig your rod. Most anglers start by using the 50/50 system placing the snap weight halfway out on the line. By moving the snap weight closer to the lure increases the response to the movements of the boat and your rod. Moving the weight farther away from your lure it becomes less responsive, but more influenced by the action of wind and waves.

The farther back the snap weight is from the lure will reduce spooking the fish from biting. Snap weights Inline trolling weightscan be used on braided line, low stretch monofilament / fluorocarbon and lead core line.

Inline Trolling Weight
Another option for lures and baits to be trolled at a desired depth are online trolling weights (sinkers) these include torpedo or through the use of a down weighted keel design for stabilizing the weight as it travels in the water preventing unwanted wobbling. All good trolling sinkers have bead type chains and swivels to minimize line twist and should not reduce the action of the lure by having the bulk of the weight hang below the line.

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