Target Walleye/Ice email

Longer ice rods are better, Politics mess with fishing, Catch and catch again

Today’s Top 5

BIG catch…and catch again!

You might remember seeing this 30.75″ slob-eye that smoked Jamie Risovi’s custom-painted Phantom while trolling for pike earlier this spring…?


Pretty recognizable fish having that shaved-down dorsal fin like it tried to give itself a quarantine haircut? Could be worse I suppose:


Well Jamie caught that freakzilla again Oct 3 just a 1/2 mile from where he was this spring. Said he was fishing for big pike and she ate a Phantom Softail again:


More proof that catch and release works! And also supports the talk of walleye regressing back to their spring areas as we transition into fall.

Awesome fish and story, man! Thx much!!

Why longer ice rods are better.

We’ve come a long way from those wooden jiggle sticks your grandpappy used to use in the darkhouse…hand-lining in panfish next to a wood-burning stove. Nothing wrong with that [!] unless you’re looking to up your game….


There’s a time and place for everything, but IMO the longer the ice rod = the better.

First, here’s the 2 times I’d argue shorter sticks shine:

1. If you’re fishing inside a smaller portable shack where you physically can’t use longer rods because they’ll hit the roof on a hookset.

2. And when you’re “tightlining” finicky fish. A style of detecting bites by watching the coils in your line as you pound the jig — hunched over the hole as close as you can be, watching as far down the hole as you can see. When you think you have a bite, drop the tip of the rod to see if the line floats…if it does, you set the hook.

Okay, so why is longer more better?


1. Longer rods flat-out give you better hooksets. You’re simply moving that much more line on your sweep. Ever been working/jigging a fish up on your flasher and run out of room to set the hook? If you’re not constantly choking up, you can get caught in a bad position to set the hook — sometimes up over your head — and then you’ve gotta crank like a crazy person to try and catch up to the fish. Longer rods can overall keep you in a better position to whack ’em.

2. Also have waaaay more control over that fish once it’s hooked. There’s a lot more rod to help absorb the fight of the fish (instead of tearing hooks out) and also keep your line tight when they thrash or make runs (instead of getting enough slack to throw the hook).

3. On windy days, it’s super important to keep your rod tip as close to the water line as possible. The farther the distance between your rod tip and the ice, the more the wind is going to take away your feel for what’s going on below. So unless you want to hunch over all day (your chiropractor might not mind lol) a longer ice rod is going to let you keep wind out of the equation while still letting you stretch out.

For you visual learners, this AWESOME graphic from Elliott Rods does a way better job of describing that than I can:


4. There’s times when I’m fishing shallow panfish — or say late-ice crappies riding right under the ice — where I literally don’t even touch my reel handle. With a longer rod, I can walk from hole to hole with the right amount of line out (sometimes that’s 4′, other times that may be 8′) and drop right down to the fish’s level…set the hook and swing ’em right in like I’m using a cane pole. Talk about efficient hole-hopping!

And it’s tough to explain, but once you fish with a longer rod (whether it’s open water or ice) it’s hard to go back to shorter sticks. It legit just feels better [!!!] aside from the benefits I chatted about above that can help you catch more fish.

If you’re a diehard hole-hopper you know it’s been a nightmare to find loooong ice sticks in the past. So I was super pumped to find out that Elliott Rods released a trio of 42-44″ hardwater sticks for this season called the Evolution Ice Series. High-end, ultra-sensitive, with Syncork handles and all:


Few details on the 3 new models:

> The ES44UL-XF is a solid glass 44″ rod with an extra-fast ultralight tip action to detect lite biters that smoothly transforms into a stiffer midsection and powerful enough to handle most fish that dare meet the challenge.

> The ES44L-F is a 44″ solid carbon fast-action blank that excels at small spoon presentations or light-line presentations. It weighs nothing in your hand and fishes with both finesse and authority.

> Rounding out the series is the ES42M-F, a 42″ solid carbon blank that is a master at working rattle spoons, Jigging Raps or any reaction lure presentation. The fast-action tip section parlays into a perfectly structured mid and butt section for the best hook sets and fish fighting performance.

