Category Archives: Walleye and Sauger

What Is Walleye Egg Collection?

Walleye Egg Collection 101

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has been asked to collect 200 quarts of walleye eggs from Mosquito Reservoir for hatchery production this spring.
from The Fishing Wire

What does this mean? How do they do it? Why do they do this? What is the end result?

From start to finish…

net setting

net setting

The Net Set
• ODNR Crews set 16 trap nets on Mosquito Reservoir to collect fish.
• Nets are set in shallow water- 14 feet deep or less.
• Nets are set from the causeway to the dam, primarily on the east side
• Fish hit the lead (red line) and swim toward deeper water towards the work up area
• IF YOU SEE A NET, PLEASE STAY AWAY FROM IT!!!!!

Running the Nets
• If it swims, we catch it! Walleye, crappie, perch, sunfish, and catfish are commonly caught, but we do catch pike, bass, and an occasional mudpuppy.
• Fish are netted from the end of the net and processed on the boat.
• Female walleyes ready to spawn are the target. 15 – 22″ is normal- 25″ and up have been seen!

Taking eggs

Taking eggs

Egg Take at The Ramp
• Female walleye eggs are mixed with either walleye sperm to make walleye OR sauger sperm to make saugeyes.
• Each quart of walleye eggs taken can yield 130,000 fish.
• A large female walleye can have 2 quarts in her!

At The Hatchery
• Fertilized walleye eggs are taken back to Senecaville State Fish Hatchery (Guernsey Co.).
• Eggs can die off due to low water flow, fungus, poor fertilization, or rapid temperature changes.
• Fish are then hatched off in jars in about 3 weeks.

Walleye fry

Walleye fry

Back at the Lake
• Fish can either be stocked as fry (see above) or fingerling (see right), depending on the lake.
• Fry are 1/4″ long, are stocked in late April, and typically stocked at a rate of 1000 / acre of water.
• Fingerling are 1-2 inches long, are stocked in late May, and are typically stocked at a rate of 100 / acre of water.

The End Result?
• Fish stocked in the spring will grow to 8 inches by September.
• More importantly, fish stocked in 2012 will be about 15 inches within 2 years. They grow REALLY fast with how much gizzard shad there is for them to eat!
• We know that some fish will die throughout this process. Taking the eggs from the female walleye is rough on them, especially when the water is warmer.
• Also, stocking such small fish will lead to some of them dying. If we get 1/10 of 1% (0.001) of the fish we stock to live to reach 15″, we are doing great!

But the bottom line is that without these efforts, walleye fishing on most of our inland lakes would not exist. Natural reproduction is not consistent enough to keep these high quality walleye fisheries going each and every year. Habitat is poor, and the conditions for a good natural spawn are rarely achieved- see Lake Erie!

The Ohio Division of Wildlife conserves and improves fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all.

How To Pitch Plastics for Walleye

How To Pitch Plastics … Like A Plumber?

By Jim Edlund
from the Fishing Wire

Big walleye caught pitching plastics

Big walleye caught pitching plastics

Although obsessed with big walleyes, Minnesota guide Josh Wetzstein is pretty humble about statistics. “I haven’t measured a fish in years. Walleyes or muskies. Hold ’em up, snap a photo and put ’em back in the water,” says Wetzstein.

Like the sag-bellied monster (in the cell phone image below), caught this past weekend on Pool 4 of the Mississippi River, that Wetzstein “guesstimates” the fish to be in the neighborhood of 12 pounds. “They had just opened the roller (gates) and it started snowing when I caught that fish. The water came up quick and fish started scrambling. Came together just right and she bit,” laughs Wetzstein.

He was pitching a chartreuse B FISH N Moxi on a 3/16-ounce white H20 Precision Jig Head. “I like H20 Precision Jig Heads but when you burn through as many jigs as I do, well, you make your own, too. I probably have 50 or 60 Do-It molds.”

But more on that later.

Though humble, Wetzstein is also opinionated. “I don’t waste time floating the river with Dubuque rigs to catch eaters. Doesn’t interest me in the slightest. My thing is targeting big fish. And in my river experience, 90-percent of the big fish are caught in 10 feet or less.”

Fat walleye caught pitching plastics

Fat walleye caught pitching plastics

His program? Pitching shallow water with plastics.

“You’ve gotta get out of the fast current. The big fish aren’t there. Find a point, a rock pile. Get down current. That’s where the big fish are. I jump around using my bowmount, jogging up and down, pitching riprap, wood, current seams, whatever. Electronic anchoring is key.”

And electronics? “The big thing is knowing where you can motor, where you can’t. Otherwise, it’s about reading the river, looking for current seams, inside and outside bends, eddies, and working riprap.”

Some days yield big fish, while others don’t. Not a big deal to Wetzstein, whose other passion is muskie fishing, although he catches his share of respectable mid-sized walleyes, too. “Besides the big fish this weekend, we caught probably thirty fish between 18 and 26 inches. And lots of milking males,” says Wetzstein.

But it’s the anticipation that the next cast could connect with a 30-incher that keeps him swinging when most anglers are vertical jigging or pulling three-way rigs. And right now – from water temps of 40 degrees through 50 degrees – he’s pitching a B FISH N Tackle Ringworm to find fish, then sizing up to a Moxi. “Beefier profile plastics like the Moxi just do better on big fish this time of year.”

Pitching Pointers

“I usually pitch upstream and let the flow sweep my bait down past the boat,” Wetzstein says.

Walleye showing jig it hit

Walleye showing jig it hit

The best tip, he adds, is to remember the exact location of your pitch just before the bite occurs. “You might catch a fish as your jig and plastic moves right in the front of the boat, but don’t cast back to where you got bit. Pitch right back to the exact spot where the jig hit the water before you got bit. That’s where I see guys messing up.”

And cadence?

