Time of day can play an important
part in solving the location puzzle. Some spots turn on at different times of
the day. You can fish over a huge school of inactive walleyes and never get a
hit, then come back two hours later and find that they're going nuts. Always
double check a good-looking area. If you keep checking these locations
eventually you will find active walleyes on one of them.
A good method of find the active
walleyes on a location is to troll. Many times, when I am on a strange body of
water I will set up a trolling pattern. By selecting a artificial bait that
resembles the local forage and deciding the active depth, can provide a wealth
of knowledge, not to mention lost time.
Forward trolling was something
that you did if you couldn’t find the contour or your motor was too large to
troll down in reverse. Today, many anglers have additional kicker motors and
the larger motors now runs smoother at low rpm’s so forward trolling is a good
option for spring fishing.
By using my Bottom Line NCC 6300
I can determine the exact depth walleyes are holding on a contour. I then
select a crankbait the will run at that depth and let out about 100 to 150
feet of line. I want to present this lure to the walleyes slightly above them
and ahead of them. Therefore, I will let out enough line so I can touch bottom
and then reel it in a couple of cranks to keep it off the bottom.
Keeping an eye on the Bottom Line
unit I try and have the line move along the contour where the fish are
located. I will move out into deeper water until my crankbait no longer ticks
the bottom and then move shallower until it starts to touch bottom again. This
ticking of the bottom sometimes gets walleyes interested in the bait and that
is enough to trigger a strike.
If the walleyes are deeper than
the crankbait I have selected will run, I then add additional weight to the
line. The quickest way to add weight is to attach a rubber core sinker to the
line about 18 to 20” up the line. Another way is to add a bottom bouncer that
keeps the lure off the bottom yet also keeps the line and lure close to the
bottom without getting hung up. Or you can add an inline weight system like
lead core line spliced into the monofilament. This will enable you to get the
lure down to where the fish are, instead of trolling at a much shallower
Forward trolling is trickier than
backtrolling, because the boat’s position and the lure’s position don’t
coincide; even their paths behind the boat are different.
Besides being able to cover a lot
of water quickly, forward trolling also lets you run a number of lines to
cover a wider area and different depths. Adding inline planer boards can
spread lines even farther apart.
I like to cover a lot of
territory to find the aggressive biting fish. The crankbait I prefer is the
Rapala Shad Rap or Tail Dancer. I like it because it has the bulk and wobble
of a fat minnow. Walleyes will want this crankbait because it gives off a
vibration that calls fish from a long way.The natural colors represent the
food forage the walleyes are feeding on and the forward trolling allows the
speed for aggressive walleyes to catch the offerings.
While trolling I want to use a
Shimano V casting rod, medium heavy with a fast tip. This rod will allow me
the backbone to fight a fish that is caught while trolling and also give me a
quick reminder to set the hook if the walleye is nipping at my crankbait. Team
this up with a Shimano Calais reel and you are ready to hit the water and rip
Drifting a specific contour on a
river is truly a way to produce some very nice walleyes. The tackle is simple
and the methods are easy to learn. First of all, I like to use jigs tipped
with a crawler, leech or a minnow. The size of the jig should be just enough
so that you can have contact with the bottom. For example on a river like the
Mississippi, I prefer to use an 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce Fuzz-E-Grub or Timb'r
The important factor here is the
shape of the head. The head of the jig should be round or have the ability to
be a stand-up type of jig. This design helps when you are in an area that has
a lot of snags, especially in timber or on rocks.
One reason that I like to use
jigs while fishing for spring walleyes in a river system is the control an
angler has. It is true that you have to contend with current and wind, but
using a electric bowmount motor, like my Minnkota Max 101 I can concentrate on
the fishing, because I am in control. Vertically jigging for walleyes gets my
blood pumping because I can be on a one to one bases with the fish
My boat is relatively still even
in moderate current with my electric motor on about 1/2 speed faced into the
current I can pitch jigs or crankbaits to any piece of structure. With the
proper head design and weight, jigs are the most versatile of all river
techniques, from the shallowest flooded cover to the deepest, fastest current.
My rod for jigging will be a
Shimano V class medium weight with a fast tip as well. I want to feel the
walleye pick up the jig and the fast tip gives me time to absorb that little
extra slack in the line while hooksetting. The reel of choice will be the
Shimano Stradic spinning reel.
The majority of river fishing
with jigs involves either slipping the current or drift fishing the current
breaks. The presentation is a simple lift-drop-pause method of jigging,
raising the jig some 3 to 6 “ as you slip downstream. If you are as vertical
as possible a the jig will stand up allowing the hook to be exposed away from
the floor of the river. When you tip the jig with a flathead minnow the minnow
stands up and looks like it is trying to pick up the jig. As the minnow
struggles against the weight of the jig it sends off wounded signals and the
natural scent attracts the walleyes and allows them to hang on just that much
Colors of the jigs should be
bright in dingy water. Colors such as fluorescent orange, chartreuse and my
all time favorite gold, are great for fishing those spring walleyes. Anytime
that you can bring attention to your bait it will help you up your odds for
catching those spring walleyes.
Trolling or drifting for spring
time walleyes will find you exploring the river in many ways. You will be able
to move from spot to spot and if you follow these tips you will find yourself
a successful fisherman. Trolling to find the walleyes and then jigging them
will produce a limit of fish.