They’re in stock right now on Elliott’s website and shipping Nov 9, but judging by how fast the rest of their stuff flies off the online shelf, you better be a fast clicker.

Now politics are screwing up fishing.

And I’m not talking about Mille Lacs this time (lol)….

I’m constantly scanning hashtags which as we all know are used to help people find/see recent content, especially on social platforms like Instagram. So I was definitely caught off guard this morning when getting this freakin’ message on IG:


Really…. WTHeck! The only “false information” fish pics would be spreading is folks exaggerating how big they were….

How Ross Robertson goes deep for fall walleyes.

How deep? Randy Moss deep. #StraightCashHomie!


Check cap’n Ross Robertson’s full write-up here, few excerpts below:

Dipsy Divers

> Originally a salmon tactic, Dipsy Divers have proven very effective on the Great Lakes when you need to get deep quickly and efficiently. While many know their effectiveness on large lakes, I personally know anglers who’ve had great success with them on smaller lakes and reservoirs…you can quickly spin back around and go over a productive area without picking up gear or making a large circle turn.

> …the trip mechanism keeps the diving device forced down (and diving) until it’s released by a fish strike. A dial allows the weight to be adjusted and dive at different angles, allowing more water to be covered and multiple lines to be used per side of the boat without tangling. Shallow diving crankbaits and thin trolling spoons are most frequently used.

Snap weights

> …adding a snap weight onto your line changes the line angle and causes your lure to run deeper. [It’s] simple, inexpensive and keeps you from having to store a lot of extra gear.

> While clipping on a snap weight is simple, knowing where to attach it can be slightly more complicated. Anglers commonly attach them anywhere from a rod length above the lure, to as much as 50′.

> In situations where you have clear water, fish are spooky or you need a more subtle approach…try placing the snap anywhere from 30-50′ to start. Day in and day out I run mine anywhere from 20-30′ up from the lure. This is a good compromise for subtlety and added depth, while still giving me enough time to unhook it before netting.

> A shorter lead is best when you need to get extra deep, trolling at faster speeds or are worried about tangling. …putting the snap a rod length above the lure helps minimize [those] issues and allows you to keep the snap on while netting.

Glide baits

> Lures like the original Rapala Jigging Rap have been getting so much attention as of late that it has become their best-selling lure. The likes of Al Lindner have taught us that these style lures aren’t just for ice fishing. While they can be cast out and worked, many anglers in the cooler-water periods seem to have the best results working them at or near vertically. This allows anglers to “video game” and work individual fish, reeling up or down to target what you see.

> In most cases you can fish these lures right out of the package, but replacing the treble hook with a larger size seems to increase landing percentages. One rigging tip that will help eliminate some headaches is to use an 18” leader of heavy fluorocarbon…with a small swivel to attach to your mainline…helps fight abrasions and reduce wind tangles….

Ross also has a few videos to go with all this info in his full write-up.

Gravel lizards of the week!

1. Know a lot of northern MNers might have whitetails on the brain, but Lake of the Woods is still kicking out big whitetips like Michael Svir’s 32-incher!


2. Chris Armstrong has been walloping the Lake Winnipeg #greenbacks — quantity and quality — his biggest of the day went 29.5″ and a paunchy 12 lbs. And check how loaded that ‘Bird is:


3. Opacic Luka didn’t need to weigh or measure this walter to know it was the fish of a lifetime! Caught throwing a lipless crank from the bank on the Niagara River:


1. Sprengel hopped on Chip Leer’s Wildside podcast.

They hit a wide range of walleye fishing topics — the “tourney mind-set stuff” was fascinating. Korey is so laid back he sometime forgets he’s in the middle of a fishing tournament lol. Can watch/listen here:


Now he’s growing out his beard and mentally shifting gears to these Devils Lake, ND jumbotrons:


2. MN: Rumor is Mille Lacs winter regz will be…

…the same as last year…which would be a limit of 1 walleye between 21-23″, or 1 over 28″. Like I said, this isn’t set in stone it’s just what I’ve been hearing they’re leaning towards.