“It kind of depends on the day, but I usually just cast upstream and give small twitches and little pops off bottom as the current works the bait. Sometimes a really slow retrieve will work, too.”

And if he finds fish, he’ll move on after 20 or 30 minutes. “I don’t like to beat up on the fish too much. Some guys will sit on ’em all day, but I like to move on to a fresh spot, let the spot refill and come back later.”

Like a Plumber

“Thing is, you’ve gotta bring the motherlode with you when you go fish the river. Think of it this way, it’d be like a plumber showing up to fix your sink with nothing but a Channellock pliers. Sure, you might be able to fix it, but you can do a better job by bringing all your tools.”

For Wetzstein, a ‘better job’ equates to a dozen rods or more – 6’8″ to 7′ St. Croix Legend Elite and G Loomis NRX with extra fast actions – all rigged with different line types in different diameters and test. He also totes vast variations in jig head styles and weights, and myriad profile and color plastics. Plus, a few more sticks are rigged with various size blade baits and hair jigs.

During early-season, Wetzstein typically pitches jigs tied direct to 10 – 15 lb. PowerPro braid so he can free baits from snags without wasting time re-tying. But when it’s really cold and the water clears he’ll turn to 10 lb. NanoFil and a 15-lb. fluoro leader. And for super-finesse situations he opts for 6 or 8 lb. Berkley Sensation thin-diameter monofilament in high-visibility orange.

Wetzstein fine-tunes his presentation not only with jig size, but also line diameter and bait profile. “You might have to go from a lighter line to a heavier braid – or vice versa – to get the right rate of fall to trigger bites, which changes from day to day. Same goes for soft plastic baits. Cut off an inch or two – or size up. Again, there are a lot of factors at play. Don’t assume the fish aren’t biting if you don’t catch them on one bait. I see guys run around fishing a ¼-ounce jighead and the same color plastic, but don’t catch fish and go home. When you fish the river you have to experiment with jig weight, plastic profile, color, line; a whole bunch of different factors.”

Along the same lines, he’s believes too many river anglers play it safe. “Don’t be scared to cast into the wood and sticks. Walleyes feel safe there; they’ll even spawn in there. Boggles my mind that you have guys in $50,000 boats who cringe at losing a bait. Burn through jigs if you have to.”

Given the conditions on Pool 4 right now, Wetzstein says 3/16 oz. jig heads are about right for pitching, but there’s always a fine line between getting bit and getting snagged.

“Think of it this way, if you can’t fish a 3/16 oz. jig right now, you’re probably in the wrong spot. But when the water drops back down I’ll switch to an 1/8-ounce.”

And for the really snaggy spots, he recommends jigs like a B FISH N Tackle Draggin’ Jig. “If the wood is really gnarly, these jigs do the job. I’m always surprised how many big fish I catch way back in wood.”

And when to comes to his favorite Moxis, he sticks to fluorescents and the occasional dark pattern for dirty water, and natural colors like ‘oystershell’ for clear water.

Besides brighter colors during high, muddy water, Wetzstein recommends fishing more aggressively. “Vibration is the deal during low visibility, so give the bait a couple good rips, then a couple pops and let it sit. It you can figure out the little details in the cadence it’s huge. But don’t be afraid to grab a blade bait or hair jig, too.”

How To Catch Spring Walleyes

‘Eyes of Spring

by Chip Leer

Spring Walleye

Spring Walleye

Catch the early season river bite for spring walleyes

Winter’s demise signals the beginning of an annual rite of spring, as schools of prespawn walleyes surge upstream into rivers across the Walleye Belt.

Although the water is cool and fish location often changes day by day—even hour by hour—savvy anglers can enjoy some of the year’s best fishing.

My favorite scenarios are rivers that flow into larger bodies of water, such as the Rainy River at Lake of the Woods or Detroit River at western Lake Erie. In these situations, walleyes from the main lake gather at the river mouth in late winter, then move upstream toward spawning areas as the ice recedes, boosting the river’s walleye population to its highest point of the year.

I typically start my search at the river mouth and work my way upstream, checking channel edges and a variety of current breaks. Main-channel holes are among my favorite stops, because they attract waves of migrating fish and often “recharge” several times during a day of fishing.

Current seams and shoreline eddies also hold fish, but don’t overlook anything that blocks the current or offers winter-weary walleyes a chance to rest and feed.

Top tactics include vertical jigging, either from an anchored position or while slipping your boat downstream with the trolling motor, keeping your line as vertical as possible.

Long-shank leadheads like Northland Fishing Tackle’s Slurp! Jig and round-headed RZ Jig are hard to beat because they hold live and artificial tippings well, while yielding solid hooksets. Northland’s new Swivel-Head Jig is another great choice, because the rotating hook gives plastics and live bait extra action you don’t get with fixed-position hooks.

Tip jigs with a 3- to 5-inch scented soft plastic trailer, which gives walleyes a target in the turbid, relatively dark waters common in spring river fishing. A variety of softbaits attract fish and trigger strikes, including Northland’s Impulse Paddle Minnows, Ringworms, Smelt Minnows and even old-school creature designs. Sweeten the presentation with extra scent and flavor by skull-hooking a shiner or fathead minnow on top of the plastic piggy-back style.

Since the water is still very cool, keep jig strokes to a minimum. Often, a slow and methodical lift-drop cadence within a few inches of bottom is all it takes, but sometimes simply holding the jig as still as possible an inch or two off bottom is the best approach.

As the water warms, walleyes often shift into shallower water near shoreline spawning areas. Pitch the same style jigs and tippings toward the bank and swim, drag and pendulum them back to the boat, keeping the jig close to bottom on the retrieve.

Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer, www.chipleer.com, operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call (218) 547-4714 or email Chip@fishingthewildside.net.

Should I Use A Bait That Makes Noise to Catch Walleyes?

