Target Walleye/Ice email

Crappies follow plankton, Who needs a road pass, Bro’s plastic mods

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Today’s Top 4

Plankton key to ice crappies.

Hitting that magical window where crappies and zooplankton collide can produce some seriously impressive results. It’s all about finessing your way onto their dinner plate, on their schedule. Full tip on, few excerpts:

> Deepwater crappies can often be found following the vertical migration of zooplankton. Typically we think of the ‘magic hour’ as being sunrise or sunset, but that sunrise can be as much as an hour later under the ice (and sunset an hour earlier) thanks to the lack of light penetration.

> Increased light levels in the morning trigger zooplankton to vacate areas higher in the water column and slide back towards bottom. It’s a similar situation towards evening.

> Maybe you’ve noticed the bottom ‘lighting up’ on your flasher near dusk? Zooplankton will begin to rise off bottom as the light levels drop, and they feed on microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton.

> Mud basins in the 22-34′ range are where the magic happens.

> Aside from fishing super-clear or heavily-pressured lakes, this is another time I feel fluorocarbon plays a big role. Not only does Sufix Invisiline Fluoro actually sink, but it drops 4x more quickly than mono.

> For me it’s not so much about the bait’s drop speed as it is to help keep the line tight using light jigs in deep water.

> Ultra-finesse tungsten jigs are key for these filter-feeding crappies. Baits like VMC Tungsten Fly Jigs, or Jeffs Jigs and Flies Tungsten Shrimp and Zoo Bugs have that perfect compact profile yet are still fishable in deeper water.

> Basic colors such as straight glow, white and occasionally black work great as zooplankton are virtually translucent. Working the lure fairly aggressively will help to call fish in, but use subtle — almost quivering — jigging movements to seal the deal.

Of course if those deep fish are aggressive and “flying up” to intercept your baits, you can throw on a 4-5mm tungsten jig or a jigging spoon instead and light ’em up FAST.

Are ice-road passes really worth the dough?


All of a sudden paying $10 for a road pass seems like a bargain. That vid’s from Appeldoorn’s Sunset Bay Resort on Mille Lacs. Said they were:

> “Knocking down the ice chunks in a very rough area. We will then flood it a couple of times and keep knocking the chunks down so when folks end up driving on what will become an ice road, no damage will come to your vehicle.”

Looks like Lake of the Woods‘ operation is starting to rub off on other areas. They’re the OGs of running tricked-out machines to get you to and from shacks, maintain roads and most importantly: check ice conditions.

Speaking of motorized ice toys…Zippel Bay Resort on Lake of the Woods has been scooting ’round in their airboat checking conditions and staking out roads before they’ll ever send you on the hard stuff. #Stout

Why yes, that is a chainsaw he’s using to check the ice…. Asked Joe Henry at Lake of the Woods Tourism about it:

> “Some resorts drill holes and measure while others use a chainsaw [on early-ice] with the bar labeled in inches. When water sprays up, the ice will be at the marked level on the bar.”

Dang they got the whole ice-checking biz down to a science up there!

How Bro modifies his soft-plastics.

Sure they work right out of the package, but what’s the fun in that?!

Tweaking plastics isn’t just for panfish (or fishermen lol), it works great for hardwater walleyes too. Bro likes to dice up Impulse Smelt Minnows so that they rig flush on the Northland UV Forage Minnow Dart — awesome-looking combo:

Think you’re gonna start seeing more and more people playing around with plastics for hardwater walligators soon — lots of fun stuff coming out….

Are pike really this easy to catch in Russia?

They stack ’em like freakin’ wood!

Don’t know exactly what they are, though gotta be some form of pike:. Even crazier is they can catch ’em on combos that look like they came straight out of a claw/crane machine:

Guess sometimes they catch ’em using the actual claw from the same machine:

Either way, just glad I don’t have to clean all those gators!


1. We lost walleye legend Bob Propst Sr.

Dangit. One thing’s for sure, he’s up on the big pond in the sky teachin’ people how to catch the snot outta walleyes! RIP fishing brother.

