Target Walleye/Ice email

Big fish bad in tourneys, Fall turnover explained, Banded walleye caught

Today’s Top 4

I will never get over the fact that…

to win most walleye tournaments, you need to catch the biggest small fish.


I’m on the topic ‘cuz Uncut Angling just dropped a new video where they absolutely smoked numerous BIGS in the 26-28″ range during the Kenora Walleye Open on Lake of the Woods. The derby did have a cool rule change this year:

> …used a catch, record, release (CRR) format for [1] fish over 23″…goal was to keep the excitement of catching big walleyes but reduce or completely remove big-fish mortality due to high-water temps….

I’m all for that…but teams could still only “weigh-in” their 1 biggest fish over 23″, then the other 3 to make up their limit had to be under 18″….

In what world should folks be bummed to catch multiple big walleyes [?!] with fingers crossed those fish would be 17.5-inchers instead…? I understand that lakes and states have slot limits, so in the olden days = that’s just how tourneys worked…but now with the technology readily-available to measure and release those fish it just feels wrong to basically penalize teams for dialing-in big ones.


Imagine fishing a bass tourney and only being able to weigh 1 bass over 3 lbs…then the rest of your limit had to be just 12″ to 14″….

Don’t worry: I’m done venting lol.

Circling back to Uncut’s new video: Aaron Wiebe and Peter Tully put on a Garmin LiveScope clinic! They were pointing out fish on the unit and literally calling their shots. It’s a long video (42 min) so if you’re crunched for time, at least watching the beginning when they’re the definition of [fire emoji]:


You’ve probably heard of “sharpshooting” walleyes…can we all just agree if you’re using LiveScope it should be called “sniping” lol?! Coming to bow near you:

Ever caught a banded walleye?

It’s getting to be that awkward time of year when fishing and hunting seasons mix. Waterfowl hunters aren’t the only ones who get to chase bling:


How cool is that?! TW fan Preston Ripplinger used a “chartreuse pearl” color #11 Berkley Flicker Minnow to drop that Lake Sakakawea ringer. Congrats!

Makes me wonder if anyone’s got a Minn Kota remote lanyard that looks like this?

WTHeck is the “fall turnover” anyway??

Not talkin’ these kind of turn-overs:


We’re talking what happens when water temps start to drop in the fall:


Science is hard…but Bemidji MN fishing guide Paul Nelson does a solid job explaining what a lot of lakes will have goin’ on in the coming weeks: the fall turnover. Loads of info in his full write-up here, gonna snag a few quotes below:

> The thermocline on the deep lakes will start to break down as soon as the water temps above that line get close to water temperatures below. …can see a thermocline on sonar in the deepest parts of a lake if one exists. Parts of a lake where the water is not deep enough won’t have a thermocline.

> Once the thermocline is gone, the fish will be able to return to the deepest parts of the lakes, if that’s where they want to be.

> Water becomes more dense as it gets cooler until it reaches about 40 deg. Once surface water becomes cooler than the water on the bottom, it will sink. When this happens in the fall it’s called “turn-over”, which oxygenates the entire water column….

> Turnover also makes water temps uniform from the surface to the bottom, so the lake can continue to cool and eventually freeze.

> The fall patterns really don’t start to kick in until the thermocline disappears in the deep lakes. Shallow lakes and shallow bays of larger lakes don’t have a thermocline, with the walleye bite usually improving as the lakes cool.

Definitely worth reading Paul’s full write-up for more info.

Learned a couple of fishin’ lessons the hard way….

First off: I’m a leadcore rookie. Straight-up. Have done it a handful of times (locally in central MN) when I can’t get bit pitching/casting and feel like I “have to” to put fish in the boat. And every time I pull lead, I wonder why I don’t do it more often because it’s CRAZY effective. Can be anywhoooo….

We had our local walleye league last night on North Long Lake near Brainerd, MN. It’s good-sized at 6,190 acres, but 3,905 of that is < 15′ deep (called the littoral area). That’s a TON of shallow weeds and sand to cruise to find fish — with less than 2 hours to pre-fish the day before, I didn’t feel like I had time to break it down and decided to snoop around out deeper where I could graph for fish/bait with my Humminbird HELIX 12 at 4-10 mph.

First thing I noticed was an insane amount of bait clouds (believe they were all little perch) scattered along anywhere from 28-34′ on the edge of the basin. Soooo thick I could just barely see fish on my Down Imaging mixed in with the bait.

Plopped a #6 Rapala Flat Jig back into a cloud of baitfish that had a couple of marks mixed in it, and almost instantly caught a nice “eater” walleye. By the time I got that fish in an unhooked, the baitfish were gone on my electronics. The way they were scattered all over out deep — with no structure to hold ’em in one spot — told me I had to switch up techniques to something not so spot-specific.