Make Some Noise to catch walleyes

Get loud, catch more walleyes

Anglers across the Walleye Belt keep commotion to a minimum to avoid spooking skittish walleyes. But there are times when silence isn’t so golden. In fact, making a little noise can often help you catch more fish, year-round.

“We’ve been taught that stealth is critical to success, but there are many situations where using sound to attract walleyes can increase your catch rates,” says veteran guide and tournament champion Scott Glorvigen.

Nice Walleye

Nice Walleye

To be clear, he doesn’t advocate creating a clamor of cataclysmic proportions. “Dropping an anchor on the bottom of an aluminum boat isn’t going to make the walleyes come charging in,” he laughs. “But the judicious use of rattles inside spoons, crankbaits and other presentations can call fish from a distance.”

Glorvigen likens the art of using fish-attracting rattles to calling game in other outdoor pursuits. “When I duck hunt, I use a call to bring the birds into my decoys,” he explains. “And a rattle bag or antlers are standard gear for serious whitetail hunters hoping to rattle up a big buck.”

 Rattling Spoons Walleye

Rattling Spoons Walleye

Rattling spoons attract a variety of gamefish including jumbo yellow perch, walleyes, pike and more.

In a similar manner, he says rattling lures pique a wandering walleye’s curiosity and encourage it to move in for a closer look.

Such tactics aren’t new, of course, but they’re still underutilized among the vast majority of walleye anglers. “Especially in the open-water period,” he notes. “But even in winter, people don’t take full advantage of how a rattling spoon or lipless rattlebait can bring in walleyes from the surrounding area.”

Besides luring fish within visual range of your wares, Glorvigen says rattling tends to attract the most aggressive ‘eyes in the neighborhood. “The ones that are most active and likely to strike,” he adds.

“And even if they don’t hit the noisy jigging presentation, incoming walleyes will often slam into a more sedentary bait positioned a few feet away, like a live minnow on a dead rod,” he continues.

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Northland Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon

Glorvigen has been a firm believer in the power of sound ever since watching Northland Fishing Tackle founder John Peterson use a prototype of the Buck-Shot Rattle Jig during an In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail tournament years ago.

“We were up on Lake of the Woods, and John absolutely put on a clinic, catching fish after fish amidst a crowd of other anglers who were struggling to get bit with traditional silent jigs,” he recalls.

Following Peterson’s lead, Glorvigen used sound to win the 2004 PWT Championship on Houghton Lake, Michigan. “Using rattle beads on my nightcrawler rigs was key to catching enough fish in the lake’s turbid water to win the tournament,” he says.

The $100,000-plus payday confirmed the importance of sound under the right conditions. “Whenever visibility is compromised, due to low light levels, stained water, vegetation or other factors, rattling lures can be a huge factor,” he explains. “They can also help you call walleyes from a distance in clear-water conditions.”

For example, when pulling crankbaits in summer, Glorvigen relies on lures with internal rattle chambers like Rapala’s Down Deep Husky Jerk to widen his trolling spread’s sphere of attraction in the underwater world. “Same thing when pitching jigs into weedy cover,” he adds. “A rattle helps walleyes home in on the bait.”

Troll for Walleye

Troll for Walleye

Glorvigen trolls rattling crankbaits like the Deep Walleye Bandit to draw scattered walleyes within striking distance.

When jigging, Glorvigen recommends a slow, shake-rattle-and-roll approach that gives fish time to move in and locate the jig. “In more open water, you can move a little faster,” he notes.

He also encourages anglers to experiment with lure styles pigeonholed to a specific season or situation. “For example, we use lipless rattlebaits like Rippin’ Raps, Cordell Spots and Rat-L-Traps through the ice on big-water fisheries like Lake Winnipeg all winter long,” he begins.

“But come summer, how many fishermen would think of vertically fishing a rattlebait? Not very many. Same thing with a rattling jigging spoon like Northland’s Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon or the Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon. Yet these rattling lures are every bit as deadly during the soft-water season.”

Toward that end, Glorvigen advises anglers transitioning from late-ice to early open-water opportunities to keep their winter weapons handy.

“Next time you go out jigging in a river this spring, don’t keep the rattle spoons on the bottom of your tackle box,” he says. “Tie one on and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how well they work at the ‘wrong’ time of year.”

CONTACT INFORMATION
Glorvigen & Glorvigen LLC – 29 County Road 63, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
sglorvigen@wired2fish.com – 218-301-9072

How Do They Track Lake Erie Walleyes?

E-Z Pass for Fish Helps Track Lake Erie Walleyes

Written by Christina Dierkes Technical Editor, Ohio Sea Grant dierkes.10@osu.edu
from The Fishing Wire

For about six years, students in Ohio State University’s Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have participated in a multi-state walleye movement and mortality study in Lake Erie.

Using acoustic telemetry, researchers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and similar agencies across the region are tracking the movement of fish including Walleye, an important sport fish, to better understand how the fish travel throughout the lake during their life cycle.

In a contributing project funded by Ohio Sea Grant, ODNR researcher Dr. Chris Vandergoot is implanting acoustic trackers into Walleye spawning below a dam located in Ballville Township, just outside of Fremont, Ohio. The trackers in the fish, along with receivers placed throughout Lake Erie and neighboring lakes and streams, act much like the E-ZPass system in place on many U.S. turnpikes.

“Each of the receivers acts like a toll booth, and each fish with a transmitter in it is like a car,” Vandergoot said. “So when you drive by an E-ZPass station on the highway, it records what time you were there, and in which direction you were heading. When a fish swims by these receivers, the system basically does the same thing; it logs when a fish was swimming by that receiver.”

 Stone Lab's Research Experience for Undergraduates

Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates

Students in Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program have worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on tracking fish in Lake Erie for about six years. Many have gone on to present the research at conferences, or to jobs in similar fields.

When combined with data on each individual fish – they’re aged and sexed when the transmitters are implanted – researchers can determine where fish go between spawning seasons, whether they return to the same spawning location, and if they spawn every year or take “reproductive holidays” on occasion.