3. MN: Hey Twin Cities folks….

You a member of Twin Cities Walleyes Unlimited yet? Have fisheries scientist Charles (Chuck) Krueger speaking at their next meeting on Thurs, Nov 5.

4. WI’s rec industry = $7.8 bil to state’s GDP.

> …supports over 93K jobs and contributes $3.9 bil in compensation to Wisconsinites….

5. MN: 50K goldfish [!] netted out of Big Woods Lake.

Believe it’s likely from someone illegally dumping their pet goldfish into the system, and them multiplying from there. And multiply they did [shocked emoji]:

6. ICAST 2021 is set for Jul 20-23.

At the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL again and looks like it will be there at least the next 3 years. #TooHotForUsMidwesterners

7. You’ve probably seen AquaTraction marine flooring…

…in boats, but have you ever thought to use it as a fish-house floor?


Pretty dang cool.

8. IN: Eel River dam(s) removal next year means…

…should see a spring walleye migration in 2022.

9. WV: New public access site on New River.

Better get in there and snatch some walleyes that haven’t seen a bait on that stretch of river.

10. Garmin’s still killin’ it.

> Revenue from the marine segment grew 54% in the 3rd quarter across multiple categories led by chartplotters. Gross margin and operating margin were 61% and 31% respectively, resulting in 152% operating income growth.

Also released some new products. And if you haven’t seen their ice-fishing bundles yet, snoop ’em here.

Headline of the Day

Why folks ice fish can be a conundrum for those of us who don’t.

Too many funny quotes to fit here, but worth a read if you’ve got a few minutes. Highlights

Tip of the Day

Tommy Kemos: Winter river walleye jigging tips.

Lots of good info in Dan Durbin’s full Outdoor News write-up here, few things that stood out to me:

> The Rock River is a draining river, so the flow is primarily dictated by runoff. In most rivers, the fish almost set up a ‘mock run’ as they move up and set-up for the winter. These fish come in from Lake Koshkonong. The Wolf River sees fish move in from Winnebago. You can find this scenario in many systems all over the Midwest.

> If there’s a dam on the system, many times that will concentrate the fish because it blocks the migration.

> …as the water levels rise and fall over the course of the winter, they’ll move into and out of current as water levels change. But there are also other factors….

> MN’s Lake of the Woods sees a change in winter patterns during the shiner spawn. In other systems it could be a frog migration. Another change is a water event like a lot of rain or melting snow. The walleye will react to all these things in different ways.

> Right now, we’re fishing after a ton of rain entered into the system. …these flooded banks with a lot of brush on them is a good start. The key is having deeper water next to them the fish can slide into when needed.

> As water temps drop…walleyes prefer more of a steady, natural glide versus an erratic action. Let them pin it to the bottom and eat it.

> The tough part when dragging jigs is that with flooding comes debris like sticks and other things for jigs to snag on. Most standard jigs will tip over as soon as they hit the bottom which can lead to a snag. The problem here is that you really need to be on the bottom to get bit.

> For fishing these flooded areas — which can be good all winter because water fluctuates so much — [these prototype Strike King walleye jigs with a crater/concave head] really will help increase your bites and decrease your snags for this pattern.


There’s no release date set for those ^ prototype jigs yet. Keep you posted.

In the meantime here’s what Tommy said makes ’em so different: They have a crater/concave type of bottom that holds the bait up in the water column…also catch water and glide a little bit more than traditional jigs. Said the football-head jig (way more common in the bassin’ world) does a real good job of coming through the snaggy areas he was fishing.

Quote of the Day

“That little feller better swim faster….”

– Not sure if this snap from Brent Breitenfeld is real or not, but pretty dang cool either way:


If that’s not a sign you need to head to the lake, I don’t know what is!

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Cool Mike Borovic edit of a Detroit River gravel lizard that scarfed up his Lunkerhunt Bento Minnow:


Awesome thing you might not know about Lunkerhunt’s Bento Baits: The plastic is molded around — and fuses into — a holographic fabric in the middle…sorta like rebar and concrete. I’ve fished with one an entire day without losing it. Go to take it off and it’s like trying to get a hook out of a t-shirt. #works

They also make a paddletail version called the Swim Bento. Things are legit:

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