2. MN: 34yo ice fisherman drowns…

…after his sled breaks through the ice on Serpent Lake. Happened just 30 yards from shore. RIP Tony Bjerkness.

3. MN: 2 rescued after falling through…

…on St. Mary’s Lake near Eveleth. Snowmobile broke through ’bout 100 yards from shore where they were stuck in the water for up to 45 minutes before being rescued. Seriously a miracle.

Please don’t rush this early-ice stuff!!

4. Canada’s ONLY ice-fishing expo?Happenin’ near Lake Simcoe Dec 16-17. Hard to believe it’s the only one, but maybe everyone’s too busy fishing to get their sports show on?

5. MN: First Gander Outdoors store opens today.

Lakeville location at 3pm. Supposed to be opening 15 to 20 more Gander Outdoors stores by March, and another 40 to 45 stores later in the year.

6. ON: Man fined $3K for fishing violations.

> “Man was found to be in possession of 7 walleye over his limit and had fish packaged in a way that couldn’t be counted. All of the fish were seized and forfeited to the Crown.”

Anybody else picturing “forfeited to the Crown” as:

7. MB: Maybe win $1,000 for catching a PERCH.

Even Nick Lindner could catch one of them (lol). Deets:

> Submit an action photo with your qualifying Master Angler yellow perch that showcases the species and demonstrates the “wow” factor of fishing in MB. Every qualifying entry has a chance to win a Cabela’s gift card valued at $1,000.

S’more info on how to enter here. #roadtrip

8. Bay Rats on sale at FishUSA.

Have ’em buy 2 get 1 free right now:

Careful…those kind of stocking-stuffers lead to buying a “stuffer” for the wall!

9. MN: Al Lindner speaking about faith at work.

Alexandria peeps! He’ll be at Broadway Ballroom for the Faith @ Work Lunch from 12-1 pm this Friday.

10. Ultrex helps drive record year for Johnson Outdoors.

Need. Want. Must have. [drooling emoji]

Tip of the Day

> “The best spots are usually located well out into the basin, as opposed to pike and panfish spots, which may be more bay-oriented and offer earlier safe ice.

> “Start fishing in the same areas you last contacted walleyes in late open water: prominent main-lake structures with steep drops to the basin.

> “Major points, deep humps — somewhere that deep water swings up tight against a sharp dropoff, within modest walking distance (a mile or so) of shore.

> “Don’t bother trying to locate little secret spots at first ice. Stick to big, prominent, obvious, classic spots that attract numbers of walleyes due to their sheer size. Then look for walleyes along concentration points along their edges.

> “Splash a little water from your minnow bucket atop the ice, rest your transducer atop the surface, and see if you can send a signal through to get a good depth reading of the bottom. Brush away light snow cover if necessary.

> “If you can’t get a good bottom reading through the ice, start drilling or chopping holes in a swiss-cheese pattern.

> “If there’s a little light snow cover atop the ice, reach down with your gloved finger and simply draw the depth in feet in the snow crust: 23, 18, 21, 37 — hey, there’s the dropoff. Now drill more adjacent holes to establish the contour, and prepare for action.”

Quote of the Day

At the end of the day, if people knew how good a plain hook and a split-shot worked, none of us would have a job.

– Lol! That’s Jason “tell-’em-how-it-is” Mitchell talkin’ about trendy lure fads in the tungsten vs. lead video we shared last week.

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Killer shot of a glassy-eyed gravel lizard caught somewhere in the Brainerd Lakes Area by Logan Waidelich. Wonder if fish ever get sick of a camera all up in their grill?

Caught it on a 1/4-oz VMC Tear Drop Jig (glow gold fish) and said:

> “After about 3 fish coming in and not eating the rattle spoon with a minnow head on it, I figured out they wanted it with a bit more finesse…so I tied that on with a tail-hooked fathead and only raised it up a bit when a fish came into the [transducer] cone. Did not hesitate.”

Nicely done dude!

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Who is Target Walleye/Ice?
Target Walleye/Ice — 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/Ice. 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

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