Receiver data is shared on the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS) website, along with general information about the research projects and instructions for anglers who find a transmitter tag in their catch.

“For the first time we can actually follow fish and see what they’re doing,” said Vandergoot. “We’re not relying upon anglers to turn in tags like we historically did.”

Of course, the researchers aren’t just digitally following fish around the lake for fun. “This is very cool science stuff, but at the end of the day this needs to be able to address management questions,” Vandergoot said.

Spawning site fidelity – whether fish return to their “home” stream or reef to spawn – is an important consideration when making management decisions concerning sport fish like Walleye in Lake Erie. For population modeling purposes, it is important for biologist to understand the origin of Lake Erie Walleye as well as where they go over the course of their lives.

Stone Lab REU students have participated in research related to GLATOS for about six years, examining everything from how to best anesthetize a fish for the transmitter implant surgery to how well fish survive after being released back into the lake or after the stress of a spawning season.

The REU program allows students to work one-on-one with professional Lake Erie scientists on an independent research project while taking a Stone Lab course. Selected students receive a full scholarship to Stone Lab, including room and board, and often go on to present their projects at academic conferences, giving them a head start on graduate school or science careers.

One of those students is Zach Steffensmeier, currently a junior in environmental science at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. During the summer of 2015, he worked with Vandergoot on a Fisheries Management REU, analyzing transmitter data and assessing Walleye mortality during spawning seasons in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he was able to work with ODNR staff to collect receiver data in western Lake Erie.

“I heard about Stone Lab back in high school, and went for a weeklong aquatic biology class,” he said. “I just loved being out there, and when I was looking for a summer job this past year, I thought it would be great to go back there. I also really wanted to do research, so this was the best opportunity for me.”

In addition to gaining experience in hands-on research and delivering a scientific presentation, the REU also solidified Steffensmeier’s goal to work in the same field in the future.

“I want to do something with fish, that’s for sure,” he said. “I enjoy being outside in the field for fieldwork, so I’m definitely interested in being a fisheries biologist, whether that’s through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, through EPA, or at a university as a professor.”

And with recommendation letters from Stone Lab and Ohio Department of Natural Resources staff, he’s well on his way to one of those careers.

The larger GLATOS project involves agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the United States Geological Survey’s Lake Erie Biological Station, and funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and Ohio Sea Grant. Overall, close to $1 million in assets are involved in this fisheries management effort.

“These projects are very large, and no one funding source can pull these off,” Vandergoot said. “But when you bring different collaborators together with all these different resources, we’re able to do amazing things.”

(From the January 2016 issue of Ohio Sea Grant eNewsletter. To subscribe, visit https://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/subscribe)

Why Should I Fish The Weedline In The Fall?

Fish The Weedline In The Fall

by Bob Jensen
from The Fishing Wire

Weedlines are great places to find and catch fish all during the open water fishing season. Lots of anglers even work the weedline while ice-fishing. Simply put, there is almost always a fish somewhere along the weedline that is willing to get caught.

Doug Veldhuizen

Doug Veldhuizen

In the autumn months hungry groups of walleyes will work the weedline in search of something to eat. Doug Veldhuizen caught this one on a crankbait.

In the autumn months a variety of fish will be in the vicinity of the weedline. You might have a school of crappies suspended just off the edge of the deep weedline, there might be a group of largemouth on a corner of the weedline, and just a little farther down the weedline where the vegetation juts out a bit and forms a point, there could be some walleyes. And it’s not unusual to find a bonus musky or northern pike roaming over the tops of the weeds or along the deep edge. Although there may be more fish grouped tighter in different areas, the deep weedline in the fall will often provide a smorgasbord of fishing action.

Lots of techniques will take fish along the weedline in the fall. If you’re after walleyes, try the largest Mimic Minnow or Mimic Minnow Shad. Move it aggressively: Lots of hops will trigger the most fish until the water really cools off. Then a redtail chub worked slower on a jig or live-bait rig will produce.

If largemouth bass are the target, tie on 6.5 Hornet and work it parallel to the weedline. Work it a different speeds and with your rod held at different angles to get the bait to run at different levels along the weedline. Sometimes, especially on warm, cloudy days, the bass will be over the tops of the weeds. Throw the bait over the weeds, keep your rod tip high, reel slowly, and hang on. If they bass are there, they’ll let you know.

Another outstanding way to catch largemouth bass when they’re over or along the weedline is with a spinnerbait. Use one with a big blade. Tip it with plastic, something like an Impulse Paddle Shad or Paddle Minnow. You want some tail action, but not a lot.

Cast the spinnerbait over the tops of the weeds and work it back to the weedline. When you think it’s near the deep edge of the weeds, let it fall. Keep your line tight and watch and feel for a tick. The strike won’t be hard, but it will be distinct. Reel down and set hard. After a few fish you’ll know if they’re over the tops or along the edge, and sometimes they’ll be in both places.

If it’s a calm late afternoon or early evening when you start fishing, and you see fish dimpling the surface near the weedline, move very quietly toward the dimpling and throw a sixteenth ounce Thumper Crappie King jig/plastic. Swim it slowly through the area being dimpled and you’ll probably catch some crappies. The dimples are created by crappies sucking bugs off the surface. Since the crappies are feeding on the surface, you’ll want to swim your bait just a couple of feet below the surface of the water.

Another crappie killer we’ve been using a lot the past couple of years is a #4 Hornet. If the crappies are home, they’ll hammer this bait aggressively.

The weedline can provide lots of fall action. Make sure you’re fishing healthy green weeds. Keep moving until you find the fish. When you find them, they’ll usually bite. You’ll see Mother Nature at her best and you’ll have the opportunity to have a good time: What more can you ask for?

