Q & A

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Small walleyes seem to be relatively easy to find during the spring and early summer. What can I do differently to target the larger walleyes that I know are swimming in our lake?

  1. Troy-Big baits mean bigger walleyes. Use larger presentations and a lot of times the larger walleye are with the little ones, just in a different location on the same structure you are fishing. What I am saying if you fish an outside weed edge with jigs or pulling a type of rig and are catching little ones, trying going into the weeds to catch the big ones. It’s not fun fishing in the weeds but that is where they are and artificial type baits work great in those weeds and allow you to fish them.
  2. Corey-Big walleye are big for a reason, they are different. So, in order to target them you have to thing different and use different presentations. If I’m catching small fish, I will typically try much shallower first. If that doesn’t work, I will go deeper. I try to get much more aggressive as well, to try and create a reactionary bite. I’ve caught most of my big fish either pitching cranks or soft plastics shallow, or pulling Reef Runners deep.

With the new regulations on bait and the fears of transporting invasive species there has been a stronger focus on using artificial lures. I have always thought that artificial worked best after the water warms up a bit. What artificial lures can I consider using during the opener and the weeks immediately after?

  1. Troy-Yes you are correct, artificial works better than live bait after the spawn because the fish are on a feeding frenzy, you can work your baits very aggressive. Jigs in the ¼ to 3/8oz tipped with a 3 to 4inch Gulp Minnow or Powerbait work best at these times of year, better than live bait. After the spawn I will “bulk” my artificial presentation and put a twister tail type bait on the jig then tip with a 3in Gulp minnow through the nose of the bait to give it more action and bulk the profile.
  2. Corey-Products with true scent will actually work best in cold water. The scent molecules break down slower in cold water, giving the walleyes a scent trail to track. I will use less aggressive artificial, such as 2 ½ or 3 inch Gulp Minnow in the spring of the year.

How do you decide which crank bait to use when trolling for walleyes? Is it a specific brand, color, shape or size that you are looking for? How is this decision tied to the conditions on the lake at that time?

  1. Troy-Using the available forage to steer the decision of which crank bait to use is a great place to start on almost any body of water. If it is a shad system or minnow forage I will pick smaller baits to run first such as #5 and #7 Flicker Shads. If I’m on a system with a strong smelt population I will pick larger baits such as Reef Runners with a larger profile. During early spring or cold water conditions picking a lure that does not have as much action can produce the most and largest fish like using a #13 floating orginal Rapalas. As the season progresses, the fish become more active and will eat about anything you can put down there with aggressive action. Baits in this category include #5 Jointed Shad Raps.
  2. Corey-Picking out a crankbait can be one of the most difficult decisions to make, especially in a state like Minnesota where we are only allowed one line per person. Walleyes seem to like a more slender bait with a tighter wobble. In that group, I like to group my cranks by action…..Reef Runners being very aggressive/erratic, most Rapalas being subtle and Berkley Flicker Shads somewhere in between. Spring usually means a less aggressive crank or at a least a bait being pulled slowly. Summertime means speed and aggression and than in the fall, I like BIG. Color for me is simplified to whites, perch colors, metallics, and everything else. I really like to start with white and perch color patterns and work in different baits from there.

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