The National Walleye Tour is happenin’ right now out of Sault Ste. Marie, MI on St. Marys River, and connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The NWT has never been there before and the last pro-am walleye derby happened waaaay back in 2005.
Lets just say the pro’s rigs aren’t the biggest on the water…it’s a good thing that Worldwide Marine boat has good insurance (lol):
Lot of water to cover — some talked of making 100 miles runs! — yet someone always tracks ’em down. After day 1 that somebody is David Kolb who’s leading with a 5-fish bag of 30.97 lbs:
Caught his day-1 bag with a combination of pitching jigs and ‘crawlers (3 fish), casting Rapala Rippin’ Raps (2 fish) and trolling (1).
Way to grind ’em out, dude! David had a 6.47-lb lead going into today (the final day) but I wouldn’t want this guy nipping at my heels:
That’s ^ fish-head John Hoyer — won the last NWT event outta Marinette, WI — who cast his way into 2nd place with 24.50 lbs:
> Hoyer yesterday: “Believe it or not, I’m fishing muskie spots — it finally occurred to me why they’re using them. I fished probably 20 different spots today in one area…they’re really small…it’s a spot-on-the-spot thing…where 3 different variables all come together. It sounds like I’ve got it all figured out, but I just got on the pattern yesterday…never done this pattern in a walleye tournament.”
Sorry…where were we? Oh yeah:
> Hoyer: “My fish today were all skinny, and I’m not sure why. I easily could have had 31 lbs with the same length of fish…but I think a bigger weight is doable….”
Boat control is a big deal when it comes to catching more and bigger walleyes, but what if you don’t have all the fancy gadgets (Talons and Humminbirds and Vantages oh my)??? Old-school techniques like drifting can still put a pile of walleyes in the boat, especially if you play the wind right:
Like Joel said, make sure your drifts are lined up over fishy-lookin’ stuff, else you’re just out there for the sun tan:
Track down mid-summer pods with bottom-bouncers.
If the fish are holding tight to a specific spot, that’s when you wanna hit ’em with a hard-bodied jigging bait like a Jigging Rap, Puppet Minnow, Shiver Minnow, etc. But of course they aren’t always grouped up where you can sit on ’em…. Bottom-bouncers are a killer (and super easy) way to search out those mid-summer fish when they’re spread out in smaller pods.
It’s a numbers game and you’re just flat-out gonna put your bait in front of more fish if you’re constantly moving but able to fish at the same time. I’ll cruise around at 2.0-2.5 mph with a Northland Butterfly Blade Super Death Rig until I graph a pod, then back off the speed and drag over ’em.
Awesome thing about those polycarbonate “Butterfly Blades” is you’re able to cover water quickly, but can also slow way down (when necessary) to 0.25 mph and they’ll still spin.
I like running ’em with a 6″ Impulse Nightcrawler ‘cuz they have a nasty-good action when twirling on that Super Death hook. No messing around with re-baiting, keeping ’em alive, or having the proper bedding to take across the Canadian border. #Money
Picked a random lake and pointed out a handful of spots I’d be itchin’ to check right away. I highlighted the 19-24′ edge ‘cuz on a lot of lakes that’s where the deepest weedline seems to taper off, and pods of fish like to roam.
I’m a sucker for tight breaks on the edge of feeding flats, inside corners ‘cuz fish love to PILE in ’em (play the wind), and slow-tapering points they can slide up and down:
> Doing S curves at 2.3-2.5 mph in 34′ with a Salmo Rattlin’ Sting…10-lb ball (downrigging) at 28′ with the baits 30′ behind. #Trickery #Science
Andy had one of my worst fishin’ nightmares happen the other day…. His Sunday fishin’ trip was cut short thx to an emergency vet visit after his pupdawg Millie (named after Mille Lacs) found out just how sticky-sharp Salmo’s hooks are:
My GSP spends more time in the boat than chasing pheasants, so those pics have me extra-er more paranoid now. Glad it turned out okay, man!
…still in Lake Pend Oreille. Why? ‘cuz they want ’em wiped out:
> “These tags…injected in the snout…are invisible to anglers, but turning in heads [!] from legally caught walleye offers anglers a chance at 2 types of cash rewards. Anglers will receive $1K for a head that’s turned in from a tagged walleye, [and] every walleye head turned in enters anglers in the monthly drawing for 10 cash prizes of $100 each.”
Sorta how bison were “managed” back in the 1870s…. #TheWildWest
> “Walleye were essentially non-existent in Lake Pend Oreille 10 years ago, but numbers have been rapidly increasing since 2014…likely from an illegal introduction into Noxon Reservoir in the early ’90s….
> “Biologists now fear walleye may cause a decline in kokanee and other high-demand sportfish, such as rainbow trout, native bull trout, cutthroat trout, and bass.”
Might not catch as many walleyes on lipless cranks, but it’s one heck of a way to stick GIANTS. James says using the right rod for the technique is a big key in getting the bait to explode off bottom and force walleyes to react:
James is diggin’ the Okuma Dead Eye Custom (6′ 8″ M with an extra-fast action) rigged with 8-lb braid and a 4′ fluorocarbon leader to help keep those fish pinned. Great-feelin’ rods for under 100 bones.
Quote of the Day
“So that’s cute, right?”
– Brad Hawthorne talking about “regular” bottom-bouncers next to his custom-made big-hawgers that might be the biggest bottom-bouncers ever?! Uses ’em when he’s fishing the snaggiest schtuff imaginable.
Also has a quickie tip at the end of this vid on how to set the hook any time you’re fishing with bottom-bouncers, big or small:
Today’s ‘Eye Candy
How ’bout Nathan Klassen (@nsklassen) sticking his new PB walleye outta Lake of the Woods dropshotting a ‘crawler?! Went 29 7/8″ and 9.04 lbs. #Goals
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