To see all the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, new fishing related tips, and fishing articles from the past, visit fishingthemidwest.com If you do Facebook, check us out for a variety of fishing related things.

What Are the Top Midwest Walleyes Lakes

Top Midwest Walleyes Lakes

By Vexilar Pro Jason Mitchell
from The Fishing Wire

Big walleye caught in a  Midwest lake

Big walleye caught in a Midwest lake

The Midwest is ground zero for walleye fishing popularity. Midwesterners love their fish with the white tipped tails and luckily, there are several great walleye fishing destinations across the northern tier of the United States. Of course we couldn’t put every great walleye fishery on this list and the list is in no particular order. This list is nothing more than some top-notch fisheries that are fishing extremely well right now. Healthy fish populations, trophy fish potential and catch ability all factor into some of the best walleye water we have seen in our travels that in our opinion offer some of the best walleye fishing in the region.

Leech Lake, Minnesota
This massive natural lake in northern Minnesota has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for great walleye fishing but this lake just seems to get more solid each year. There are a lot of walleye in this lake with opportunities for both eater size fish and big fish. What is neat about this big lake is that you can fish so many different ways. From classic rigging and jigging presentations to lead core and swim baits, there is so much variety in this ecosystem that there are usually several solid patterns happing at once.

Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota
Another of the big natural lakes in northern Minnesota, Winnie has quietly developed into one of Minnesota’s best walleye lakes. Perhaps at the expense of the Lake’s renowned perch population, the walleye population is healthy and thriving. Fun shallow weed patterns occur through the summer as well as classic structure fishing over deep gravel bars.

Devils Lake, North Dakota
This now massive natural lake is now nearly 200,000 acres of water when you look at the entire lake basin and include Stump Lake. With high water and a decade and a half of incredible recruitment, this lake continues to live up to its stellar reputation as a top tier walleye fishery. Several shallow patterns emerge that are fun for anglers. Top tactics include pitching crank baits and soft plastic swim baits into shallow water along with classic bottom bouncer and spinner presentations along weed bed edges.

Bitter Lake, South Dakota
The Glacial Lakes Region of South Dakota is very similar to Devils Lake in terms of history and high water creating new fishing opportunities. Bitter Lake is now the largest lake in the region and offers tremendous fishing. Anglers enjoy casting jigs and crank baits along weed bed edges or run the contours with bottom bouncer and spinners. Within sixty miles of Bitter Lake however are countless small lakes that also offer tremendous fishing and some of the lakes no doubt offer as good of fishing as your going to find anywhere particular for numbers of fish.

Green Bay, Wisconsin
Probably the best fishery on the list for consistently producing trophy caliber fish. While some fisheries like the Western Basin of Lake Erie, Columbia River, Lake Winnipeg and Tobin Lake get a lot of attention for producing big fish. Green Bay often gets overlooked. Classic Great Lakes harness and board fishing tactics often shine through the summer with many small boat fishing opportunities on the right days.

Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota
This reservoir on the Missouri River in western North Dakota has been on the upswing in recent years and has several good year classes of fish. Extremely high amounts of forage have actually slowed fishing down over the past few years but there are a lot of walleyes in this lake and they have been well fed. This is more of an anticipatory pick as this cyclic lake by nature is due to really turn on and the stars are lining up. Anglers often focus on classic reservoir structure with live bait rigs, jigs and bottom bouncer and spinner presentations along with trolling crankbaits.

Kabetogama Lake, Minnesota
A classic Minnesota north woods fishing experience. With much of the lake located within Voyageurs National Forest, this mostly undeveloped lake offers that cool wilderness experience. Classic deep structure jigging and rigging tactics shine on this lake. Much like a Canadian Shield fishing experience, this lake is full of sixteen to twenty four inch walleye.

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin
Really some of Wisconsin’s best inland walleye water. Great early season opportunities exist on the Wolf River but as the season progresses, much of the attention shifts back to the basin of Winnebago. Another lake with so many different patterns, walleyes can be found in shallow reeds and rocks or suspended out over the deeper basins.

Mississippi River Pool Four, Minnesota
We would rate this fishery right behind Green Bay for big fish potential on this list. Probably one of the best places in Minnesota for consistently finding fish over twenty-nine inches. A variety of fun patterns emerge including wing dams, trolling lead core and blade baits.

Lake of the Woods/ Rainy River, Minnesota
A very big lake with a huge population of walleyes. The Rainy River spring walleye run is one of the best fishing opportunities there is but what surprises some people are just how good the small boat opportunities are on the Rainy long after the crowds have left. Out on the big water, there are some phenomenal trolling bites that more recreational anglers are discovering with snap weights and lead core.

Missouri River, North Dakota
While the overall size of the fish has dropped off in recent years, the spring run up the Missouri River near Bismarck, North Dakota is still a walleye slug fest where anglers can sometimes score some big catches of walleyes with many fifteen to nineteen inch fish. Pitch jigs along shallow wood and sand bar current seams, slip jigs in faster water or pull crankbaits upstream.

All of these notable fisheries are top tier destinations that attract legions of anglers each season. A sampling of some of the Midwest’s top walleye fisheries but in no way is this a complete list of every great fishing opportunity. There are several smaller and more obscure fishing opportunities that fly under the radar and remember that a great day on a mediocre fishery is much better than a poor day on a great fishery. Is there a fishery we left off this list? Let us know what you think on the Jason Mitchell Outdoors Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/JasonMitchellOutdoors

Also don’t forget to check out the new and improved Vexilar website!! Visit www.Vexilar.com for more info and to learn/see all the great products!!

Good luck out there and be safe!!

What Are Ten Tricks For Walleye?