Enter leadcore:


I have 2 identical setups I always keep in the boat: Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reels (CW-303D) — on 8′ 6″ medium, moderate Dead Eye Classic Trolling Rods — spooled up with a full 10 colors of 18-lb Sufix Performance Lead Core. I run about a 30′ section of 10-lb leader since most of the lakes I fish are zebra-mussel clear. Then #0 VMC Crankbait Snaps since they have a “teardrop” bottom that lets the bait do its thing, and of course you can quickly swap out cranks without re-tying.

My confidence leadcore bait right now = #7 Berkley Flicker Shads. Gotta say that the Troll Master Depth Calculator app was absolutely spot-on for knowing exactly how much line back to run ’em — uses a “physics-based calculation to determine lure depth” and they nailed it:


My wife Amanda was running that fish-sexxy “firetail hot perch” color. I only have 1 of ’em right now, so I’m not sure how she got to use it lol:


About 45-sec after we had our 170′ of lead out, we doubled-up! Mine was a chunky 18″ fish I was able to get in quickly so I could net Amanda’s solid 23-incher:


That was all we needed to see! So we left biting fish hoping they’d stay put for league night, and were off to pick up the munchkin from daycare on our way home.

The next day (tourney time!) the wind had nearly done a 180°. Instead of adjusting to the current conditions — and scanning for bait/fish before sending out our lead — I got stuck fishing memories…making the same exact pass as the night before. Did catch one little 1.25-lber, but that’s all we were able to weigh-in.

Lesson #1: Don’t get stuck fishing memories.

We did have some excitement, and my wife is still barely talking to me since it happened LOL…. Half way through one of those passes, her rod absolutely doubled-over in 34′.

If you’ve ever run leadcore, you know that the majority of fish barely fight thx to the weight of the line — you’re sorta just sloooowly reeling ’em in at 2 mph and get to see how big they are when it comes time to scoop ’em into the net.

Let’s just say whatever she had on was HEAVY. Probably took 5+ min to get the fish within 35′ of the boat…and in that time we traveled nearly 1/4 mile. Believe with leadcore you’re supposed to keep the boat moving while fighting a fish, ‘cuz if you slow down too much you’ll get a big bow in your line (since leadcore sinks) and makes it easier for fish to throw the bait.

We had a crazy side wind pushing us up shallower and shallower all throughout that fight. Eventually at the end of that 1/4 mile fight, there’s a huge corner that turns into a massive weed flat…and we ended up getting pushed into 6-7′ weeds just as the fish was finally getting close to the boat.

Long story (slightly) short(er)…the fish/line ended up getting wrapped in weeds and was able to shake off just as Amanda’s line-counter hit 35’ and was getting to the leader. If I could’ve just kept the boat off the break for a few more seconds…she might’ve finally got herself one for the wall [face-palm emoji] — I mean it was HUGE. Guess we’ll never know….

Lesson #2: Don’t make your wife mad.

Lol. Okay…I actually learned the hard way that if you’re running leadcore, good boat control is just as important while fighting a fish as it is while simply fishing.

After that all ^ happened, I started using my Minn Kota i-Pilot Link to 1) choose a specific contour for the boat to follow and 2) set the “cruise control” to 2 mph on my Ultrex. Not sure why I wasn’t using those sick features before…because with ’em all you have to do is sit there until it’s time to reel in a fish…. Next time.

Shout-out to the teams that got it done last night!

– Chuck Eggert and Chris Biermaier took home the ‘dubyah’ with 11.57 lbs:

> Chuck: “We were in 28-33’…pulling Rapala Scatter Rap Tail Dancers on leadcore…color didn’t seem to matter but we used perch and pink tiger UV. Depending on the trolling run we had 150-175′ of line out. They only bit when we were trolling into the wind — not with it.”

– Jason Bahr and Mike Peterson got 2nd with 9.96 lbs:

> Jason: “Trolling a shallow 6-7′ sand patch (about a 125-yard run) in the middle of a big weed flat. Wind was howling right into it. Running a #4 Rapala Shad Rap and Berkley Flicker Shad Shallow at 2.0-2.5 mph. Best bite was early on — soon as we got there we started catching fish. Normally you think of the shallow crankbait deal being a nighttime/evening thing….”

Nice job fellas!


1. CT: Lady’s 29-lb northern ties 40-yr-old record.

Leslie Slater caught the 46-incher while kayak fishing for trout — said she was “jigging a Rooster Tail.”

Ignore the fact that this pic looks like it was taken with a toaster (lol) and check out the fish’s enormous gut!

2. PA: New state-record brown trout caught.

Caught by Robert Ferraro east of Walnut Creek on Lake Erie. Weighed 20-09 on a certified scale (33.75″ long, 21.125″ girth) breaking the previous record set in 2000 by 11 oz.

Estimated to be just 6 or 7 yrs old by a fisheries biologist. Gotta think there’s a pile of bigger/older ones out there still too.

3. MT: New state-record Chinook salmon caught.

Out of Fort Peck Rez by Greg Haug — weighed 32.05 lbs:

Beat the old record by 1 lb.