Ten Top Tricks for Walleyes

By Ted Pilgrim
from The Fishing Wire

Nice Walleye

Nice Walleye

Few species put grins on anglers’ faces like the wonderful walleye. (Photo by Bill Lindner)

Every walleye angler worth his or her salt has one. You know, that sneaky trick up the sleeve that always gets rods thumping with action. Cold fronts, Jet Ski conventions, breathless summer days, or August blizzards (it could happen); the conditions are almost beside the point. You want a plan of action that works for walleyes, especially when the going gets tough and you’re fresh out of fish-catching ideas. Consider . . .

1) Deadsticking a Minnow

Big frisky minnows like creek chubs or golden shiners appeal to walleyes on basic, animalistic levels. It’s why anglers often rig an extra rod or two for minnow duty, placing them in rod holders while they cast with more active presentations. A long, soft spinning combo, such as a 7’6″ St. Croix Legend Tournament Walleye rod, outfitted with a slip-sinker rig allows the minnow to struggle freely, while a #1 circle hook safely self-hooks fish, even if you’re not paying attention. Always exciting to suddenly realize one of your rods is folded over and pounding under the weight of a big ‘eye.

2) Working the Weeds

Particularly in stocked walleye waters, submerged vegetation provides these white-tailed predators with prime habitat: cover, oxygen and a ready-made supply of food. When it comes to walleye weeds, variety matters. Preferred plant species include large leaf pondweed (cabbage), elodea, chara, and coontail, with patchy, intermingled forests usually providing the most favorable environs.

Crankbaits and jigs can score within deep or sparse vegetation, while 3/8- to ¾-ounce jigs dressed with specialized soft plastics, such as BFishn Tackle’s 4-inch Moxi and Paddle Tail yield wonderful results, often throughout the summer. Cast and simply do a nice steady retrieve, and hang on for arm-wrenching strikes.

3) Make a Map

High tech has become a big part of the walleye game, and one of the neatest new developments allows angling adventurers to create their own custom contour maps on previously uncharted water. Imagine the advantages of possessing the only depth map in existence of your local river or favorite backwoods lake? Discovering that sweet little sunken island no one knew existed?

Make your own map

Make your own map

DIY map making programs uncover potentially new hotspots on previously uncharted walleye waters. (Photo courtesy of Humminbird)

Humminbird offers Auto Chart Live, specialized mapping software that couples GPS waypoints with corresponding depth to instantly build never-before-seen contours on your chosen waterbody. Lowrance also offers Insight Genesis, a DIY map program requiring computer processing in addition to on-water reconnaissance.

4) Drop a Bomb

Previously deployed primarily by ice anglers, heavy jigging-style lures such as the Jigging Rapala and Custom Jigs & Spins’ RPM Minnow (new for fall 2016) have become new classic walleye lures, especially in open water. The anvil-like weight of these compact baitfish imitators allows them to be cast or jigged in deeper water, giving the angler complete contact and control. A simple snap, drop, pause presentation makes the lure dart, glide and stop on a dime—moves that have lately scored boatloads of big ‘eyes all season long, winter notwithstanding.

5) Fish . . . Nowhere

Keep your live bait healthy

Keep your live bait healthy

Presentation propaganda aside, a nice frisky minnow remains the most reliable producer of big ‘eyes ever created. Frabill’s 6-gallon AquaLife Bait Station holds a heavy helping of large minnow. (Photo courtesy of Frabill)

Walleyes like structure, right? Not always. With apologies to Buck Perry, the truth is, walleyes go where the food goes. In many lakes and reservoirs, that means featureless open water. From late spring through summer, some of the biggest walleyes in many waters (not just the Great Lakes) suspend 10 to 25 feet down over much deeper water. Sonar and surface-feeding birds help unearth schools of pelagic bait—ciscoes, shad, smelt, alewives, and shiners. Baitfish clouds also point to the presence of predators. Trolling baitfish imitating cranks or casting with spoons can each produce a surprising quantity of outsize ‘eyes.

6) Find the ‘Cline

One of the most overlooked fish-finding factors is oxygen and an aquatic phenomenon known as the thermocline. This thin layer of water can be a walleye-holding goldmine. The thermocline is the region offering a precipitous change in dissolved oxygen levels. Below the thermocline, oxygen may be too scarce to sustain fish life. But above is an ample supply for healthy fish activity.

Easiest way to find the ‘cline is to drop an underwater camera armed with a depth and temperature probe, such as the Aqua-Vu 760cz. When the temp starts dropping fast—often going from the 70s to upper 50s within several feet— you’ve hit it. You can also ID the ‘cline with a well-tuned sonar, which may display the thermocline as a continuously line of “clutter.” Focus on or just above these depths, especially along structural intersections, and you’re likely to put on a walleye-catching clinic.

7) ‘Yak a Small River

Another delightfully overlooked option, small rivers can offer ideal walleye habitat that often see scant few hooks all summer. Constant current means walleyes are always actively feeding somewhere. And a fishing kayak, such as Old Town Predator XL, can be the perfect way to float a sizeable stretch, surveying some alluring flora and fauna and sampling some potentially amazing fishing.

Fish from a Kayak

Fish from a Kayak

Kayaks, small rivers a walleyes present a fascinating fishing combination. (Photo courtesy of Old Town)

Grab a medium-action spinning rod and a small box of tackle; small minnowbaits and ¼- and 3/8-ounce jigheads alongside packs of your favorite softbait. Among masses of super twisters and a profusion of paddletails, BFishn’s 4-inch Ringworm has become a go-to option among seasoned river rats. Swim lures through shallow riffles above deep holes, or jig behind any type of current break—from downed logs to boulders to inside bends of small points.

8) Go “Video Fishing”

Use an underwater camera

Use an underwater camera

An underwater camera with water temperature and depth readouts offers the best way to quickly find the thermocline, and in turn, walleyes. (Photo courtesy of Aqua-Vu)

Many modern depth finders allow anglers to observe their lures as they’re worked below the boat, and show fish reacting to and biting them, right on screen. Humminbird units offer a special “jigging mode” that auto-selects a specific ping pattern for easily observing vertical bait presentations. Other units can be tuned to operate with narrower cone angles to help display

small lures and fish below the boat. For vertical jigging suspended walleyes or fish in tight clusters in deep water, this sort of interactive fishing can become addictively fun, and is often an effective way to gauge fish activity and response to different lures.

9) Pitch a Cork

Folks tend to write bobber fishing off as simplistic, juvenile, and only effective for sunfish. Actually, a slip float rigged above a lively ribbon leech is among the deadliest of all walleye presentations. And it is simple, which is the other part of its charm. With the addition of a stop knot, you can deliver bait to any depth, or keep it hovering enticingly above snaggy rock or vegetation. In wind, slip-bobber fishing while anchored near a rocky point can yield remarkable results. And at night, a lighted cork has been known to produce many a walleye monster.

10) The Carp Cure

Some days, the walleyes just don’t want to bite. Other times, they seem as scarce as Sasquatch. No problem. There’s always something biting. Why not carp? Blimp-size carp thrive in many top walleye waters, as do channel catfish and bowfin—two more freshwater rogues with lots to love. These unconventional sportfish like to bite, pull like freight trains and can be caught with simple rigs and tackle; often the same stuff you use for walleyes. Many times, the opportunity for pure fishing fun is but a cast away—swimming right before your eyeballs.

How Can I Catch Pre Spawn Walleye In Rivers?

Catching Pre-spawn Walleyes in Northern Rivers

Changing water conditions demand versatile presentations

Dr. Jason Halfen, www.thetechnologicalangler.com

The first stretch of consistently warm weather in the spring melts the snow in our yards, gets the sap moving in the maples, and brings anglers and their boats out of hibernation. The lure of an early spring trophy walleye draws an increasing number of boats to large rivers that host significant migrations of walleyes and sauger from downstream lakes, reservoirs, or riverine areas.

Two nice prespawn river walleye

Two nice prespawn river walleye

Photo by Jason Halfen

While fish numbers in spawning areas will slowly increase during this time of year, it’s important to recognize that the spawn may be several weeks away; dictated by factors such as water temperature and moon phase. Consistent fishing at this time of year demands attention to detail, and a willingness to adapt to changing water conditions.

While the weather is warming and becoming consistently more pleasant, water conditions are changing in a wide variety of ways. As water flows will slowly begin to increase, that increase in flow will bring with it a decrease in water clarity and a decrease, yes a decrease, in water temperature. Fishing in cold, dirty water is very different from fishing in the cold, clear waters of late winter.

River rookies are often caught off-guard by the fact that water temperatures always fall before they begin their long march to summer highs. The reason for this dip is simple: melting snow generates large volumes of ice-cold water. As that snowmelt travels under the receding snowpack and over still-frozen ground, it carries those cold temperatures into the streams and creeks that feed larger, walleye-laden rivers.

The first week of March features typical late-winter temperatures in the low 30s. Warm spring weather slowly increases the water temperatures, until the icy cold snowmelt hits the main stem of the river, causing water temps to crash back down. The water will stay cold until most of the snow is gone, allowing the soils to warm and either absorb the snowmelt, or transfer the soil’s heat to the spring runoff.

Image of walleye holding on sand

Image of walleye holding on sand

You can see an excellent example of walleyes relating to sand dunes in this Humminbird Side Imaging screen capture.

Pre-spawn walleyes respond to this burst of icy cold water in predictable ways. First of all, recognize that the fish don’t move (or, don’t move very far). Biology and instinct has driven them to position on or very near spawning areas, and those biological urges have not disappeared. Unless the dip in water temperatures is also accompanied by an unusual, dramatic increase in water flow, the fish will typically not reposition within the river. That’s the good news: if you knew where the fish were in late winter, then you know where to focus your efforts when the water temperatures dip again.

I use my Humminbird Side Imaging system to find large concentrations of pre-spawn fish, often associated with mid-depth sand dunes that provide feeding opportunities as well as areas protected from the increasing current.

Another tool that we find very effective for finding fish at this time of the year is our Aqua-Vu underwater camera. In these cold, clear waters of very early spring, fish can be relatively easy to find with traditional sonar or high-frequency imaging techniques, so separating the undesirable fish (like shad, sheephead, suckers, etc.) from our target species is important for fishing with high efficiency. The Aqua-Vu Micro 5 camera system is incredibly lightweight and portable, has a long-life lithium ion batter, and features outstanding optics for excellent image quality in the relatively clear river water.

Here is an example of how we use Aqua-Vu cameras to find early spring walleyes.

Although the fish have not moved, their feeding habits are certainly impacted by the drop in water temperatures. Fish that may have been willing to crack a ringworm or run down a crankbait just a week or two earlier will now be significantly less active. Catching such fish with consistency can take one of two approaches.

First, during the day, consider a very “old school” approach of a jig/minnow combo, or even a simply live bait rig with a 4″ leader and enough weight to maintain bottom contact in the current. When fishing jigs, we prefer H2O Precision Jigs from B-Fish-N Tackle. These jigs feature strong, long shank hooks, outstanding paint jobs that resist chipping on rocks or mussel beds, and weights that are molded right into the head to make jig selection easy. Under low light, we will switch back to light (1/16 and 3/32 oz) jigs and B-Fish-N Tackle ringworms, and fish these soft plastics very slowly, dragging them on long lines behind the boat.

Good walleye river catch

Good walleye river catch

Photo by Jason Halfen

The flush of cold snowmelt marks the beginning of the true “pre-spawn” period for me. Fish will be gathering in large numbers in traditional spawning areas, and will gradually start feeding more aggressively as water temperatures rebound. As water clarity begins to decline, the bite will gradually shift to being stronger during the day.

Charge up your batteries, dust off your jig box, and join us at the river for some improving, early spring walleye action.

Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates “The Technological Angler”, a media company dedicated to helping anglers learn to use their onboard technology to find and catch more fish. Their first full-length instructional video production, “The Technological Angler, Volume 1: Success with Side Imaging”, was the winner of the 2014 AGLOW awards-in-craft competition in the TV-fishing division.

“The Technological Angler, Volume 2: Integrated Technology” teaches anglers to harness the power of 2D sonar, Side Imaging, Down Imaging, 360 Imaging and the i-Pilot Link system, to find and catch more fish.

What Is Your Summer Go-To Bait?

Pros Throw Go-To Baits All Summer
from The Fishing Wire

If you could only fish a handful of baits this summer, what would they be? We asked Bassmaster pro Ott Defoe and walleye guide Tom Neustrom, neither of whom hesitated before rattling off a short list of go-to lures.

Rapala and VMC Lures make many go-to baits

Rapala and VMC Lures make many go-to baits

Rapala and VMC offer an assortment of lures ideal for probing the depths during the heat of summer

A Freshwater Hall of Fame Legendary Guide, Neustrom primarily targets walleyes in Minnesota. His top summer baits are the Rapala Scatter Rap, Rapala Husky Jerk, VMC Moon Eye Jig and Rapala Glass Shad Rap.

The 2011 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year, DeFoe hails from rural Knoxville, Tennessee. As a Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Open tournament competitor, he targets bass all across the country. His top summer baits are a Rapala DT-10, Rapala DT-16, Terminator Pro Series Jig and a VMC Shaky Head Jig.

“With those four baits, man, you should be able to catch a fish anywhere you go,” DeFoe says.

Scatter Rap

Several baits in the Scatter Rap family are in Neustrom’s regular rotation. Built on classic Rapala balsa body shapes, Scatter Raps derive their name and signature sweeping action from an innovative, patent-pending, curved Scatter Lip™.

“I love the Scatter Rap,” Neustrom says. “It’s a great bait with great action, especially when you change the cadence on your retrieve, which changes the action of the bait.”

A Scatter Rap is often a go-to bait

A Scatter Rap is often a go-to bait

The Scatter Rap Shad has a unique, erratic action, and dives 5 to 8 feet.

Featuring what’s best described as evasive action, baits in the Scatter Rap family perfectly mimic a spooked baitfish fleeing attack, moving from one side to the next, triggering reactive bites.

When Neustrom wants to get Scatter action deeper than a Scatter Rap Shad’s 5- to 8-foot diving depth, he’ll cast a Scatter Rap Countdown, which will sink to whatever depth he wants to fish it. To get it to depth, he simply counts it down, “just like the names says.”

“I like to count ‘one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two,’ and when it do that, I usually get about two- to two-and-a-half feet per ‘one-thousand,'” Neustrom explains. “If you get to ‘five-one-thousand,’ you’re usually down ten feet.”

Once he gets the Scatter Rap Countdown to the strike zone, he slow rolls it back to the boat. “Just lift your rod and reel, pull it back, lift it again, pull it back,” Neustrom explains. “That gives you that erratic action in deeper water.”

Husky Jerk

Neustrom is “really partial to Husky Jerks,” he says. “I’ve caught a lot of smallmouths and walleyes on that bait.”

A natural-looking minnow profile and neutral buoyancy make the Husky Jerk practically irresistible to gamefish. Intermittently pausing the bait on the retrieve is key.

“You just stop reeling that bait and just let it sit there for a couple seconds and then start to reel again,” Neustrom explains. “It’s a great triggering action.”

VMC Moon Eye Jig

When he’s vertical jigging or pitching for walleyes with live minnows, Neustrom will often thread them on a VMC Moon Eye Jig, which features a very effective bait-keeper. “That bait keeper will keep even live bait on the hook, even better than just a straight hook.”

Glass Shad Rap

When trolling for walleyes, Neustrom favors Shad Raps, Scatter Rap Shads and Glass Shad Raps. He ties on the latter in clear water and when he’s needs a little extra running depth.

“I seem to get a little bit better depth with the Glass Rap than a regular Shad Rap,” he says.

His go-to size is a No. 5, which will run 12 1/2 to 14 feet at 2 to 2.5 mph, with 105 feet of Sufix 832 Advanced Superline braid out. His favorite colors are Glass Blue Shad and Glass Perch.

“They just work really, really good in these northern-tier lakes,” he says. “They outproduce a lot of other baits.”

DT-10 and DT-16

Throughout the summer, you’ll find both Rapala DT-10’s and DT-16’s tied on rods on DeFoe’s boat deck.

“Any time the fish are out offshore on deeper structure, as they often are in the summer months, one of those two baits is going to reach the range those fish are in,” he says.

Terminator Pro Series Jig

Not all summer bass live deep. “There’s always fish that live shallow in the summer time,” DeFoe says. “Even when it’s very, very hot.”

Ott Defoe's go-to bait

Ott Defoe’s go-to bait

Elite Pro Ott DeFoe relies on a variety of lures to score despite hot weather.

Flipping a Terminator Pro Series Jig in shallow water is among DeFoe’s favorite ways to catch summer bass. “Those fish, when they want to bite something, a lot of times, they want a big meal,” he explains. “You can put a big trailer on the back of that jig to give you a large profile.”

Featuring a unique head design, the Terminator Pro Series Jig is much more versatile than most jigs – it’s not just for shallow presentations. “You can cast that jig deep too,” Defoe explains. “You can basically do anything you want to do with it.”

Custom jig-skirt colors, color-matched brush guards, a single rattle and a heavy VMC® Black Nickel hook further differentiate the Terminator Pro Series Jig from other cookie-cutter jigs that all pretty much look the same.

VMC Shaky Head

When the going gets tough, DeFoe’s going to break out the spinning tackle and toss a green-pumpkin finesse worm on a VMC Shaky Head Jig.

“When times are tough and you need to get a bite, you can tie on that combination and catch one,” he advises.