4. MN DNR warning fisherpeople to be on the lookout…

…for invasive jumping worms. Seriously:

> …called “jumping worms” because they wiggle intensely when disturbed and sometimes appear to be jumping. Native to Asia, jumping worms have been confirmed in limited areas of MN since ’06, mainly in the Twin Cities and western suburbs and in Rochester.

> It’s believed that they were spread throughout North America by people moving potted plants, soil, compost, mulch and fishing bait.

> …are also a poor choice for bait because they break into segments when handled.

Now you know!

5. MI: New invasive European plant found mid-state.

Called “European frog-bit.”

6. NY: 1 quagga mussel found in Otsego lake.

Just 1. So I guess the chicken did come before the egg?

7. MN: Green Lake zebra mussels declining.

8. Some fresh NWT stats…

Headline of the Day

Yacht owner gets $100K fine for Hawaii Island coral damage.

From dropping the anchor on their 197-foot [!] luxury yacht.

> “…breaking and damaging approximately 431 coral colonies of stony coral and approximately 150-sq-ft of live rock, when the Formosa dropped anchor in the Kailua Bay Zone of the Kona Coast Fishery Management Area”

Had to do a little digging on the Google machinez…. And considering that yacht (called Formosa) was listed for sale at nearly $42 mil [!] a few years back, that $100K fine shouldn’t be a big deal for ’em lol. If you take away some zeros…that’d be like getting a $100 fine if your new boat cost $42K…


Mentioned in the last TW email that zeebz were found in Lake Kampeska, which is actually in SD…not NE. Sorry about the mixup! I should’ve fact-checked it…. Highlights

Tip of the Day

We’re not quite to fall fishing yet, but summer is for sure slipping away. Brian “Bro” Brosdahl talks about the fall walleye migration in this full MidWest Outdoors write-up, droppin’ a few fishy excerpts below:

> Water temps determine most of the long-term patterns in lakes…summer patterns will hold as long as the surface temps remain above 70 degrees.

> When the real fall cool-down begins, summer patterns fall apart pretty quickly and the fish start their fall migrations and put on the feedbag to get ready for winter.

> Minnows and small fish gather in larger schools and make their way into deeper water. Their main defense…when they move deep…is to travel in large schools, so they can ‘hope’ somebody else gets eaten instead of them.

> Where walleyes go and what they do depends largely on the type of lake they live in, and what options they have for habitat. Access to deep water is a critical aspect of fall and winter locations for most species of fish.

> …walleyes in large shallow lakes that don’t experience thermocline during the summer will often move towards the shallows in the fall.

> Walleyes in deep lakes usually move into deeper water in the fall, using complex structures that can provide all of their needs when the lakes eventually ice over for the winter.

> …I like to concentrate on the big shallow lakes early in the fall, and then move to the deep lakes later in the fall, when the water temps cool into the 50s.

Bro keeps talkin’ more about the specific rigs he uses here.

Quote of the Day

“Takin’ some B-roll…turned into some A-roll!”

– That’s Tom Boley talking at the 10:44 mark of this video — minding his own business and trying to get some B-roll (aka “supplemental footage”) of his Okuma Cold Water Line Counter Reel in the rod holder when his bait-clicker starting “clicking” = fish on. #LeadcoreSZN

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Capt. Joe Marra guided Becky Capobianco to her biggest walleye ever, a 12.5-lb Niagara River monster that scarfed a worm harness at the mouth of the river:

Not sure there is such a thing as a bad time to catch a fish like that, but sounds like Becky caught it right after the The Greater Niagara Fish Odyssey Derby had ended = no $3K prize, but no doubt the fish of a lifetime — congrats!!

Second Dose of ‘Eye Candy

How about “Walleye Will” Pappenfus getting his Lake of the Woods mud melon on?! Posted on @elliottfishingrods IG:

The majority of Elliott Rods’ open-water lineup is still sold-out most everywhere. Keep you posted when I can track down some stock!

Sign up another fish-head!

If you’re forwarding Target Walleye to a friend who loves to walleye-fish or want your fishing buddies to get these emails, just send us their email addresses and we’ll take care of it! (We won’t sell the addresses, use them for spam, etc.)

Check this stuff out!

Friends of Target Walleye
Who is Target Walleye
Target Walleye — walleye during open water and all species during hardwater — is brought to you by Al and Ron Lindner, Jim Kalkofen, Brett McComas and other diehard fish-nuts like you! #fishheads
Brett McComas is the main man for Target Walleye He was discovered in Brainerd, MN after years of wondering how in the heck people break into the fishing biz. He’s in it now, but still can’t answer that question…. Brett is one of those guys who majored in marketing, only because there was no such thing as a “fishing degree” at the time…. Get him at 
To send us walleye pics, ice shots or whatever, just respond to this email or click here to email us. Or post it on the Target Walleye Facebook page.

To Top